07 Nov 2018

Artificial Intelligence Explained: Can It Transform Your Business?

We have entered the age of the thinking machine. In a very short time, Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) and its subset, machine learning, have gone from mere science fiction to the imperative puzzle piece that is successfully streamlining our lives. It can trade stocks, analyze genetic code, write software, drive a car and help you bake the perfect peanut butter cookies.

This force, while still technically in its infancy, is continuously outperforming humans at many tasks. With the list of A.I. accomplishments growing by the day, it begs the question: What even is A.I.? How does it work? And how could a small business owner harness its power?

What Is AI? How is Machine Learning Defined?

Artificial Intelligence is the development of a computer system that is capable of completing sophisticated human tasks. Machine learning is an application of AI that provides computers the ability to learn. They do so through frequent repetition.

Initially, humans set up an algorithm for which the machine can begin acquiring knowledge. Performing a high volume of monotonous computerized tasks helps deepen the machine’s neural networks. An incredible load of data is required to teach these digital brains.

How Does It Work?

Over time, the algorithm becomes self-learning. It becomes capable of making evidence-based predictions without relying on a predetermined equation. It can spot natural patterns in data that allow it to acutely comprehend.

Whether building a shopping list or conducting an MRI, an A.I. algorithm can dig deep into its data supply and operate with razor-sharp accuracy. Machines can’t do everything, but they are built to accomplish a range of singular tasks very well.

Benefits of Artificial Intelligence for Small to Medium-Sized Enterprises

A.I. can morph into the realm of small business very easily. It can undoubtedly improve the e-commerce experience for customers. Commercially accessible chatbots have become commonplace on websites in recent years. They engage users browsing your site and help expedite customer service. Machine learning can intelligently recommend extra items based on user behaviour. For example, when a customer goes to complete their purchase of a scarf, a suggestion is made that they may like a matching set of gloves.

Experts have declared that machine learning will be the future of marketing. It is currently allowing companies to analyze unbelievably enormous amounts of data in real time. It can churn out actionable insights instantly.

So What’s in it for My Business?

What can you do with instant insights? Deliver highly optimized interactions because you now have an in-depth customer profile at your fingertips. Assemble better marketing campaigns because you now know exactly who your target audience is. You know what they love, loath, fear and anticipate. Create better ads that speak to your audience like an old friend. Finally you can give customers what they want before they even realize they want it.

This technology prevents you from throwing money at educated guesses. Smaller scale businesses can put their precious dollars towards something they know is going to pay off. Automated emails and social media scheduling can free up your staff’s time so they can focus on important projects. Machine learning’s precision can also pinpoint supply chain issues and determine the most effective channels to use.

Computational learning has come a long way from the 1950s when the technology was first imagined. We may not be that far away from simulating a human brain in digital form. These incredible complexities of computer science may await us down the road. For now, the advantages available to the average business could improve productivity and present a distinct competitive edge.

Share this
19 Oct 2018

Martin Sherris, Former CEO of Kingston Chamber of Commerce, Joins Response I.T.

Welcome to Response I.T. Martin!

Response I.T. recently announced that it is opening a new satellite office in the West End of Kingston. Improving response times in surrounding communities is essential for growth, especially in the fast-paced world of information technology. In addition, former Chamber of Commerce Kingston CEO, Martin Sherris will join the team as Business Development Leader. Martin is a longstanding resident of Kingston and is most proud of his aptitude to develop professional relationships and advocate for local businesses in our community.

A Fitting Background

Martin’s involvement in the community is a testament to his belief in practicing service above self. Most recently, Martin held the position of CEO for the Greater Kingston Chamber of Commerce, and did so for four years. During this time, he also served as an active member of a local Rotary Club. Previous to this, he was a founding member and President of a local Civitan Club, and spent 20 years in Sales Management and General Management for the waste and recycling industry.

What’s in Store

Martin not only looks forward to the opportunity to work closely with Response I.T. and sister company, Website Design Kingston, as their Business Development Leader, but also to bringing his many years of local business savvy and expertise in order to demonstrate the value of this growing company.

Share this
02 Oct 2018

How Managed Services Can Save Small Businesses Money

It is a commonly held belief that I.T. management is an amenity for larger-scale businesses that have a great number of staff, clients and locations. Having the proper tools and expertise at their disposal is all part of being a major organization and small businesses certainly couldn’t access such services without breaking the bank. Well, we are here to disprove this assumption.

The benefits of using managed services are substantial, scale-able and affordable. No budget is too small to reap the benefits with a Managed Service Provider!

Your Options

As a small to medium-sized business, you essentially have two options. You can wait until something goes wrong and hire outside help. During this latent period you may feel that you are saving money. But when something does wrong (as it often does), suddenly you are shelling out big bucks to deploy a solution. You may even find yourself spending more money to fix one problem, one time, then what you would spend on preemptive system maintenance.

Your second option is implementing Managed Services. A great MSP has expertise, tools and processes to maintain your system. Many use innovative cloud technologies that sound remarkable and boast an array of capabilities. However, they are only truly effective when employed by a solid team of experts that have your business’s best interest at heart.

The Benefits

MSPs such as Response IT get to know your system as they monitor it. So if trouble strikes, they have an intricate understanding of its complexities and how to fix them. This increases the pace at which problems are diagnosed and solved. For small to medium-size businesses, less downtime means shorter lapses in service and fewer irritated customers. Being back in action quicker helps you to rival large-scale competition.

Customize

MSPs have a variety of affordable packages that cater to small businesses. Response IT offers a basic package of managed services that includes a set number of hours per month where the team updates your system and checks that everything is as it should be. Comparatively, we offer an “all-you-can-eat” style of package that gives our clients who are experiencing technical issues a priority status as well as a larger monthly set of hours. Our experts can evaluate your unique needs to determine the package that is best suited for you.

Remember: don’t wait to deploy when a crisis hits! Instead, employ a team of experts who will get to know your system and ensure it is operating successfully.

Share this
18 Sep 2018

After 2020 Using Windows 7 will cost you

Windows 7 Pro & Enterprise = $

In a recent blog post Microsoft announced it will no longer provide security updates for Windows 7 as of January 14, 2020. Many businesses still use the popular operating system, some estimates put it at 38.65% according to StatCounter.

Microsoft didn’t provide pricing but stated the “extended support package” will be sold on a per-device basis and will increase every year. It will be available only for Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Enterprise – not home versions of the OS.

Microsoft has used this tactic before when they encouraged users to ditch Windows XP. They offered a free upgrade again last year to Windows 10 when it first became available but that offer has since expired.

Now you must either: 1) Pay to upgrade to Windows 10, or 2) If you are running a business with the specific OS’s mentioned pay to receive ongoing security support. This also encourages (forces) all laggards to update and get on the latest versions of Windows under the guise of “Helping customers shift to a modern desktop”.

With so many systems running Windows 7, mainly for its ease of use and familiarity, it will be interesting to see how businesses react appropriately. If internal I.T. departments are proactive to execute a simple OS update they will experience a short drop in productivity immediately after updates. Of course, as staff become accustom and familiar they will experience improved security and increased productivity.

Don’t delay an update and risk possible security breaches or worse, complete loss of data. Upgrade your systems to Windows 10 now and ensure your company is utilizing the best possible software for your business. Contact your local I.T. professionals, Response I.T. at 613 549-5568 or email us here.

 

Share this
11 Sep 2018

Pay for Google Maps on your Website?

Google Maps Severe Price Jump: What It Means for Your Business

On June 11 2018, Google launched the biggest upgrade that the Google Maps API has seen in years. Not only did the Internet giant change the name of the products to Google Maps Platform, it also reconfigured how users will be billed. This sneaky pre-GDPR move has left many people fuming.

Google Maps API or “Google Maps Platform” is an application programming interface that returns helpful data about places and locations. This technology allows maps to be embedded on websites so visitors can easily locate your business.

New Changes

Among the fundamental changes, the 18 APIs that formerly existed are now combined into Maps, Routes and Places. Maps offers static and dynamic views of locations. Routes offers transit, biking and walking directions. Places provides addresses, reviews, contact information and even atmospheric insights about the researched business.

Cost?

The new Maps Platform offers a seemingly innocuous pricing structure. The first $200 of monthly usage is completely free. This credit is generally enough to cover the cost of having a static map embedded in a website.

So what’s the issue? Well, if you venture into using a Dynamic Map with custom content and imagery, suddenly that $200 will only cover about 28,000 monthly page loads. Users under the old pricing structure received 25,000 free page loads per day!

Credit Card Information

Another kicker for users is the fact that they won’t even be able to take part in this 1400% price surge unless they hand their credit card information over to Google. Maps Platform stipulates that users must have a billing account. This applies to all users – even a small business using a basic map locator.

Google is clearly attempting to capitalize on the popular functionality of Maps, while leaving small enterprises at its mercy. Employing Managed Services from a trusted I.T. provider is the best way for businesses to assuage outrageous costs. A provider will ensure that your website adapts to all changes and remains a valuable tool for visitors.

Changes are unavoidable, but a trusted I.T. provider like Response I.T. can effectively manage the hassles they bring. If you have questions or concerns about the recent changes to Google Maps Platform, and how they could effect your website experience please contact our experts at 613 549-5568.

 

 

 

Share this
23 May 2018

Increase Security and Productivity with Windows 10 Spring Creators Update

    The newest Windows 10 update has officially arrived! Hailed as one of Microsoft’s most expertly crafted operating systems, Windows 10 presents the spring creators update. If you haven’t updated your system recently, now is a great time to strengthen security and take advantage of fresh, enhanced features.

    New Privacy Settings for a More Transparent Experience

    • Privacy Settings: The spring creators update allows you to scan through a convenient list of your installed apps and set up permissions for each one. This replaces the complicated process of sorting through your privacy settings.
    • Data Delete Button:  Microsoft has added an easily accessible delete button to erase the data it has collected on users. This is part of the company’s efforts to establish a more open rapport with customers.
    • Password Privacy: This update allows users to set three security questions for a local administrator account, which can be used to gain access if their password is ever forgotten. Previously, Microsoft pushed users to link their Microsoft account with their Windows 10 desktop. But after a major push back from users, the company now delivers local account recovery.

    Innovative Features for Increased Productivity

    • Timeline – This feature showcases a timeline of tasks that you were previously working on, allowing you to easily recall documents you were writing, links you were browsing and messages you were responding to.
    • Near Share – This feature is Apple’s AirDrop for Microsoft users. It lets you share files with nearby computers and has amplified security to prevent spam.
    • Focus Assist – A “Do Not Disturb” feature for when users need to answer important emails or Skype calls.

    Cool features aside, the most imperative reason for running a software update is safety. Older software will continue to have weak spots that cyber criminals can override, while new software helps to safeguard your important documents from these threats. The free spring creators update can save your system from a costly attack.

    Share this
    09 May 2018

    Things You Should Know Before Building a Smart Home or Office

      Fantasy has become reality for those who have always dreamed of a digitally powered living space. “Smart” homes and offices are equipped with network-connected products that control features such as temperature, lighting and security. “Smart” homeowners can turn off the coffee maker and check on the pets from anywhere, simply by using their internet enabled device.

      What was once a frill for the tech-savvy wealthy is now a viable option popular with families and business owners. There are some key points to consider when creating your own smart space. Here is our guide for optimizing this technology to meet your needs.

      Is a Smart Space in Your Budget?

      Home and business owners must first figure out how much it will cost to create their AI-based ecosystem. Consider the essential items that your space needs and the extras that you might want but don’t require. For example, an air quality sensor will likely surpass a smart tortilla maker on a list of necessities.

      Google Home vs. Amazon Echo

      Is it Google Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa who can manage your calendar, order a pizza and set the thermostat the fastest? Both of these AI-powered smart speakers are flying off the shelves and have different designs and skill sets to offer. Google Home is a better option for regularly answering questions. Amazon Echo is better for controlling in-home devices.

      Making the choice between the two comes down to personal preference. Do you use Gmail and Chromecast often? You may pair well with Google Home. Do you like Amazon Fire TV? You may prefer Amazon Echo.

      Home or Office Compatibility

      Before building your smart space, ask yourself if your peripherals are compatible. Is your office already equipped with app-operated smart lights? Products such as Philips Hue lights have built-in Alexa support, making the transition to Amazon Echo a breeze.

      Smart Space Privacy

      When you connect your space to a smart system, your daily habits and those of your co-workers or family are being shared with tech companies. Amazon and Google make money by selling you things and understanding your lifestyle helps them to do so.

      If you want to minimize the amount of data collected on you, start by making shrewd choices about which rooms your smart technology will be located in. Get into the routine of regularly scrubbing voice command data and turning off your device’s microphone and camera.

      Smart Space Security

      A major concern for smart space creators is preventing the loathsome home hack. Sprinklers and smart fridges are more susceptible to hacks when they are connected to a vulnerable network. Encrypting your wireless router and implementing virtual private network (VPN) software can help protect you.

      Have more questions about building your ideal smart space? Contact our experts!

      Share this
      10 Apr 2018

      Chrome Update Could Expose Your UN-Encrypted Website

        Google Chrome is set to strengthen security with a new Chrome 68 update. This will present a new challenge for websites that do not have the proper certificate in place and cause users to steer clear of your site!

        Set to be released in July 2018, the update will use a visual cue to alert users when a site does not appear safe. Chrome 64 flagged all un-encrypted HTTP sites. With Chrome 68, all HTTP sites will be regarded as “not safe”. Google hopes that this will encourage more sites to switch to the trusted HTTPS encryption.

        What is HTTPS?

        HTTPS is a secure adaptation of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol. It is the protocol over which data is sent between your browser and the website that you are connected to. The S stands for “secure” and is an important factor that protects the integrity of your website (whether it handles sensitive information or not). It grants that all of the communications that take place between a browser and a website are encrypted.

        The Chrome 68 update essentially helps to “clean up” the Internet by pushing vulnerable HTTP sites to become secure. The web is destined to gradually leave the old encryption behind and embrace HTTPS as standard.

        What does this mean for businesses?

        Businesses who are still under HTTP may face a fractured user experience. When users are alerted that a website could potentially be dangerous, they will opt not to visit it. As a business incurs less online traffic, they will begin to see a decline in revenue.

        Give us a call to ensure that you maintain a secure connection with your customers and continue to encourage potential customers to visit you online. We can make sure that you are fully compliant with the new update so that you never risk a loss in business!

        Share this
        21 Mar 2018

        Why Keeping Plug-Ins Up-To-Date Is Crucial For Your Business

        Website Plug-ins are pieces of software that can be added to your website for additional functionality. Plug-ins for content management system (CMS) sites such as WordPress and Joomla provide unique customization, but require specific care to ensure a consistent user experience.

        Keeping your plug-ins up-to-date is a task that should be at the top of your list of website management priorities. It is like taking out an insurance policy on your website. Updating is a preemptive step that is guaranteed to protect you in the case of an unforeseen event. Here are three ways updating your plug-ins can make all the difference.

        Updated Plug-Ins Keep Your Site Secure

        Recent research revealed that nearly 83% of hacked WordPress blogs had failed to update their plug-ins before the attack occurred! Outdated plug-ins are gateways for hackers to raid. These software weak spots invite in malicious activity that can completely compromise your site. Fixing these issues can be costly and time-consuming. The downtime required to fix these infections can be detrimental to business, leaving users unable to access information or communicate with your company.

        Updated Plug-Ins Fix Malfunctions  

        If users are experiencing bugs on your website (such as slow loading pages or dead-end links), outdated plug-ins may be to blame. Glitches like these can leave customers frustrated and it can prevent them from accessing key materials. Users expect clean-running, high-speed web pages that perform exceptionally well no matter what device they are using. Rather than letting your customers turn to the competition’s website because it was quicker to load, simply remedy these issues with an update.

        Updated Plug-Ins Increase Functionality

        The Internet moves quickly. Businesses who stay on top of the digital evolution will ascend beyond those who don’t. Updates will instantly boost functionality and bring new features to your site.

        Insuring your business will keep it safe from harm. Insuring your website keeps it safe, serviceable and cutting-edge. So next time a reminder pops up regarding your plug-ins, don’t dismiss it. It could cost you a lot more than a few minutes of your time!

        Share this
        07 Mar 2018

        Still Using GMail or Hotmail? You Could be Putting Your Business at Risk

        When setting up your business email, many people turn to Hotmail or GMail for a free and easy solution. Putting your trust in large companies may seem like the soundest option, as it would appear they have rigorous security systems in place.

        However, many businesses have learned the hard way that placing their important information in the care of these companies can be costlier than they ever expected. Just ask over one billion Yahoo users who were affected by a major data breach in 2013, causing their accounts to be hacked and personal information to be exposed. If you are still using one of these companies to host your business email, here are three important reasons to reconsider.

        Professionalism

        What is most striking about using a middle-company to host your email address is the unprofessional impression it leaves on potential clients. For example, people will likely reach out to Will at will@willscompany.com rather than will_123@hotmail.com. Your emails may even be automatically sent to the trash as free addresses are sometimes regarded as spam. Something as simple as a clean, uncomplicated email address can have an enormous impact on customer retention.

        Encryption

        Unbeknownst to millions of daily users, email services such as GMail are un-encrypted and vulnerable. Cyber-attacks occur too frequently to not have your email account safeguarded. Encryption works by jumbling messages so they appear unreadable to those who are not authorized to receive them. This helps protect personal information shared between staff and clients.

        Support

        Free service providers curb costs by offering zero quality technical support to users. When your email goes down (as it often does with these services), your business is left stranded for an unknown amount of time as you wait for one of your most vital forms of communication to be restored.

        Choosing a large company as your email provider can mean gambling with your business’s security. Choosing a reliable host for your business email ensures a professional image, exceptional protection and competent support from a team that has your best interest in mind. Contact our experts to find out how we can help!

         

        Share this

        Copyright © 2018 Response I.T. All rights reserved.

        Click Me