Technology News from the LIS Helpdesk

Collecting Customer Data

The best practices in collecting customer data

Customer data offers an insight into information such as customer demographics, behaviour, and preferences. This enables businesses to create quality products and positive experiences that will cater to their client base. However, it is not enough for a business to collect customer data. It must collect data that is useful and relevant. Here are some of the best ways to collect useful customer data and avoid challenges.

For the most up to date information about GDPR and gathering customer information visit the Information Commissioners Office website.

Customer data collection offers business benefits, but there is a limit to what kind of data can be gathered. Customer privacy has become a serious concern in modern society. There are various regulatory frameworks that ensure the protection of people’s private information. To avoid running afoul of the law, inform your customers that you will be collecting their data. It is important you specify exactly what data you will be gathering.

Collect identifiers

Whether you’re creating an online survey or a sign up form, collecting customer data is crucial. This information will form the foundation for future analysis and segmentation.

Collecting Customer Data

More and more companies today are relying on customer data to
help them outperform competitors and improve their services.

Track customer interactions

Define important customer interactions. For example, if you own an online store, you need to know how your customers arrived at your site, the items they clicked on, the items they added to their cart, and what they eventually purchased. Tracking each step of their buyer journey — from learning about your business to becoming a customer — will give you insights into what your customers need and want.

Gather behaviour-related data

Don’t focus solely on customers who made a purchase. Think about what other indicators produce meaningful data. In our online store example, you might want to track how many sign up for your email newsletter, which pages they visited on your site, or how much time they spent on each page. Analysing this information will help you determine which aspects of your efforts are most effective and which ones need improvement.

Automate data collection

When gathering customer data, you must minimize the risk of human error. The most effective strategy is to automate as much of the collection process as possible. Apps and tools such as online forms and optical character recognition systems feed information directly into your database. This eliminates paper-centric processes that often lead to mistakes.

Integrate your systems

Redundancies and errors are also common when there are multiple databases managing the same information. You can prevent these issues by working with an IT provider to integrate all your apps, databases, and software solutions. This way, data collected in one database will be synced and consistent across other platforms, reducing manual data entry and, consequently, human error.

Consider who will view the customer date reports

Inevitably, you’ll need to convert data into business intelligence reports. It’s a good idea to identify who will read your reports so you can highlight the most relevant insights for them. For instance, sales managers want to see quarterly sales figures, and human resources teams want to see labour costs compared to revenue.

Update data in real time

Companies today need up-to-the-minute data accuracy in order to stay relevant. Use business intelligence dashboards that collect, organise, and filter data at the click of a button so that you’ll never have to wait a day or more to receive critical information that can guide company decisions.

How can we help your business collect customer data?

Looking for technologies that can help you optimise collecting customer data? Call the LIS Help Desk, our IT consultants are here to help you. We’ll recommend best-of-breed technologies that track the information you need to grow your business.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#CustomerData #Security #ITsupport #Business

 

Register Domain Names

Renew and register your domain name

“On 1st February 2020, the United Kingdom left the European Union. The Withdrawal Agreement provides for a transition period until 31 December 2020. During the transition period organisations, residents and citizens in the UK will continue to be able to hold and register a .eu domain. The plan outlined below will apply as from the end of the transition period.

Find out what you need to do if you hold a .eu domain by visiting the government website.

According to Article 4 (2) (b) of Regulation (EC) No 733/2002, as amended by Regulation (EU) 2019/517. The following persons, undertakings and organisations are eligible to register .eu domain names:

  • a Union citizen, independently of their place of residence;
  • a natural person who is not a Union citizen and who is a resident of a Member State;
  • an undertaking that is established in the Union; or
  • an organisation that is established in the Union, without prejudice to the application of national law.
Domain Names

Do you a have a business or personal website? Is your email address based on your domain name?
Does your business rely on sales via your online shop or email? How would you feel if it all stopped working?

The transition period ended on 31 December 2020. At the end of the transition period, EURid enforced the following measures:

New registrations

As of 1st Jan 2021, EURid does NOT allow the registration of any new domain name by UK registrants. From that date, EURid will allow neither the transfer or update, of any domain name to a UK registrant.

Existing registrations

On 1st October 2020, EURid notified by email all UK registrants and their registrars that they would lose their eligibility as of 1 January 2021. Unless they demonstrated their compliance with the .eu regulatory framework by updating their registration data before 31 December 2020. They could do so by indicating a legally established entity in one of the eligible Union Member States. As well as, updating their residence to a Union Member State, or proving their citizenship of a Union Member State irrespective of their residence.

On 21st December 2020, EURid notified by email all UK registrants who did not demonstrate continued compliance with the eligibility criteria and their registrars about the risk of forthcoming non-compliance with the .eu regulatory framework.

On 1st January 2021, EURid notified by email all UK registrants and their registrars that their domain name was no longer compliant with the .eu regulatory framework and therefore. It will be moved to the so-called “SUSPENDED” status until 31 March 2021. A domain name in the “SUSPENDED” status can no longer support any service such as website and email. However, may still be reinstated if registration data is updated to meet the eligibility criteria.

On 1st April 2021, EURid will once again notify by email all UK registrants and their registrars that their domain name is no longer compliant with the .eu regulatory framework and consequently is moved to the so-called “WITHDRAWN” status. A domain name in the “WITHDRAWN” status is not in the zone file and cannot support any service.

On 1 January 2022, all the domain names in the “WITHDRAWN” status, formerly assigned to UK registrants, will be REVOKED. Subsequently, they will become AVAILABLE for general registration. Their release will occur in batches for security reasons.

Choose your domain name wisely

Choosing the right domain name for your website is crucial for your success. If you choose the wrong domain name, then it can be a hassle to switch later on without affecting your brand and search rankings.

Contact The LIS Help Desk to speak to one of our Technical Support staff.  We can register you a new domain name for your business today, or maybe we have a domain name of interest in our large library of domains for sale.  We can also provide web hosting for your new domain, Microsoft Office 365 for your email and cater for all your other IT requirements.

Domain names sell fast. Contact us today to see if your favourite domain names are available.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITIAL

#DomainNames #Registering #Renewals #ITsupport

Microsoft Planner

Reach for big goals this year with Microsoft Planner. Microsoft 365 has some amazing productivity and collaborative tools already built in. Did you know that within Teams there’s a useful project planning tool?

Watch our short video for the lowdown

How Microsoft Planner works

Microsoft Planner is a great lightweight planning tool that’s included in most Office 365 packages. Its basic purpose is to provide easy, visual task management for a group of users. This includes when, how and by whom these tasks are assigned as well as their current status.

Planner is also based upon Office 365 Groups. This means creating a new Planner plan will also create a group behind the scenes. This makes it easy to govern membership and add additional workloads onto the group in question.

Will it make a difference?

Creating tasks and assigning it to team members is a continuous process inside all organisations and businesses. How many of you are doing it in a systematic and organized manner? You can change this anytime with Microsoft Planner. The biggest difference Microsoft Planner brings to an organisation when compared to other to-do apps is that it is team focused. This different approach helps you to achieve more productivity and control on your team, especially when you are processing a complex task with a specialised team. How to use Microsoft Planner effectively? The easiest and effective way to use Planner now is from Microsoft Teams. You do not need to switch applications to manage your tasks in Planner now. Let us see what you can do with Planner in Microsoft Teams.

What are the things you can do with Microsoft Planner?

To start creating tasks, assigning it to your team members, and keep checking progress from Microsoft Teams, you need to create a team first. You can also go with an already existing team if you wish. After creating the team, you need to add members to it and add the Planner app as a tab to the team.

What are the benefits?

Microsoft PlannerThrough Microsoft Planner and Microsoft Teams, team leaders will easily be able to review the current workload of employees, assign new tasks, and follow up on tasks that are important or may be falling behind. Employees can understand their workload better and follow through independently, without having to take additional steps to figure out which tasks they should best be prioritising. 

One of the major advantages to Microsoft Teams is its ability to integrate with software solutions such as the Microsoft Team Planner. If your team hasn’t switched to Microsoft Teams yet, it may be time. Contact the LIS Help Desk if you need to migrate to Microsoft Teams.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#WatchItNow #MicrosoftPlannerVideo #HowTo

Adobe Flash Ends

Adobe Flash ends support for iconic plugin

On December 31, 2020, Adobe officially stopped support for Flash – the browser plugin that helped define the early internet. The company announced it would be killing off Flash in 2017, but the time has finally come. Adobe won’t provide any new security updates and is actively encouraging people to uninstall it. It will also stop videos and animations running in Flash Player from January 12, 2021.

Adobe Flash Ends after 25 years

The plugin was first created way back in 1996. It became a pillar of the internet by allowing people to stream videos and animations within the browser.

Animator David Firth told the BBC: ‘You could make a full three-minute animation with multiple characters, backgrounds, sounds and music less than 2 megabytes (MB) and viewable from within the browser.’

Adobe Flash Ends

Adobe Flash Player is finally laid to rest, and people are mourning its death with memes.

Why was Flash popular?

When Flash was first released, a majority of Internet users connected via dial-up connections. Thankfully the Internet is now a lot faster thanks to supper fast broadband.

However, Flash let web designers and animators deliver exciting content that could be downloaded relatively quickly.

“You could make a full three-minute animation with multiple characters, backgrounds, sounds and music less than 2 megabytes (MB) and viewable from within the browser,” explained animator David Firth.

His surreal animations and characters – such as the gangly, green hunchback Salad Fingers – enjoyed viral success before the advent of social media.

“I just made the stuff I wanted to see that I felt was missing: dark, surreal comedy,” he told the BBC.

“There were no shortcuts to viral content. No corporate fingers twiddling the algorithms. It was simply attention-grabbing and quality material that rose to the top.”

Sites such as Newgrounds – described as “the YouTube of Flash” by Mr Firth – sprung up to serve the growing demand for cartoons and interactive games.

“It was the first website I’d ever seen that allowed anyone to post content and it be available in real time. If the community felt the content was low quality, it would get removed at the end of the day, so you actually had to take that into account when posting,” he said.

What happened?

Flash was about more than just animations – it also let websites such as YouTube stream high-quality video. By 2009, Adobe said Flash was installed on 99% of internet-connected desktop PCs. But by then the world was shifting towards mobile devices and Adobe was slow to react.

“We had optimised for lower-end phones with Flash Lite,” explains David Mendels, former executive vice president of products at Adobe.

“It was incredibly successful in places like Japan, but it wasn’t the same as the full desktop Flash. It wasn’t fully compatible.”

In April 2010, Apple’s Steve Jobs wrote a blistering open letter headlined Thoughts On Flash. It explained why Apple would not let Flash run on iPhones and iPads.

Flash, he argued, was cumbersome to use on a touchscreen, unreliable, a security threat and a drain on battery life.

He said videos and animations could instead be delivered with HTML5 and other open technologies. This will make Flash redundant on a smartphone or tablet. “When the iPhone came out, Flash wasn’t quite ready,” Mr Mendels told the BBC. “But also, I think Apple wanted to create an Apple-only ecosystem.”

Eventually, Adobe did get a version of its Flash Player working on smartphones.

Technology moves on as Adobe Flash ends

But the internet had moved on. Big brands such as Facebook, Netflix and YouTube were already streaming videos to smartphones without Flash and in November 2011 Adobe ended development of Flash for mobile devices.

It continued to produce Flash for desktop computers, but the software suffered from multiple security flaws.

In 2015, Apple disabled the plug-in in its Safari web browser by default, and Google’s Chrome started blocking some pieces of Flash content.

In July 2017, Adobe announced that it would retire Flash in 2020.

It said other technologies, such as HTML5 had matured enough to provide a “viable alternative”, without requiring users to install and update a dedicated plug-in.

What happens to all the old animations?

It is sad that Adobe Flash will be ending. As of 12th January 2021, Flash Player will prevent content from displaying. There are concerns that years of animations, games and interactive websites will be lost.

Gaming company Zynga closed the original version of its FarmVille video game on New Year’s Eve after 11 years, as it relied on Flash to run.

An open, collaborative project known as Ruffle is working to develop software that can play Flash content in a web browser, without requiring a plug-in.

The Internet Archive is currently hosting more than 2,000 items. Its collection includes episodes of Salad Fingers, although David Firth has posted official copies on YouTube, which he considers having been a “Flash killer”.

“As time went on and YouTube offered higher and higher-quality video formats, there was simply no reason to post in the Flash format,” he explained.

But since Flash was also used for interactive websites and games, there was “every reason to preserve the format”, he told the BBC.

Many of the feature’s animators used are still available in Adobe Animate. In its final update, Adobe said: “We want to take a moment to thank all of our customers and developers who have used and created amazing Flash Player content over the last two decades.

“We are proud that Flash had a crucial role in evolving web content across animation, interactivity, audio, and video.”

How can I remove Flash from my computer?

Adobe has provided instructions for removing Flash on Windows and Mac computers on its website.

It has warned: “Uninstalling Flash Player will help to secure your system. Adobe does not intend to issue Flash Player updates or security patches after the end-of-life date.”

Alternatively, please contact the LIS Help Desk and speak to our knowledgeable technical support team. We can assist you with updates and health checks for your computer systems. Now is the time to review your IT requirements. Make sure you have the latest software and security. This will provide the most effective solutions for your team and let you customers have the best experience.

LIS – DIGITAL SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#AdobeFlash #Plugins #ITsupport #Upgrades

Your 2021 Productivity Super Guide

2021 productivity super guideReady to make this a wildly successful year for your business? Our 2021 productivity super guide will help shake off the memories of 2020. As well as enabling you to focus on increasing sales and profitability. Excellent. A great place to start is helping you and your team to get more done in less time. We’ve pulled together a productivity super guide, looking at setting goals, collaboration, and communication. And of course, it lists our most highly recommended productivity tools.

Download our 2021 productivity super guide.

What a year we’ve left behind

Although, with many of the negatives we had no control over, came some positive changes to the way we all do things. So many businesses now have people working from home on a permanent or semi-permanent basis. As much as no-one asked for this, it’s been great to see how many businesses that we work closely with have adapted. And in the process, they have become more flexible.

This flexibility often results in a more motivated, engaged workforce. Who really appreciate the ability to work different hours and work from home (WFH). This is a huge benefit. Especially if you’re looking to hire new people. Because what’s the greatest competitive advantage in your business? It’s your people, of course.

We believe that offering flexible working and the choice between WFH and going into the office, will help you attract the very best people in your field. This year is going to be a “buyer’s market” for employers. A great opportunity to take on truly excellent new people. But, of course, along with this comes a responsibility to give everyone the tools and accessibility they need to be able to excel at their roles from wherever they choose to work.

That means you, as the business owner or manager, need to be on top of issuing the right devices, keeping security tight, and network access open but safe. After the 2020 lockdowns, hopefully you’ve already got the fundamentals in place. But going forward, it’s as important to offer your team as much IT support in their homes, as they get in the office.

We can help you with our 2021 productivity super guide

So, here’s a question to ask – what else could you do to help them achieve more?

If they were given the right tools:

  • Help your team make the most of their time
  • The right tools will complement what they do
  • Tools will simplify processes

… could they get more done in a day?

Probably. And fortunately, we live in an age where there is an app to help you do pretty much anything.

Why wouldn’t you take advantage of that?

The thing is, it’s too easy to get stuck in our ways. Yes, even when it comes to business. We log into the same software each morning, have the same grumbles about how we wish it did things differently; then carry on with our day.

“Sometimes what we need is a new set of eyes. Someone who can stand back and see the simple solutions that we simply can’t”

Because when something is a habit, it can be difficult to imagine a different way of doing it. Even if that new way is easier and brings about more benefits – like a more productive team, and better customer satisfaction.

Could we be that new set of eyes for you? We’d like to offer your business a productivity audit.

During this audit, our experts will take a detailed look at your business, what you do and the tools you currently use to do it. We’ll talk to you about how your processes would work in an ideal world and help you to identify the apps or software that can help that to happen.

Let’s set up an IT Audit

Three BIG questions for you:

  1. Do you currently have an IT support company?
  2. How happy were you with them last year?
  3. If the answer isn’t “utterly delighted”, let’s jump on a Zoom or book a phone call.

Everything that happened in 2020 taught businesses round here just how important proactive, responsive IT support is. Contact the LIS Help Desk to discuss your business, and to answer any questions you may have.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

 #NewYearGoals #ProductivityGuide #Make2021YourYear