Upgrade Your Business Phone System

With technology’s continued evolution, it’s challenging to ensure the tools your business relies on are up to date, like your business telephone system. Is it time to upgrade your business phone system? After all, people get used to things. Upgrading a vital part of their day-to-day workflow means a time investment because you need to train them on how to use it.

Upgrade Your Business Phone System: The Benefits

Watch our new video to see the benefits from installing a 2020 VoIP system for your business.

That means not only taking time out of their day for training on a new system. But, also preparing for speed bumps along the way as your team learns how to adjust. There’s also the simple fact that new equipment costs money. It can be a substantial investment, but one that’s well worth it down the road.

A recent article published PC Mag UK compares the best business VoIP providers for 2020.

What’s important to keep in mind is that your legacy systems have hidden costs that might not be immediately obvious. Old technology is generally much more vulnerable to some sort of breach or hack. This can open you up to liability issues and a risk of taking a big hit to your credibility with customers.

Even more importantly, you might be spending a substantial amount of money maintaining, repairing, and supporting your old business telephone system.

It’s good to talk

Deciding on a phone system will be a big decision for your business. Factor in location, size, your sector and the complexity of the business integration. As well as the level of tech savviness in the workplace and the available infrastructure you’re working with. However, don’t ignore the bigger picture.

Contact the LIS Help Desk to discuss your options. With no obligation to buy and your new system could save you money.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#Phones #VoIP #UpgradeSystems #Business

Accessible tech revolution

The Coronavirus has been around for several months and has started an accessible tech revolution. Many people have changed the way they work during the Coronavirus pandemic, but for some disabled people this has brought some specific challenges.

Improvements in accessible technology has seen artificial intelligence software provide real-time, on-screen transcriptions of what someone is saying in video calls, but there are concerns that some video calling platforms and apps are not as accessible as they could be. BBC Click’s Paul Carter find out more.

The accessible tech revolution begins…

Accessible tech revolution

Business are now staying in touch with their teams and clients through video conferencing. How accessible is the technology to the disabled community? An accessible tech revolution is beginning.

What is The Social Model of Disability?

The Coronavirus crisis means that many of us are now working remotely and using videoconferencing platforms and tools. But how do we use them in an accessible way?

Drake Music have been researching and learning about accessibility in video conferencing/ online meetings/ remote music sessions. Here are some of the solutions to assist businesses with the accessible tech revolution.

PACE

A group conversation can move rapidly. This can be inaccessible to some people. In video calls there can also be an overwhelming amount of information to process (audio, visual, chat text etc). Check in with your group as to their requirements.

Some suggestions to support accessible conversations would be:

  • Assign a moderator who checks in on people’s understanding and reiterates key points at regular intervals.
  • Ask participants to speak one at a time.
  • For large groups consider controlling participants’ audio to allow them to chat to everyone, or just the host. (Note: in Zoom there is a ‘raise hand’ function to allow participants to signal that they wish to comment/ask a question.)
  • Use the chat function to record key points, giving each a title to separate key info out from general chat.
  • Record the meeting and share it afterwards to let people listen to important sections again.
  • Offer an option for people to switch off cameras.
  • Offer to record the meeting and send the video and a transcript of the chat to participants after.
  • If you/your participants are new to video-conferencing here is a useful guide to Zoom from Copronet Wales

Audio

A large meeting may be noisy and hard to follow. This will make it more inaccessible. Some suggestions to improve the experience for the end user could be:

  • Ask everyone to mute their mics when not speaking to limit extraneous noise.
  • Consider using an external mic if you are hosting a meeting, to improve sound quality.
  • Use a video conferencing system which supports Subtitles/Captioning – this can be beneficial for everyone and is especially important if you are using screen sharing and participants can’t see you while you are speaking.
    1. Skype – Automatic captions, not always 100% accurate, but helpful. Multi-videos can crash more.
    2. Zoom – Captions can be enabled, but someone has to be assigned to type them.
    3. Google Hangouts – Automatic captions/subtitles, we haven’t tested these yet.
    4. Gotomeeting – Offers transcriptions after the meeting, but possibly not live. Caption info for
    5. Teams – Microsoft’s service offers automatic captions/subtitles. We haven’t tested it yet.
  • For captions, speak clearly, slowly and into the mic. Limit background noise and try to avoid everyone speaking at the same time. Also allow for extra time to transfer captioners into breakout rooms, or to get set up at the start of an event.
  • If you are using slides consider sharing your speaker notes alongside them, so that people can read along if needed.
  • If you share videos, ensure they are captioned.
  • Headphones may be useful

Please note: Automatic captions may work reasonably well for smaller conversations and one-to-one discussions, but that for training, livestreaming or bigger group meetings it is not always the best option.

Sign Language

When hosting a remote meeting which involves sign language there are specific considerations needed in order to ensure it is accessible – e.g. turn-taking, the visibility of the speaker to the interpreter, the tiring nature of watching signing in 2D.

There is an excellent post on The Limping Chicken blog by Jo Wootton which covers this topic in depth and which we recommend reading.

Access to Work support can be used to pay for a captioning service or BSL interpreters if the video-conference is for work and that support is required to allow you to fully participate in meetings.

Stay accessible within your business

We understand the challenging times facing business at present. It is not easy to have some of your team working from home and some in the office. A company must make sure that they supply all the right equipment to all their staff. This will make sure no employee is disadvantaged when doing their job.

Contact the LIS Help Desk to discuss your concerns and/or requirements, Our experienced team will be able to advise you on the correct software, hardware and systems to assist your employees. Take advantage of our security and back up solutions. As well as the latest telecoms and video conferencing systems to enable you clients and team to stay in regular contact.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

Instagram as a news source?

Every month younger people are using Instagram as a news source

Why are millennials and Gen Z turning to Instagram as a news source? For many young people, clicking on to Instagram to get the latest news is now second nature. We all used to find the latest news in a daily newspaper. Instagram was a site that has traditionally shared lifestyle content rather than hard news. This shift in millennials and Gen Z users, have made news updates more important than ever.

The Guardian published a story this week. They spoke about young people getting information about protests, police actions and stay-at-home orders. Using their social media feeds – but the trend isn’t harmless.

According to recent data on how people are accessing news about the coronavirus pandemic, more than 25% of 18- 24 year olds in the United States reported getting their news from Instagram within the last month. The age group was unsurprisingly the most likely to use social media as a news source in general. Other popular platforms including Snapchat, where 19% of people in the 18-24 age range turned for news. Whilst TikTok drew in 9%.

Instagram as a news source

Instagram features like IGTV (a standalone video app) and Instagram stories could contribute to its surge as a source for news since these features are visually interactive.

The latest trend

The trend toward social media as a news outlet isn’t exactly surprising. It seems to have risen in recent months as people turn to Instagram for information about community-led initiatives surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement. Experts suggest such platforms may present a more attractive alternative in an age of growing news-media scepticism.

“Social media offers, on the one hand, a medium for filling what feels like a vacuum of trustworthy information sources,” Amelia Gibson, assistant professor and director of the Community Equity Data and Information Lab at the University of North Carolina, told the Guardian.

Of course, this doesn’t by any means make social media a flawless news source. On platforms where anyone can be a journalist and fact-checking is — at best — optional. Concerns about bias, fake news and misinformation are valid.

“Our social media environments are still so segmented that some people really do live in different information worlds,” said Gibson. “In one information ecosystem, people might read this moment [and current social justice movements] as a hopeful international awakening related to anti-racism, others read it as a time of deep existential threat.”

The solution, according to Gibson, could be in a combination of social media’s ability to amplify voices and social movements, coupled with the journalistic rigor and responsibility of traditional news outlets. “I think that social media has done a lot to push social justice movements forward in the last decade but that traditional media still has a lot of power to command national and international attention.”

Helping businesses stay safe, secure and up to date

We are unable to predict the latest fads, news stories or trends. As a business owner / decision maker, it is up to you to make sure you IT system is up to date and secure. Your team rely on the latest technology to help them with their work load.

Companies working through this tough time have employees working from home and in the office. Your IT system is more important than ever to keep you company running. Contact the LIS Help Desk for a free IT audit. We can advise on hardware and software updates. Recommend the latest security with our anti-spam, anti-virus and office 365 security package. As well as cloud back-up solutions and telecoms.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#News #SocialMedia #Instagram #ITSupport

Out of office messages

Create effective out of office messages

You crossed everything off your to-do list and cleared out your inbox. There’s one last thing for you to do before you go on holiday. Write and activate your out of office messages on your email. It may seem like a simple thing, but if your out-of-office message is unclear or incomplete, it can cause problems while you’re out and when you return. Here are some tips from St. George International who are a language specialist.

We explore some of the unashamedly quirky out of office messages. Millions of employees across the UK will be thinking of going away for the summer. We are advised by the government that we should support local businesses and take advantage of staycations. However, we are sure some of you may decide to go abroad.

Before you decide where you wish to go, there’s the small matter of setting an out of office reply. While some businesses will have a standard template for employees to use, others will see this as a chance to be a little more creative.

You may be on going on holiday, but business associates are still in the office. Failing to tell people that you’re out of the office could come back to bite you, especially if they’re expecting a prompt response.

Be creative with your out of office messages

Here are some witty and original out-of-office messages we’ve spotted that show there is another way. So, if you’re planning to ditch the mundane and to go for something a little different this, we hope they may inspire you.

The “recipient could not be reached”

ERROR 405: Could not reach copywriter.

Soz. Haha! What a brilliantly geeky joke, that. But in all seriousness, if you’re wanting something done, no can do. I’m out of the office from now (date) until then (date). And if you’re that Nigerian Prince, asking for more money, then no. Not until you’ve paid that £12,000 back into my account. Other than that? I’ll bring any and all answers on my return. Peace out.”

Copywriter, Roy Gilbert, definitely put his creative skills to use when he wrote this amusing out-of-office reply. Unafraid to poke fun at himself, Roy hit the comedic nail on the head with the highly informal nature of this auto-reply message.

The “robot sent it”

“[name] is away from the office. Email contact during this time may be irregular or non-existent. When she gets back she will be swamped by backlog. Try to forgive her, she is a mere human and thus, weak. This message was NOT sent by a human, but by a robot. We robots are neither weak nor fallible. We are tireless and will one day rule the Universe.”

This out-of-office was tweeted by Jim Julius. Although he never reveals the author’s name, Jim was clearly impressed by its creativity, crediting the message as the “best out-of-office auto email ever”.

The “your credit card has been charged”

“Thank you for your email. Your credit card has been charged $5.99 for the first ten words and $1.99 for each additional word in your message.”

You can’t help but admire the brazenness of this anonymous out-of-office message. Not only is it not helpful in any way (notably, the sender fails to provide any detail of when he or she will return to work) it’s written entirely for comedy value.

The “tell it like it is”

“I’m currently out of the office and can be reached by waiting until I get back.”

Another anonymous entry on our list. This user doesn’t pull any punches in saying what we’re all thinking when we set an out-of-office message. Full marks for honesty.

The “your email is in a queue”

“Thank you for your message, which has been added to a queuing system. You are currently in 352nd place and can expect to receive a reply in approximately 19 weeks.”

There’s nothing like managing expectations, which is exactly what this user has done with this out-of-office reply. Ok, so the likelihood is the response will more likely be in the region of 1-2 days, but we like how comedy value has been prioritised over factualness.

The “wishful thinking”

“I am currently out at a job interview and will reply to you if I fail to get the position.”

We’d love to know who had the confidence to set this as his or her out-of-office reply. Not for everyone and we think you’d have to have an extremely understanding boss to get away with this. (Or genuinely hate your job so much you’re beyond caring what anyone thinks!).

The “Back to The Future”

“If you’re reading this, Doc Brown was unable to make lightning strike the clock tower, and I’m stuck in 1985. I won’t be able to respond to emails or voicemail until 9ish on [MM/DD], or until email is invented — whatever comes first.”

Ok, so the comedic value in this relies entirely on the email sender being familiar with the ‘Back to The Future’ film franchise, but fans of the 80s classic are sure to appreciate the throwback.

The “desk thief”

“I’m away from my desk at the moment. My cubicle and computer are still here, but someone took my desk. I’ve gone off to look for it.”

The product of someone who doesn’t take him or herself too seriously. While we’re sure this reply will irritate some email senders we can’t help but admire the completely silly tone of this unorthodox reply.

The “I’m basically just ignoring you”

“I will be out of the office and returning next week. I have incredibly easy access to a phone and email, but I assure you, it will not be used for work purposes.”

Well, they do say honesty is the best policy and you don’t get more honest than that.

How can we help you?

Whether you’re planning on having your holiday in the UK or abroad, out-of-office message are important whether simple or to the point is more your style.

When your IT team is absent, your business doesn’t have to face disruption.  We can supply one of our experienced IT support consultants for holiday cover or extra help during short and long-term absences in your IT team.

Contact the LIS Help Desk to discuss your options. We can make sure your IT systems are fully protected with our security software and packages. Take care of back-ups ensuring no loss of data. As well as assisting your employees with any technical issues. We make sure you have peace of mind. Stay safe and have a good holiday!

#OutOfOffice #SummerHolidays #ITSupport

Cyber-attacks On UK Sports Industry

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) report cyber-attacks on UK sports industry have increased. At least 70% of sporting institutions in the UK have suffered a security incident in the past 12 months.

Some of the cyber-attacks on UK sports industry are disclosed in the report Cyber threat to sports organisations. They include blocked turnstiles at stadiums after systems were taken offline by ransomware. This almost led to the cancellation of a football match. A £15,000 loss to a racecourse after a staff member fell victim to an eBay scam. It promised equipment that never materialised. Similarly, organised criminals tried to sabotage a Premier League transfer deal by hacking into emails worth £1m.

The NCSC said cyber criminals tended to use common tactics. They target the sports industry with cyber-enabled fraud and shutting down critical systems with ransomware.

Cyber-attacks On UK Sports Industry

Sports industry urged to reform cyber security after £1m Premier League phishing scam.
Greater awareness is needed by the industry as attacks increase.

Cost of the damage by cyber-attacks on UK sports industry

About 30% of the incidents reported to the NCSC caused direct financial damage to the victim. On average £10,000 per attack and the biggest single loss clocked in at £4m. Some 40% of the reported incidents involved malware and a quarter of those were ransomware attacks.

“Cyber security might not be an obvious consideration for the sports sector. Sports are slowly returning as lockdown eases. The impact of cyber criminals cashing in on this industry is real.” Said Paul Chichester, operations director at the NCSC.

Chichester added, the sports sector struggles to recover from the impact of Covid-19. Organisations could reduce their risk by paying more attention to increasing their security of attacks.

“Sport is a pillar of many of our lives. We are eagerly anticipating the return to full stadiums and a busy sporting calendar” he said. “I would urge sporting bodies to use this time to look at how they can improve security. In conclusion, acting now will help protect them and fans from the consequences of cyber-crime.”

British Olympic Association

Hugh Robertson, chairman of the British Olympic Association, said: “Improving cyber security across the sports sector is critical. The British Olympic Association sees this report as a crucial first step. It will help sports organisations to better understand the threat and highlights practical steps to improve cyber security.”

Rugby Football League

Tony Sutton, chief operating officer at the Rugby Football League, added: “The issue of cyber security is one that all sports, including rugby league, take seriously. We are growing our digital capabilities and online platforms. Protecting the governing body, members, customers and stakeholders are important and we welcome the guidance from the NCSC report.”

Make sure you are protected

Unfortunately, LIS are unable to predict when your team will win their next match. However, enjoy watching your favourite sport whatever the result.

Above all, do not make the same mistake as the sports industry. Do you have any concerns about your IT security? Then contact the LIS Help Desk and our friendly team will recommend the latest solutions to upgrade your security. However, stay safe, secure and protect your business.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#CyberCrime #Security #ITSupoort #Sports