Make Strategic Decisions Better with a Virtual CIO

close up of 3 wooden letter blocks with the letters C, I, O on a wooden table

Many businesses do not have the resources or budget to hire technicians to perform regular maintenance on their systems, let alone someone managing the technicians behind the scenes. The chief information officer, or CIO, is the one who would typically make these calls, but businesses that cannot hire an in-house CIO for whatever reason have the option of hiring a virtual CIO. Read on to learn about the benefits of a Virtual CIO for your business.

What is a Virtual CIO?

A virtual CIO is the same as a traditional CIO, just not on-site. A virtual CIO is an outsourced IT resource under contract with your organization to provide services involved with handling your company’s IT strategy.

The significant difference here is that a virtual CIO looks at your IT strategy as a whole and how that strategy aligns with your business goals. When done correctly, the virtual CIO encourages and informs your IT decisions, allowing you to move toward your organization’s specific goals.

The best way to illustrate the difference between technicians and the virtual CIO is that technicians are responsible for addressing day-to-day challenges and issues for your organization’s IT infrastructure. In contrast, the virtual CIO is responsible for ensuring that the business’ long-term technology goals are met. Think about the virtual CIO as the travel agent booking your vacation, planning things in the style of a roadmap each step of the way.

What are the Benefits of a Virtual CIO?

The first notable benefit of a virtual CIO is the price. Considering their status as a c-suite employee, the traditional CIO is going to require considerable compensation. Small businesses often cannot offer competitive salaries for such high-demand talent, so instead of investing in a position, you can invest in a service with more affordable monthly payments. Plus, you don’t have to invest in finding a CIO’s searching or hiring process, increasing the value you get from outsourcing.

Furthermore, there is a certain level of objectivity that comes from a virtual CIO. Sometimes people get caught up in the passion of running a business and start to make decisions that might not make sense. They let their feelings and predispositions dictate their actions. Someone from outside the organization is more likely to make more objective decisions, hence why many companies hire external auditors or consultants.

Without someone spearheading your IT efforts, they are doomed to fail. Let 4 Corner IT take this task on, and you can say goodbye to the stress associated with technology decisions. To learn more about the benefits of a virtual CIO, reach out to us at (954) 474-2204.

How Will Android Apps Work on Windows 11?

close-up View of The New Microsoft Windows 11 Logo on Computer Screen

With the news that Android applications will be available on Windows 11, users can expect to find Android apps available for download with a few terms and conditions to apply.

Let’s look at how this integration will roll out and why it may not be the solution we hoped for.

How will Android apps be available on Windows 11?

Rather than relying on a version of the Google Play Store optimized for Windows, Android applications will be available on Windows through the app store maintained by Amazon. This arrangement brings a few challenges with it, however.

For one, Amazon’s Appstore offers remarkably few apps compared to the other marketplaces. What’s worse, this lack of apps is particularly apparent regarding the productivity-based software you’d expect to find. Naturally, there aren’t any of Google’s applications, and many famous business applications like Trello, Slack, and Asana are missing. LastPass, 1Password, and Bitwarden are also absent as far as password management solutions are concerned. Many Microsoft programs don’t appear either. While Outlook, the all-in-one version of Office, and OneNote are there, others aren’t. Major banking applications aren’t there.

Exacerbating this issue is that many of the apps available aren’t correctly maintained, far outdated compared to the versions present on the Play Store.

Why is this the case?

The root of all of these issues is Google Play Services, a key component to many applications’ operations. Google Play Services enables an application to handle purchases, use location data, push notifications, and various other functions.

Naturally, this makes Google Play Services critical to the functionality of Android applications and a challenge to host on more than one app store and why many titles are missing from Amazon’s. A developer effectively has to reinvent the wheel to put the same application on Amazon’s Appstore. Otherwise, the application breaks.

So, with developers simply not focusing their efforts on optimizing their applications for all platforms, these deficits will be reflected in the applications available on Windows 11.

Will this change?

Perhaps, provided that app developers focus on making their applications available through Amazon’s Appstore. In the meantime, you can count on 4Corner IT to equip your team members with the tools they need to function efficiently.

Give us a call at (954) 474-2204 to learn more.

4 Options for Your Business’ Communication Infrastructure

overhead view of a wooden table with several hands holding laptops and phones and communications graphics overlaid

Businesses depend on their communications solution to work with clients, vendors, and their staff. Depending on the specific needs of the company, a business might implement any number of communication solutions, all of which have various strengths, weaknesses, and uses. We’ll walk you through some of the most common communication solutions, as well as why you might want them for your company.

We want to kick this off with a quick reminder that all of these solutions here are fully capable of being implemented in a cloud-based environment. This is important because it improves accessibility and allows your team to stay connected no matter where they are!

Now, let’s get into the details.

Email

You likely already have an email server for your business, but if not, then there’s no better time to talk about the benefits. Not only does it let you stay in touch with clients and give your company a professional presence, but it also gives you a way to communicate in-office with your coworkers and staff. It goes without saying how important email is, but you will want to make sure that your solution best suits your company’s needs. One of the big considerations you will have to make is whether you want to host your own or outsource the responsibility to a provider. As always, it depends on your company’s budget and technology management expertise.

Instant Messaging

For cases when emails are not urgent enough, you have instant messaging. Instant messaging allows you to instantaneously connect with people within your company for whatever you happen to need. IMs are particularly useful to get answers to quick questions or to get an immediate response. They can also be helpful for just chatting and staying in touch; group chats can be very effective at building camaraderie and establishing a good company culture.

Voice over IP

Email and instant messaging are more text-based methods of communication, so let’s discuss another method that relies on voice: VoIP, or Voice over IP. VoIP can effectively replace your company’s telephone solution with software for your desktop, laptop, or smartphone. It’s particularly great because it eliminates the need to work with your local telephone company by allowing you to use your Internet connection instead. Plus, VoIP has all of the features that your traditional telephone solution has, plus some.

Unified Communications Solutions

Perhaps one of the best ways to stay in touch with your company is with a unified communications solution that includes most, if not all of the above features. It provides a single centralized solution for all of your company’s communication needs. Think of the solutions like Slack and Microsoft Teams–these are great examples of unified communications solutions.

4Corner IT can equip you with all of the important tools you need to boost communications in the workplace. To learn more about what we can do for your business, reach out to us at (954) 474-2204.

Why Your Business Should Start Taking Advantage of Virtualization

black and white terminal control mainframe in data center ranks among supercomputers

Businesses use a lot of technology to keep themselves competitive and operationally efficient. One way that organizations use to make their technology infrastructure more accessible is through taking advantage of virtualization. Let’s discuss what virtualization is, how it benefits businesses and some examples of how you might consider leveraging virtualization to your company’s benefit.

Virtualization for Hardware and Software

Virtualization in its most basic sense is taking something and making it virtual. In regards to hardware and software, it involves taking these parts of your technology infrastructure and making them available in a virtual environment. Virtual applications and hardware solutions can be deployed to the cloud so that they can be accessed by any online device. Some examples of virtualization might include creating virtual machines, like workstations and server units, that are hosted in a virtual environment for as-needed access.

What Benefits Are There to Virtualization?

Virtual machines are great for organizations that want to consolidate their infrastructure and improve the accessibility of resources. For example, let’s say that you have three server units for your business, one of which is dedicated to legacy applications that are not supported on the latest operating systems. You might run a virtual machine to allow these applications to do what they must with the need to run multiple servers just to make ends meet. In other words, consolidating your infrastructure allows you to simplify it and invest fewer resources to accomplish the same tasks. You also improve security, as each instance of an operating system can be isolated.

Desktop virtualization is also an incredibly useful tool that can let you run instances of operating systems on machines that might otherwise not be able to run them, and it’s all thanks to the computing power of the host machine. For example, you might utilize “thin” computing hardware, or slimmed-down desktops, for your company’s workstations. The operating system and desktop infrastructure are then accessed through the virtual environment. It’s a great way to reduce costs and simplify your infrastructure as a whole.

How Can Your Business Start Taking Advantage of Virtualization?

If your business is ready to start taking advantage of virtualization, we recommend working with 4Corner IT to determine which aspects of your business would do well in a virtual environment and what you should avoid. All businesses are different, and one solution that works for other organizations might not work for yours. We can perform a comprehensive IT evaluation to help you make this determination.

4Corner IT can help you begin taking advantage of virtualization solutions in a way that is in line with your organization’s goals. To learn more about what we can do for your business, reach out to us at (954) 474-2204.

Going Paperless Offers More Value Than You Think

green computer key that reads "Go paperless"

Paper documents have always been a major part of doing business, whether it’s signing contracts between you and your clients or employee paperwork from when you make new hires. The thing with paper documents, however, is that they can take up a ton of space in filing cabinets, and depending on your habits, they can quickly become unorganized.

There are several benefits to going paperless, and your organization can take steps toward making this happen through the use of great technology solutions.

The Benefits of Going Paperless

Here are some of the benefits to going paperless for your business:

  • Protecting documents from being lost, stolen, or destroyed
  • Improved security and privacy through the use of digital filing systems
  • Greater access to important documents for both customers and employees alike
  • Less wasted capital on paper, ink, and toner
  • Less storage space utilized on-premises
  • Ease of editing and sharing documents

Scanning Important Documents

While all of these benefits are great and can contribute to a more effective work process as a whole, it’s important to remember that, depending on how long you have been in business, you probably have a ton of documents that must be converted to a digital file format. One way to do this is by scanning files and converting them into a PDF file format. PDFs are great for accessibility, but they cannot be easily edited. Depending on the solution you are using, you can include fillable forms in your PDF documents that make them ideal for forms you might send to employees or customers.

Digital Signage Solutions

Digital signage solutions are perfect for finding an easier way to draw up things like contracts or consent forms. Basically, digital signage solutions allow whoever is signing the document to “e-sign” or electronically sign a document in much the same way they would if they were physically writing out their signature. Digital signage solutions can make sharing documents in this way easier and more efficient, smoothing out workflows and decreasing service time.

Cloud-Based Document Storage Systems

The real benefit of going paperless comes from the solutions that enable it, like a cloud-based document storage system. These systems give anyone with the appropriate permissions access to view or edit documents. Furthermore, documents stored in these systems can be searched for, meaning no more digging through filing cabinets when you need to find a very specific document.

4Corner IT can help your business take the appropriate steps toward a paperless office. To learn more about what we can do for your business, reach out to us at (954) 474-2204.