Friday, May 10, 2013
When was the last time you checked your smartphone or browsed the web on your tablet? More than likely you’ve had your fingers on a touch screen recently, and most people have their mobile device within arms reach.
Chances are, you aren’t the only one who has a mobile device within arm’s reach throughout the day. Mobile devices like smartphones, tablets and eBooks are running rampant these days, and they’ve opened the doors to reaching audiences in a very unique, and more interactive, way.
The first step to capitalizing on the seemingly endless reservoir of mobile technology is making sure your business’ online presence is mobile friendly.
The Mobile Website Breakdown
Mobile friendly websites are just what they sound like—websites that are able to adapt to whatever device is accessing them—whether that is a tablet, smartphone or desktop—and display your website on that mobile device as it is on a desktop. The advantage of mobile friendly websites is that you only have one website to maintain. This type of mobile site is recommended as the bare-minimum needed to have an accessible, strong mobile presence.
Separate Mobile Website
Having a mobile-dedicated website that is separate from your original website has its pros and cons. On the plus side, you are able to create a mobile version of your site that is completely separate, allowing you to show only the most relevant, important information about your business to mobile users. On the downside, separate websites means double maintenance, and keeping your site updated is crucial to attracting visitors and business.
If you consider the best of both Mobile Friendly and Separate Mobile Website designs, you get a Responsive Website. A responsively designed site can be more complex to create in the beginning, but it will also be the design that gives you the most bang for your buck when considering a mobile site. Responsive Websites can detect the type of device being used to access them, and then adapt their layout and content to accommodate that device.
Responsive design is also the most SEO-friendly version of a mobile site. This will allow you to maintain one website’s content and information, while still getting the benefit of well optimized content for the search engines.
The Mobile Bandwagon
It’s hard to ignore the impact mobile browsing is having on both consumers and businesses. If your site isn’t easily accessible on mobile devices, it’s time to consider one of these mobile design options to ensure you are reaching your customers whenever (and wherever!) they are searching for you.
Check out our infographic for more information on these mobile design options, or contact Miles Technologies to speak to a Mobile Website Consultant today.
Special thanks to Carly Stunder (Director of Graphics & User Interface at Miles Technologies) for her input.
Friday, April 19, 2013
work at Miles Technologies. When candidates come into my office, I don’t see them as people that will work for me—I see them as people that will work with me.
It’s important to me that my employees are happy working at Miles Technologies in a career they love. When I interview people, I do my best to acquaint them with the business so they can be certain this is where they want to work. If they are confident working here is the best choice and I believe they are a great fit for the business, they can begin to build their professional lives at Miles.
It’s an abstract process, but it works. The other day I received an email from a newish employee that proved, with the right attitude, when you come to work here, you can literally Build Your Life at Miles Technologies.
Here’s the email:
Six months ago, you and I sat across from each other, your Lego desk between us, and you asked me, “Does Miles Technologies seem like a place you want to be?”
I was interviewing for a Consultant position and just like any good interviewee would, I answered, “Yes.” Unlike most interviewees who answer yes (but can’t really be sure of their reply), I was in fact 100% completely sure of my answer.
I was referred to Miles Technologies by one of your employees and had heard multiple stories of how the company was encouraging his career development. It was refreshing to hear of a company that truly wanted their employees to succeed (rather than focusing solely on the business’ success), encouraged their employees to speak out, share their opinions, try new things, and also had a core belief that “family comes first.” I wanted to work for a company like that.
Five months and three weeks ago, I had my first day working at Miles Technologies. Every day since, I have been proud to call myself a Miles Technologies employee. If you ask me today, “Does Miles Technologies seem like a place you want to be?” my answer would still be a definitive yes.
Thank you for always encouraging me and all my coworkers to be our best. I look forward to working with you for many years to come!
Chris Miles is the CEO of Miles Technologies.
Friday, April 12, 2013
Trust me, I know the feeling. With so many applications and programs released on the Droid and iOS marketplace these days, it can be tough to tell what’s worth your time and what’s not. Fortunately, there are some absolutely great apps worth downloading that you may not know about. Many of these apps are even free to use!
How often have you heard a song you liked but not caught the name of it? One of the first apps I ever downloaded for my phone was Shazam, a nifty little app that listens to what’s currently playing around you and tags that song with information about the artist, track title, and album. This free app is a fun program to use and one that is always handy on the go!
News at Your Fingertips
If you’ve ever had a coworker send you a lengthy article to read, you’ve probably wanted to save it for later. Instapaper is an iPhone app that costs $5 and lets you save these articles in an easy-to-read format, sans ads and images. While the initial cost of purchase is a bit steep, you’ll get a ton of mileage out of the application if you’re an avid magazine or newspaper reader.
Access to Dropbox at the Drop of a Hat!
Dropbox is one of the most commonly used cloud storage systems. Conveniently, there is a free Dropbox app which allows you to gain access to account storage whenever it’s needed. Although you may access your work documents through a different service, Dropbox is still a nice, convenient way to store and retrieve your photos or personal documents quickly and easily.
Fast Recipes for Late Dinners
Sometimes you end up pulling a far longer day at the office than you anticipated. Rather than grabbing greasy drive-through-menu food on the way home, try using the free AllRecipes.com Dinner Spinner app instead. This free program lets you assemble a list of ingredients and recipes for quick meals when you get back to your kitchen. This app is great for when you want to save a few dollars on fast food and really treat yourself to a proper meal.
With a few quick downloads of the above applications, you can make your whole workday just a bit more convenient and efficient.
Special thanks to Jason Wersits (Online Marketing Consultant at Miles Technologies) for his input.
Friday, April 5, 2013
So, how do you know when custom software can improve the health of your business? Many business ailments have symptoms which are easy to spot once you start looking for them. Some of these symptoms may indicate a custom software cure.
You may need custom software if…
- Any key business process depends upon an Excel spreadsheet.
- You manually enter the same data more than once.
- You use paper forms for ANYTHING.
- Customers have to call or email you to find out the status of their order.
- Clients cannot view and pay invoices online.
- You do not know how much/many of each product is available for sale.
- You have to run a report in order to get up-to-date company performance information.
- Your employees have to be encouraged to actually use your current system.
- You depend upon software or data which is not available simultaneously to everyone who needs it.
- Your business support software is not accessible from any web-connected computer.
- You're paying for full support for a comprehensive software package and you use only one or two components.
- Your employees have to physically check to see if an item is in stock.
- Key business information is stored only on individual employees' desks, on their workstations, or in their heads.
- Any key business process can be disrupted by someone deleting an email or throwing out a piece of paper.
- Your employees are actually asking you for better tools and systems.
- Your business rules and processes are not standardized or compliance is low. Everyone does it "their own way."
Sound familiar? If your organization is experiencing any of these symptoms, take two aspirin and call me in the morning!
Taylor Adair is the Director of Enterprise Solutions at Miles Technologies. Special thanks to Wayne Rossi (Senior Software Developer) and other Miles Technologies staff for their input.
Thursday, March 28, 2013
A Beginner’s Guide to Twitter: How to Tackle the Infamous (and Sometimes Mind-boggling) Social Media Monster and Strengthen Your Online Presence
Sites like Facebook and YouTube have become common household names, but one that seems to consistently trip otherwise savvy social media users is Twitter. Hashtags? Tweets? Twitter might as well be using Dothraki jargon.
But there’s definitely something worth learning about Twitter. The social media service just turned 7 years old, and currently has 500 million users (see more interesting Twitter facts here), but just what is this online enigma chirping its way through the World Wide Web?
To the online community, Twitter is:
twitter \’twitər\ n. 1. An online social networking and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read text-based messages of up to 140 characters, known as “tweets.”
Twitter is a force to be reckoned with in the social media community, and you can benefit both you and your business by learning some of the ropes.
Twitter Lingo: How to be Hip with Hashtags
Like any community, Twitter has coined a few phrases to refer to different functions.
Tweet: A tweet is similar to a mobile text message, in that it is a text based message that gets sent off to the community you’re connected to (See: Twitterverse). There is a 140 character limit on tweets – “short and sweet” is the mantra here!
Retweet: Often abbreviated to RT, a retweet is used on Twitter to show you are tweeting something that was originally posted by another user. A retweet can choose to include or exclude the username of the original poster.
Followers: Each Twitter user has their own profile page and account. You can find other users you are interested in or friends with, and then choose to follow their tweets. Those users can follow you, too, and become your personal group of Twitter followers.
Hashtags: A hashtag (#) is used with specific words or phrases to easily categorize tweets in the Twitterverse. Users can prefix an entire tweet, or specific words within the tweet, with the hashtag symbol in order to enable others to discover relevant posts. One of the more popular hashtags on Twitter is #followfriday or #FF where users network by providing the names of their favorite people to follow on Twitter.
Twitter Feed: Your Twitter feed will be one of the first things you see when you log in. If you’re familiar with Facebook, it is very similar to the News Feed feature. Recent tweets from users you follow will appear real-time in your Twitter feed. Here are some topics currently trending on our Miles Technologies Twitter account:
Twitter Trends: You’ll be able to see current Twitter trends on the same page as your Twitter feed. These are the most popular topics on Twitter at the moment. They can be related to current events, or even the latest celebrity gossip. Many times you’ll see hashtags associated with these terms.
Twitterverse: The Twitterverse encompasses the entire Twitter community. When you send out a public tweet, it can be seen by the rest of the Twitterverse.
@username: This is used when you want a tweet to be directed at one (or many) specific users. These count towards the 140 character limit per tweet, so be mindful of how many you use!
I Get the Lingo. Now How Do I Make it Useful?
After you create an account on Twitter, your first step should be to start following other users. Find friends, your aunt (she’s already on Facebook , so why not?), celebrities, or news sources and start building a network. If you’re creating a Twitter for business, find other industry relevant accounts, professional groups or other companies with whom you have relationships.
You can immediately see the number of people you’re following increase, but you’ll have to wait and see who chooses to follow you back to gain a group of followers. You can increase your chances by reaching out to as many users as possible, in the hopes that they'll reciprocate.
When you think you have a good audience set up, start tweeting! Twitter is very focused on “in-the-moment” or “real-time” interactions, so focus on current events for your business, or find a trending topic and start chiming in to the conversation.
Make Yourself Relevant
Because of its “real-time” nature, news can often break on Twitter before it makes it to popular news outlets (Michael Jackson’s death is a good example). Twitter can be a powerful networking and news tool if you use it correctly. Keep your own profile relevant by retweeting popular or important news, and create original content that others will want to read and pass on. The more involved you are with the Twitter community, the more you will get out of the experience.
If you need help making the most of your Twitter time, contact us to speak to a Social Media Expert for more tips and tactics.
And of course, don’t forget to #follow us @MilesTech. See you in the Twitterverse!
Alexis Kumasaka is an Online Marketing Consultant at Miles Technologies.
Friday, March 22, 2013
Don’t believe it? Here’s an example of a social engineering attack that takes place in a fictitious warehousing company:
John the Controller
John is the controller and longtime employee of a warehousing company. He is also the principal user of the company’s accounting system. Out of convenience, John uses the same password for his Windows login, the accounting software, and most other applications that require a password.
One day, John is approached by a man he doesn’t recognize who claims to be from their IT support company. The “IT guy” explains that he needs access to John’s computer in order to “clean up a virus that is running rampant on the network” and claims that Bob, the CEO of the warehousing company, called him in to address it. John, knowing the impact a computer virus can have, willingly hands over his password and gladly vacates his desk, happy to help protect the company’s network.
Dave the Criminal
Dave’s brother Mike was recently fired from the same warehousing company after only a few months of work. Mike felt the grounds for dismissal were unfair and he left the company feeling pretty upset.
Dave wants to help his brother. He finds out that Mike’s former boss, John the controller, was always complaining about never remembering his password when it was changed and, while not intentionally, made it apparent that he used the same password for nearly everything. Armed with this knowledge and prior experience with the same accounting system used by the warehouse, Dave begins to devise a criminal scheme.
Dave does additional internet research and makes a few phone calls. He finds CEO Bob’s public LinkedIn and Facebook profiles and gathers all the information he can about him. Dave also calls and speaks with an employee from the warehousing company and asks him what IT company they use - the employee gives up the information, no questions asked. Dave then emails a link and convinces the employee to click on it, infecting the network with a virus and thus giving Dave a reason to show up at the warehousing company.
Dave confidently strolls into the warehousing company dressed as an “IT guy” would be expected to dress: shirt and tie, carrying a laptop case, and equipped with all of the right answers. He tells the receptionist what company he represents (the company the employee gave up earlier when Dave called), taking a risk that he or she may ask questions. Dave jokes with the receptionist to earn confidence and then uses some name dropping indicative of his personal relationship with the CEO, Bob. The receptionist, not wanting to get in trouble, lets Dave into the restricted area for employees only.
Dave blends in effortlessly, casually saying “Hi” when he passes people in the hallways, ultimately heading toward John’s office. When he arrives at the door of John’s office, he explains to John that there is a virus on the network and that CEO Bob requested he come out to address it. John gives Dave his password.
Shortly thereafter, Dave manages to walk out of the building with a few checks seemingly created by John the controller, which he promptly cashes and hands to his brother – severance pay.
How should this social engineering attack have been stopped?
- The receptionist should have questioned Dave’s purpose for being in the building and called the IT company to confirm that both the visit and Dave were legitimate.
- The people Dave casually encountered in the hallways should have at least questioned why he was there and raised concern as to why he may have been wandering the building unattended.
- John should have been equally as vigilant, especially since he knows he has access to the accounting system.
- John should not have been so vocal about his password concerns.
- The employee who Dave called in his research should have also confirmed Dave’s true identity when asked about internal details such as the IT company they use and not actually clicked the link that Dave sent to infect the network with a virus.
- CEO Bob probably should have been more careful about what he posted to his social media profiles, especially if his profile is public and/or he is “friends” with people he doesn’t actually know. By gathering information from Bob’s LinkedIn and Facebook, Dave was able to act like he had a personal relationship with Bob, gaining the trust of the receptionist (aka the gatekeeper).
In cases like this, simply stopping the intruder to confirm identity, purpose, credentials, and/or authorization could have prevented the entire intrusion from happening. This example is elaborate and relies on some in-person attempts (the most risky but the most rewarding), but the same mission could have also been carried out remotely relying almost entirely on unseen trust! The social aspects and defense are still the same. When in doubt, always lean toward questioning something/someone out of place rather than ignoring it. Your network’s security may one day depend on it.
Want to know if your business network is secure? Contact the IT professionals at Miles Technologies for a security analysis.
Ray Gasnick is the CISSP, Director of IT Technologies at Miles Technologies.
Thursday, March 14, 2013
Who doesn’t want to dominate their industry and beat their competition? In The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni explains how to get all the people in an organization rowing in the same direction in order to make the entire business a success. The five dysfunctions are a sign of the healthiness or sickness of a company and Lencioni weaves a tale that explains how to overcome these very roadblocks. His solutions stack one on top of the other, so that trust is necessary before conflict can be addressed and conflict before commitment, etc.
Righting the Ship
Lencioni asks his readers, how do you go about righting the ship when everyone is busy doing their own thing?
In his business fable, Lencioni, who is also the founder of The Table Group, identifies five dysfunctions that he believes prevent groups from working towards the same goal. The first is trust, and the author believes the CEO must be the one to first establish that trust.
If a CEO wishes to get everyone rowing in the same direction – and what CEO wouldn't want as much? – then he/she should start a conversation by asking the team why the company is behind its competitors: “We have a more experienced and talented executive team than any of our competitors. We have more cash than they do… we have better core technology. And we have a more powerful board of directors. Yet in spite of all that, we are behind two of our competitors in terms of both revenue and customer growth. Can anyone tell me why that is?”
Correcting the Five Dysfunctions
No amount of available cash or cutting-edge tech can overcome a lack of trust. No one person can possibly know everything, and each member of any team must admit to that truth and acknowledge the fact that others are sometimes going to have better ideas than them – no matter how high up on the corporate ladder they are. Employee and employer alike need to stop covering things up, start admitting their mistakes and open up to learning from one another. These simple steps lead to everyone making quicker decisions thanks to the existence of frank discussions.
Beginning with the CEO, everyone in Five Dysfunctions takes a turn at admitting shortcomings and sharing strengths. Next, they each prove it. When everyone knows what to trust their colleagues with it's possible to accomplish amazing feats in quick order.
The newfound feelings of trust established in the first step make it possible for teams to identify fears and overcome them. Conflicts can't be allowed to revolve around personalities; instead, they should be about the issues. With fear and ego placed aside, everyone can work together on the core issues preventing the company from becoming a leader in its field.
Everyone must buy in and commit to this cause. If you sit on the sidelines you'll never really buy into the game plan, and that means you'll be rowing the wrong way. The best teams don't always agree on everything, but they know how to make a decision when conflict exists. When the team is split, it's the CEO's job to step in and exercise the trust his team has placed in him as a leader. He is the final tiebreaker.
The CEO should not be the sole source of accountability, however. The team should be able to apply peer pressure when the situation calls for it and motivate great performances by doing so. Most individuals consider the thought of letting a teammate down worse than being reprimanded by the boss or having their pay docked. It's an astounding fact that can lead to incredible team accomplishments once everyone understands it.
Finally, we come to the last of the five dysfunctions: inattention to results. Our society usually trends towards placing an enormous amount of focus on individual results, but Lencioni believes that's the wrong way to go about things. By instead zeroing in on team results, individual budgets, departments and egos are ignored in favor of the ultimate goal: success for the entire business.
If you want to read a quick-moving fable that teaches excellent lessons for unifying a group of employees into a powerful team, then I highly recommend Lencioni's The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.
Neil McGeehan is a Business Development Specialist at Miles Technologies.