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What Are the Benefits of Microsoft Dynamics 365?

Businesses dream of ways to combine customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) capabilities into one, easy-to-use management system.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 is a cloud-based CRM and ERP solution that offers a full suite of tools to streamline business communication. Its features and functionality are continually improving to meet the needs of sales, marketing and customer service teams.

In this blog, we’ll discuss some of the top benefits of Dynamics 365 and how you can use the platform to improve business processes and gain powerful insights about your customers.

What Is Microsoft Dynamics 365?

Microsoft Dynamics 365 helps mid-market companies facilitate business relationships with customers, prospects and team members. It includes a collection of cloud apps to help manage a variety of business processes, from sales to operations to accounting.

Dynamics 365 gives employees the practical tools they need to be more productive, improve customer relationships and win more business. It also offers executives valuable insights into performance and opportunities through its business intelligence platform.

Because Dynamics 365 combines CRM and ERP capabilities, organizations can effortlessly streamline the way they communicate both internally and with customers.

7 Benefits of Using Dynamics 365

There are tons of CRM products out there – so how do you know whether Dynamics 365 is the right move over competing products?

To help you decide, we’ve compiled seven of the top benefits of Dynamics 365:

1. Easy to Use and Deploy

You can use Microsoft Dynamics 365 in the cloud or in a hybrid cloud environment. It’s simple to manage and deploy in whichever way you need based on your budget and infrastructure.

Since Dynamics 365 is cloud-based, it’s ideal for companies with a BYOD policy. Employees can easily access their Dynamics 365 apps from Outlook, a web browser or any mobile device.

2. Fully Integrates With Microsoft Products

Dynamics 365 easily integrates with other Microsoft products, including the full Office 365 suite. These integrations allow companies to move from Dynamics 365 to Outlook for communication, to Power BI for data analytics or to SharePoint for documentation.

The easier it is to work and move between apps, the less time employees have to spend transferring data between applications and learning new platforms.

3. Reduced Sales Cycle

Dynamics 365 gives sales teams access to a wealth of insightful customer data – whether they’re working in the field or taking a call in the office.

Your team will be able to craft fast responses and deliver information without having to say, “Let me get back to you on that.” And companies gain a complete picture of each prospect’s journey, allowing them to create more targeted selling experiences.

4. Customizable

Dynamics 365 features a variety of modules and built-in workflow tools you can use to automate tasks across sales, marketing, customer service, field service and project service.

If the pre-built tools don’t fit exactly what you need, there’s no need to worry. Dynamics 365 also allows you to modify workflows to meet your needs. Use the customization tools to define additional fields and new objects in the system.

That’s not all you can customize, either. Dynamics 365 has flexible architecture, deployment options and pricing tiers so you can tailor the platform to your budget, team size and KPIs.

5. Enhanced Customer Service Experience

Dynamics 365 collects massive amounts of valuable data on each customer. It analyzes the websites people visit, how they interact with brands, which communities they are a part of and more. Its BI tool can also identify customer sentiments, buying patterns and brand loyalty – data points that can’t be measured quantitatively but are highly relevant to the sales process.

This information helps customer service reps handle each customer interaction on a case-by-case basis. With all this data housed in an accessible location, your reps can connect with customers on a human level and recommend personalized solutions without skipping a beat.

6. Scalability

Dynamics 365 can easily scale up or down depending on your current team size, budget and workload. Dynamics 365, like most other Microsoft cloud products, is based on an easy-to-change monthly subscription.

7. Increased Productivity

Your employees can access just about any kind of data they need with Dynamics 365, so they can work more efficiently and cut down time searching for information. Employees can make better, more informed decisions, and they have all of the tools and insights they need at their fingertips.

Instead of having to access ERP, CRM, data and Office applications separately, users can find everything they need on one platform.

Get the Most Out of Microsoft Dynamics 365 With KMicro

If you’re ready to learn more about your customers, streamline your sales process and improve company-wide efficiency, Microsoft Dynamics 365 might be the right solution for you.

But adding a new platform to your existing infrastructure can be tricky. As Orange County’s #1 IT support provider, KMicro can provide the resources you need to adopt Microsoft Dynamics 365 without a hitch.

From configuration and setup to workflow automation, we’ll teach your organization how confidently leverage Dynamics 365 to improve business relationships and become more productive.

Have questions about Microsoft Dynamics 365? Schedule a meeting with one of our IT experts or call us here: 949-284-7264.

Understanding IT Compliance: Which Regulations Apply to Your Business?

Remaining compliant has always been a top concern for organizations. But thanks to new trends like BYOD and the Internet of Things (IoT), businesses are facing a whole new set of laws. New regulations are cropping up in every industry to combat security threats and protect customers’ personal information.

It can be confusing to figure out which regulations apply to your business — and whether you’re already compliant or need to make some serious changes. Failing to meet IT compliance can cost companies millions of dollars.

In this blog, we’ll discuss some of the most critical IT compliance regulations that may impact your business and what you can do to mitigate security breaches, legal issues and potential fines.

Why Is IT Compliance so Important?

While compliance has always been important to maintain, modern technology shifts have increased the need for stricter IT compliance. And refusing to follow regulations will not only cost you millions of dollars in fines – it can also put your customers’ and employees’ sensitive information at risk.

Four significant shifts are making it harder to stay compliant:

  • BYOD: Allowing your employees to use their personal devices for work could save you a lot of money. But without a proper BYOD policy in place, you also lose some of the necessary oversight to stay compliant.
  • Third-Party Vendor Management: Outside vendors help your business run — you can’t do everything on your own, and vendors can do everything from helping you with marketing to handling HR to maintaining your HVAC system. But transferring data to a third-party vendor can also introduce vulnerabilities, and many major data breaches occur for this reason. Any vendors you work with should also follow regulations to a T.
  • Software Updates: Today’s technology is constantly improving. As such, software companies release new updates frequently, and most of these are meant to resolve a vulnerability rather than add a cool new feature. Staying current with software updates will ensure your organization is safe and up to date with compliance.
  • IoT: The Internet of Things connects smart devices together, which can include everything from utilities to your security system for walking through the door. But security in IoT is a bit behind, so you need to make sure to frequently test the devices for breaches or connect the devices to a network that doesn’t have access to sensitive data.

7 IT Compliance Laws Your Business Should Be Aware Of

Now that you know why regulations are becoming more important — and more strict — you need to know what IT compliance laws exist and which ones will impact your organization. Here are the top seven regulations you should know about:

1. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

GDPR was implemented by Europe in mid-2018 to help regulate how companies use customer data to uphold privacy.

  • What Does It Regulate? The GDPR specifically regulates how companies manage personal data. It asks companies to have enterprise-wide data mapping and inventory, ensure third-party vendors are also compliant, regularly assess their privacy compliance programs and ensure data is only being accessed after an individual has “opted in.” It requires all companies to keep a record of data processing activities.
  • Which Industries Does It Apply to? Any industry that collects, processes or stores personal data about European citizens or EU corporations and companies that offer goods or services in Europe.

2. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

HIPAA was signed into law in 1996 in the United States, with updates and extensions being added over the years.

  • What Does It Regulate? HIPAA covers how healthcare organizations handle the transition of electronic data and the privacy of individual patients. It also safeguards the healthcare of people who are between jobs or who have been laid off.
  • Which Industries Does It Apply to? HIPAA specifically covers the healthcare industry, but it also affects any organization that deals with healthcare data. It includes employers and business associates who would have access to medical records for any reason.

3. Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS)

The Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council is an individual body consisting of the major payment card brands (i.e., Visa, American Express, MasterCard, Discover and JCB). It was founded in 2006 to maintain its own security standards, known as the PCI-DSS.

  • What Does It Regulate? PCI-DSS manages and protects consumer payment information. It consists of 12 regulations that attempt to reduce fraud, especially during the transaction process.
  • Which Industries Does It Apply to? Any company that accepts, processes, stores or transmits credit card information.

4. Sarbanes-Oxley Act

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act was implemented to prevent the next Enron or WorldCom scandal from occurring. It was signed into US law in 2002.

  • What Does It Regulate? The Sarbanes Oxley Act requires organizations to keep financial records on file for seven years.
  • Which Industries Does It Apply to? Any US public company boards, as well as management and public accounting firms.

5. Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002 (FISMA)

FISMA was also signed into law in 2002 as a way to protect government information, operations and assets.

  • What Does It Regulate? This act made it necessary to see information security as part of national security, so it directs federal agencies to create methods for protecting that information.
  • Which Industries Does It Apply to? Every federal agency.

6. Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA)

Also known as the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999, the GLBA was created to allow commercial banks, investment banks and insurance companies to operate within the same company. It also requires financial companies to tell customers what information they share and why.

  • What Does It Regulate? The GLBA regulates how financial services companies maintain and secure their customers’ and clients’ private data.
  • Which Industries Does It Apply to? Financial institutions, including any company that offers a financial product or service to individuals — whether it be investment or financial advice, insurance or loans.

7. Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

FERPA was enacted in 1974 in the US as a way to protect student education records.

  • What Does It Regulate? FERPA protects student records from the time they enter school to the time they leave — including post-secondary universities and colleges. It also regulates who is allowed to receive the individual’s records. For example, parents can request access to school records before a student turns 18, but those rights transfer once the student is of age.
  • Which Industries Does It Apply to? Any school that receives funds through the U.S. Department of Education.

How to Ensure Your Business Is IT Compliant

If you don’t meet IT compliance, at best, your organization could receive some hefty fines. But regulations are put in place for a reason — and that’s usually to protect consumers from having their data stolen. A data breach could not only cost you a lot of money, but it might also violate your customers’ trust, making it hard to keep your business afloat.

Compliance isn’t easy, especially when you’re already focused on everything else that comes with running a business. To keep these regulations from hanging over your head, partner with KMicro to manage your IT compliance.

We’re experts in helping businesses keep up with their IT compliance requirements and avoid fines and breaches. Whether you need help with software patches, implementing a BYOD policy or managing your third-party contracts, our team of IT security experts will help you meet all the necessary regulations and put your mind at ease.

Schedule an appointment with one of our IT experts or call us now for more information: 949-284-7264.

In-House Vs Outsourcing IT: How to Make the Right Choice for Your Business

Every modern business depends on technology to maintain a productive work environment – and technology requires expert IT staff to maintain, manage, deploy and secure.

Choosing whether to outsource your IT department or keep it in-house is not an easy decision. You have to consider cost, convenience, reliability and more. So which option is right for your business?

In this blog, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of keeping your IT department in-house vs. outsourcing it to a managed IT services company.

Benefits of In-House IT

Hiring a dedicated team or staff member who knows the ins and outs of your IT infrastructure has a few advantages.

1. They know your business inside and out. In-house IT staff understand how your team members use their computers and know your infrastructure in and out. They’re invested in your company’s success and have relationships with your employees, so they’ll be driven to create solutions that work for everyone.

2. They can respond quickly. When a disaster or problem strikes, time is of the essence. An in-house IT team can respond immediately when technical issues arise. With a simple tap on the shoulder or call to an extension, a staff member can start working on the issue quickly. Quick response times can reduce downtime and remediate potential damage before they cause more damage.

3. You have more control. You have more control over response times and the quality of work when IT is under your management. You can ensure your team is trained on the exact IT solutions you need and keep costs under control with a budget for that department.

While an in-house team might work slower than an outsourced IT company, that team can also come up with comprehensive solutions and the documentation that will go along with them, while an outsourced IT company might charge extra for additional projects.

Disadvantages of In-House IT

While keeping IT staff in-house has obvious benefits, you have some significant downsides to keep in mind.

1. It’s expensive. When you hire an IT staff member, you have to consider the cost of their payroll, benefits and onboarding. You also need to factor in the costs of continuous training and certification to keep your team current on the latest technologies.

According to PayScale, the average salary alone for an IT manager is more than $85,000 per year. IT professionals have very competitive wages because of their in-demand skills – so if your salary doesn’t match what they’ve seen online, you’ll have a hard time retaining talent.

2. It’s not always available. You won’t only need IT support during the regular nine-to-five work week. Emergencies can arise on weekends or after hours when your employees might not be available. And you will probably be expected to pay time-and-a-half for work during the holidays.

3. It will fall behind. Support tickets and critical software patches can pile up quickly — especially if your internal department is small or a staff member takes time off. As a result, instead of spending time keeping up with new trends and technologies, your staff is constantly putting out fires and addressing low-level support issues for non-technical staff members.

Benefits of Outsourcing IT

Outsourcing a portion or all of your IT department to an expert managed services company has many benefits.

1. You gain a team of experts. As mentioned above, hiring expert internal staff and keeping up with evolving IT needs is expensive and time consuming. Managed IT services providers offer a team of experts in every area of technology, from cybersecurity to system administration and data management.

Outsourced IT companies also have the equipment and technology partnerships needed to modernize your infrastructure, which keeps you from having to purchase assets that may become outdated in a few years.

2. You can access them 24/7. An in-house team might have faster response times, but that’s usually only the case during a typical workday.

A managed IT company will provide you with 24/7 support and emergency services, so even if you do experience downtime, you can get back online quickly. And you won’t be limited to — or have to pay extra for — nights, weekends and holidays.

3. The quality of service is high. An outsourced technology partner is invested in your business because it wants to keep your business. They typically only have as long as the initial contract to keep you engaged, so they have to continue proving their benefits to your company.

You can also hire an IT company with proven experience in your industry so you don’t have to stress about industry regulations or compliance.

4. They’re typically more cost-effective. While it might seem cheaper to hire one or two staff members on the surface, you still have to consider all of the costs of maintaining employees, such as hiring replacements, raises, benefits, training and sick leave.

An outsourced IT company typically has a fixed monthly cost, and you don’t have to pay extra to maintain training or address a data outage after hours.

5. Your internal resources can grow the business. When you offload the daily burden of technology to another company, your staff can dedicate more time to growing your business and creating innovative solutions.

Disadvantages of Outsourcing IT

Outsourcing IT can save you tons of time, money and stress – but you still need to consider the potential downsides.

1. You have less control. You won’t be able to control your IT functions as well as you could with an in-house team. While you can work closely with your managed IT company to set goals and priorities, you won’t be able to monitor what they’re doing or change direction as easily.

Scheduling frequent meetings with your managed services company will help keep them accountable and help you maintain visibility.

2. You might have difficulty with communication. Because outsourced IT companies operate off-site, you may run into communication challenges.

You won’t see your IT team members in person very often, and you may not receive responses as quickly as you’d like. However, if you prefer a hands-off approach and fully trust your IT company to make the right decisions, communication shouldn’t be a major issue.

Outsource Your IT Services With KMicro

When it comes to managing IT, you need a solution that allows you to focus your energy on reaching your business goals without having to stress about technology.

If you think outsourcing your IT will provide the peace you’re looking for, contact KMicro. Our managed IT services experts are committed to helping your business fully embrace the potential of your technology – without any of the stereotypical downsides of outsourced IT.

Whether your IT guy needs a little extra support or you’re looking for a fully outsourced IT department, we’ve got your back. We offer proven top-notch service, 24/7 support and affordable monthly costs to keep you stress-free and running in top shape.

Ready to learn more? Set up an appointment with one of our IT experts or give us a call now for more information: 949-284-7264.

5 Types of Internal Communication Tools Every Business Needs to Thrive

Communication is a vital part of running a business and pushing projects forward. Strong internal communication can mean the difference between a productive, future-focused organization and a stagnant one.

But with more employees working remotely today, it can be difficult to maintain open lines.

Internal communication tools help teams stay focused and collaborative. In this blog, we’ll cover five types of internal communication tools every modern business needs to thrive.

The Best Internal Communication Tools

There are hundreds of internal communication tools on the market, and it can be hard to determine which ones your company should adopt. Here are five types of internal communication tools every business should add to their collection of applications:

1. Chat

Chat tools like Slack, HipChat and Microsoft Teams are incredibly useful for small group communication and quick one-on-one discussions. They make it easy for you to reach out to someone when checking on a project, rather than having to comb through long email chains or try to schedule a phone call.

Chat tools make it easy to gain feedback or shoot quick notes to your teammates. But while they let you share documents back and forth, chat tools are not the best place to stay organized. That’s where document sharing and library tools come in.

2. Document Library and Sharing

Your company probably works on a lot of documents, spreadsheets, videos, presentations and other types of content. With more employees working remote today, documents need to be shared and worked on across devices and teams. To manage these files, you need a cloud-based document library.

A document sharing service enables you to keep all your files in one easy-to-access place, manage permissions and maintain version control. Popular tools like Google Drive, Box and OneDrive all offer such features so you can have peace of mind knowing a document won’t be lost in the shuffle.

3. News

You need a news tool to help your organization stay up-to-date with company announcements, goals and priorities. A good news tool helps everyone feel more connected to leadership, gain answers to their questions and understand the context around new initiatives rather than feeling lost.

A solid news tool will let you send out announcements to certain departments, too, so you don’t bother different teams with news that doesn’t apply to them. Jostle and SharePoint are examples of internal communication tools that include a news feature.

4. Task Management

Balancing a ton of tasks can overwhelm your team members. Luckily, there are a ton of task management tools available to help you assign, manage and check off activities.

Tools like Trello, Asana and Basecamp are a few popular task management tools that help teams manage projects and deadlines. Many task management tools have calendars that can help your marketing and software development teams stay on track as they roll out new initiatives. Some tools also allow you to make comments and subtasks along with due dates.

5. Collaboration

SharePoint and Microsoft Teams have already been mentioned on this list – and for a good reason. Both platforms allow your employees to easily communicate and collaborate within one convenient tool.

Collaboration tools encourage dialogue between interdepartmental teams and small groups. They enable your employees to ask questions, make revisions or communicate about a particular project in real-time through comments and online discussions – without ever having to schedule a phone call or in-person meeting.

These collaboration tools are especially useful if your team members are in different time zones. While tools some do have chat features, the commenting tools allow your teams to communicate without the pressure of responding immediately — especially when the conversation doesn’t warrant a full discussion.

Need Help Implementing Internal Communication Tools?

As a modern-day organization, you need internal communication tools to keep everyone in your organization productive, collaborative and happy. But if you haven’t implemented one — or any — of them before, you might not know where to start.

If you need help identifying and implementing the right internal communication tools for your business, contact KMicro. You can set up a call with one of our IT experts or give us a ring at 949-284-7264.