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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.

Office 365 Migration Types: Everything You Need to Know for a Successful Email Migration

With the ever-increasing use of cloud computing, more and more businesses are making the switch to Office 365 for its cloud-based communication, collaboration and productivity abilities.

But migrating systems can cause headaches and frustration as you try to navigate new and old platforms. Your employees might feel left out of the loop if they’re suddenly told to change email systems, and you need to ensure your data is secure during the move. Plus, migrations can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months.

When it comes time to migrate to Office 365, you have several options to consider. In this article, we’ll break down the different Office 365 migration types to help you decide which method is best for your company.

Factors to Consider When Choosing an Office 365 Migration Type

When it’s time to choose between Office 365 migration types, there are a couple of questions you need to ask yourself, such as:

  • How much time do you need to migrate?
  • How big is your migration budget?
  • How much data do you need to migrate?
  • Which existing email system are you using?
  • Which version of Exchange Server are you using?

After you’ve answered these questions, you can move forward with determining the best migration type for your organization.

4 Office 365 Migration Types

There are four Office 365 migration types for you to consider.

1. Staged Migration

An Office 365 staged migration moves everything over in batches. It transitions all of your resource mailboxes and existing users from Exchange 2003 or 2007 to Exchange Online.

It’s a great method for medium-sized companies (especially those with over 2,000 mailboxes) that are currently using on-premises Microsoft Exchange 2003 or 2007. It is not, unfortunately, available for organizations using Exchange 2010 or 2013.

A staged migration moves mailboxes in batches over a determined period. It requires the use of the Directory Synchronization tool, which replicates your accounts from the on-premises Active Directory database. By the end of the process, all mailboxes will be hosted in Office 365.

During the migration, Office 365 users will still have the ability to send and receive emails from users that haven’t migrated over yet. The only resources users won’t be able to access are calendars and delegates.

2. Cutover Migration

A cutover migration is an immediate transition from an on-premises Exchange system to Office 365. All your resources are migrated at once, including mailboxes, contacts and distribution groups. With this migration, you cannot select specific objects to migrate, and once the move is complete, everyone will have an Office 365 account.

This Office 365 migration method is best if you’re currently using Exchange 2003, 2007, 2010 or 2013 and have less than 2,000 mailboxes. In fact, Microsoft recommends the cutover migration for companies with less than 150 users to the amount of time it takes to migrate so many accounts.

One thing to note: every user’s Outlook profile will need to be reconfigured to connect to Office 365.

3. Hybrid Migration

The Office 365 hybrid migration allows you to integrate Office 365 with your on-premises Exchange servers and your existing directory services. As a result, you can synchronize and manage user accounts for both environments.

With a hybrid migration, you’re able to move mailboxes in and out of Exchange Online. You can even pick and choose which mailboxes to keep on-premises and which to migrate to Office 365. Plus, you can synchronize passwords and introduce single sign-on to your team to make it easier to log in to both environments.

If you’d like to use a hybrid migration, you need more than 2,000 mailboxes. It’s also necessary to have Exchange 2010 or later. If you don’t, you must install at least one on-premises Exchange 2013 or Exchange 2010 Service Pack 3 (SP3) server to enable hybrid deployment connectivity.

4. IMAP Migration

While the other three Office 365 migration types depend solely on Exchange, an IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) migration allows you to transition users from Gmail or any other email system that supports IMAP migration.

An IMAP migration pulls information from your source mailboxes and hands it over to Office 365. However, IMAP migration doesn’t transition anything other than email. Calendar items, tasks and contacts all stay in the original inbox and have to be migrated manually by the user.

You’ll also have to create a mailbox for each user before initiating the email migration – something other migration types automatically create for you.

IMAP migrations have a limit of 50,000 total mailboxes and 5,000,000 items. And once the migration is complete, any new mail sent to the original mailbox won’t be migrated.

Get Expert Office 365 Consulting and Migration Help From KMicro

If you’re still not sure which Office 365 migration type is best for you — or you know you need help taking the first step — get in touch with one of the experts at KMicro.

We’ve helped dozens of businesses with their Office 365 migrations, and we have the knowledge you need to move forward without disrupting your day.

Schedule a phone meeting or give us a call now to learn more: 949-284-7264.

Getting Started With Power BI

Microsoft Power BI is an analytics solution that lets you visualize your data and share insights across your organization. The tool connects hundreds of data sources to bring your complex data to life with live dashboards and reports.

Power BI is an ideal tool to learn for many types of business and IT professionals, from developers to administrators to designers. In this blog, you’ll learn how to get started with Power BI in five easy steps.

What Is Power BI?

Power BI is a collection of apps and services that turn your unrelated data from various sources into rational, interactive insights. When you add Power BI to your business infrastructure, you gain greater ability to make informed decisions based on the data you have collected over time.

There are three elements to Power BI:

  • Power BI Desktop, a Windows desktop application used by designers and developers to build and publish dashboards and reports
  • The Power BI service, an online Software-as-a-Service application used by consumers and non-power users to view reports
  • Power BI mobile apps for Windows, iOS and Android devices

All three elements of Power BI allow business users to easily access, create and share business insights in whichever way best suits their role.

There’s also a fourth element, Power BI Report Server, that lets you publish reports onto an on-premises report server. But you’ll mostly work with the main three.

So who uses Power BI?

Designers, developers and administrators can all use Power BI to create reports. Other roles — from salespeople to customer service teams to warehouse managers — will use the Power BI service to access those reports and keep track of their respective teams’ progress and performance.

Now that you know what Power BI is and who uses it, there are some things you can do to learn more about the tool and get comfortable using it.

Getting Started With Power BI

Here are five Power BI tips to help you get started:

1. Sign up for a Free Power BI Trial

If you don’t already have an account, you need to get one. Register for a free Power BI Pro trial account to begin. The trial will last for 60 days and allow you to test out the program without the stress of paying for something you might not want.

2. Import Your Data

After you sign in to Power BI, it’s time to import some data to see what it can do! At the bottom of the left navigation bar, you should see a button to get data, which will allow you to import Excel, CSV and Power BI Desktop files. Once imported, you’ll be able to start making visuals.

3. Explore Your Dataset

Once you’ve imported some data into Power BI, you can create dashboards to see how certain sets of data change over time.

You can filter the data by date, sales, month, price, units sold and more, and then use those filters to choose what type of visualization works best. For example, if you filter by “Date” first, you’ll see a table, while filtering by “Gross Sales” first will produce a chart.

Once you’ve found a data visualization that is interesting to you, you can pin the chart to a dashboard by hovering over the visualization and selecting the “Pin” icon. With the chart stored on your dashboard, you can watch as that specific information evolves.

4. Continue Exploring With the Q&A Box

Power BI uses natural language processing to understand what you’re looking for and immediately pull it up when you need it. Simply type a question in the Q&A box about your data, and watch as Power BI presents a visualization of that information. You can then pin it to a dashboard.

5. Clean up Your Resources

When you’re done with a dataset or want to remove the information you imported for testing, go to “My Workspace” in the navigation bar. Choose the “Datasets” tab, click on the ellipses and choose “Delete.”

Deleting a dataset will also delete any related reports or dashboards.

Benefits of Using Power BI

There are plenty of benefits of getting started with Power BI. For one, because it easily integrates and connects with other tools like Dynamics 365, you don’t have to worry about the transition from gathering data to extracting insights from it.

Power BI allows you to extract the most important insights from your data without having to sift through confusing lists and charts. With clear data visualizations at your fingertips, your organization can take the necessary next steps to increase sales, improve processes and reduce waste.

The platform also keeps your data secure, so your business can manage data while maintaining compliance.

Unlock the Full Potential of Power BI With KMicro

If you’re ready to start visualizing your data — or you just want to transition to a new data analytics tool — Power BI might be the right system for you. But after you’ve made the decision, what next?

KMicro can help you transition your data from one platform to the next, evaluate your current business intelligence, locate data sources and learn how to navigate Power BI as a company. Let us help you by setting up a call with one of our IT experts, or simply give us a ring here: 949-284-7264.

What Is Shadow IT? 5 Risks of Shadow IT and How to Avoid Them

The popularity of cloud computing is driving rapid growth of application use in the workplace. It’s easier than ever for employees to download cloud applications that will help them be more productive and efficient.

Unfortunately, some of these applications operate as shadow IT.

In this blog, you’ll learn what shadow IT is, why it exists and the common risks your business should watch out for.

What Is Shadow IT?

Shadow IT refers to IT applications, hardware and software that are managed without the knowledge of the IT department. Shadow IT has become most prevalent in the form of cloud applications because of how easy they are to download and the increasing number of productivity applications available.

The average company uses 1,083 cloud services, but the IT department only knows about 108 of them. Many employees feel comfortable downloading any application or cloud service as long as it makes their jobs easier.

And it does make their jobs easier. Modern software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications help employees hit their stride with tasks, manage their time and interact more efficiently with coworkers – but at what cost?

Shadow IT Risks and Challenges

When the IT department doesn’t have visibility into the SaaS apps that employees and departments are using, security and compliance risks arise. Here are five of the biggest shadow IT risks every business should be wary of:

1. Security Gaps
Shadow IT introduces security gaps to an organization. Because it hasn’t been vetted by the IT department, shadow IT doesn’t undergo the same security procedures as other supported technologies.

While some unsupported SaaS applications seem harmless, others might encourage sharing sensitive data between groups or recording calls for transcription services. IT staff needs to know what apps are in use and how they might put your company at risk of data breaches and other liabilities.

2. Compliance and Regulations
To protect consumers and other businesses, governmental organizations have created regulations and standards, such as Software Asset Management (SAM) and ISO/IEC 20000.

SAM compliance helps businesses manage the procurement of software licenses, but shadow IT prevents an organization from having proper documentation and approval of such licenses. Discovery of unapproved software can force government entities to audit a company’s infrastructure, leading to hefty fines or even jail time.

Organizations also adopt ISO/IEC 20000 to demonstrate quality and security to their customers and service providers. But these efforts are wasted if system documentation doesn’t reflect reality.

3. Configuration Management
It’s important (and necessary) for IT departments to create a configuration management database (CMDB) to help identify how systems work together. When an unauthorized application or piece of hardware is introduced, it likely won’t be supported or added to the CMBD because IT is merely unaware of its existence. Shadow IT can disrupt the delicate workflows the IT department has spent months or years configuring.

4. Collaboration Inefficiencies
When employees rely on different applications from department to department, collaboration becomes inefficient.

For example, if one department uses Google Drive for file sharing while another uses Box, what happens when the two teams need to work together on a project? How many times will one document get uploaded, edited and downloaded between the two services?

The average organization uses 57 different file-sharing services. Imagine how much easier collaboration would be if your company reduced that number to two or three enterprise licenses.

5. Poor IT Visibility
Lastly, while SaaS applications don’t seem like they take up too much space, the wrong one can severely impact bandwidth and efficiency. If one team relies on a shadow IT application that breaks down, the IT department won’t have the knowledge or documentation to fix it. Think about the chaos of having to get a time-sensitive project out that might ensue.

Many third-party applications were never meant to be part of your infrastructure in the first place — at least not without IT’s knowledge — so when a major update occurs that doesn’t mesh with your infrastructure, your IT team could be sent scrambling.

How to Manage Shadow IT

The best strategies for managing shadow IT include creating policies to oversee and monitor new applications.

While third-party applications can introduce serious security and compliance concerns, you also don’t want to stifle your employees by preventing them from downloading a product that could make them more productive.

Instead, embrace the idea that seeking out new technologies that can make their jobs easier. Establish policies that encourage employees to go to IT when they want to request a new application. It’s imperative that you keep the relationship between IT and the rest of the company open and honest.

Creating this open relationship between your IT department and your company isn’t the easiest thing to do. Thankfully, you don’t have to do it alone.

KMicro offers a host of cybersecurity solutions to help businesses gain control over and visibility into their shadow IT. We can help you identify the applications your employees are using without your knowledge, consolidate your cloud services and get everyone back on the same page.