Office Document Strategies Blog
For most people who travel outside of their home area maintaining some sort of online activity is still important. For the mobile addicted this is a must and they can find it pretty frustrating or expensive, especially if they are on a Canadian based data plan.
Unfortunately roaming charges from most of our online carriers in Canada can be pretty excessive and therefore manuy users resist using their cellular tools while travelling. Sometimes you get forced into it and you just have to bite the bullet and pay when the bill comes in.
If your air flight, car rental or other reservation gets interrupted while you are travelling you can be sure the only notice you receive will be an email notice requesting you to go to some web connection for further info. If you are not connected then you don't get the notice. At times there is no phone service available to you (of course you would need your cell to call anyway unless you are in a hotel) and thus email or web is your only communication choice.
No matter what mode of travel you are using a cell phone or connection seems to be commonly needed.
How to reduce the impact of roaming?
- The first thing that most people count on to reduce the impact of roaming is to use public WiFi hotspots to connect their device. This can be in a hotel lobby, a restaurant or public building. Sometimes free connections are available at transportation hubs or other open locations.
- Using an internet cafe or public interent service is also an option. Of course in this instance there will be some charge for the connectivity but it will most likely be substantailly less than a roaming charge on your mobile device.
- Checking about availability of WiFi connections, Free or Paid, when making hotel, resort or cruise reservations can help deal with the online need. Sometimes the free service is pretty poor and an upgrade has to be purchased to do anything useful but for basic use it might be enough.
- Pre plan your roaming needs and book a roaming package from your mobile carrier before you go away. This is usually substantially less costly than just using a pay as you go roaming service from your carrier. Unfortuanately, Canadian carriers see this kind of roaming upgrade as a way to pick up additional dollars from contract customers and the charges can still be significant.
- Purchase a mobile 'sim' card in the location where you are travelling that can be put into your mobile device and thereby use the local service rather than your home carrier as your new phone and data service. This can be the cheapest route but your device will need to be compatible with the local service and your device will need to be unlocked so the new sim can take effect.
- Buy a prepaid phone in the location where you are travelling and use the local services. The challenge with this is you change phone number and it will most likely not support other connectivity you might need. Check whether it can serve as a hotspot (some will not and some laptops or tablets may not work with a device) if you wish to use it as a connection tool beyond its own features.
An interesting option I found
In searching for a way to provide connectivity for several devices on an extended trip I came across a service called KeepGo. This service operates in two ways.Read More
Tablets are becoming power tools for many businesses. The challenge is to decide which to support either the Apple series or the Microsoft Surface series.
In the consumer market certainly iPads in their many versions dominate simply because they are easy to use, have tons of apps available and familiar. The challenge they sometimes present in business however is their compatibility with software packages like ERP systems and others which are largely Microsoft OS based and often the main tool of a business.Read More
Topics: Microsoft Surface
Canada was predicted to have approximately $26.83 billion in online sales in 2015 representing almost a seventeen percent increase over the previous year. Of course part of this is fueled by people taking less time to shop, new services being offered by retailers like online grocery purchasing (then pick up on a predetermined time at the store or other location), as provided by Loblaws at their Click and Collect locations and also due to tools for easing returns when products don't match expectations.Read More
In 2009 Xerox made a large acquisition to be able to move to penetrate the technology outsourcing business on the computer and systems side. Understanding that much of the growth of business technology systems business required a congruence between the hardware and print business and the network business that was connecting all the devices the strategy was to get a foot in both camps.
On January 29th Xerox announced it was splitting into two public companies, one focused on document technology (the 'old' print business) and one on business process outsourcing by the end of 2016. The two companies will be independent with two CEOs, two boards and separate business operations. It essentially says that the combined strategy has not worked and that a different structure is needed going forward.
It is very interesting to look at this announcement in light of the split that HP has also undergone. In the HP situation the decision was to create two companies with different market targets based upon size and business type. HP Inc. retains the personal computer and printer business while a newly formed Hewlett-Packard Enterprise would focus on the services, server and storage businesses primarily focused on larger enterprises.
Whereas HP defined the new roles by market segment primarily by size keeping services and hardware in both new entities, it appears that Xerox has decided to keep its traditional hardware business in one company and spin the technology services business of into a new entity.
Of course both strategies have merit depending upon the strengths of the originating operations and there are businesses that have successfully rebuilt themselves like this before. One which comes to mind is IBM which has transformed into almost exclusively a services business after selling off its hardware operations to Lenovo, first on the PC side and then in a subsequent deal on the server side as well.
What a new Xerox will end up looking like is anyone s guess at this point. Will the retrenching of the traditional document focused print side stay as is or will it be able to make changes to compete in an area of business that is very different than it was only ten years ago.Read More
Most business managers have concerns about their computer networks getting compromised either due to direct hacking or the inadvertent impact of someone downloading malware. This just makes sense. On the other hand how much time is spent teaching their users about how to avoid problems and what to do if they suspect there is an issue?
Recently, PricewaterhouseCoopers reported in a global study that Canadian information security budgets had a significant increase over 2014 but fewer than 57 percent indicated their organization offered security training and awareness programs. The participants in this study will be larger, more formalized firms so we can safely assume that with so many Canadian companies being SMBs (Small Medium Businesses) the percent taking the time to educate their people will be even lower.
PwC's report indicates that Canadian cybersecurity incidents increased by 160 percent year over year which shows that the problem is not going away. There is some good news in the report in that Canada is actually doing better than other world wide jurisdictions. This means we are not the worst at dealing with this kind of business risk but the percentages indicate there is much more than could be done.
One are identified as being problematic is the impact of connections to in house systems made by partners. This could be the visiting technical or sales person who connects to the office network and introduces a problem by mistake. Simple isolation steps through guest logins and isolated IP ranges can help to mitigate this kind of intrusion and most organizations could have this basic security provided.
Of course the more depth of access a user or guest has the greater the risk to the business so proper security planning and policies (if enforced) can help to protect from these challenges.
Basic to all of this, however, is making sure that employees understand the importance of IT security to the business (it could be a survival issue if the intrusion is serious enough) and that they are trained to be able to identify how they can participate in a protection regime. The solution starts at the hiring stage as IT policies are spelled out, the consequences of violations explained, and the steps to be taken if a problem is experienced outlined.Read More
In July 2015, Canada Post announced new proposed postage rates for implementation effective January 11 2016. There are always several components to a postal rate change as there are many categories of rate.
The rate most commonly looked at is the single stamp rate which is currently $1.00 per stamp, unchanged from the previous rate. In the July announcement Canada Post proposed to increase the bulk purchase rate (the way many people buy stamps in bundles of 10 or more) from $0.85 to $0.90 effective with the new rates.Read More
When a big IT data breach occurs there is lots of media coverage and we all hear some of the gory details on how serious the impact may be. Unfortunately, we do not hear as much about the smaller breaches that also occur and that means that many companies do not work as hard as they should to protect their computer networks.Read More