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Tech & Innovation

Accessible IT to solve the SMB dilemma

A lot of entrepreneurs are not well-versed in technology, nor do they have the resources to have a dedicated IT staff. Lenovo wants to help.

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If you helm an SMB, you know the challenges. Expectations are high, time is precious and financial resources are limited. Add technology to the mix, and the issues are compounded with the fact that a lot of entrepreneurs are not well-versed in technology, nor do they have the resources to have a dedicated IT staff. 

And if they do have an IT staff member, which in a lot of smaller businesses is actually someone in another function who’s just good with computers, they are probably not focusing on ways to optimize IT to drive the business forward. Instead, they are most likely tied up dealing with those pesky, but necessary, routine PC support tasks.

Ultimately, this all boils down to access to the right technology, and Lenovo wants to make the entire concept more digestible for more companies.

In response to the growing need for affordable IT solutions, Lenovo developed its Device as a Service (DaaS) model. While reminiscent of the subscription and consumption-based models of today, Lenovo DaaS is actually something all its own. Described internally as a services-led support model, Lenovo DaaS is tailored to fit the customer’s specific need. The focus isn’t on simply buying/financing devices and attached services, but rather helping the customer achieve their desired IT outcomes with a single configurable solution through a predictable, affordable and periodic fee.

This is a service that can benefit all businesses, regardless of their size, which is why Lenovo recently expanded its portfolio of DaaS solutions to include three new offerings that make it easier for small and mid-sized businesses to benefit from this model.  Simplify, Accelerate, and Transform DaaS offerings provide an easy, structured entry point to the DaaS environment making it even easier for businesses to benefit from a Modern IT infrastructure with no upfront investment.

Ultimately, this all boils down to access to the right technology, and Lenovo wants to make the entire concept more digestible for more companies.

Simplify is one of the most direct approaches to DaaS available. It’s an ideal solution for SMBs that want to dip their toe in the device-as-a-service pool without having to completely overhaul (or build) an IT infrastructure. Through this offering, customers have access to

  • The very latest technology – Desktops and laptops are offered for companies to select the devices that work best for their employees’ needs (remember that employee satisfaction metric we discussed earlier).
  • Lenovo Premier Support – The 24×7, VIP advanced-level support solution that gives customers access to Lenovo’s dedicated team of technicians to handle their device maintenance and support needs.
  • Affordably monthly payments – As per the “as a service” prerequisite of a model of this type, customers can pay for the use of the technology over the course of the 1 to 5-year contract, the end of which they can either choose not to renew, or retire and refresh their devices and start all over again.

This is the simplest version of a device-as-a-service model and is most appropriate for companies with simple IT environments and needs.

Accelerate is an expanded version of Simplify and incorporates all of those great benefits, but also includes imaging/enterprise-ready preload, asset tagging, custom BIOS settings and Microsoft Autopilot registration. Designed for medium-sized businesses and enterprises, Accelerate enhances the speed and ease of IT delivery utilizing the efficiency of Lenovo’s configuration services and streamlined deployment. These services provide a premium end-to-end user experience across the customer’s organization.

Transform is the robust offering ideal for large enterprises capable of changing the way an organization experiences Modern IT, delivering premium devices, expert support, smooth and simple deployment, plus Lenovo’s advanced IT automation and intelligence services. Wrapping in everything from the Simplify and Accelerate solutions, Transform also offers companies the flexibility to build a custom DaaS solution combining any options from Lenovo’s full services catalog. As with all of the Lenovo DaaS offerings, the services, software and devices the customer chooses are combined into a single monthly invoice with flexible Lenovo Financial Services financing.

For more info, head to Lenovo.

Tech & Innovation

4 Things that make people feel good about using chatbots

A recent study identified four factors that predict user satisfaction with customer service chatbots. The study also found that a positive chatbot experience was associated with customer loyalty, highlighting the potential importance of the findings to corporate brands.

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A recent study identified four factors that predict user satisfaction with customer service chatbots. The study also found that a positive chatbot experience was associated with customer loyalty, highlighting the potential importance of the findings to corporate brands.

“Chatbots that use artificial intelligence to address customer needs are already in widespread use, and are expected to become even more common over the next few years,” says Yang Cheng, corresponding author of the study and an assistant professor of communication at North Carolina State University. “We wanted to know how these chatbots are affecting the user experience and how they affect the way consumers feel about brands.”

For this study, researchers conducted a survey of 1,064 consumers in the US who had used a chatbot from at least one of the 30 US brands with the most highly regarded chatbot services. These brands represent industries ranging from fashion to food to software.

The researchers found there were four attributes that positively predicted user satisfaction with a chatbot.

1. The most powerful predictor was convenience.

Cheng says: “If people thought chatbots were fast and efficient, they were more likely to be satisfied. I can sympathize with those people – I hate talking to customer service and being transferred from one person to another.”

2. Focus on iInformation.

It matters if the chatbot provided information that was useful and relevant to the user.

3. Entertainment counts.

It also matters if interacting with the chatbot was pleasant or fun.

4. Social presence.

Lastly, if the chatbot made users feel like they were interacting with an intelligent being, they are more prone to using chatbots.

But one factor was associated with reduced customer satisfaction: perceived privacy risk.

Specifically, if users felt that the information they were sharing with the chatbot could be misused, they were more likely to report being dissatisfied with the chatbot service.

“Companies need to pay attention to these results as they invest in AI-driven chatbot services,” Cheng says. “Because we also found that a customer’s satisfaction with their chatbot experience was associated with the customer’s loyalty toward the relevant brand. This really highlights the importance of taking steps to protect consumer data – and ensuring that chatbot services are convenient, fun and helpful.”

The paper, “How Do AI-driven Chatbots Impact User Experience? Examining Gratifications, Perceived Privacy Risk, Satisfaction, Loyalty, and Continued Use,” appears in the Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media. The paper was co-authored by Hua Jiang of Syracuse University.

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Tech & Innovation

Dell Hybrid Client delivers increased flexibility to employees and IT

As the world’s first client computing software with hybrid cloud management, enabling easy access to applications and data regardless of where they live – in the public cloud, private cloud or on the user’s device.

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Dell Technologies unveiled Dell Hybrid Client to meet the changing needs of businesses, end users and IT. Dell Hybrid Client is a centrally managed client software solution that is ready to deploy with select Dell mobile and desktop devices, helping employees get to work quickly with a consistent experience. As the world’s first client computing software with hybrid cloud management, enabling easy access to applications and data regardless of where they live – in the public cloud, private cloud or on the user’s device. 

In an increasingly cloud connected world, organizations need to easily deploy and maintain data and applications from a variety of locations without burdening IT teams or hindering employee productivity. Dell Hybrid Client simplifies and personalizes the user and IT experience while still providing security and flexibility across devices and work environments. Features like built-in everyday productivity applications, browser security, and others are available out-of-the-box and managed through the cloud empowering employees to work how and where is best for them. 

“At the core of Dell Hybrid Client sits an elevated experience for both employees and IT teams,” said Brooke Huling, vice president, Modern Computing Solutions Group, Dell Technologies. “For employees, Dell Hybrid Client delivers the same, personalized experience regardless of the device you chose to work on. Everything you need is at your fingertips. For IT, we’ve opened access to multiple clouds enabling experiences to be scaled and customized for workforces at rapid pace.” 

“Our recent study on remote work readiness revealed that employees across APJ had difficulties accessing internal company resources while working from home,” said Jean-Guillaume Pons, vice president, Client Solutions Group, Asia Pacific, Japan and Greater China, Dell Technologies. “Today, as APJ organizations continue scaling their technologies to help employees remain engaged and productive, it is important to ensure employees can easily access the applications and data they need, without compromising security. Dell Hybrid Client can help both organizations and employees, regardless of working locations and the devices they use.“

“Dell Hybrid Client has the potential to be a game-changing offering,” said Rob Enderle, President and Principal Analyst, Enderle Group. “The new work from anywhere environment coupled with the need to support virtual, local and cloud apps means we’re approaching a window of opportunity for a new client computing solution. Dell has the breadth and reach to drive such a shift in the industry.” 

How it works

Dell Hybrid Client begins with single sign-on where users will find their personalized desktop interface and all their applications, whether in the cloud or virtual. This first-of-its-kind solution provides: 

  • Security at every touchpoint: Securely scale to thousands of users while still protecting employee and company data through built-in features including system lockdown, secure boot, user file encryption and more. 
  • Simplified Workflow: Your workday doesn’t need to be interrupted as users have secure access to web and virtual applications from Citrix, VMware and Microsoft and various storage locations.
  • Optimized Productivity: Zoom or Microsoft Teams clients run locally, enabling faster collaboration while helping reduce strain on IT infrastructures. 
  • Consistent Experience: With an enhanced “Follow-me” feature, users will find their applications and data on any supported desktop interface – even after changing devices. 
  • Flexibility in Cloud Providers: Organizations can embrace a more flexible mindset by supporting and seamlessly integrating from Wyse Management Suite’s multiple cloud vendors including, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure.
  • Comprehensive Software Support: With ProSupport, Dell Hybrid Client users receive proactive resolution. With automatic alerts and case creation, remote diagnosis and access to ProSupport engineers, employees can experience little to no downtime and IT can proactively support business needs. 

Dell Hybrid Client is currently available across a variety of desktop, VDI and mobile form factors – including the OptiPlex 7090 Ultra, OptiPlex 3090 Ultra, Wyse 5070 and the new Latitude 3320.  

The latest Dell Hybrid Client is available on 3/26. 

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Tech & Innovation

4 Productivity tips for a partially remote workforce

As COVID-19 continues to batter the world, so the way things are done continues to change. Nowhere is this more apparent than in running businesses.

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Photo by Compare Fibre from Unsplash.com

As COVID-19 continues to batter the world, so the way things are done continues to change. Nowhere is this more apparent than in running businesses.

For a New York City area remote workforce IT consultant, there are productivity tips that can be applied with the changes, e.g. when dealing with a partially remote workforce. These tips focus on remote-first IT solutions.

“As businesses reopen, many will implement a hybrid workplace model, with a mixture of in-office and remote employees,” stated Jennifer Mazzanti, CEO, eMazzanti Technologies. And so below are a few excerpts from the article, “4 Productivity Tips for a Partially Remote Workforce.”

1. Focus on Remote-first IT Solutions

“Companies that take a remote-first approach implement solutions that provide a great experience for both in-house and remote workers. For instance, using video conferencing for every meeting helps to ensure engagement from all participants.”

2. Uncover the Benefits of a Virtual Desktop

“In a virtual desktop environment, the operating system, applications, and data live on a central server, either on premises or in the cloud. Administrators create preconfigured images of the applications and operating system, tailored to each end user.”

3. Remember Endpoint Security Basics

“While virtual desktops centralize many important security functions, endpoint security remains an important factor with remote work. Any device that connects to the network presents a possible access point for hackers.”

4. Trusted IT Partner

Seek help from IT people to navigate the challenges and opportunities of a hybrid workforce – e.g. from comprehensive cyber security to cloud computing and network management. If possible, tailor systems to specific business needs.

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