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7 great tech gifts for the 2018 holiday season

It is never too soon to plan your holiday shopping. Your list is likely full of folk who would appreciate the thoughtfulness of some gadget or useful piece of tech. All the better if that tech gift can contribute to making them more productive or making their downtime more fun.

Consider these suggestions to make it a happy season for your friends, family, and colleagues. Fun and practicality can go hand in hand under the tree this year.

Amazon Kindle Fire 8

When it comes to tablets, the Kindle Fire 8 offers great functionality at a low price. Use it as an e-reader, watch movies, play games, handle email and even run your business. The Fire 8 includes hands-free Alexa capability, an 8-inch screen, and 16 GB of storage. It works seamlessly with your Amazon account, and with Amazon Prime, you can access thousands of movies, TV shows, albums, and books at no extra charge.

JBL Endurance SPRINT headphones

Looking for a something for someone who’s a really big audiophile? It’s hard to do better than the JBL Endurance SPRINT. Boasting 8 hours of wireless playback and a speed charge battery, the JBL Endurance Sprint is built to endure comfort and stability no matter how you work out—even in water. It includes touch controls for both your music and phone and its MagHook design allow for convenient storage options.

Star Wars Millennium Falcon Micro-USB Charging Cable

Have a Star Wars fan in your life? Of course you do.

As a nice, inexpensive gift or stocking stuffer, this USB charger is an absolute delight. The blue line on the wire lights up while charging, as do Falcon’s thrusters. While unsuitable for flying through asteroid fields, it is absolutely perfect for charging your favorite devices.

OMNI 20 USB-C Charger

While laptops can go nearly everywhere, there is no guarantee that there will always be power available. With that in mind, the OMNI 20 USB-C Charger can fully charge laptops, tablets, smartphones, and even gaming devices. What’s more, its multi-port design allows for charging multiple devices. Add to that a functionality as a USB hub for quick, secure file transfers, this device means fewer wires to carry.

Star Trek TNG Bluetooth ComBadge

This gift idea is pretty nerdy, we admit, but for that special someone who is really into Star Trek, you cannot go wrong with a Bluetooth-enabled Star Trek: The Next Generation ComBadge. This is a fully authorized and officially-licensed replica of the Star Trek prop which can connect to your phone or other devices via Bluetooth. It plays the instantly-recognizable chirp at a touch and can be used to answer and end calls, start and stop audio, and access hands-free voice services such as Siri and Cortana.  It’s high-quality micro-speakers mean clear communication with friends, family, and away teams.

Samsung Portable SSD T3 Hard Drive

Sometimes you want portable storage solutions that don’t rely on the Cloud. For those times, you want a powerful, dependable, and secure portable hard drive. That’s where the Samsung Portable SSD T3 comes in. It is up to four times faster than most other portable hard drives, is compact, light, and sturdy. Storage options range from 250 GB to 2 TB.

Logitech Slim Folio with Keyboard for iPad (5th and 6th generation

Turn your iPad into an iMac with the Logitech Slim Folio. The sturdy front and back protect your iPad from a lot of wear and tear, and the fully functioning Bluetooth keyboard allows you to work anywhere with comfort and ease. It has a long battery life, a place to store an Apple Pencil, and can be set up for comfortable viewing whether it be for business or entertainment. A great gift for the iPad fan.

Good gift giving

The key to good gift giving is to think about what they most want or need. For most in our business, tools for efficiency and productivity are most appreciated. But it’s also about having a bit of fun as well.

5 reasons to consider outsourced IT support

Deciding to outsource can be daunting. Perhaps you’re an SMB owner with limited resources. Maybe you’re aware of the benefits and advantages of contracting out to a specialized provider but don’t know where to start. Running an SMB means having to do several jobs at once. When it comes to your IT maintenance, you can maximize the efficiency of your workforce (and wallet) by looking at outsourced IT support.

When you use specialized IT support, you won’t need to worry about data backups, cybersecurity or infrastructure trends. You won’t have to spend time training staff on bug-fixing protocol.

If you’re on the fence and still deciding if outsourced IT support is for you, here are 5 ways it could boost your business:

You can reduce costs

Outsourcing IT to a specialized provider keeps your budget lower than employing an entire IT staff. The costs saving is especially true when you consider the costs of initial and regular training.

It can also get costly when you need to buy the right equipment for maintaining a well-functioning IT department. Not to mention having to all the bits and pieces required for hardware maintenance and repairs.

Paying a fixed cost with an IT company will save you from surprise expenditures and help you manage your annual operating costs.

You’ll enjoy 24/7 support and maintenance

Using the services outsourced IT support means there will always be an expert on the other side of an email or phone call who can help. To prevent loss of revenue and productivity, your IT support will recognize bugs before they’ve had the chance to affect your systems.

Instead of fixing a problem when it’s broken, it’s the IT company’s job to fix problems before you even notice them.

You have access to industry experts

In order to keep data secure, your business needs the newest technology and knowledge of industry experts. You (and your staff) will need stay up to date on relevant industry standards, which you may not have the time or resources for.

The security of your data is crucial. Luckily, it’s the outsourced IT support company’s responsibility to be well versed on cutting-edge technology. This allows you to focus on what’s important – running your business.

You can cut out the recruitment process

Recruiting new staff can be time-consuming, frustrating and challenging. Unless you’re an IT expert, it can also be extra tricky if you don’t know the exact specifications of the skills needed in a potential employee.

You run the risk of hiring people that don’t necessarily possess the right technical skill set and specialized knowledge. You might not have even defined the role according to what is really necessary.

Using the services of outsourced IT support can fix that problem for you.

You can let go of the steering wheel

As an SMB owner, management will always rank top on your list of fundamentals. But that doesn’t mean you have to do it all by yourself.

With outsourced IT support, you can rest easy knowing your IT efficiency, data and network security are in qualified, professional hands. With that peace of mind, you can be assured of better cost control, quality security practice and expertise while you run your business.

4 reasons SMB owners should use managed IT services

As a small business owner, you wear many hats and have a wide range of skills. Unless you’re an IT guru, however, you probably have someone else take care of your IT needs. For many, that means keeping an IT person on staff or paying for hourly help, two less than perfect solutions.

If you’ve thought about managed IT services but haven’t pulled the trigger yet, here are four things that you should consider.

“. . . establishing a strong, strategic partnership with your MSP is essential.” – CIO

1. Cost

Small business owners worry about the cost of everything. You have to in order to keep your business running. Managed IT services may sound expensive but, in reality, they can offer you significant savings.

Businesses that switched from paying an hourly rate for IT to managed services saw their costs drop by up to 50% or more. 13% saw that level of savings, while 46% saw savings by 25% or more. A quick analysis of your expenditures and a consultation with a managed IT services provider (MSP) will reveal how much you can potentially save.

2. Security

Choosing managed IT services leads to better cybersecurity for your data. As you are painfully aware, hackers are growing more skilled at illegally accessing data. In the first three months of 2017, for instance, 950,000 records, including sensitive data, were accessed by outsiders, putting companies and their clients at risk.

By making the shift to a managed IT service provider, your company data will gain the protection of more sophisticated cybersecurity measures, making it less likely your data will be stolen.

“71% of SMBs are not prepared for cybersecurity risks.” – TechRepublic

3. Fast repairs

When your computers go down, your productivity can slow to a crawl or stop entirely. You can end up paying your employees for a day when they can’t get anything accomplished.

The cost of downtime can be monumental when you combine the lack of production and the harm to your reputation. In some instances, a company can lose approximately $84,000 for every hour their system is down. Even a one-person shop can sustain serious financial losses.

Managed IT services providers can immediately begin working on your IT problems. Because your MSP knows your system, they can quickly diagnose and address problems. An MSP can also identify other potential issues that might cause problems in the future.

4. Recovery

If your small business manages its own IT, you know that adequately backing up your system can be challenging. If your system crashes and burns, recovering your data can be costly. In fact, every year, 140,000 hard drives crash in the United States alone. Paying for a recovery attempt can cost approximately $7,500 for a service that may not be successful.

Any kind of data disasters can seriously harm your business. In fact, in the months immediately after a data disaster, 60% of companies go out of business.

Managed IT service providers make sure your data is backed up and easily recoverable. A disaster on-site at your business doesn’t have to cause long-term damage.

“With an MSP . . . you get to bring in the big guns and benefit from the resources and experience of a company focused solely on IT.” – Forbes

Are managed IT services right for you?

Managed IT services make sense for small business owners on a number of fronts. You can improve your bottom line by utilizing affordable, reliable outsourced IT help.

And really, that’s what it’s all about—equipping you to run your business as effectively as possible. If managed IT services help, then it’s worth your time to talk to a few managed IT services providers and see what options are available.