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Getting Clarity on Making the Right Technology Decisions for Your Business

Whether you’re setting up a business or looking to revamp your technology needs for an existing business, making the right technology decisions can be overwhelming. 

Often owners of small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) feel confused. They don’t know what steps to take. They don’t know how to transition from one cloud service provider to another. Or, maybe they want to upgrade their legacy hardware but are unsure of what technology decisions will best support their company’s future. 

It doesn’t have to be confusing. Let’s get clarity on how your business can make the right technology decisions.

Clarity’s SMB Technology Solutions Checklist 

We’ve taken our expertise and know-how and created a checklist for small and medium sized business owners. So they can confidently access their technology needs. 

Step 1. Start with Candidly Identifying Your Real Needs.

Ask yourself the following: 

  • Do I want to build and manage my IT infrastructure? 
  • Do I want to set up the hardware? 
  • Do I want to build the environment?
  • Do I want to configure everything?

If the answer is no, then the solution is clear. Moving to a cloud environment is the best choice for your business. Cloud platforms can eliminate a large portion of these tasks.

Step 2. Consider Your IT Spend. 

In assessing your IT spend, ask yourself the following: 

  • How much do I spend on average every 3 to 5 years when refreshing my business’s hardware and licenses? 
  • Is it an upfront high capital cost every few years for buying equipment? If it is, then that’s a Capital Expenditure (CapEx). 

Perhaps you are currently running all your servers and workloads on-prem and need to upgrade your equipment. If you have a high CapEx, then one solution is cloud migration. By migrating to the cloud and still maintaining your servers and workloads, you can switch your costs from CapEx to Operating Expenditures (OpEx). 

Switching from CapEx to OpEx may have some tax advantages. Also, it’s an attractive solution for businesses with limited cash flow. 

Step 3. Assess Your Existing Applications and Platforms.

This is a critical step. Ask yourself the following: 

  • What applications and platforms does my business currently use?

For example: 

  • Is my business a Microsoft shop? Am I using Exchange, SharePoint, Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint)? 
  • Is my business a Google Shop? Am I using Google G Suite (Gmail, Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides)?

When it comes to applications and platforms the challenge is keeping them updated to satisfy regulatory and compliance requirements. But there are options. No matter what existing applications or platforms you use. 

For example, if your business is a Microsoft shop, then shifting to a cloud based MS 365 offers you a solution. Since MS data centers are set up to satisfy compliance and regulatory requirements.

But perhaps you are looking for something else that works better for their team. Then Google G Suite offers an alternative to MS 365. When it comes down to assessing your applications and platform use, what you choose is truly based on your business’s appetite for transformative changes.

Step 4. What Are My Back Office Needs? 

Figuring out your back office IT needs doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Ask yourself the following: 

  • Do I want to manage my own backup? 
  • Do I want to build out a backup plan with hardware, software and licensing? 
  • Do I have the resources to manage it? 

If the answer is no, then it’s clear. Your business would benefit from Managed Cloud Backup services. 

Step 5. What Cloud Migration Resources do I have?

If by step 5, it is clear that working in the cloud and cloud based services are better for your business, then the next questions you need to ask are about your cloud migration resources. 

Ask yourself the following: 

  • Do I have the resources to migrate to the cloud or do I not know how?
  • What is holding me back from migrating to the cloud? 
  • Am I concerned about service or workflow disruption? 
  • Does my IT team have the resources to successfully migrate to the cloud? 
  • Does my IT team have the time to undertake migrating to the cloud, or will I need to pull them off of other projects? 
  • What are the compliance and regulatory requirements? 

If you determine that you don’t have the cloud migration resources, or that your IT team doesn’t have the time, then seeking out experienced technology solutions service providers is the best option. 

Experienced technology service providers are faced with these same questions and challenges every day from customers. They have worked with real world problems and applied measurable solutions. They can guide you through your cloud migration. 

Step 6. Review Your IT Services Contracts and Costs.

Part of getting clear about asking the right technology decisions for your business is reviewing your existing IT services contracts and agreements. 

In assessing your costs and contracts, ask yourself the following:

  • What are my current EA (Enterprise Agreement) and Contract costs?
  • How much am I paying for my Licenses (Server, Database, 3rd Party Applications)? 
  • How much am I paying for Azure, GCP, AWS and OCI Consumption? 

During your review, if you determine that a workload in Azure can run in GCP, AWS or OCI more efficiently, then you have a clear choice. 

Never forget, there are options. You can always diversify your cloud portfolio and leverage deployment credits. There are programs available to customers that leverage better discounts and save costs. 

Working through these six steps should give your business a clearer picture and help you make the right technology decisions.

In today’s market, it’s important to make the best technology choices. If you need help determining what are the right technology solutions for you, connect with Clarity.

Transforming How Your Business Works with Google G Suite

Businesses looking for new collaborative ways of working and reducing their IT spend are finding Google G Suite is transforming how their business works.

When it comes to productivity apps, Google G Suite has a lot to offer. There’s a lot more to Google G Suite than email. Over the years, Google has developed its platform with focus on helping people work better, smarter and more collaboratively than ever before.

A Quick Rundown of Popular Apps in Google G Suite

In addition to Google’s popular Gmail service, they have integrated a suite of apps which make working collaboratively easier and faster.

Google Docs for example, allows teams to work collaboratively on a single document. There is no need to endlessly email a document back and forth. With Google Docs, the word document is hosted in the cloud and always available.

The same goes for Google Slides, their presentation builder, and Google Sheets, which is its spreadsheet app. Both are designed to make working together easier.

Google Chats or Google Meet gives employees the ability to video conference or connect online within the Google platform. There is no need to purchase another app to hold conference calls or facilitate internal chat needs.

Increasingly, Google Forms has gained popularity for surveying employees and customers on their needs. But also, when it comes to employee engagement, their Currents app allows businesses to connect their employees in discussions where they can share links, docs, images, ideas and more. This is a great productivity tool for growing businesses with employees who are
geographically spread out.

These are just some of the productivity apps in Google G Suite. The question is how does having access to Google G Suite help your business?

One Example of How Google G Suite Transforms Businesses

Let’s take a look at how Google G Suite can help a business. For example, Company “BigCorp” (a fictitious company) is frustrated with how their teams are communicating, or not communicating. They’re not working as efficiently as they could and not everyone is using their current apps.

One reason “BigCorp” employees are not collaborating is not everyone has the same tools and technologies. Currently, they are operating their productivity apps on-prem and not in a cloud. This is a barrier.

Especially, since most of “BigCorp” employees are now working remotely and using their own devices. Their employees want access to the same suite of services and same data, but it has to accommodate any device. Also, they want to access it anytime and from anywhere in the world.

First, “BigCorp” assesses their IT services contracts and costs. During their review, they determined that migrating to a cloud based productivity app would cut costs and increase collaboration.

There are a lot of platform options, but they need a platform that allows their teams to collaborate in real time. More importantly, one that facilitates real time collaboration across apps like email, calendar, online connections both chat and video conferencing and document collaboration.

Not to mention, they need a platform with security controls and protocols that can be customized to their environment. As well as one that meets their compliance and regulatory requirements which includes defining where their data is located at rest. The solution is Google G Suite.

Second, “BigCorp” needs help migrating from their on-prem environment to Google G Suite. While they have an IT team, their team is dedicated to a large customer focused project. They can’t pull their IT team away to handle the cloud migration. That’s where Clarity comes in.

Working with “BigCorp” from the outset, Clarity is able to review their IT services contracts and costs. Helping them realize cost savings. After surveying the various platform options in the marketplace and “BigCorp” weighing their long-term technology strategies, Google G Suite offered the best choice, collaborative tools and efficiencies.

Finally, by working collaboratively with the “BigCorp” IT team, Clarity’s cloud solutions specialists handle the cloud migration seamlessly. Ensuring business continuity and clear collaboration. The result is that “BigCorp” employees can work remotely, increasing their collaboration and productivity.

If you want to learn more about how Google G Suite and how cloud based productivity apps can increase collaboration and help your business, connect with Clarity today.

Controlling Cloud Costs with Independent Cloud Contract Audits

Cloud cost control is a challenge for small and medium sized businesses (SMBs). Critical to controlling cloud costs is understanding your cloud contract and assessing your cloud service needs. However, having a clear picture of your cloud service contract can save business owners a lot of money.

Yet, the majority of SMBs get lost in their cloud services contract. According to TechRepublic, “nearly 60% of organizations overspend their budget on cloud resources”. Without expertise in cloud contract assessment, the sheer amount of information is overwhelming. The result is runaway cloud costs.

If a business is looking to control their cloud costs, the question is when to start, where to start and how does it work?

1. Start by Reviewing Your Cloud Contract Now.

Any business looking to save money and control their costs should start now. Some businesses prefer to review their cloud contracts when it comes up for renewal. Others prefer to review their cloud contract needs when they start a new project. That fact is you can review your cloud contract at any time. To really reduce your IT spend, a business must review their cloud contracts on an ongoing basis.

2. Begin by Getting an Independent Cloud Contract Audit.

When people hear the word audit, it doesn’t spark joy. But when it comes to cloud contract audits it should. An independent cloud contract audit can result in significant savings.

Businesses can reduce IT costs and control cloud costs with an independent cloud contract review. Making an independent cloud contract audit part of their procurement services’ best practices results in savings.

What is an independent cloud contract audit?

An independent cloud contract audit is a comprehensive cloud contract review. This review looks at the nature of IT services under your cloud contract. But it’s more than that.

Following a review of your existing cloud contract, your independent cloud contact auditor assesses your business’s actual cloud needs. They also do a competitive analysis of the different cloud providers. They assess the licensing requirements.

As well, they look at your business’s IT needs in relation to your business strategy to identify your needs for future deployments. After they complete their cloud contract audit, they make recommendations and outline cost optimization strategies.

3. Work with a Platform Independent Technology Service Provider

A solid independent cloud contract audit requires working with a truly platform independent technology services provider. One of the hurdles businesses have difficulty overcoming is finding a platform independent technology service provider to perform contract audits.

What is a platform independent technology service provider?

A platform independent technology service provider is not tied to a single cloud or single tech vendor. They work with a variety of cloud providers and tech vendors. Many data center service providers and cloud service providers are tied to a single platform. Limiting the types of contract audits they can perform. Narrowing down the cost savings potential they can offer. As well as running the risk of latent bias in their recommendations.

The key benefit of working with a truly platform independent technology service provider, is their independence. They aren’t tied to one cloud service provider. They have the knowledge and experience across platforms. Most importantly, their concern is finding cost savings and technology solutions for your business. Because they can bring you a full picture and understanding of the cloud services industry

4. How Working with a Platform Independent Cloud Contract Auditor works.

Clarity is a platform independent technology solutions company. We provide our clients with the full spectrum of tech solutions. Our platform independence is why businesses looking to control cloud costs and their IT spend work with us. They know our unbiased approach results in them getting the full picture. Allowing them to reduce their IT spend. Controlling cloud costs and finding the right technology solutions.

Here’s an example of how working with a Clarity Cloud Contract Auditor works.

A Clarity client, we’ll call “Company XYZ” for privacy purposes, needed to reduce their IT spend. They found their cloud costs were exceeding their budget. Given their business pressures, they needed to reduce their overall costs.

Since we work closely with our clients, we recommended they conduct a cloud contract audit. This included a cloud contract review and assessment. Including this as part of their procurement savings best practices.

1. Clarity’s cloud specialists worked with Company XYZ’s IT managers and team. They assessed their existing contracts, which includes looking at their licensing expenditures and reviewed their IT needs for future deployment and budget. With the specific focus on locating efficiencies and cost savings.

2. We undertook a competitive analysis of all cloud technology solutions. Clarity compared contracts against a database of cost optimization options. We also did a competitive analysis between cloud providers.

3. Clarity identified key areas to reduce their IT spend. We provided Company XYZ with custom cost optimization strategies.

4. Clarity made recommendations based on their business needs, their IT requirements which took into consideration their licensing and future deployments.

In the end, Company XYZ reduced their IT spend, controlled their cloud costs and streamlined their procurement practices.

This is just an example of how Clarity’s platform independent approach helps businesses. With some small business clients, Clarity can negotiate contracts for them. Resulting in lower IT costs.

If your business is looking to control cloud costs, then consider an independent cloud contract audit. Connect with Clarity to learn more about our platform independent full spectrum approach and how we can help you save money.

POSInARestaurant

Transforming Businesses with Point of Sales (POS) Systems Integration

The increase in mobile apps, contactless payment platforms and near-field communications (NFC) transactions are transforming businesses. More than ever Point of Sale (POS) system integration is critical. When POS integration is done right, it can save a business money and enhance their customer’s experience.  When done poorly, it impacts the whole business’s bottomline. Especially, with more businesses depending on curbside and door-to-door delivery services.

POS integration lets retailers, home repair contractors, restaurants, bars, or food delivery services like Uber Eats, Skip the Dishes, DoorDash, and other similar businesses manage purchases, customer orders and other operating tasks. 

Essentially, when a customer pays for a product or service at the door, curbside or online the Point of Sale, or POS, is where they make the payment. It’s the point where the transaction is completed. But POS system integration is more than that.

Why the right Point of Sale (POS) system integration matters

Today’s POS systems are more than an electronic cash register. They’ve evolved. They’re cloud based and mobile device enabled. Meaning POS system integration creates a hub for a business’s orders, customer tracking, employee reporting and management. 

For small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) a cloud enabled integrated POS system also helps with their back-office accounting systems, contactless payment, credit card and Interac payment processors. Now add to that the right back-end software applications such as a customer relationship (CRM), inventory management, simplifying ordering and delivery systems and synching partnered delivery services. Also, the right POS integration streamlines a business’s operations. Reducing its operating costs.

Any business depending on delivery services, automated processing of customer orders and/or partnering with a third-party delivery service needs proper POS integration. Understanding the software and hardware features for a seamless, always online, POS system is the starting point for effective POS integration. But what does that look like?

Clarity Custom POS Integration Solutions for Delivery Services

Every business with a POS system has different needs depending on the type of goods and services they offer. But they all require the right POS systems integration and support plan. 

Let’s look at one example of how the right POS systems integration and support plan can work. Specifically, in the restaurant and food delivery services industry.

Recently, Clarity created a custom POS integration solution for a restaurant. So, they could increase their revenue and expand their customer base.

The restaurant wanted to partner with a food delivery service like Uber Eats, DoorDash or Skip the Dishes. They had two options.

Option 1 – Non-Integrated POS System, using the food delivery partner’s tablet or device. A hands-off direct delivery channel.

  • This seems quick and easy, but every food delivery service has their own devices. Meaning the restaurant must manage and monitor multiple tablets.
  • The food delivery services’ tablets are all separate standalone devices, and not integrated with the restaurant’s POS. 
  • Employees need to enter the information manually. Taking the information from the food delivery services’ tablet and inputting it into the restaurant’s POS system. Increasing labour costs.
  • Since every food order the restaurant receives through the food delivery service’s tablet needs to be entered manually into their POS, this created additional issues. Such as increasing the likelihood of order errors, confusion between the kitchen and front of house and added to the restaurant’s overhead.

Option 2 – Point of Sale (POS) systems integration. Enabling streamlining and automation of the restaurant’s operations.

  • With POS systems integration, a centralized menu management system is created. Removing the need to manage and monitor multiple tablets.
  • Seamless food delivery order processing. Giving customers the ability to place their orders via a mobile app and pushing the order through to the restaurant’s own POS. 
  • Reducing the labour costs associated with entering orders and decreasing order errors and confusion. 
  • Integration of existing supported POS systems such as back-office accounting systems, CRM and other analytics. 

While Option 1 seems easier, the truth is that it costs the restaurant more in the long run. By choosing Option 2, Clarity’s POS systems integration, the restaurant reduced its overhead, increased its revenue and expanded its customer base.

What if a restaurant has their own major POS system, can they create an integrated POS system?

The reality is most restaurants don’t have the technical expertise POS systems integration requires. There are both software and hardware considerations as well as cybersecurity concerns.

While they may have POS support, they may not have the staffing to integrate each food delivery services system into their own integrated POS system. In these cases, a restaurant with their own major POS system needs the help of a third party, like Clarity.

Clarity builds and customizes the POS integration solution between the restaurant’s POS system and the food delivery service’s channel. Ensuring the restaurant’s menu items are synched between both platforms for seamless integration.

If your business uses POS, consider POS systems integration

No matter the size or type of business, any business with a POS system should assess their POS integration options. 

While the example above looked at the restaurant industry, consider how POS system integration can lower overhead. Plus, enhance the business’s inventory management, CRM and other back-office operations by simplifying them. And if a business needs to suddenly provide door-to-door delivery or curbside delivery services— they can. 

All it takes is the right integration and support plan. Connect with Clarity to learn more about how Clarity can help with POS system integration.