A Day In The Life of The Internet

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Experience a day in the life of something you most likely use everyday… The Internet!

 

A day in the life of the Internet

A Day in The Life of The Internet via HostGator

Is all technology Green Technology?

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re-thinkAs we all know, technology has helped us in so many ways… we are more connected and informed than ever before.  Things have become more convenient and much quicker, but has technology made a positive impact on mother earth?  As we approach Earth Day, it’s nice to realize that some of these fancy gadgets we use for convenience are also helping to lighten our environmental footprint.  You may be going green without even knowing it!

Consolidating by Going Digital

Digitization and consolidation have allowed us to carry digital versions of our favorite songs, books, pictures, maps and more on one little device.  Before, you would have to carry these individual items in a large bag and haul them around from one place to another.  Since we can download books, music and just about everything else, fewer resources are being used up to get you the same end result.  Your one smartphone now serves as your phone, music player, alarm clock, watch, camera, GPS, personal planner and much more… that’s 7 different items that have been consolidated into one item.  Tablets add to that by serving as e-readers, gaming consoles and have even been replacing home computers.  The more features you use on your smart phone or tablet translates to you buying less additional gadgets and lowering your environmental impact!

Recycling Electronics

There are many ways to recycle electronics.  You can wipe them clean and resell them (just make sure that all of your data is in fact irretrievable), or purchase a previously used device, or donate your electronics to a school… all reducing the overall environmental footprint by giving that device a second life.  By recycling and reusing less new items will have to be made.  Thanks to technology this has become a more global marketplace allowing us to recycle around the world, whatever you need can be found with quick search and find a previously owned one on the internet.  And of course don’t forget about refurbished items.  There are a lot of sites out there that will take your devices (give you cash for said devices), refurbish them and then resell them.  Refurbished items are a great way to make sure that you are getting a quality device which will last you a long time.

3D Printing

Now this one is still a bit in the future for your everyday Joe but it is rapidly becoming more accessible.  With the amazing invention of 3D printing, you are able to “print” exactly what you need, when you need it.  So, hopefully this will create less waste as we exchange mass production for individual 3D print-outs.

Technology has allowed us to go green without even knowing it by helping us be more efficient, reduce the electronic clutter in our lives, utilize our resources and easily share helpful information.  We’re able to do more while wasting less.

March Monitor Madness

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We’re having a great deal on monitors just in time for Spring Cleaning!  Check out the deals below and contact us for more info!

March Monitor Madness Deals

Tech Trends to watch our for in 2013

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2013 is here!

2013 brings new and exciting technology challenges and opportunities for you to consider!  With the New Year and the ever-changing technology innovations out there at your fingertips companies can now use these new tools and strategies to position themselves in the best way possible with less risk.  Below are some possible trends to watch for which will help your company make smart IT decisions in 2013:

Trend #1: A bright focus on Cloud interoperability

People love the cloud, they love the idea of the cloud, but they also like their old tried and true ways of the past as well.  So now more organizations are adopting a hybrid public / private approach.  This can mean a couple of things:

  1. Integrating the private cloud of an organization with other public clouds in a secure manner
  2. Enhance an internal private cloud with additional storage, computing, or cooling resources from a public cloud

In order to make sure these hybrid environments play nice, are cost effective and productive it is crucial to implement vendor-agnostic management and monitoring solutions.

Trend #2: Private Clouds are more cost effective

It’s becoming more and more expensive to run data centers which are eating up more power, more cooling and more space.  Because of this, private and hybrid clouds will gain popularity due to the cost savings.

Trend #3: Personal Devices and Virtualization

These days everyone has their own personal devices they like to use for work needs as well.  Before having two different profiles… a work one and a personal one caused many to carry around multiple devices… an android for work and iPhone for personal use (for example).  Now with virtualization, it doesn’t matter what device you’re on… you will be able to access any of your accounts, personal or work, on any device – securely.  Issues of security and identity challenges still need to be fine-tuned… but it’s on its way.

Prediction: Cyber Security Education

As more and more people shift their important information and data to the cloud, Cyber Security must become a top priority for the US Government in 2013.  The public will need to be educated on how to properly and safely store your information in the cloud.

Moving Forward

It’s more important now than ever to be smarter about IT and proactive with the available options to your organization.  Managing and monitoring these ever-changing environments is critical to success.

Windows 8 vs. Windows 7

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Windows 8 has been out since October of this year and there’s been a lot of buzz regarding the major top-to-bottom overhaul that Microsoft has performed to Windows.  It uses a completely new interface, once called Metro… but now is being referred to as “Windows 8 Design Style” (not sure if that name will stick or not seeing as Microsoft has been fickle with their name choices lately – Hotmail anybody…Hotmail?).

Currently you can upgrade to Windows 8 for about $40 via their download site HERE.

You will find that Windows 8 presents the user with a new and racy User Interface (UI) and some new/upgraded features … But when it comes to your business environment the KLH team recommends waiting before jumping on Windows 8 bandwagon.  As for new hardware deployments Windows 7 will continue to be offered on business class PC’s and Laptops by the major manufactures, industry speculation tells us roughly 3-5 more years of Windows 7.

Now if you’re a trend-setter and or just need the newest thing now, KLH will of course continue to support and service this newly offered O/S.

From the smallest interaction with the new O/S you will quickly find the learning curve can be steep for some and the overall functionality is more tablet oriented than PC friendly.  Regardless if you decide to upgrade or not below we’ve compiled a list of some of the new things you can expect from Windows 8:

System Requirements:

1 GHz processor (or faster with support for PAE, NX, and SSE2)

2 GB RAM / 20 GB available of hard disc space

1366 x 768 screen resolution

DirectX 9 graphics processor with WDDM driver

New User Interface: As we mentioned above, Microsoft has completely redone the User Interface for Windows 8 to a new UI utilizing the use of tiles as opposed to folders.  They say that the new UI is more intuitive than Windows 7, but upon playing with it we found that was not exactly the case when using Windows 8 on a PC – it was a bit clumsy to be honest.  There are new shortcuts you have to learn in order to get to where you want to go, there is a lot of moving your curser to the edge of the screen to reveal a hidden toolbar or button that you may or may not have known was there; there is no longer a start button; the UI is app based, so the transition from going from your basic desktop “app” (Word, Outlook, etc) to the newer modern apps (weather, gaming, store)  is not smooth at all. They’ve also implemented a new functionality called the “Charm Bar” which is a universal toolbar where you will find: Search, Share, Start, Devices, Settings and Shutdown.  The “Charm Bar” can be useful when it’s not getting in your way of doing other tasks.

The positives:

Can run two apps side-by-side

VHD Enhanced – VHDX (improves performance and can extend the maximum harddrive space from 2TB to 16 TB.

Windows HyperV is built-in

Faster boot up time

Mount ISO images are built in

Windows Defender Antivirus is built in

Improve multi-monitor support

The Conclusion:

The truth of the matter is that if you’re using Windows 8 on a tablet… such as the newly released Surface, you’ll probably love it.  But utilizing the same type of UI on a PC just doesn’t work like it should.  These days we need things to work right away without having to read an instruction manual first.  We just want to “get it”.

We’ll have a basic training tutorial on the new functionalities of Windows 8 in the very near future.  As soon as we have it we’ll post it here.

The Importance of Backing Up Your Data

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It’s a normal day and then BAM out of the blue… disaster strikes!  A flood, an earthquake, a fire… and guess what… your whole company is now in jeopardy.  Ongoing maintenance is the key to success – especially after an emergency.  One of the keys to getting back on your feet after an emergency or unexpected incident is staying on top of your maintenance routine.  You must make sure that your data is regularly backed up so that you can get your company up and running again as fast as possible so you don’t lose money and your company can persevere.  Follow these simple steps that can help your company survive if but most likely when disaster strikes.

1. Have a Disaster Recovery Plan

  • No matter how simple it is… you must have a written plan of action in the event of a disaster.  If it’s all in your head how is everyone else supposed to know how to react or help?
  • Write down your disaster recovery plan and make sure that others in your company know the plan too.
  • When building your plan you must define your retention policy.  How long do you need to keep your information / data?  Some companies only need to keep their information for 1 day, some for months, and others for a year or longer.
  • Another key element that you need to be aware of when creating a Disaster Recovery Plan is defining how long your system or systems can be down before it will affect your business.  Each system you work with can have different down times.  One system could be down for a few days while other systems can only be down for a few hours before it can start to have a major impact on your business.
  • Based on these requirements, your backup solution is built to fit those needs.
2. Back-Up Your Data
  • Only data that has been backed up can be recovered.  If the data doesn’t get backed up there will be nothing to recover.  So this part requires a bit of teamwork with yourself and your IT team.  You do your part of the maintenance so we can do ours.
  • There are a few ways you can back-up your data.
    • Image Backup (best) – Essentially clones the operating system and all of its data, including the current configurations of the system state and applications as well as the free space and slack space.  The backup is saved as a single file that is called an image.
      • If you’re looking to restore your system back to how it was quickly, this is the way to go.
      • Another great cloud backp, especially for corporations, is Veeam.  Veeam will capture your data and the system state which means that i fyou need to do a full restore this will restore it to exactly how i was before the disaster.
    • File Backup – File backups make copies of files flagged as important on your computer.  You select which files you want to back up as opposed to just cloning your whole system.
      • With file backups you can work with smaller sets of files
      • Recovery time is longer with File backups and you MUST have your software discs available to re-install into your system before your files can be recovered.  So make sure that your software discs are in a safe, secure place.
  • If possible, try to back up your data every night.  It should become a part of your regular routine.  This is the only way to get the most effective and up-to-date backup and get your company on its feet again after a disaster more quickly.
  • Rotate your tapes (or whatever source of removable media you decide to use.  Can be a USB Drive, External Hard drive, CD) and have multiple copies.
    • So you’ve backed up your data, great!  But now you need to find a safe and secure place away from the original area, preferably in a different building, different neighborhood, or even different town.
      • Select a person you trust to take the backups home with them.  If you put your backups next to the system you backed up and something disastrous happens, both will probably be damaged or destroyed and then unfortunately all of your data will be lost.
  • Verify your backups by doing a test restore regularly.  If you are one of our DataWatch clients we do this for you monthly.
  • Backup to the cloud
    • Even if you backup to an external hard drive, it is still a good idea to back up to the cloud.  This way you don’t really have to worry about taking your backups offsite, since they already will be.
    • The best way to do a backup is to do a series of incremental backups and then follow up about every fifth time with a full backup.  This way if you need to go back in history to find an old file, you’ll most likely recover an updated file rather than an out-of-date one
    • If you could afford to do a full backup… that is the most ideal situation
    • And remember, if you’re doing a file level backup; please keep in mind that you’ll still need to have a copy of all of the software that was installed so the sync can go smoothly.

3. Make sure you have copies of your latest Computer Software and Licenses stored in a safe location

  • Some people prefer to store these offsite as well, which is probably the best idea
  • Keep a log of what was up updated and when – this will ensure that at the time of a restore everything will work properly.

4. Update

  • It’s important to update your equipment on a somewhat regular basis.  Now, we’re not saying that every time a new computer comes out or new software comes out to get rid of what you’re currently using, but if your software or equipment is just days away from going into the Museum of Technology, it’s time to upgrade.  If you have old equipment it’s very possible that there will no longer be support or replacement parts.  Then compatible software will need to be found to attempt to create a successful restore.

We realize that all of this information seems a bit daunting and possibly even overwhelming, but trust us, it is absolutely necessary if you want to get your company back in working order so you can continue making money.  Unfortunately we don’t have a magic genie in a bottle and we can’t perform miracles, so in order for us to be effective and efficient in our job, we need your cooperation and help.  It takes teamwork to make most success stories happen.  If you have any questions or need some assistance with backing up your systems and your data… please don’t hesitate to call us at 707.575.9986.  We look forward to helping you ensure the safety and productivity of your business!

Beyond the Wine Club – Part 2

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Enjoy Part II of Trouble in Paradise…


SUSTAIN THE RELATIONSHIP
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Give customers choice—especially higher end customers.

Consumers have choice in almost every other transaction in life, so why not in their wine shipments? The power of choice is important, even if the customer elects to never exercise this choice.Yes this increases complexity, but with a sound operational strategy and robust behind the scenes technology it is possible. At a minimum, be sure to offer customization to your very best, higher value customers.


Price wine fairly to longer term customers.

Of course we don’t want to compete on price, especially if we have invested a lot in the wine experience. That said, consumers are digitally connected all the time. They know they are being gouged when wines in their shipment are easily available somewhere else for less. This destroys direct relationships quickly. Take the extra time in product planning each year to make sure that most of the wines sold direct are unique and that your pricing strategy is thoughtful across wholesale partners and every direct channel


Delight the customer, one shipment at a time.

Each shipment is an opportunity to connect with your customers tangibly—are you taking advantage of what goes in the box? Everyone sends wine and a newsletter; leverage this customer touch further by delighting your customers with some small surprise they can look forward to each time. Consider a food wine pairing wheel featuring your wines, over sized picture postcards portraying your vineyards in the current season, random “golden tickets” which, if found in the box by a customer, entitles them to a private dinner with the winemaker. The options are limitless—choose ideas that are core to your brand and differentiate you from all the other wine club offerings out there.

 

EXPAND CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIPS AND SALES BEYOND THE CLUB:


Know Your Customers

The customer list is one of a winery’s most important financial assets; just as important as the vineyards or the wine inventory. Why then do most of us treat the customer list as a mere communication and contact tool? Why do we forget to ask the customer what THEY want?

  • Collect and securely store customer information from interactions online, in the tasting room or at events—even those customers that don’t join the club.
  • Annually, do an RFM (Recency, Frequency and Monetary) analysis of the entire customer base.
  • Once you know the present “value” of your customers, you can create basic value tiers and change your marketing investment and sales/service strategy accordingly.
  • Consider investigating the potential value of your customers so that you can also put actions in place to discover and nurture these hidden relationships. Use this knowledge to find new customers that match the profile of your most valuable customers.
  • Survey your customers to see what they want and don’t want from the wine club. The answers might surprise you.


Build an integrated DTC Action Plan across People, Process and Technology

 

Is your winery guilty of launching just in time DTC offers or last minute wine club shipment planning? Are customer communications always a fire drill? Are you always fighting with your technology systems to achieve your goals?
  • Plan your DTC actions and offers across all channels for the year—make sure that product and pricing and offers are well aligned across every customer touch point. Customers are smart—they sense the chaos when the message and the wines delivered are not in harmony.
  • Set goals for each channel and every program—then translate into goals for each of the people on your team. Measure their success. Use the results to help prioritize your efforts for the next year. When your initiatives and players are tied to both financial success and customer success (attracting, retaining and selling more to customers) — DTC is better aligned with the overall business of wine. This will ensure better support from your leadership—-and additional investment when needed.
  • Make sure your technology supports, but does not dictate, your customer strategy. Given the many technology players present in the wine industry today (and even within each winery) this can be challenging—but very possible. Start by better leveraging the current systems and adopting a plan to evolve your technology capabilities over time.

 

The wine club product is alive and well—if managed artfully. The real opportunity for our industry, however, lies well beyond the wine club. Differentiate your offering, coordinate DTC people, process and technology across channels and focus on your customer at all stages of the relationship. The sales will follow—both inside and outside the club.

Beyond the Wine Club – Part 1

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Rob McMillian of Silicon Valley Bank recently asked our DTC Expert, MJ Dale to write a guest blog post on the current state of Wine Clubs for his blog svbwine.blogspot.com, and she was happy to oblige.

A little history on MJ:

MJ DaleMJ leads the Consumer Direct Practice for KLH Consulting.  She grew up in the Sonoma Valley and attended high school in Napa, first learning the wine business in local vineyards and tasting rooms.  For the last 5 years,  MJ has focused on one of her true passions—helping the Wine Industry understand and embrace DTC.

Article to follow below:

Trouble in Paradise?

Across the wine country, there are whispers of trouble in Wine Club Paradise.  Do any of these trends sound familiar?
  • Average club tenure of shorter and shorter duration
  • Increasing cancellations year over year
  • Slowing customer sign-ups, especially at the higher volume clubs
  • Unexpected spikes in credit card declines, with fewer re-instates
  • Wine club shipment needs drive the number and kinds of wines made each year

The unhappy and mismanaged customer

 

For far too long, our industry has used the “Wine Club” as a proxy for true customer relationships.  If a customer is in one of our wine clubs, then they are a top customer.  If not, well then, we send them a blast email offer (if we even collected their contact information) …and hope for the best.

Over the last several years, the proliferation of wine clubs (thousands across almost every winery, countless media organizations and many high end retailers) means that consumers are barraged with options for wine shipments.  How is one winery, with only one or two brands expected to compete?

The answer is simple: wine clubs will continue to be of interest to consumers—but their main purpose can’t be viewed in purely mercenary terms.  A club is not there “just to increase sales volume” or get rid of extra inventory.  They provide a great opportunity to stay connected with your customers, but will only work well if treated thoughtfully–one tool among many needed to build lasting customer relationships.

Standing Out From The Crowd

  • Sell the wine AND the Experience
  • Excellent, not just adequate, customer service


The hospitality industry knows that superb service is everything to the customer’s brand perception; especially their first impression.  In the wine industry, we need to remember that most of us are really in the hospitality business, even if we are lucky enough to be selling a scarce luxury wine.  We must deliver a near flawless customer experience from the very first if we expect the customer to be “sold” for the long run.

Great Wines!

  • Great Wines   (OF COURSE!)


Quality is a given. Winemaking in this country and around the world has improved dramatically, at all price points.  The consumer’s expectations have risen as well.

  • A Unique First Visit to the Winery Tasting Room or Website


Be honest, are you offering visitors something more than great wine that stands out from the thousands of other wineries? Are you known for an “edutainment session” or some other offering that truly transcends the everyday?

(Please take note: Concierges at luxury wine country resorts tell me that barrel tastings, blending seminars and vineyard tours are a dime a dozen. Even hot air balloon rides with a wine tasting are offered widely. Please send them unique offerings, well executed, so they can refer their best customers with confidence.)

For examples of wineries stepping out of the mainstream, look at Raymond Vineyards very different tasting room options. In the digital world, simple edutainment examples include Ridge Winery’s aerial vineyard tour and Buena Vista Winery’s historical timeline. Find ways to stand out from the crowd while remaining true to your brand essence.

NOTE: There is more to come next Tuesday.  If you would like to comment please visit http://svbwine.blogspot.com and feel free to ask MJ any question regarding DtC, Tasting Room, CRM and client experience!

Please check out Part 2 of her blog post HERE.

Is your data protected?

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In case you haven’t heard already, Wired reporter Mat Honan got hacked… hard.  Literally everything was wiped out by a hacker, his cell phone, his iPad, his computer, his email, his twitter… they were all compromised and wiped clean.  Panic much… yeah I would!  Luckily with some help from some of his powerful friends, he was able to recover most of his data.  If you don’t have friends in high places like Mat, here are steps that you can take right now to help prevent this sort of digital disaster from happening to you:

  1. When setting up your passwords if you have the option to choose two-factor authentication, we highly recommend it.  These days there are so many ways that hackers can gain access to your passwords and with two-factor authentication, it makes it that much harder for them to get it.    Not only that, make sure your password is something that won’t be easy to guess. Here are some simple tips:
    1. Don’t use dictionary words or your birthday or social security number.  A good password is one that is a phrase that is made up of upper and lower case letters, symbols and numbers.

i.    For Example: I Love Cheese Pizza can become a secure password by turning it into: Il0v3Ch3eseP!zz@

  1. The longer your password, the better – it will take hackers longer to figure out, if they can figure it out at all.
  2. Don’t recycle your passwords.  Use a different password for each site.

i.    If they guess your one password, the hacker will then have access to every site that you’ve used that password for.

  1. Of course with all of the different sites we use passwords for it would be hard to remember all of our crazy jumbled up phrases we created as passwords, so we recommend writing your passwords down and locking them in a safe or use a secure password storing site such as KeePass, Passpack, Clipperz, or Password Gorilla – that way you only have to remember one password to gain access to all of your passwords for the various websites you visit.  So if you use one of these, make sure that password is a good one.
  2. Avoid telling anyone your password, if for some reason you need to give someone access to one of your password protected accounts, set up a temporary password and then change it to one that only you know once they’re done.
  3. Secure your mobile devices.
    1. Make sure that your device is enabled with a variety of security features such as remote wipe (don’t forget to enable it), two-factor authentication and file encryption.

i.    Protect your mobile device by enabling the PIN protection and protect your laptop with drive encryption software like BitLocker.

ii.    Install a mobile tracking and locking program

iii.    And of course… back up your data regularly!!!!  Whether it be to the cloud or to an external hard drive… just do it… you’ll be glad you did.

iv.    When you set up your backups make sure they are set to encrypted

  1. Backup to the cloud but also to an external hard drive.  If some horrible disaster happens and everything is ruined, you’ll be glad you saved your information to the cloud.
    1. Do your homework when choosing a cloud security service.  Make sure that they encrypt the data that is stored on their servers and check out their password security.
    2. Avoid storing highly sensitive data to the cloud.
    3. If you receive an update alert for any of your software or apps, update as soon as you can.

Even with all of these precautions, there is still always a chance that you may get hacked.  But by implementing these safety procedures and planning ahead you’ll at least be somewhat prepared and not in danger of losing all of your valuable data.  If you want to know more about what exactly happened to Mat you can read about on his blog here.

Microsoft gets into the Apps game…

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Get ready for some major changes with the release of Office 2013. Microsoft is really stepping up their game. First of course, they’re completely changing the way Windows works with the soon to be released much talked about Windows 8. Not only are they making it mobile device friendly, now they’re adding apps to their Office Store as well. Currently they’re seeking developers to develop some useful apps with videos like this:

If you’re a developer, an aspiring developer or just feel like dabbling in creating your own app this may be a good way for you to make some extra cash. The revenue from the apps bought is split 80/20 with the developers getting 80% (compared to 70% with Apple). Pretty sweet! Wish you knew how to code now, don’t you? Well if you want to learn quickly, there’s great sites like Lynda.com that use video tutorials to teach just about any software under the sun in just a few hours.

Not only are they getting into apps, but don’t forget they just updated their email system of Hotmail to the new and improved Outlook. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you can do so here (www.outlook.com). It’s a much better email service and is giving Google a run for its money. Also, LinkedIn just announced that they will be partnering with Microsoft’s upcoming release of Office. You’ll be able to login to Outlook with your LinkedIn account credentials and data from LinkedIn will be populated into Outlook’s contact cards and you’ll be able to see your contact’s LinkedIn updates and photos as part of Outlooks Social Connector.

For people who like to customize their settings and their technology… they will love this. It actually looks pretty cool, but I just wonder how well this will work in a non-tablet / non-touchscreen environment.
What do you guys think, are you impressed by all the improvements Microsoft is venturing into or do you think they are swimming with the sharks?