Archive for November, 2016

IT Company Builds Software Platform for Cloud-ready Companies and Those That Aren’t

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

Sponsored Post

Intivix is so serious about the Cloud that they developed a remote access solution that enables businesses to access both cloud and on-premise servers.

Business partners Rob Schenk and Dan Gordon, founders of Intivix, an IT company based in San Francisco, are serious about the Cloud. So serious that not only do they offer many cloud-based services to their clients, but they also have funded and developed a remote access solution that enables businesses to get to their files either from on-premise servers or those hosted in the cloud.

The solution, called MyWorkDrive, was designed with simplicity in mind, born out of clients’ frustrations over problems with accessibility.

“I just want to be able to access my work files reliably without a bunch of hassles,” said Gordon in a telephone interview with Small Business Trends, referring to complaints he had received from clients.

In the past, remote access required the use of complex VPNs and error-prone synching software — a problem Schenk and Gordon determined to resolve. Furthermore, other clients didn’t feel comfortable moving all their files to a cloud-only based service like DropBox.

“Clients wanted the flexibility of gaining access to files from anywhere, just as if they were in their office,” he said. “We tested and reviewed many solutions and ended up not finding anything that was the right fit. Platforms were either very expensive, very cumbersome or challenging to maintain.”

Instead of a third-party platform, Schenk and Gordon built MyWorkDrive, a direct and easy way for customers to get to their files from any location, using both desktop and mobile devices (browser-based or the familiar mapped drive mechanism).

“MyWorkDrive natively integrates with the security and permissions of Active Directory that’s already set up for all our customers, so we didn’t have to reinvent that stuff,” Gordon said. “We wanted something very simple, very targeted and tied right into Microsoft Active Directory. That’s where we’re at today.”

Gordon added that, with marketing efforts now in place, many MSPs are beginning to use the product, in addition to all of Intivix’s clients.

A unique feature only available with MyWorkDrive, according to Gordon, lets users double-click on a document right from the web, edit it directly in Office or in Office 365 and save it back to the local or cloud-based server.

“We can open it in Office 365 and conduct searches on the file server, to give people a full experience without them having to install anything on their computer,” he said. “We have a patented connector that they can enable (with no firewall rules or certificates to deal with), and then their server will be available online once we install the software, which takes about 20 minutes.”

Gordon cited one company that has a large file server consisting of eight terabytes of data as an example of MyWorkDrive’s capabilities.

“The company has a lot of staff who have to go out and take a number of photos in the field,” he said. “Being able to access those [photos] from anywhere, with indexed search, along with the ability to upload massive amounts of files from a service at gigabit speed, makes MyWorkDrive a good option for them.”

Pricing for MyWorkDrive ranges from $49.99 per month for up to 20 users to $1,200 for an enterprise license that supports 500 users. The company makes custom pricing available for corporations with a larger user base. In addition, they are actively collaborating with Managed Service Providers around the world to join their partner channel with compelling partner discount and internal use rights.

While MyWorkDrive takes up much of Schenk’s and Gordon’s time, Intivix does offer other cloud-based services, including hosting through Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services, as well as migration to Office 365 and Google for Work.

When asked about the risks and problems associated with transitioning clients to the cloud, Gordon takes a measured tone, saying that people get sold on cloud solutions without thinking through all the ramifications.

“We’ve picked up clients who didn’t do proper requirements gathering before they migrated to a cloud solution and have been unhappy with the results.’” he said. “Ultimately, they end up going through a migration with another provider and realize later that it doesn’t support all their requirements like Office 365 Email does. ‘It doesn’t have the Outlook feature that our users want’ they say, for example. In the end, we have worked with clients where we had to redo the migration away from other cloud solutions.”  

Gordon feels that many times, customers simply give in to the hype surrounding the benefits the cloud is supposed to provide, but that fall short when put into practice.

“They don’t really even know or understand what the word ‘cloud’ means,” he said. “They think, ‘It’s going to save me money. It’s going to make my life easier.’ When that doesn’t happen then they have to deal with the ramifications.”

While Gordon asserts that the cloud isn’t right for everyone, he believes certain applications could be beneficial.

“I would say there are targeted cloud applications that make a huge amount of sense for companies,” he said, “but it’s not for everyone at this point.”

He cited Office 365 as an example.

“I think you’ve seen a lot of people moving to Office 365,” he said. “That’s a very targeted solution that makes a lot of sense, that makes emails what the phone used to be.”

Regarding full implementation, however, Gordon said that as long as security and bandwidth aren’t an issue using cloud-based applications can be a useful strategy but can also be a disaster if not well thought through.

He does agree that in five to ten years, the cloud may be more ubiquitous but at this juncture, there are legacy-type businesses whose workflows, training and knowledge levels have not sufficiently advanced to the point where full adoption makes sense. It’s a pragmatic approach that takes into account where his client companies are regarding readiness.

“Companies are biting off more than they can chew in moving to the cloud when all they’re looking for, in many cases, is akin to what they already have,” he said. “That’s why MyWorkDrive isn’t exclusively cloud-based but also incorporates access to on-premise servers. It’s a solution that can accommodate everyone. It allows companies space to move to the cloud at their own pace.”

MyWorkDrive invites all Managed Services Providers around the globe to explore their solution as a simple pathway to creating additional cloud recurring revenue by participating in their partner channel. Sign up today.

Image: Intivix

This article, “IT Company Builds Software Platform for Cloud-ready Companies and Those That Aren’t” was first published on Small Business Trends


Bulgaria’s Ombudsman Sues Toplofikatsiya Sofia

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

Ombudsman Maya Manolova has initiated a law suit against Toplofikatsiya Sofia. Manolova is appealing the refusal of the venture to provide information about the collection of payments owed by consumers via judicial procedures.

Nearly two months ago, Manolova requested from Toplofikatsiya Sofia answers to 10 questions under the Law on Access to Public Information. This happened after the Constitutional Court rejected the demand for legal fees of jurists to be declared unconstitutional. Toplofikatsiya Sofia collects these fees from its debtors in spite of the fact that the salaries of jurists are included in the price of heating energy.

According to the Ombudsman, last year, the venture collected over BGN 15 M from such fees.

Manolova has turned to the Sofia Administrative Court. In her complaint she pointed out that the information requested is a matter of great public interest.



EC Vice President Georgieva Denies Charges of Conflict of Interest

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

Outgoing Vice President of the EC Kristalina Georgieva has announced in a statement published by the press centre of the European Commission Representation in Bulgaria that there is no conflict of interest with respect to her current and her future job.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Brussels online edition Politico reported that Georgieva’s office had arranged a new payment structure between the EU and the World Bank increasing EU contributions to the World Bank’s overhead.

In her statement, Georgieva flatly denies that there is conflict of interest.

“I feel obliged to dispel the false allegations and speculations spread about me by the Politico editon in relation with the management of the European budget. The World Bank is a partner of the Commission – we have an agreement with it which guarantees that the money of taxpayers are protected and spent accordingly. This agreement is not new – it has existed since 2009. The agreement was renewed in 2014 on the condition that it is reviewed again in 2016. This was done in accordance with all procedures of the Commission.”

Further on, Georgieva specified that: “There is no conflict of interest. The details of the agreement were negotiated by the offices of the Commission without my direct participation.”



How to Calm an Angry Customer In Your Store

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

How to Calm an Angry Customer In Your Store

You’ve got an angry—no, downright irate—customer in your store. They’re causing a ruckus and clearly making your other customers uncomfortable. What can you do to keep things from spiraling out of control?

How to Deal With an Angry Customer

Plan Ahead

Before this situation ever happens, plan ahead for how to handle it. If your retail store is in an area with a security presence, such as a shopping center, have the phone number for security at the checkout counter or on speed dial, along with the phone number for local police or sheriff.

Train your salespeople to be observant. By greeting customers as they come into the store and keeping an eye on the entire store, they can often spot someone who’s becoming upset. For example, if a long line is forming at the checkout counter, an angry customer might start off by looking angrily at his watch, then start sighing loudly, then pacing and muttering to himself. Reaching out to him with a proactive, “Thank you for your patience today; I’ll be with you as soon as I can,” can help.

Explain to your salespeople how to handle irate customers using the tips below.

Engage With the Customer

Remain calm. It’s natural to get defensive when someone is angry at us, but calm is your best tool in this situation. Raising your voice, arguing or being sarcastic will just escalate the situation.

Use the customer’s name. Find out the person’s name and use it while talking to them: “Mr. Wilson, can you explain the problem to me so I can help?”

Listen. By the time a customer is exploding with rage, the actual problem that sparked the anger is not the primary issue on their minds. Let the customer explain what they are angry about. Don’t interrupt, no matter how irrelevant it seems. You need to let them get their emotions out before they can be rational.

While you are listening, watch your body language. Look the customer in the eye. Don’t put on a defensive posture, such as crossing your arms. Use an open stance; this shows you’re willing to listen. Don’t fidget, show impatience, roll your eyes, raise your eyebrows or sigh.

Once the customer is finished talking, express understanding, focusing on the feelings first and the actual problem second: “I’m sorry you’re feeling frustrated by X.”

Next, take a “we’re in this together” approach to the actual problem. Enlist the angry customer to work with you to find a solution: “Let’s come up with a solution you’ll be happy with.”

Getting Physical

If you’re worried the customer is going to become physically aggressive or violent:

Never touch an angry customer. You may be tempted to reach out and pat the person on the shoulder or lightly touch his or her arm. That could make them even angrier or put you at risk.

Put something between yourself and the customer, such as the checkout counter or a desk. If you can’t put a physical barrier between the two of you, leave several feet of space. Getting too close to an angry customer can make him or her feel threatened.

Take the angry customer aside. Ask the customer to follow you to another part of the store to discuss the problem. If the customer is someone who thrives on the drama of being the center of attention, getting away from other customers can help deflate them.

Remind the person of the presence of other customers. “Sir, I understand that you’re upset, but you are upsetting my other customers. Can we please discuss this calmly?”

Remain confident and in control. It’s important to put limits on the situation. Remind the customer that you want to help resolve the issue but in order to do that, you need them to calm down.

Get Them Out

If none of the above tactics work, calmly ask the customer to leave. Then move toward the store exit. Chances are, he or she will follow you—if only to continue yelling at you. Keep moving until you get the person outside. Stay outside and wait until he or she is out of view to go back inside.

If the customer refuses to leave, tell them calmly, “Sir, if you won’t leave the store, I’m going to have to call security/the police.” Often, this is enough to snap a person back to reality.

Ounce of Prevention

The best approach to customer rage is to prevent it in the first place. By making sure that your store is adequately staffed; that you and your employees are alert to what’s going on inside the store; and that you always provide friendly, efficient service, you’ll have a safer, more pleasant environment.

How have you dealt with an enraged customer in your store? How did you handle it?

Customer is Angry Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “How to Calm an Angry Customer In Your Store” was first published on Small Business Trends


Hungary To Hire "Border Hunters" for USD 340 M

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

The Hungarian government is expecting another migrant wave in the spring. In this relation, the cabinet of Viktor Orban announced that it will spend up to USD 340 M for the training, equipment and remuneration of 3,000 “border hunters”.

They will be hired in order to secure the fences erected last year against the entry of illegal migrants, reported Associated Press.

The security of Europe is along the southern border of Bulgaria, announced Orban during a meeting with Bulgaria’s outgoing PM Borisov on Wednesday.


Germany’s Merkel Opposes Continuing Accession Negotiations With Turkey

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced her opposition to continuing accession negotiations with Turkey.

Merkel stated this during a meeting with deputies from the Christian Democratic Union in the Bundestag.

At the meeting, the chancellor stated that the actions of the Turkish authorities after the coup attempt do not permit moving forward with the opening of new chapters in the negotiations.

Deputies in the European Parliament voted on November 24 on a resolution which called for the of freezing negotiations between Brussels and Ankara due to the lack of proportionality in the reaction of Turkish authorities with respect to the suspected organisers of the coup.

On Tuesday, Turkish President Erdogan stated that his country has not given up its ambition to join the EU but that it has “several other alternatives” if the accession process reaches a deadlock.


Bulgarian Christmas 2016 To Support Children With Severe Chronic Illnesses

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

The 14 edition of Bulgarian Christmas will be in support of children with severe chronic illnesses.

The donations will be used for modern treatment, precise diagnostics, including medications, genetic examinations and psychological help for the children who have severe chronic illnesses.

In the 13 years since its establishment, Bulgarian Christmas has helped the treatment of 3,409 children, BGN 28 M have been collected and 229 medical establishments in the country have received state-of-the-art technology for treatment and rehabilitation.

President Plevneliev noted the role of the initiative for finding  sustainable solutions to systemic problems in children’s  healthcare.


Facebook Unveils New Community Help, Safety Check, Donation and Non-Profit Partnership Tools

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

The new Facebook features for November 2016 include community help, safety check, an expanded fundraiser features, and nonprofit partnerships.

Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) recently unveiled some new tools as part of its Live feature at the social network’s first Social Good Forum held on 17 November in New York.

The new tools include community help, safety check, an expanded fundraiser features, and nonprofit partnerships.

New Facebook Features for November 2016

Naomi Gleit, VP Social Good at Facebook, said the new tools are designed to “empower our community to do more good in the world and help keep them safe.”

Gleit detailed the updates and new features in a post on the official Facebook News blog:

  • Community Help, a new feature that lets you ask for or offer help, including shelter, food and supplies after a natural disaster
  • Safety Check, a simple way to let friends and family know you’re okay during a crisis, will now be triggered entirely by our community, not Facebook
  • Expanding Fundraisers so people can raise money for more than 750,000 nonprofits and add a donate button to Live videos and posts
  • Nonprofit partnerships with Movember this month and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on Giving Tuesday

Mark Zuckerberg added in a related video post that ultimately the motivation for creating these tools is threefold. It is to try to prevent bad things from happening. It is to try to help out when something bad is happening. And finally, it is to provide ongoing help after something bad has happened.

Small businesses can leverage Facebook’s new tools to do more social good themselves, including fundraise on behalf of U.S.-based 501(c)3 nonprofits to help out those in need, donate or collect donations for worthy causes like women’s health, and more.

“We’re inspired by how much good comes from connecting on Facebook but we know we can do more,” Gleit stressed in the Newsroom post.

Image: Facebook

This article, “Facebook Unveils New Community Help, Safety Check, Donation and Non-Profit Partnership Tools” was first published on Small Business Trends


OPEC Agrees on Oil Output Reduction

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has reached an agreement among its members on a reduction of oil output for the first time since 2008, reported Reuters, cited by Dnevnik daily.

The parameters of the agreement are similar to the ones outlined during informal talks in Algiers in September.

Algiers’ initiative was for the limit of total oil output to be reduced by over 1 million barrels a day – from 33.6 million to 32.5 million.


President Putin Appoints New Russian Economy Minister

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

Russian President Vladimir Putin has appointed Deputy Finance Minister Maxim Oreshkin as the new Minister of the Economy.

Oreshkin  is replacing Alexey Ulyukayev who was arrested on charges of corruption and fired due to losing the trust of the head of state.

TASS cited Putin according to whom:  “Maxim Stanislavovich has not been working for long but he is working successfully”.

Oreshkin was born on July 21, 1982. He started working for the central bank in 2002. In the period 2006-2010, he worked for Rosbank where he was promoted to the position executive director.


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