Wednesday, July 10, 2024

AI Is Taking Over (The Microsoft 365 Suite)!

Let's talk about artificial intelligence. No, it’s not taking over the world, but it is definitely changing how we handle our daily grind at work! Microsoft Copilot is one of the newest tools in the Microsoft 365 toolbox that is a great representation of how AI can transform your workflow: it's like having a hyper-efficient assistant who is already an expert on all the M365 apps you currently use.


Seamless Integration with Microsoft 365

Here’s what we mean when we say that Microsoft Copilot works effortlessly within the Microsoft 365 environment, enhancing the functionality of the applications you use daily:

  • Outlook: Copilot can prioritize your emails, draft responses, and schedule meetings based on your preferences. Have a ton of emails that look like a chore to get through? Copilot can summarize them conciselyin seconds!
  • Word: Copilot makes writing easy by suggesting edits and updates and helping you format text to meet your requirements.
  • Excel: Data-driven decision making has never been easier! Copilot analyzes the data you enter, then generates reports and creates visualizations based on it.
  • Teams: Copilot helps you prepare for your scheduled meetings and keeps them on track by summarizingdiscussions and tracking action items: all you have to do is show up!
  • PowerPoint: Copilot designs visually appealing slides, incorporates relevant data, and refines your presentations in the click of a mouse.


The Benefits of Integration

As you can see, Copilot gives your M365 applications a boost and helps you use them more efficiently! Here are a few other tangible benefits of integrating Copilot into your daily work routine: 

  • Enhanced Productivity: By automating routine tasks, Copilot boosts your overall productivity and helps you accomplish more in less time.
  • Consistency and Accuracy: Copilot ensures that tasks are performed consistently and accurately, reducing the risk of errors.
  • Ease of Use: Since Copilot is integrated directly into Microsoft 365, there is no steep learning curve: it works within the familiar interface of the applications you already use!
  • Scalability: Copilot scales to meet your needs whether your team is small or large, enhancing efficiency across the board.


Get Started with Copilot Today!

Ready to work smarter and not harder within the Microsoft 365 suite?

Reach out to our team and start a conversation about how to best integrate Copilot into your business: we’ll schedule a free consultation and help you take the next steps to unlocking a new level of efficiency at work!

Let Nextworks help you get started with AI.

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Why Get Cybersecurity Insurance

Cybersecurity insurance is increasingly essential for all companies as the risk of cyberattacks grows. Here’s why your business should consider it:

Coverage Types

If you handle customer data or store business information online, cybersecurity insurance helps protect against financial losses caused by incidents like data breaches, system hacking, and ransomware extortion payments.

Coverage Details

First-party coverage includes:

  • Investigation of incidents.
  • Risk assessment for future cyber incidents.
  • Lost revenue due to business interruption.
  • Ransomware attack payments (up to coverage limits).
  • Notifying customers about cyber incidents and providing anti-fraud services.

Third-party or cyber liability coverage protects your business if a third party sues you for damages resulting from a cybersecurity incident. It covers attorney fees, court judgments, and regulatory fines.

Mandatory Notification

Cyber insurance helps companies notify customers about data breaches (mandatory in most states) and provides legal defense. Without it, these costs can quickly add up.

Other Steps to Take

The best insurance policy is one that you never use. Here are some steps you can take:

Prioritize Cyber Decisions: Treat cybersecurity decisions as important business choices. 
Consider risks and exposure when making decisions related to technology and security.

Educate Employees: Educate all employees about cyber threats and how their actions can impact data security. Awareness helps prevent vulnerabilities.

Comprehensive Approach: Develop a comprehensive data security strategy. Gain visibility into sensitive data, identify risks, and integrate your tech stack for efficient remediation.

Deploy Security Tools: Utilize services that offer real-time monitoring, anomaly detection, and threat prevention.

Conduct Periodic Reviews: Regularly review security measures and update them as needed.

Accurate Asset and Risk Classification: Classify assets and assess risks accurately to prioritize protection efforts.

Consider adding cybersecurity insurance to your risk management strategy to safeguard your business against cyber threats and their financial impact.

Monday, May 6, 2024

Holding Up a 'Help' Sign in the World of Giant IT Mergers

Did your local MSP get swallowed up by a big tech giant recently, leaving you waving a "Help" sign, hoping someone notices? It’s all too common in the world of IT. Big, faceless IT corporations might promise the moon, but for small businesses, they can leave you feeling out in the cold. Let's dive into the real drawbacks of working with these massive entities and see why a local IT provider could be a much better fit for your business.

The 'One Size Fits All' Trap

Ever get the feeling that big IT companies see you as just another number? They often push a one-size-fits-all solution that sounds great on paper but misses the mark for your specific needs. Local IT providers, on the other hand, thrive on crafting services that are just right for your business. They know that your IT needs are as unique as your fingerprint, and they're ready to tailor their services to fit just right.

Slower Response Times, Slower Resolutions

When an IT emergency arises, every second matters. With large IT corporations often operating centralized support centers, they simply can’t offer the quick on-site response that local providers can. We understand how frustrating this is, especially when you are told to "Please hold" every time an issue arises. This often results in extended downtimes and substantial losses, which are particularly detrimental for operations that depend on real-time data and systems. With a local IT provider, however, the experience is entirely different. Local providers prioritize immediate action, ensuring a technician can quickly be on-site to address your problems directly. This level of rapid, personalized service minimizes downtime and keeps your operations running smoothly, proving indispensable in time-sensitive situations.

The Impersonal Touch and Community Disconnect

With large IT corporations, the personal connection and community involvement are often missing. You’re a file number, not a face, which can make you feel disconnected and undervalued, especially when you need support the most. In contrast, local IT firms are deeply integrated into your community. They're not just familiar with the local business environment; they're an active part of it. They invest in the local economy, support local charities, and their success is directly tied to yours. This means they genuinely care about every interaction and relationship, striving to make a positive impact both in business and in the broader community. This level of commitment helps strengthen the local economy, creating a win-win situation for everyone involved.

Choosing the right IT partner is more important than ever, and while giant corporations might seem like the safe bet, they come with challenges that can hold your business back. Local IT providers offer the personalized service, rapid response times, and community focus that really align with and support your business goals.

Tired of being just another ticket in a massive queue? Let’s make IT personal again! Reach out to us today to discover how our local, tailored IT services can help your business not just survive but thrive.

Friday, April 19, 2024

Using Password Managers for Your Business

In today's digital age we rely heavily on online accounts and sensitive information. The need for strong, unique passwords has become increasingly important. However, remembering multiple complex passwords can be challenging and prone to human error. This is where password managers come into play, providing a secure and convenient solution for both businesses and individuals.

For Business

Password managers offer numerous benefits for organizations of all sizes. Here are some key advantages for businesses:

  • Enhanced Security: Password managers ensure robust security by generating and storing strong, unique passwords for each account. This eliminates the risk of weak or reused passwords that are susceptible to hacking.

  • Centralized Management: Businesses can centrally manage and control passwords across their teams. Administrators can grant and revoke access, enforce password policies, and monitor password usage, bolstering overall security and reducing the burden on IT departments.

  • Improved Productivity: With password managers, employees no longer need to waste time memorizing or resetting passwords. They can easily access their accounts with a single master password or other authentication methods, streamlining workflow and productivity.

  • Secure Sharing: Password managers enable secure password sharing within teams or departments without revealing the actual passwords. This allows collaboration while maintaining data confidentiality.

  • Auditing and Compliance: Many password managers provide auditing and reporting features that help businesses comply with industry regulations and internal security policies. Detailed logs and reports can be generated to track password usage and identify potential security breaches.

Here are three companies offering password managers with cost around $3-$6/mo. per user:

For Individuals

Password managers are equally beneficial for individual users. Here are some advantages for personal use:

  • Simplified Password Management: With a password manager, individuals can securely store all their passwords in one place. This eliminates the need to remember multiple passwords or resort to writing them down, which can be risky.

  • Enhanced Security: Password managers generate strong, unique passwords and often offer additional security features like two-factor authentication (2FA) or biometric authentication. This ensures that individual accounts remain protected from unauthorized access.

  • Convenient Access: Individuals can access their passwords from various devices, including computers, smartphones, and tablets. This convenience allows seamless login across platforms and devices.

  • Timesaving: Password managers save time by automatically filling in login credentials for websites and apps, eliminating the hassle of typing passwords manually.

  • Password Strength Analysis: Many password managers provide tools that analyze the strength of existing passwords and offer suggestions for improving them. This helps individuals maintain strong, secure passwords across all their accounts.

The three companies mentioned above are also offering some free individual plans. For individual use Nextworks recommends free the open-source platform, Keepass.

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Why You Should Be Thinking About Microsoft Copilot

Everything You Need To Know About Copilot And How It Can Help Your Business

Microsoft Copilot for Microsoft 365 is an AI-powered productivity tool integrated into Microsoft 365 apps that you use every day, such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Teams, and others. This integration provides real-time intelligent assistance, enabling users to enhance their creativity, productivity, and skills.

Copilot was released in November 2023 with much fanfare. However, many technology professionals and IT companies felt the launch went down like a lead balloon.

This was due to lack of access and requirement by Microsoft to have a minimum user count in the Microsoft 365 tenant of 300 which left many businesses unable to access the new Copilot product.

This has now changed, and Copilot is now available to businesses of all sizes. Built on Open AI’s ChatGPT technology, Copilot uses AI to make your workflow more efficient in the Microsoft 365 suite of products.

Killer Features of Microsoft Copilot for Teams

Do you find it hard to use Microsoft Teams to take notes, keep track of tasks, and summarize meetings? You are not the only one if that's the case.

Keeping up with meetings and doing a lot of different jobs is hard for a lot of small business owners and managers. Well, we're happy to welcome you to Copilot, a brand-new AI tool that can help you get more done in your Microsoft Teams meetings.

Copilot is a smart AI helper that can answer your questions about meetings in everyday language.

You can ask Copilot to make a table with the names of the people who attended and what their roles were, as well as a summary of the meeting's goal, a list of the choices and actions taken, and a lot more.

Copilot can also make a table with a summary of the meeting and a list of tasks and who is responsible for them. This makes it easy to copy and paste the table into an email or document.

One of the best things you can do is use Copilot to go over what was talked about and what needs to be done next after the meeting.

You can focus on being present and interested in the meeting this way, and then let Copilot help you with the follow-up.

Copilot can also help you catch up on a meeting you missed (or arrived late) by outlining the main action points and results.

Some additional perks with Microsoft Teams' Copilot:

Natural language processing driven by AI - Copilot can understand your natural language questions and commands and give you answers and actions that are relevant and correct.

Self customizing - Copilot changes how it responds and acts based on your past meetings and preferences.

Access is quick and easy because Copilot is built into Microsoft Teams. This means you can use it from any computer or device. To talk to Copilot, you can also use voice or text, based on what works best for you.

All of this is why Copilot is so important for small businesses that want to get the most out of their Microsoft Teams meetings. It can save you time, cut down on mistakes, and make working together and talking to each other better.

Using Copilot for Everyday Productivity - Beyond Microsoft Teams

Have you ever wanted a personal assistant but don’t have the budget? Or maybe you’ve got a limited knowledge of Microsoft Excel and must pull out key metrics but don’t have the time to learn all the features?

Copilot works in following suite of Microsoft 365 products:

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Excel

Microsoft Outlook

Microsoft Word

Microsoft PowerPoint

In addition to these products Copilot can be accessed via a ChatGPT style interface in Microsoft 365 Chat and from a side bar when logged into Microsoft Edge.

Here are a few examples of some of the most useful features specifically for high level work of CEO’s and business owners.

Copilot for Excel: Allows you take ask questions of the data within an excel file in natural language. Don’t know how to create a pivot table? Don’t worry just ask Copilot to create a pivot table and a relevant chat that can make the data come to life. While still in preview, Copilot in Excel shows promise in analysing and interpreting data, offering insights and summaries that could be invaluable in data-heavy environments.

Copilot for Outlook: Hhave you been on vacation and stopped reading those long email chains? Coming back into the office on Monday morning you Copilot will read a multi part email chain and summarise the key points so you don’t have to. Copilot also helps draft emails with options to customize tone and length. It's a time-saver, especially when you're aiming for a particular communication style. It's more than just drafting. Copilot offers suggestions to enhance the tone, clarity, and effectiveness of your emails.

Document Creation in Word: Imagine generating a comprehensive blog post or proposal with just a few prompts. Copilot in Word does exactly that, offering a solid foundation for your documents.

Revolutionizing PowerPoint Presentations: Copilot in PowerPoint is a standout feature. It can create full presentations, complete with slides and content, based on your input. It's a massive time-saver for anyone who frequently uses PowerPoint.

Microsoft 365 Chat: This is very similar to ChatGPT. However Copliot integrates what is known as the Microsoft Graph data of your organization – this is all the files accessible to you in SharePoint and other Microsoft 365 sources. Here’s an example of a prompt you could use: “Create a FAQ based on our vacation policy”.

Maximizing ROI with Microsoft Copilot

We propose the following action plan.

Figuring Out Who Needs Copilot

How to make Copilot cost-effective is to figure out which workers will gain the most from it. Copilot has a lot of advanced features that not everyone in your company may need. This is how you can make your choice:

Make Business Use Cases: To begin, make a list of the specific jobs and processes that Copilot can help your company do more efficiently. Among other things, this could include writing emails and papers, analysing data in Excel, and making presentations in PowerPoint.

Check Out Employee Jobs: Take a look at the jobs in your company and see which ones have tasks that Copilot can help with. For instance, marketing teams might like how quickly it can create content, and sales teams might use how well it can analyse data to make better sales reports.

Assessment of Productivity Gains: Think about how Copilot might help different jobs save time and get more done. If a tool makes a certain job much easier and faster, it might be worth the money.

Pilot Program: Get a small group of people from different areas to use a pilot program. Keep an eye on how they use it, get feedback, and figure out how it affects their work quality and productivity.

Feedback and Changes: Make smart choices about wider application based on the feedback from the pilot program. You may find that some roles gain more than others, which will help you better distribute licenses.

Using Strategy to Get the Best Returns

Once you've found the right people in your company to be Copilot testers, it's important to make sure they know how to use it correctly. Here are some ideas:

Training Sessions: Set up training sessions for some workers to learn about Copilot's features and functions.

Share your Best Ideas: Encourage workers to share any useful information they find while using Copilot. This will help create an environment where people can work together to learn.

Check-ins: Set up regular check-ins to see how the tool is being used and how it's changing the way work gets done.

Moving Forward with Microsoft Copilot

It can be pricey to buy Microsoft Copilot for Microsoft 365, especially for small businesses. You can get the most out of your investment, though, if you carefully choose the right people and make sure they know how to use the tool. It's all about planning ahead and keeping your business goals and employees' work flows in mind.

Purchasing Copilot isn't straightforward via Microsoft's website; it involves contacting a Microsoft representative or, for partners like us, through a license provider. Once acquired and assigned to your Microsoft 365 tenant, you're all set to explore its capabilities.

So how much does Ccpilot cost? Microsoft charges $360/user per year.


Microsoft Copilot for Microsoft 365 can be a substantial investment, especially for small businesses. However, by carefully selecting the right users and ensuring they are well-equipped to leverage this tool, you can maximize the return on your investment. If you would like assistant with Copilot and help identifying who might use it in your company get in touch with us today.

Goodbye to IT headaches and hello to IT proficiency. Locally owned and operated, Nextworks has earned a 5-star rating on Google. We guarantee IT cohesion in 30 days or less, or your money back.

Let Nextworks help to ease your IT burden.

Lean more about Nextworks IT Managed Services.

Thursday, January 4, 2024

How to Use AI to Help Automate Your Business

Quite a few small business AI case studies have shown how beneficial artificial intelligence can be for a company. It offers more than a few benefits, letting entrepreneurs run their businesses much more efficiently.

AI helps save time, complete tasks faster, save on resources, cut down on costs, and more. While many entrepreneurs already know that, they don’t know what kind of uses AI automation for businesses offers.

There are quite a few of these, with some being much more notable than others. It’s worth diving into three of the more significant.

AI Automation for Businesses: 3 Ways it Drives Efficiencies

1. Optimize Supply Chains

Supply chains can often be some of the most difficult areas for entrepreneurs to manage. The larger a business gets, the more complicated this gets. There’ll be more and more moving parts, making it more difficult to look after. When properly hooked up, AI can help with this.

It brings in all relevant information, analyses it, and uses it to make sure everything is where it needs to be. AI can make everything more efficient by making sure you have an appropriate amount of resources on-hand, for example. Your supply chain will chug along much more easily.

2. Create Predictive Analytics

Every entrepreneur needs to future-proof their business as much as possible. There’s only a certain amount they can do, even if they have a lot of information at hand. With AI automation for businesses, this gets a lot easier. It can be used to create predictive analytics reports for your company.

These can be put to a wealth of uses, but the most important thing is it gives you an idea of what to expect. While not everything might work out exactly the way the report says, it should be in the general area. You’ll be in a better position moving forward.

3. Informed Decision-Making

The predictive analytics above can be put to more than a few uses and can be a great part of the decision-making process. That isn’t the only way AI automation for businesses can be used to inform your decision-making, however. You can use it to bring in and analyse any of the information you need to make a company decision.

Not all of this must be predictive. Instead, it can be used to analyse past information and identify trends while charting them out. You can then use this to make decisions. Seasonal sales are a great example of where this can be used.

AI Automation for Businesses: Wrapping Up

AI automation for businesses boasts more than a few minutes. It lets companies get work done much more productively while cutting down on overall costs. It can even increase overall productivity across a business.

Then there’s how cost-effective and versatile it is. As multiple small business AI case studies have shown, artificial intelligence can be put to countless uses across a company. When used right, it can have a significant impact on any business.

There’ll be countless ways to benefit from it.


Friday, December 8, 2023

A Guide for Small Businesses on How to Pick the Best VPN Service for Your Company


In today's digital-first business world, it's more important than ever to keep your data safe and give your employees more freedom. This means that many small and medium-sized business (SMB) owners need to add a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to their IT plan. But there are so many VPN companies out there that it can be hard to pick one that fits your business needs. You can use this piece to help you sort through all the choices and pick the best VPN service for your business.

Figuring Out What You Need from a VPN:

Before you start the decision process, you should think about what your business needs. Take a look at this:

How big your business is: What kind of VPN service you need will depend on how many people you have.

What kind of info you have: Stronger encryption and security features are needed for sensitive info.

Needs for remote access: Look at the needs of your remote workers, such as where they work and what gadgets they use.

Important things to think about:

  1. Protocols for security: Security is the most important part of any VPN service. Try to find service companies that offer a number of protocols, like OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec, and IKEv2. Make sure they offer AES 256-bit security, which is the best available right now.
  2. Where the servers are located: Pick a service company with servers in the areas where you do business. This gives your team faster speeds and more reliable links.
  3. Performance and Dependability: A VPN can slow down your internet. This effect can be avoided with certain providers.
  4. Ease of Use: It should be easy to use your VPN. Your team may not use it as much if the ability to access is too hard to use.
  5. Price vs. Features: Look at the features and compare them to the price. When it comes to safety, remember that the cheapest choice isn't always the best.

What You Should Ask Possible Providers:

To be honest and make sure you're getting the best VPN for your business, ask these questions of possible providers:

  • Could you give me some examples of small businesses that have used your service?
  • What rules do you have in place for logs? 
  • How do you make sure that your data is safe in line with rules like GDPR and HIPAA?
  • Can your VPN handle the number of people my business expects?
  • What is your plan in case there is a security breach?

Last Thoughts:

You shouldn't rush through the process of picking the right VPN service. Do your research, try out the services if you can, and talk to the sales and support teams to fully understand what they have to offer. Remember that the right VPN service will help your business grow and stay safe.

If you would like assistance in deploying a VPN in your business get in touch with us today.