Tech-Savvy Traits of Leading Businesses


Lessons on Technology and Growth InfographicRecently, around 4,000 small to midsized business (SMBs) decision makers were surveyed by the Boston Consulting Group. They found that revenue and job growth are consistent across gender, industry, and location. But what was the fuel behind all this growth? Take some time to look at how innovative technology propelled these other SMBs to new growth and a better bottom line.

Tech-Savvy SMBs

Compared to SMBs who used less advanced technology, the following statistics were found for more tech-savvy SMBs:

  • Revenue grew about 15% faster
  • Jobs grew by 2%
  • 95% use Office products
  • 6X more likely to have international customers
  • Nearly 20% in emerging markets have international employees
  • 2 out of 3 say that new technologies will continue to fuel their growth and profits
  • 2X as many are innovative thanks to technology advancements

Leap Ahead in the Cloud

Microsoft Cloud Services helps businesses of all sizes meet goals, provides insight, and drives productivity to meet your dynamic needs in a world where technology never stops changing. For those SMBs who adopted Microsoft Cloud Services, revenue grew 10 percentage points faster and job growth was 5 percentage points higher than those who did not.

Get the ReportThe Value of Partnership

Microsoft remains the top choice of tech-savvy small businesses. Socius is an award winning Microsoft partner who, for 30 years, has been working to fuel our clients’ transformation and growth through specialized expertise, innovative technology, and strategic partnerships. Here at Socius, we have been watching SMB leaders achieve what they never thought was possible.

Contact us today to learn how you can take advantage of Microsoft products and other innovative technologies that meet your unique business needs.

Socius’ Cloud Choices Featured in CIO Review


Cloud Computing CompaniesJust a few weeks after becoming a Finalist for the Microsoft Dynamics Cloud Partner of the Year, Socius garnered more attention for their growing Cloud Services practice by being named to the 20 Most Promising Cloud Computing Companies list in CIO Review.

In the accompanying article, CEO Jeff Geisler explains Socius’ “Power of Choice” cloud philosophy and how it benefits businesses today. “Whether it’s a hybrid cloud, private or a public cloud, we give clients the power of choice as to how to deploy their business solutions so they can take advantage of the benefits deployment options bring,” says Geisler.

According to the article, “With deep knowledge and experience with foundation software (ERP, Accounting, and CRM) coupled with the knowledge of hosted environments; Socius has positioned itself as a secure technology partner for companies considering a move towards cloud. With new technologies and offerings undergoing a constant change in the cloud market space, Socius continues to provide clients with the power of choice in deployment models for technology whether on- premise, hosted, hybrid or Azure. It is perfectly poised to help companies translate those changes to their business strategy by formulating flexible and agile solutions to help clients truly transform and fuel business growth.”

Read the full article “Socius: Providing Clients with the `Power of Choice’ in Deploying Business Solutions” here.

Learn more about Cloud Solutions from Socius or request a Cloud Impact Assessment today!

7 Factors to Consider When Developing a Cloud ROI


Cloud ROI Webinar OnDemandThere are many different components that go into developing a Return on Investment (ROI). So what is the “right” calculation for your ROI? There is no one correct calculation, it can and should be modified to suite your situation. It all depends on what you want to include for your analysis. It is also important for you to decide what level of “disaster recovery plan” you envision for your company and deciding what is acceptable to you.

The 7 main factors to consider when developing your Cloud RIO are as follows:

  1. Capital Expenditure vs. Operating Expenditure: Understand the difference between the two and from there, you should be able to decide what will work best with your business plan.
  2. Location of the Data: Know where your data is, under a desk, or in a closet? What is your disaster recovery plan? If you rent a space at a data Center, know that cloud providers can get reduced rates based on the amount of space that is used. If you are able to, consolidate your data and invest in long term leasing plans. If you have considered moving to a Data Center, understand what the costs are for the move.
  3. Infrastructure: Usually hardware has about a 3 year life cycle, so it is important to know when that time is up if you need to purchase additional hardware or lease it. Develop your long term growth strategy. What is going to need to happen if there are any mergers or serious growth in the future? Cloud provides the ability to scale up or down as need quickly and easily. High upfront costs can be a barrier for new businesses.
  4. Security and Audit: Do you provide services that require an audit by a 3rd party? With cloud provider you can hand over SSAE reduce time and risk for your company. Make sure that your team is educated and proactively monitoring security threats. The cloud offers world class security on a small business budget.
  5. Staffing: How many people are currently on your staff and where do you envision this number to be in three years? Cloud provides “one-neck” philosophy where you are able to contact a provider 24/7.
  6. Licensing and Billing: Tracking licenses for administrative tasks and Microsoft Audits. Do you have enough licenses? Can you reduce and increase them as needed? The cloud helps you budget with pay-as-you—go services and flexible billing plans requiring no long-term commitment.
  7. Going Green: There is much to consider when you have a “Green” focus. Business are able to receive tax breaks and conserve energy and money. Telecommuting, offed by the Cloud, is a way to work from anywhere at any time on any mobile device or computer which can help cut down on fuel emissions and energy use.

To learn more about how to develop a Cloud ROI to justify your costs should you move to the cloud, view our webinar ondemand anytime.  If you are interested in moving some of your business solutions to the cloud, contact us anytime!

ERP On-Demand vs. On-Premise


Cloud Deployment Options eBookThe traditional model of ERP deployment is called “on-premise”, but it is no longer the only available option. You can also choose an “on-demand” cloud option for your enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, depending on the size, type and scope of your business.

On-Premise ERP

In this traditional model, you pay for the infrastructure, the hardware, the operating system and underlying software (such as database servers), the ERP software itself, the maintenance and the support. It is up to you to keep all of it going on your servers and workstations, and it is up to you to decide when you want to pay for upgrades.

Benefits of On-Premise ERP

The benefits of the on-premise model are that you are able to pay for a lot of the expenses up front, if you have the capital expenditure to handle it. Your ongoing payments are limited to maintenance and support, as well as any infrastructure costs. For a large enterprise, those costs may not be an issue. Another benefit is total control over how your system is managed, when it is upgraded and how it is implemented.

On-Demand ERP

This model generally refers to any number of cloud ERP subscription models, the most popular being software-as-a-service (SaaS). With on-demand, you often do not need any capital expenditure to pay up front. You instead pay a monthly fee, making it ideal if operational expenditure is all you have at your disposal, which is usually better for small and midsized businesses.

Benefits of On-Demand ERP

Some of the benefits for On-Demand include not having to pay for any infrastructure, hardware/software maintenance, tech support or any other IT expenses beyond the devices that connect to your ERP system. It is also very mobile, accessible from anywhere, and you do not have to worry about upgrades or new releases, since that is generally handled by the cloud service provider.

Which ERP Model Do You Choose?

If cost is no concern and you want that total control, on-premise might be best for you. If you are concerned about cost, like most businesses today, and/or may not want to maintain your own infrastructure, on-demand ERP is an excellent option. If you are interested in exploring more about on-demand cloud services, you can request a Cloud Impact Assessment at www.cloudtechnology.com/cia

Windows Azure in the Cloud: When is it the Right Choice for ERP Deployment?


Cloud Deployment Options eBookChoosing the right ERP software for your organization can be a long and arduous process when done correctly. Once you have selected the system you need, the process is not over. The next step is to decide on a deployment method that fits within your financial and technological limitations. At one time, an on-premise deployment was viewed as the only viable solution for a major software implementation, but now there are several cloud models that can benefit your business. Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform is one model worth considering.

What is Windows Azure in the Cloud?

Windows Azure CloudIn short, the Azure Cloud solution is Microsoft’s open cloud application platform, allowing companies to build, deploy and manage various Microsoft applications across a global network of data-centers. Azure allows developers to build applications in any language and integrate those within their current IT environments, providing the ability to reliably host and scale business operations.

Because you may need to purchase or upgrade server hardware and also maintain it yourself, on-premise software often requires a lot of money upfront, which may be just fine for larger organizations with sufficient capital expenditures. Small and mid-sized businesses may not have the resources to pay for on-premise software, and even some larger businesses may decide not to budget for it. They might also not have the infrastructure, IT staff or other resources necessary for on-premise deployment.

Perhaps the most popular method of cloud deployment is Software as a Service (SaaS), where the user pays a monthly fee for read-to-use cloud applications. An alternative to this is called Platform as a Service (PaaS), which provides an entire platform rather than a single application. For example, if you want to run Microsoft Dynamics GP or Microsoft Dynamics NAV, you can now do it all from the cloud with quick, ready-to-deploy apps in Windows Azure Marketplace.

Like on-premise and hosted options, Microsoft Dynamics NAV and GP are still available exclusively through Microsoft partners, even when hosted on Windows Azure. What is different is that you get a robust, secure Windows Azure Virtual Machine and avoid the hardware and infrastructure costs associated with on-premise deployment. It is a smart and affordable alternative.

Cloud ERP vs. Hosted ERP Software – Understanding Your Options


Cloud Deployment Options eBookWhen you are selecting a new ERP software system today, there are more options to consider than ever before.  Not only do you need to select an ERP system that has the functionality and usability that is going to make a beneficial solution for your business, but you also need to decide how that ERP software is going to be deployed – or where the data is going to be stored and how the system is going to be accessed.

As Voltaire (and Uncle Ben from Spiderman) says, “with great power comes great responsibility.” When it comes to ERP software, the power of choice you now have in your deployment option comes with the responsibility to learn about those options and truly understand them so that you can make the best choice for your organization.

To better understand all of your options, get a complimentary copy of our eBook: Understanding Cloud Services Deployment Models & Licensing Options When Selecting ERP

Of all of the options available, the two that raise the most questions are Cloud ERP and Hosted ERP, more specifically, “what is the difference between them?”

Both Cloud ERP and Hosted ERP are options available through Private or Hybrid Cloud deployments.

Hosted ERP – You may see the term “Hosted ERP” used interchangeably with “Infrastructure as a Service” or “IaaS.” IaaS means that you purchase and own your ERP software licenses, that your server licensing needs are leased through your cloud services provider. This can lower your up-front, out-of-pocket costs by removing the need to update existing or acquire new hardware infrastructure at the beginning of an ERP implementation project.  IaaS can also reduce your ERP implementation timeframe because your cloud provider will already have a proven methodology in place for installing your ERP environment. When you use a Hosted ERP or IaaS deployment for your ERP software, you will pay annual software maintenance fees as well as optional software support plans if desired.

Cloud ERP – The term “Cloud ERP” could refer to any of the deployment options for ERP solutions available, but most often it is referring to “Software as a Service” or “SaaS ERP.”  SaaS ERP enables you to lease your ERP software and the infrastructure that supports your solution, like servers, back-up, disaster recovery, etc.  This option is typically priced on a per user per month basis.  With this option, if you decide to move your ERP system on-premise or to change cloud providers, you will need to purchase the software (this option does not exist from all Cloud ERP providers so it is critical that you understand up-front who owns your business data and how to take it with you if you need to change deployments or providers.)

To get an outside, experienced perspective on whether or not your business is a good candidate for a Cloud ERP or Hosted ERP solution, request a Cloud Impact Assessment today!

Remove Barriers to Better Distribution Analytics


Only 12% of distributors report relying on analytics for all of their sales, marketing and operational decisions, including pricing and product and customer selection, according to the 2014 State of Analytics in Distribution report by Modern Distribution Management.

If you are not part of this 12% and you don’t have analytics to help you make these critical business decisions, then you are essentially guessing, which is not going to lead to great results.  Also, if you don’t have analytics to inform your decisions, then the odds are good that you aren’t going have great analytics to assess the results of those decisions.  Without analytics, it can become easy to get stuck in this cycle and continue to use ineffective processes and miss out on opportunities for your organization to grow.

So, what is getting in the way of great analytics for your distribution company?

If you are like most distributors, you’ve likely run into one of these barriers to better analytics:

  • Weak technology infrastructure
  • Lack of correct talent to use the data
  • Inefficient means of capturing and analyzing data

Removing these barriers can be a challenge, but will pay off with enormous dividends once you are effectively analyzing your business data.  Here are some ideas for moving past these barriers and achieving analytics success:

Consider new options for upgrading your infrastructure.  Yes, updating your technology infrastructure can be expensive and time consuming – but it doesn’t have to be that way anymore.  With the proliferation of cloud technology, you can store information in online data warehouses or move some or all of your business systems to the cloud so that the burden is no longer on your in-house hardware. There are a lot of options and it can be difficult to know what combination of online and on-premises systems and storage will work best for your business, so consider working with a business consulting partner that can help you identify your best options.

Assess your existing staff and identify opportunities for improvement.  By taking an in-depth look at the skill-sets of your people, you can see if you have the right talent in place but perhaps they would benefit from some additional training, if you have the right people in the wrong roles and can make adjustments, or if you need to recruit some individuals with the analytical skills or knowledge of your technology to help bring your organization up to speed analytically.

Determine if you need to change your processes, add on to your solutions, or replace them.  Sometimes an inability to capture or analyze your data is simply a matter of not aligning your business systems with your business processes.  If this is the case, you can assess your processes as well as the data that they produce and adjust your use of your systems accordingly to make the most of what you have in place.  However, a new feature or new system is often required in order to attain the level of data collection and analysis that you need to really make an improvement to your business.  If you are in this position, work with a trusted partner to assess your current business management systems and identify new add-ons or solutions that can help you reach your analytical goals.

Cloud Helps Long Term Care Centers Prepare Today for Tomorrow’s Growth


According to the Wall Street Journal, the number of elderly Americans will triple in the next 35 years. That statistic represents the opportunity for tremendous growth for long term care centers.  However, if your business doesn’t have flexible and scalable processes and technology in place, you won’t be able to effectively capitalize on this growth opportunity.

WSJ Stat Shot

A great, and cost effective, option to give your long term care business that flexibility is deploying your business management solutions in the cloud.  A cloud business management system enables you to add and ramp up new users or additional hardware space quickly with little-to-no up-front cost.

There are three different ways that you can leverage the cloud for your business management systems – Public, Private and Hybrid.  These options can be a little confusing, so we’ve put together this handy guide to help you understand your options and which might be most beneficial for your long term care business.

Get your complimentary copy of “Understanding Cloud Services Deployment Models & Licensing Options When Selecting ERP” today!

6 Reasons Your Business Should Consider Moving to the Cloud


Cloud for BusinessAccording to some estimates, up to 75% of SMEs are currently utilizing online storage of data, known as cloud storage, and utilization of web-based programs and services in some form.

Are you? If not, you could be missing out on some big cost savings, not to mention reducing IT-related headaches.

6 reasons your business should consider moving to the cloud:

  1. Cloud Deployment Options eBookCost savings. Reducing costs is often cited as the #1 reason many businesses start using the cloud. Getting in the cloud allows you to tap into your cloud provider’s existing hardware and technical expertise, meaning you pay a fraction of what you otherwise might to maintain these IT resources yourself.
  2. Easier access, anywhere. Cloud storage and software platforms can usually be accessed from anywhere in the world, as long as the user has an Internet connection. This means you’ll never realize you left an important document on your other computer back home or in another office and be without the ability to access it. Applications hosted on the cloud can also be run from any compatible device, so if you need to upgrade systems, you won’t need to worry about also upgrading software (more on this later).
  3. Better security. It may sound counter-intuitive, but independent studies consistently show that solutions hosted in the cloud provide better data security than if these processes are kept in-house. Any cloud provider worth your time has several dedicated security experts, who are constantly assessing potential threats to their (i.e., your) data and systems, and can keep up against threats much more efficiently and effectively than you or your smaller team of IT staff.
  4. Scalability and flexibility. If you’re like most businesses, you experience a defined sales or activity cycle, where your IT systems are used more heavily than at other times of the year. Instead of buying computing resources to cover you for a busy season that could only be 1 week every year, many cloud providers allow you to upgrade your share of their resources for a short time, so you’re only paying for high capacity solutions when you need them.
  5. Assistance when disaster strikes. In the unlikely event your cloud provider does have a security breach or a serious downtime event, you can be assured (if you’ve partnered with a reputable provider) that you won’t lose any data, and your systems will be restored quickly. Instead of waiting hours or days for your internal IT team to diagnose and repair the problem, your provider’s team of dozens of experts will work around the clock to get things back up and running smoothly, ASAP. This advantage is greater if you’ve partnered with a provider that services both your hardware and software, meaning they can troubleshoot getting systems back online from a physical standpoint as well as restoring full functionality to needed applications—together.
  6. More time to focus on key business objectives. Ultimately, cloud allows you as a leader in your business to focus on more important tasks than wondering if your IT systems are up to date. Besides saving your business money, the cloud also delivers you increased peace of mind, so you can focus on serving your customers and growing your business.

As a cloud service provider with expertise in both systems and hosting environments, Socius can deploy your business applications in a secure, flexible and efficient cloud environment. Our variety of cloud services means that no matter your business goal, we can provide a service to get you there. Click here to learn about the different types of cloud deployments, and how they can help you improve your business processes.

Our Top 10 Tips for Picking a Cloud Provider


Picking a Cloud provider is a critical business decision that will have a far-reaching impact on your organization.  Recently, Quick Cloud Computing put together these 10 Tips for Picking a Cloud Provider.  While we thought these were great pieces of advice, we thought you might benefit from a little more information, so we put together this follow-up response:

1)       Evaluate the Cloud Providers Data Center Infrastructure. Ask about data center physical security, cooling infrastructure, redundant power, back-up power, stand- by generators and IP network redundancy. You should request documentation supporting their data center. Private cloud providers should offer redundant data centers outside of their primary data center location. Socius Cloud Services co-locates at Expedient data centers.

2)       Ask about Data Center Certifications. If you are looking for a quality provider, the data center must be SSAE16 compliant.  Socius Cloud Services data center is SSAE16.

3)       Technical Support. A responsive support team is what is required for any Cloud environment to be successful. Make sure you know how to contact support when needed. At Socius, we take pride in getting to know our clients and making sure they do not feel like a number. Our technical support team is ready help you.

4)       Past Experience with Cloud Services and Dynamics products. New cloud providers are entering the market every day. While the term “Cloud” is fairly new, the problems it solves are not. Seek a Cloud provider who is versed in Dynamics products, like Socius. Some companies look at pure co-location because it may appear cheaper on paper. When you have a Cloud provider who also knows the applications, you save time and money resolving any issues. Most often, application and server issues go hand in hand. Make sure you have the best provider ready to support your applications and infrastructure.

5)       Make Sure You Know What is Included. Is there a per user fee or per server fee? Will you incur additional fees for restoring a database? If you have any questions, are you billed for consulting time? Read the fine print to know what is included. Local providers may offer more options and flexibility than the big national cloud options. Many provide cloud services all in one package.

6)       Ask About Migration Services. Many of the larger co-location cloud providers only provide “do-it-yourself” migration services. If you have any issues or need help doing this service, cost can add up. You may even have to pay for additional Consulting services. Look for a Cloud provider that offers professional consulting services and a strategy to migrate your data to the Cloud.

7)       Make Sure You Know Who Owns the Data. What happens if you do not pay your bill? Will your provider remove access and delete your data? What happens to the customizations you have spent a lot of money developing? There are many providers who state in their Agreement that they own the data once it is put into their data center. Be sure you know your rights to the data.

8)       Analyze the Cloud Providers Entire Cloud Portfolio. Do they offer both public and private cloud options? Do they offer hybrid cloud options? Even though you may only want a single private cloud server today, tomorrow you may require a more complicated cloud solution because of requirements. Socius is ready to help you develop a road map to move all of your applications to the Cloud or just a few of your mission critical applications.

9)       Pick a Provider Who Uses Well-Known Technology Vendors. Cloud infrastructure is only as good as the hardware and network gear it resides on. Pick a provider who uses industry leading vendors for their infrastructure and is partnered with the right support system.

10)    Go With Your Gut and Work With Someone You Like and Trust. Make sure you are comfortable with your Cloud provider. Depending upon your requirements, implementing a cloud project may leave you feeling like you have lost control of your own business. Pick a provider that you trust, one that you are comfortable with and one that understands your business and specific cloud requirements. Look for the trusted advisor you want as an extension to your business. Learn more about Socius and our Cloud services today.

For a better understanding of how Cloud applications will affect your business, request a Cloud Impact Assessment today!

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