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CTN Solutions has been serving the greater Philadelphia area since 1997, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Businesses Need to Use Automation to Adapt

Businesses Need to Use Automation to Adapt

Let’s be real. For most small businesses during this period, it’s been extremely difficult.  If you were somehow able to sustain operations during this time, you most likely had to make some serious alterations to the way that you normally do things. Today, we’re going to take a look at some of the technologies that you probably already have, and how you can change the way you use them to benefit your business as concerns spike over COVID-19. 

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What Are the Most Important IT Solutions for an SMB?

What Are the Most Important IT Solutions for an SMB?

While all a business technology solutions are important, some are bound to take priority over the others, especially when certain ones become an industry-wide focus. A recent survey evaluated the top concerns of small-to-medium-sized businesses for the coming year. The results of the survey identified a few telling trends regarding the priorities that SMBs hold now, and for good reason.

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Cutting Costs Doesn’t Mean Sacrificing Support

Cutting Costs Doesn’t Mean Sacrificing Support

If you’re trying to minimize your operating costs to improve your budget, it is important to keep in mind that sacrifice isn’t your only option. Instead, you can streamline and minimize some of your larger expenses by enlisting a managed services provider and the more sustainable business model to which we adhere.

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Your Business Processes Are Everything

Your Business Processes Are Everything

The word “procedure” can easily be perceived in a negative light nowadays. It just sounds so… rote… compared to the exciting and dynamic buzzwords that so many “thought-leading, influencing, social media innovators” today toss around. Now, we don’t mean to disparage these personalities - we just want to emphasize that these innovations rely on a foundation to support them, and these foundations are based on business procedures and processes.

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What Does It Mean to Plan for the Worst?

What Does It Mean to Plan for the Worst?

You don’t need to be repeatedly told just how important risk management is. If you did, you probably wouldn’t have made it this far. One problem you see from business owners today is that while they understand just how many problems there are--and which ones they need to find solutions for first--they want to grow their company so fast that they overlook potential problems and end up hurting their business as a result. This month, we thought we would talk a little bit about contingency planning and how, if it is done right, it can have a marked effect on your business’ ability to carry-on after a problematic event. 

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Tip of the Week: Extend Your IT Budget

Tip of the Week: Extend Your IT Budget

Budgeting for your technology can be pretty difficult. You never really know when some problem is going to present itself and cost your business an arm and a leg. Since you can’t always see what’s coming, saving money when you can is important. Let’s take a look at a few ways that you can save money on your business’s IT.

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Small and Medium-Sized Businesses Need to Prioritize Data Management

Small and Medium-Sized Businesses Need to Prioritize Data Management

For the small business, being more efficient with resources can make a massive difference. In fact, it can be the difference between organizational sustainability and organizational failure. The bottom line is that, no matter how big or small they are, today’s businesses need to be smarter to compete. As a result, some businesses have begun to utilize data management platforms (DMP) in order to put themselves in a better position to understand their business, their market, and their customers. Let’s take a look at the DMP, and how it works to help businesses like yours be more effective.

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Outsourced Project Management: A Good Option for Small Businesses

Outsourced Project Management: A Good Option for Small Businesses

Small businesses often have to rely on different means to achieve the same level of project management as enterprises. This is due to the demands of project management being significantly different in scope, but also the way that your company implements new technology solutions. Instead of worrying about the specifics of project management, you can outsource these responsibilities to a managed service provider.

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Small Businesses Face Challenges in 2018

Small Businesses Face Challenges in 2018

The modern small business will face several challenges in 2018. The world is changing, and with it, so is business. For many small businesses, this can either be looked on as the opportunity they’ve been waiting for, or, it can be viewed as the beginning of the end. No matter what situations you are faced with this year, understanding what problems your business faces, and how to solve them is imperative to your small business’ success.


In the technology world, 2018 will be more about utilizing innovations to the technologies that are already available rather than deploying newfangled technologies, as many small businesses focus on revenue generation rather than simply cutting their technology costs. Chances are your organization already takes advantage of many of today’s most cost-prohibitive technology trends. Whether or not you are using them properly will ultimately be the difference in meeting your yearly projections. We take a look at some of the most compelling variables a small business owner needs to consider in order to take their business in the right direction.

Running a Smarter Business
While 2017 was a good year for the small business, many smaller organizations fall into the trap of not focusing on revenue generation; setting their sights on sustainability rather than success. If your business has been around the block a bit, you may be comfortable with the “business as usual” approach. You may be surprised to know that by changing the way you approach certain core strategies, you can initiate greater revenue generation and stop focusing so much of your time and effort on practices that aren’t effective and just hold your business back.

Cost cutting initiatives have been all the rage for the past several years. Many businesses utilize outsourced services such as cloud computing, print services, and staffing agencies to reduce their capital expenses. This strategy is sound--it provides an organization with more upfront capital--allowing for more a targeted approach at projects that can spur on revenue generation. The issue is that by not making ANY true capital investments, you are likely paying more.

One way to improve your business’ position is to consider the value you get from recurring services. A service like the one CTN provides, where you can see an immediate return on your recurring investment, is valuable, and rare. There are some services, however, that don’t provide a rapid or sustainable return, and by paying more up front, you could actually mitigate cost that adds up over time. Paying for software you barely use per month may seem affordable if you look at the operational cost, but in true capital, renewing a yearly license for a single copy of the software may actually save you money.

As far as the revenue generation problem goes, there are two solutions that are available to every business that, once implemented, are likely to provide a solid ROI. The first is analysis. Your company generates a lot of data, and much of that data is relevant in the context of making better business decisions. Business intelligence, that is the structured analysis of warehoused data, can provide some very useful answers. Consider that your operational data, data about staff effectiveness, data about your marketing and advertising initiatives all hold in them a small piece of truth about the way your business operates. By gaining a more comprehensive understanding of how your business functions, you can make better strategic and operational decisions.

At CTN, we are just starting to understand how to help our clients run smarter businesses. Since profit margins and returns on many goods have shrunk significantly over the years, businesses have looked to services to fill in the gaps when they don’t have the capital to undertake major investments for staff, technology, or otherwise. Today we can set up a data warehouse to store all the relevant data so that you can use automated analytic software to crawl the data to get the truth about how your business functions, and what to do to boost revenue generation.

The second is sometimes looked on as an antiquated strategy; but, in the information age it remains as true today as ever. Invest in your people. It’s simple, the better your people enjoy working for you--the more they see your sacrifice and hard work--the more they have reason to be proud to have their job with your organization--the better your company will function. While we push automation every day to help you get more out of your company, you won’t get anything out of it if you view your employees as a hindrance. Think about it this way, your people are your biggest expense, and as a result, should be your biggest priority.

With the technology that is coming, this tried-and-true method of running a smarter business is going to be tested. Many larger enterprises have begun utilizing automation, machine learning, and artificial intelligence in an effort to provide higher returns for their investors. It’s only a matter of time before small businesses around the world will be using the same technologies to try to turn a penny into a nickel. While there are some jobs that can be eliminated with these technologies, there will be different jobs created through the use of them. With automation beginning to redefine the job market, independent workers will be in demand to fill in the gaps. So, while these jobs have less definition, the need for hungry, happy workers will be there for as long as goods and services are produced.

To get your staff working the way you need them to work, you have to invest in them. Here are three ways you can run a smarter business by getting more from your staff:

  1. Improve Retention - Onboarding new workers is expensive and time-consuming. It puts a strain on almost every part of your business. Small businesses often can’t pay their workers the same rate that a major corporation might, but they can provide them with more value. By investing in training/professional development, benefits, and other courtesies, people will want to work for you and won’t be continuously looking for an exit.
  2. Improve Morale - If your workers are stressed out, you can see it immediately. How do your workers interact? Is there a buzz in your place of business, or is it silent? A silent workplace is great if you run a public library, but if you run an office the lack of noise is deafening, and a telling symptom of people just waiting to punch out for the day. Most people may work for the paycheck, but if they are working for the weekend, you need to make an effort to boost morale.
  3. Two-way Loyalty - Many small business owners demand loyalty out of their people, but refuse to reciprocate. There is nothing that will make a worker throw in the towel faster than a lack of loyalty. Very few people prosper in an unsupportive environment. To keep your workers in a productive mindset, make them realize that you are working together for a common goal, not just working for you.

Getting smarter about the way you do business doesn’t start with technology, and doesn’t start with capital, it starts with a dedication to do the right thing for your clients, for your staff, and for the myriad of other people that depend on your business. If you handle your staff in the right way, it will provide you with the largest ROI of any investment you can make this year, and any year.

Learn Where You Can Compete and Where You Can’t
Many of today’s small business owners look at their more-successful competition and try to emulate the practices that have made them a success. The fundamental problem with this strategy would be that you are in competition with these companies for revenue, and by doing things the same way as they do it doesn’t set your business apart from them. That being said, there is are reasons that the company you are setting out to emulate is having success. By copying your competitors’ best features, you could create some space in even the most saturated market. Whether they boast superior brand recognition, have superior customer service, are superior at fulfillment, etc. you have to know your place in your market. In fact, many experts consider the act of finding your niche inside of your target market to be one of the largest differentiators to achieving success for a small business.

Consider your smartphone for a minute. You decide to start a company to make smartphones. Chances are you aren’t going to compete with the Apples, Nokias, and Samsungs of the world. So, while it stands to reason that you may want to abandon your plan altogether, you start looking at the data and there are no phones made specifically for doctors. If you deliver on your promises and create a device that works for the needs of doctors, there is a chance that you can compete within that niche market, while not really competing at all in the larger market at all.

Anything you can do to deliver your goods and services to the most people should be the aim, but be cognizant that by setting your sights too high, you may just be putting your company in a perilous predicament. You need top tier customer service, a trustworthy product that you stand behind, and a plan on how to get your product to your consumers if you are going to compete in any market. Find your differentiator and exploit it.

2018 is another year where technology will be in the mind’s eye of every business owner, but to find success by using technology, you have to apply it in the right way. For more information about business technology, how to stretch your IT budget properly, or any other technology related subject, call the IT professionals at CTN today at (610) 828-5500.

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Unpaid Invoices are a Major Problem For SMBs

Unpaid Invoices are a Major Problem For SMBs

While many different people open businesses, the primary reason that they all do so is to make money. A positive cash flow is essential if the business is to generate funds that support a cause or provide a decent living. However, to collect this cash flow, a business must have their invoices returned. As it happens, this doesn’t often occur in a timely manner.


Whether you own a business or work for one, you need the business to make money so you can make money to settle your finances and debts. This becomes challenging when the status quo dictates that payment terms can stretch the time, up to three months, for an invoice to be paid. This delay between the transaction and the actual payment has led to many operational difficulties in many businesses.

There’s a good chance that you know about this from firsthand experience, as these difficulties are exceptionally common. Estimates have attributed 5 percent of the national gross domestic product to unpaid invoices. 81 percent of invoices are past due by 30 days or more, with the average small business waiting for approximately $84,000 to come in from invoices that have yet to be paid. This average business also only has about 27 days of assets saved.

Added up, estimates say that businesses were owed $825 billion in unpaid invoices in 2016.

It is pretty clear that outstanding invoices are a considerable problem for small businesses, and in some cases medium-sized establishments as well. Improvement and innovation simply can’t happen if all of a business’s funds are tied up in sustaining themselves as they wait for payment. When was the last time you had to postpone something as you waited for money to be available for it?

Sometimes you have to spend money in order to make money. With the services we offer at CTN, you can have your capital spend reduced by budgeting your IT costs into a predictable monthly rate. We’ll provide you with software to keep track of from where, and when, you should expect a payment.

For more information about line of business applications and the other solutions we have available, give us a call at (610) 828-5500.

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House of Representatives Makes Moves to Support Small Business

House of Representatives Makes Moves to Support Small Business

Without competition, there would not be business. However, competition needs to be fair in order for small businesses to embrace new opportunities that arise. A U.S. bill that allows for both of these goals has passed in the House of Representatives and will be voted on in the Senate.

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What Effect Could Artificial Intelligence Have On Your Business?

What Effect Could Artificial Intelligence Have On Your Business?

Artificial intelligence is becoming more and more accessible to businesses of all sizes. In fact, it is swiftly becoming apparent that businesses, not actively considering how to leverage AI in their processes, are doing themselves a disservice.


It can be difficult to grasp how exactly businesses can leverage artificial intelligence, especially with our impressions of AI shaped by Johnny 5, R2-D2, and HAL 9000. The difference is that, unlike AI as it often appears in pop culture, the AI we’re referring to hasn’t (yet) become sentient, autonomous, or antagonistic.

Instead, AI as it exists today is more accurately described as the capability for computers to “learn” by collecting and storing data, and to “think” by accessing that data and processing it to solve problems. This makes it more similar to The Brain, the supercomputer from Isaac Asimov’s short story Escape!, albeit not nearly as advanced. Rather than working on a hyperspace drive, as The Brain was tasked with, today’s AI can be used to predict activities based on past actions. The larger the database the AI has to access, the better the inferences that can be developed.

This is a phenomenon known as machine learning, where technology improves its predictions as it accumulates more data. A basic example of machine learning can be found on Amazon and similar websites, where your purchase history is compiled with those of other users who match your demographics. This data allows these sites to recommend products you may be interested in and to more effectively direct their advertisements. As more layers of data are collected, machine learning is upgraded to deep learning, where the additional data makes predictions more accurate and refined.

Familiar AI
Millions of people utilize artificial intelligence every day without even realizing it. Virtual personal assistants, such as Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri, are prime examples. These assistants use machine learning to improve with every question they answer, each update bringing better inferences and conclusions. Even Netflix leverages machine learning to deliver recommendations to its users based on their viewing history.

AI in the SMB
There are a variety of perceived benefits that AI can bring into a business, whether it's improving general operations, improving a customer’s experience, or simply remaining competitive in an evolving industry. Whether it's working to improve the experience of a client or automating time-consuming processes, artificial intelligence can give your business an advantage.

However, before AI can be leveraged, you need to be sure that you have the technology infrastructure to support it.

Software and Applications
You may even be leveraging AI already through your line of business applications. This means that even if you aren’t planning to vet and implement AI for time or budgetary constraints, you may already be reaping the significant benefits that artificial intelligence has to offer.

While Marvin the Paranoid Android may not be your employee anytime soon, businesses continue to utilize AI as a part of their business intelligence, and small businesses have more opportunities to leverage AI to their, and their clients’, benefit. To learn more about how AI could benefit your business, call us at (610) 828-5500--and in the comments, tell us what your favorite AI from pop culture is!

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The 6 Most Common Technology Issues Faced By SMBs

The 6 Most Common Technology Issues Faced By SMBs

While news sources might lead the layman to believe that most issues facing the typical SMB come from cyber criminals lurking online, the reality is far less dramatic. However, this misconception makes these issues no less serious, and still things to prepare for. Let’s review some of the most common causes of technological issues in the office environment.

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Having a Network that’s Tested Guarantees You’ll Overcome Any Disaster

Having a Network that’s Tested Guarantees You’ll Overcome Any Disaster

Does your SMB have an internal IT department? Chances are that it is a major pain point for your organization, and even if you do have one, it might be bogged down with so much work that mistakes can happen and threats can slip through the cracks. Sometimes the best way to protect your network is to know where and how threats manage to get there in the first place.

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Why SMBs Need to Move Away from On-Premises Computing

b2ap3_thumbnail_cloud_server_400.jpgMost small and medium-sized businesses aren’t new to IT. For the past 15 years or so, SMBs have been attempting to keep up with their larger competitors through the implementation of technology systems. They’ve instituted computing systems from servers to workstations to mobile devices, peripheral technologies like fax machines and copiers, “state of the art” networking technology, and all other sorts of tech, just trying to keep a leg up on their competition.

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Why We’re Cautiously Optimistic about Using Mobile Devices at Work

b2ap3_thumbnail_mobile_device_management_400.jpgAs expected, mobile technology is a consistent part of daily business operations for many companies around the world. Employees love taking advantage of the mobility these devices offer, making their home office just as useful as their in-house workstation. However, a mobile device management solution needs to be strictly adhered to in order to optimize security and guarantee that a stray smartphone doesn’t expose your data to unexpected eyes.

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Tip of the Week: 3 Easy Ways to Connect Your Business with Your Community

b2ap3_thumbnail_is_your_community_involved_400.jpgIt’s important for a business to be connected with their community. Even if you have a global market, it’s still important to invest in the city you’re headquartered in. It’s where you and your employees live, and if you can build relationships and connect with other organizations in your community, only good things can come from it.

Here are three easy ways your business can become more involved and respected within your community.

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Disaster Recovery and Why it Matters to Greater Philadelphia Area Businesses

Disaster recovery life saverWhen you mention the term 'disaster recovery,' most people think about the big ground-shattering events like earthquakes, fires, floods, tropical storms, etc. While these natural events are certainly disasters and devastating in their own right, smaller things can constitute as a disaster for your business, and they aren't seasonal.

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5 Tips for Saving Money on your IT

Piggy bank on calculatorSaving a little on your technology can go a long ways, but cutting too many corners can lead to additional problems and expensive downtime. Here are a few ways you can cut costs without creating long term issues.

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Let's Talk Tablets

TabletTablets are definitely becoming a staple in the consumer electronics world. For the longest time, the tablet PC was an expensive, clunky device that just didn't wow consumers. Some businesses had adopted tablets back in the day, but they were difficult to use, hard to support, and they simply didn't perform for the price tag. However, like many consumer electronics, Apple reinvigorated the tablet market with the original iPad, and now it would seem tablets are here to stay. The question is, are they right for businesses?

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CTN has been named to the 2020 Managed Services (MSP) 500 list of accomplished IT providers in North America by CRN and The Channel Company. This popular list identifies North American solution providers that deliver operational efficiencie...

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As serious as they are, cyberattacks aren’t always given the most serious-sounding names. We are, of course, referring to “phishing:" the manipulation of the user, rather than of a computer system, to gain access to data. Phishing can come ...

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