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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.

Tip of the Week: Keyboard Shortcuts for Slack

Tip of the Week: Keyboard Shortcuts for Slack

Collaboration is crucial in today’s work environment, which is one reason that solutions like Slack are so popular among businesses. Another reason that Slack is a popular option is how user-friendly it is, with many built-in shortcuts. We’ll go over a few of these shortcuts.

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Fuel Productivity with Collaboration Tools

Fuel Productivity with Collaboration Tools

The modern perspective of productivity would not be possible without the use of collaboration tools. Some of them are so game changing that they can completely revolutionize the way you hold meetings, deal with clients, and manage in-house processes. We’ll discuss how you can implement collaboration tools that work for your business, as well as use them to overcome the many challenges you might face in a business environment.

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SQL Server 2008 R2 Has Reached the End of the Line

SQL Server 2008 R2 Has Reached the End of the Line

Technology doesn’t last forever, and this is especially true for software solutions. Granted, software is a little easier to upgrade than hardware. Patches and updates can be administered remotely, but what happens after that support ends? Well, it turns out that the widely used Microsoft SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2 will both be reaching their end of support date soon, meaning businesses will need a plan in place to overcome these challenges.

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Unified Software Brings Multiple Benefits

Unified Software Brings Multiple Benefits

People have come a long way in a very short amount of time. The development of tools designed to make tasks easier have pushed people from hunter/gatherers across the known solar system in the matter of only a few thousand years. One way humans are able to do so much with seemingly so little is though ingenuity, but another is through consolidating management.

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Tech Term: What are All These “-Wares?”

Tech Term: What are All These “-Wares?”

When you’re talking about something to do with a computer, you’re going to start hearing about some word that ends with “-ware.” You could probably list off a few yourself, but have you ever stopped to think about why they’re all described as “something-ware?” For this week’s Tech Term, we’ll take a peek at why we refer to things that way.

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Are Higher Gas Prices Costing Your Business?

Are Higher Gas Prices Costing Your Business?

The price of fuel per gallon is one of the many ways individuals are affected by the constantly shifting industry costs, and for those who commute to the office, it can become a considerable expense. For distributors, the changes in gas prices can be the difference between sitting on a gold mine or losing valuable resources. For the small distributor, changes in gas prices can make all the difference in determining how much it costs to truck goods across the area. How can smaller businesses take advantage of IT solutions to keep costs down while gas prices increase?

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Understanding the Importance of .Net Framework

Understanding the Importance of .Net Framework

If you’re a habitual user of the Microsoft Windows operating system, there’s a good chance that you’ve been prompted to install something called “.NET framework.” Pronounced “dot-net,” this framework is most commonly used for Windows. In this blog, we’ll review a software framework, as well as examine what makes .NET stand out.

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Which Management Software Is Right for Your Business?

Which Management Software Is Right for Your Business?

On the surface, you might think that customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) are the same exact thing. However, they both have very specific niches for a business--particularly when it comes to managing organizational assets and interactions with consumers. Here are some of the specific situations in which you’ll find these solutions helpful.

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Managing Your Software Requires Three Actions

Managing Your Software Requires Three Actions

It’s imperative that your organization’s software is managed properly. If you can’t do this, then operations can suffer in the long run. While this might sound like a lot of work, software management can be easy when you break it down into compartmentalized tasks. Ultimately, group it into three major steps: leveraging available assets, testing strategies, and understanding the software.

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Why You’ll Likely See More and More Chatbots

Why You’ll Likely See More and More Chatbots

Chatbots have been around for quite some time, and artificial intelligence is shaping the way that they are utilized for the modern business. Virtual assistants have risen in popularity, and they are featured on most smartphones out there. How can these “bots” help your organization?


Business Uses
Most major players in the hardware and software industries have their go-to chatbot. For example, Microsoft has Cortana, Apple has Siri, and Google has its Assistant. There are others that aren’t seen as commonly, though. Amtrak has Julie, which is designed to help passengers move around their website and look for seats. Eno is a chatbot offered by Capital One, which assists cardholders through text messaging. Gartner suspects that by 2020, chatbots will process and handle about 85 percent of all customer service interactions. By 2021, it’s likely that half of businesses will invest more in chatbots than mobile application development.

Bot Tasks
Your organization can save a lot of money by taking the responsibility for certain repetitive and time-consuming tasks and handing them off to bots. This frees up the schedules of important employees who might be better able to assist your company’s vision on other tasks. It’s a great way to improve innovation and production for your organization. Some examples of business-to-business uses for chatbots are lead generation, scheduling, and other processes that don’t always require a human behind the action. In the future, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that even some more intensive tasks can be automated by chatbots--tasks like processing invoices or placing orders. All of this depends, of course, on whether or not the chatbot software is capable of working well with your organization's systems.

Chatbot Issues
Even in 2018, the technology behind chatbots is continuously being improved and changed. In 2016, Mark Zuckerberg built his own personal AI called Jarvis, which allowed him to use his phone or computer to manipulate connected devices. In the original demo, Jarvis needed some clarification to get the commands right, and regulations also complicated its ability to show off some of its features.

Microsoft has also shown some of the limitations of chatbots through its Twitter chatbot, Tay. Tay could learn about communication through interaction with its users. In a civilized world, this could have led to considerable personal growth for the chatbot, but since the Internet is far from the ideal place to learn, well… you probably know where this is going. In a matter of hours, Tay was spewing hate and rancor, all thanks to the users who probably only wanted to see just how far they could get the chatbot to go.

Even with these holdups, chatbots are proving themselves to be valuable assets in an ever-changing business environment. How would your organization benefit most from a chatbot? Let us know in the comments.

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3 Types of Software and How Businesses Use Them

3 Types of Software and How Businesses Use Them

For the modern business owner or executive, making smart business decisions is a necessity. Margins are small, efficiency is key, and business is a day-in and day-out grind. In the course of doing business, much is made of cost reduction and curtailing inefficiencies that lead to wasted capital. Much is made of collaborative systems that allow for remote access. Much is made of protocol, process, and performance. With so many moving parts in every business, there has to be the “glue” that allows for cohesive actions to be taken. That “glue” is software.


IT is a multi-trillion dollar business ($3.5 trillion in 2017 according to Gartner), and enterprise software, that is the software that businesses use to conduct business, makes up for around a tenth of it, at $351 billion. Any way you slice it, software is a significant expense for most businesses. This month, we investigate the types of software that businesses use most, what they use it for, and how to decide a certain software works for your business.

Business software comes in many types. It includes custom systems, cloud systems, and programs you buy off the shelf anywhere. Businesses have been using software for decades; long before the PC revolution changed the economy forever. Today, there are very few businesses left that don’t rely on any software at all. At first software was extraordinarily pricy, but as demand went up, prices went down and now even the smallest business can utilize much of the same software that their enterprise counterparts use.

For our purposes we will split the software businesses use into three separate categories. They are security, operations, and relationships.

Security Software
We’ll start with security software, since without it, you may not even need the other two types. Security software is, as the name suggests, the software you use to keep your organization’s computers free from threats. Any computer with an operating system will have some security built in, but for a business, you are likely going to need more, and in some cases, a lot more.

The first thing you’ll need to know about security software is that you are in danger. Your data is being targeted by innumerable entities that are looking to steal it from you for their own gains. In fact, for every threat that is developed to breach network security, there has to be a solution created that mitigates it. This fact has led to a massive security market in which consumers, even the IT-savvy ones, are left overwhelmed and scratching their heads. Some threats include:

  • Ransomware
  • Phishing
  • Viruses
  • Malware
  • Trojan horses
  • Denial of service (DDOS)
  • Hackers
  • Human error
  • Sabotage
  • And more...

Conversely, if you are able to stop these threats before they get in to your computing network (or onto the PC where you do your business computing), you will have a secure computing environment 100 out of 100 times. This is why it is essential for small business owners and technology executives at larger businesses to understand what they need to do to ensure that threats can be intercepted, destroyed, or avoided completely.

Some examples of security software include:

  • Access control - As the name suggests, access control provides a construct to manage permissions for the people inside and outside of your organization’s network to access certain parts of your computing infrastructure.
  • Antivirus - Anti-spyware or anti-malware is designed to take the teeth away from any unwanted program on your network or PC. An updated and maintained antivirus is your best hope if threats somehow make it onto your network or PC.
  • Backup software - Part of building comprehensive organizational security is having a plan in case a threat gets through. Having a backup system in place is essential. Today there are enterprise-level software solutions to help your entire organization protect the data on which your staff depends.
  • Firewall - The firewall is a virtual wall that aims to keep any threats out of your network or PC in the first place. As mentioned above, many computers come with firewalls installed, but an enterprise firewall that is constantly updated and maintained is your best chance to avoid trouble all together.
  • Intrusion detection/prevention - Intrusion detection is a system that continuously scans your network or PCs for malicious activity or policy violations. Intrusion prevention actively works to mitigate any malicious activity or policy violation.
  • Security information and event management (SIEM) - A system that provides real-time analysis of any alerts, allows administrators to automate the process of threat analysis and logging.
  • Spam protection - Generally found in a dedicated email filtering solution, or as a part of a unified threat management system (UTM), spam protection deciphers incoming emails and determines which emails are delivered and which ones are not.

Keeping your network free from threats will go a long way towards running an effective business. Speaking of which, in the management and operational side of your business, software has also become extraordinarily important. In fact, without some forms of productivity software, your business may not even exist.

Operations Software
When you talk about operations software, we mainly mean the software that is used to complete the work your organization does. Productivity software is made up of all the applications used to complete the work.

There are millions of different applications that people use to get work done. In fact, there is effectively software created each day to fill in the gaps left by other pieces of software. If security software is the walls around the city, operations software is the city itself, providing the infrastructure for goods and services to be rendered.

Productivity software comes in many forms and has been designed to make human work easier. Does your staff depend on simpler, less-resource-intensive programs such as word processors or spreadsheets? Or do they depend on graphics studios, resource-intensive video-editing, or 3D rendering suites? Either way, productivity software is where the goods and services your business offers get built in earnest.

In business, some of the most utilized productivity applications come delivered in cloud-hosted suites. This allows the developer to provide businesses and individuals value, while still maximizing their software’s profitability. One example would be that Microsoft Word has more demand than PowerPoint. By bundling Word, PowerPoint, Excel and the rest of their productivity apps into a cloud-based package: Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft is able to offer all these useful titles as a monthly service, delivering enterprise products to users and, through these apps’ collaborative capabilities, strengthening their value proposition to consumers.

Some types of productivity software for business include:

  • Project management software - Effective management of a project is essential to its success. With project management software you can assign work, manage timelines, deadlines, and collaborate with others.
  • Office suites - Generally it is comprised of a word processor, a spreadsheet, and a presentation app. Most will also offer an integrated email and calendar app, a database manager, note-taking app, website tools, and more.
  • Accounting software - A business needs to manage its money, but today’s accounting software can bring with it a lot of nice additions that are designed to help meet any organization’s needs.
  • Industry-specific software - Advertising-to-zoning, and every industry in between, developers have made a software that will help your organization be more efficient.
  • Custom software - Having a custom piece of software developed that directly meets your needs is a good way to boost your organization’s efficiency.

With the cost of doing business going up, investing in the right operational software will go a long way toward improving productivity and helping you build a better business. If you want the best business you can manifest, however, our last type of software is essential.

Relationship Software
Business is all about creating relationships. Business owners and executives have relationships with the staff, who have relationships with their vendors and customers, who have relationships with other businesses, and other businesses are ultimately in open competition with you. Without properly managing your relationships, your business will have a hard time being successful.

From a business perspective, if operations software is the city, then relationship software is all the people. Chances are you are building your product or service for people to use, so managing relationships has to be a priority. Typically, the software that allows you to best manage the relationships you have are also the most difficult to master and are expensive.

When people think of relationship management, they typically think of Customer Relationship Management (CRM), but there are more types of relationship management tools that may fit your business better. There is Professional Services Automation (PSA) software that has been developed for professional services like lawyers and IT professionals. There is Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software developed for manufacturers and distributors. All this software is developed with one thing in mind: managing the relationships you have to keep business moving efficiently.

No relationship is more important than the one you have with your customers; and today, managing their expectations of you is more difficult than ever. Managing expectations, meeting demand, and properly supporting products and services are all essential to maintaining a healthy business. For the smaller business, online marketing, social media, and maintaining an active role in the community in which you work is extremely important. By utilizing software to make your social media and marketing activities a little easier, you can cut down on the time you are focusing on maintaining your relationships and spend more time developing and producing products and services that are valuable to your consumers.

Some additional relationship management software to consider include:

  • Content management system - If you plan on being active on the Internet, finding a content management system that allows you to quickly and affordably manage your website is a good plan.
  • Social media management software - Having a central hub to be able to manage all of your social media initiatives can save your organization plenty of time and money.
  • Human resources software - Not only do all your employees depend on your HR department for the administration of their work experience and their professional development, you typically depend on them for quite a bit (often including payroll). Having a dedicated HR software can streamline what is a time consuming and often frustrating part of doing business.

Software is important to every business. If your organization is looking to put together a software management strategy that will help you get all the software you need to manage, operate, support, and market your products and services, the IT professionals at CTN are the ones you need to call. Contact us today at (610) 828-5500 and learn how to make your business more effective through software.

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Tip of the Week: Google Drive is Better with these Chrome Extensions

Tip of the Week: Google Drive is Better with these Chrome Extensions

Google Drive provides its users with a considerable amount of utility. However, when combined with extensions made for Google’s Chrome browser, users have the tools to make their use of Drive’s capabilities even more efficient. For this week’s tip, we’ll go over a few Chrome extensions that your business might find useful.

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Why You Need to Be Certain You’re Using Licensed Software

Why You Need to Be Certain You’re Using Licensed Software

Using pirated software or abusing your software licenses is highly frowned upon in business. However, many software companies, in an attempt to protect their products, have unleashed a practice that can actually reward those who let it happen.

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How Software License Mismanagement Can Hurt Your Bottom Line

How Software License Mismanagement Can Hurt Your Bottom Line

Whenever you install software on your computer, you agree to certain terms put in place by the developer or vendor. Even free software, such as Google Chrome and Firefox, have terms that the end-user opts into during installation. One of the most important terms business owners need to be aware of are those that pertain to software licenses; if you aren’t, someone else will be.

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Tip of the Week: Get the Most Out of Google Maps With These 4 Tips

Tip of the Week: Get the Most Out of Google Maps With These 4 Tips

Throughout human history, cartography served as an exciting and specialized field for knowledgeable scribes. Today, the entire planet has been mapped and apps like Google Maps allow any Joe Schmo with a smartphone to have the world at their fingertips. Consequently, you can effectively be a cartographer of sorts, just by knowing how to best use Google Maps.

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Forget Video Games, Today’s Kids are Into Coding and Robotics!

Forget Video Games, Today’s Kids are Into Coding and Robotics!

Have you ever tried to teach a kid how to do something? Chances are that if it’s not super fun and engaging, kids will probably ignore what you’re saying. While it might be difficult to emphasize the importance of a quality career choice to kids, you can get them moving in the right direction by teaching them valuable technology skills like programing and robotics. Thankfully, with educational apps and tools, this is much easier to accomplish than, say, ten years ago.

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When IT Implementation Goes Wrong, Focus on End-Users First

When IT Implementation Goes Wrong, Focus on End-Users First

Often times, people can get distracted by flashy new features, and with technology, this happens more than anywhere else. Since IT grows at such an abnormally fast rate, end-users can be left in the dust if you’re not intentionally trying to keep them in the loop. In fact, it’s highly recommended that you implement IT solutions for your business that are not just effective, but also user-friendly.

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Are You Aware of the Bloatware Security Risk?

Are You Aware of the Bloatware Security Risk?

Have you ever downloaded software off of the Internet, but to your dismay, it comes bundled with other free software? We’re talking about toolbars and other unwanted software that might install alongside your desired application. It should come as no surprise that bloatware can cause problems for your computer, but it also comes with the added pain of being a major security red flag.

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Keep a Close Eye on Software Licenses

b2ap3_thumbnail_your_business_software_400.jpg

Whether it’s line of business app, accounting software, or even Microsoft Office, you and your staff require certain software applications to get work done. This brings up two crucial questions: (1) do you know the source of requisite software you require came from, and (2) are your licenses valid and up to date?
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Don’t Forget to Renew Your Software Licenses

b2ap3_thumbnail_remember_to_renew_400.jpgYou have a system in place to remind yourself of when to pay your bills. Otherwise, bills would go unpaid, essential services would be cut off, and your credit rating would plunge. However, not everyone has a system in place to renew their software licenses, which could lead to consequences that are just as dire.

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