6 things to consider when disposing of old tech

Keeping your business current with up-to-date technology will give you a competitive edge. This involves not only acquiring new computers, servers, and other devices but disposing of the old ones properly. You can’t just dump old computers, smartphones, and other tech devices in the trash.

There are many options for what to do with your old tech. Ultimately the decision is up to you, but we’ve put together some things to consider as you clear out the technology clutter in your office.

Here are 6 things you should keep in mind as you dispose of old or outdated technology.

Money icon

1. How to make money

You can actually sell your old technology, even if you think it is woefully out of date. It’s a great option because it can help to defray the cost of your new technology, or simply the cost of hauling away old junk. There are many options for how to sell it. Some retailers take back their own products. For example, Amazon and Apple both have paid recycling programs so they can sell refurbished products to people looking for a deal.

You can also sell old gear yourself online, with tools like eBay and Craigslist, but make sure you are aware of typical scams so you actually get paid for your goods. There are also companies who will take your goods and turn them around for you. This is a great idea but you might make considerably less than if you sold them yourself. However, for many business owners, this latter option is worth it because it can be much less of a hassle.

Hand holding a heart

2. Helping out a good cause

If you’re not concerned about making money, then perhaps donating your equipment is more your speed. Even if your computers are somewhat old, they can still be used by several different types of organizations.

Shelters for people who have experienced domestic violence often take old phones and laptops to replace items that their clients had to leave behind, or to help with more secure and private communication. Additionally, schools, after-school & youth programs and religious organizations can often use older machines to run basic programs that help their participants.

Some donations may be tax deductible, so being generous in this way could still help you out on the financial side of things.

Recycle icon

3. Be eco-friendly

If your tech garbage is too broken or old to donate or sell, make sure you dispose of it in an eco-friendly manner. Give it to a certified e-waste recycler. Luckily there are several organizations that take most old electronics for safe disposal.

Most local Goodwill’s not only take donated equipment, put partner with Dell to recycle equipment they can’t resell. Another option is the electronics retail store, Best Buy. They take nearly everything. Other available resources include other retailers and perhaps even your local recycling and trash pick up service.

If you’re wondering what is available in your area, go to earth911. This is a great resource for anything you need to recycle. Make sure you give your unusable electronics to an organization that knows how to dispose of it properly!

4. Be especially aware of how you recycle hazardous materials

Some people might think that throwing an old mp3 player or a few batteries in the garbage isn’t a big deal, but it can have long-lasting consequences. Electronics that sit in a landfill can poison the environment with things like lead, arsenic and other environmental toxins.

That’s why it’s best to let someone handle the devices who really know how to safely dispose of them with the least impact on the environment. Even something as simple as throwing away batteries in the trash can have a negative impact, especially rechargeable or lithium batteries.

Some cities have special programs to help you recycle batteries with regular trash pick up, while others have special drop-off days so you can bring toxic household materials like batteries and paint for proper disposal.

Subscription services

5. Remember to cancel or transfer software subscriptions

When you give away your old computers, remember to transfer any software subscriptions. It’s more common these days to have a subscription for programs like Microsoft Office 365 or the Adobe Suite that require users to log in, than having machine specific licenses. Remember to deactivate any subscriptions on your old machines that you are giving away so you can reactivate them on your new devices and retain all the programs you need to use.

erase data

6. Erase data

Whether you sell, donate, or dispose of your items make sure to erase any information stored on them. This will protect your data from those who would use it for nefarious purposes. Many companies who sell refurbished products say they will erase your data, but it is really best for you to do it yourself to have peace of mind.

This is especially relevant if you are selling the machines yourself or if you are dumping them with an organization for recycling. You certainly wouldn’t want your data to fall into the wrong hands!

Contact your managed IT services provider for help upgrading your machines and disposing of your old ones properly.

3 common computer problems & how to fix them yourself

“Have you tried turning it off and on again?”
The IT Crowd

It’s become a catchphrase because it’s effective and really works. And while that solution can solve a lot of issues, there are other things you can try to when your computer is acting up.

Here are 3 common computer problems and some simple steps you can take to troubleshoot them yourself without having to call in the IT support cavalry.

Your computer is running slow

Computers need rest, just like us. If you leave your computer on for long stretches at a time, your computer can begin to feel sluggish.

Here are some things you can try when a slow computer has got you down:

  • Close unneeded programs and tabs: Whatever your workflow, it’s easy for extra windows, open files, and internet browser tabs to pile up. Each of these is eating up system resources whether you’re actively using them or not. Close what you don’t need and see if that improves performance.
  • Open Task Manager or Activity Monitor: Sometimes background process hang around or become bloated. In order to really see what’s going on, use the Windows Task Manager or Mac OS X Activity Monitor. They provide easy to read diagnostics that show how much of your system’s resources each process is using. From there you can see what program needs your attention and force quite programs that are frozen or not being used.

If you’re running into this problem a lot, it could be time for a more thorough, professional evaluation.

Difficulty connecting to the internet

As more of our work moves to the cloud, slow or intermittent internet connections can be maddening when you’re trying to work. It could be the issue is with the connection itself, in which case you’ll need to address that with your internet provider (or try a different coffee shop down the street). But sometimes your computer or location is causing the problem.

Here are some things you can do to try and improve your internet connection.

  • Check your computer: The first step is understanding exactly what is acting slow. Is it your whole connection, or just your browser? Try closing different applications to see if that makes a difference. If you like to listen to an online radio service, it could be hogging all your bandwidth.
  • Check your surroundings: Our lives are increasingly networked, so odds are you have your smartphone nearby and maybe your smartwatch or other accessories too. Wireless frequency bands are surprisingly narrow bands of frequencies and it’s easy for signals to get crossed and performance degrade. Try to adjust your devices so they have sufficient breathing room to send and receive without conflict.
  • Check your network: Is the person next to you having the same problems? Check your hardware and make sure that everything is plugged in and receiving a signal.

Deeper issues such as how your business utilizes its WiFi and data transit may require expert management.

Your document won’t print

We may be more digital than ever, but sometimes we still need paper. All it takes is one temperamental printer to back everything up.

If you’re trying to print and nothing is coming out, here are some things you can try.

  • Check the printer status from your computer: Open the Printers & Scanners menu of System Preferences in OS X or in Windows, open Device Manager, so you can see if there’s a paper jam, an offline printer or something else.
  • Check the physical printer: Maybe it has a paper jam, or is out of paper.
  • Check the size of the document you’re printing: Just like when you download something from the internet, when you send a document to the printer, it has to download the entire file before it can print. If you’re sending a large document that’s full of graphics, it can take your printer longer than you might expect to download the entire document before it starts printing. Really large files can also cause the printer to get overloaded and freeze.
  • Reset the printer connection: In Mac OS X, when you have the Printers & Scanners menu up, Right-Click on the list of devices and select “Reset Printing System”. On Windows 10, you can use the Printing Troubleshooter by typing “Printing Problem” into the system search bar to get started.
  • Turn the printer off and on again: Yes, this technique works on printers too.
  • Update your drivers: Printers don’t often get the same love our computers do in staying up to date, so it’s easy for them or our connection to fall behind. Check your computer’s printer drivers.  In Windows 10, use the Device Manager and find your device. Then right-click and select “Update drivers”. Check for a System update with OS X and if it’s built-in, your system will update automatically.

Increasingly, printers are shared across whole departments and keeping them running well may require reaching out for more help.

7 tech gadgets that improve productivity

Technology advances are shaping the way businesses operate and opening up a world of opportunities. Enabling better and more efficient productivity is one of the advantages of implementing tech gadgets in the workplace. These operate in a variety of ways and work across functions.

Here are 7 tech gadgets that can improve efficiency and productivity in your workplace.

LVL Hydration Monitor

Healthy workers are more productive. A major cause of an energy slump is dehydration. Modern offices with heating and air conditioning enhance dehydration which leads to tiredness and diminished productivity. The LVL Hydration Monitor tracks things like workout rates and heartbeat but it also keeps an eye on hydration levels. It informs workers when they need to drink more fluids and the productivity boost they can expect when they do.


Using technology to hold meetings is a great way to connect departments across a geographical area. It saves travel time for employees, boosting the time they have to work instead of being on the road. Additionally, Skype is easy to set up and can transform decision making and productivity with the click of a mouse. Using teleconferencing is another way of connecting remotely, saving travel time.

Multi laptop windows

Having a computer screen with multi laptop windows is a great way to improve productivity. By being able to display several items on different screens, time is saved from flicking between web pages and mistakes are minimized by having work displayed simultaneously. Up to three screens can be displayed at once.

Yo-Yo mini standing desk

There’s a significant amount of medical evidence suggesting that too much seated activity is dangerous for health. It also leads to energy slumps, reducing productivity. Standing regularly reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular problems. The Yo-Yo Mini Standing Desk is a great tech gadget that enables people who spend a long time seated to work in a stand-up position. This not only promotes healthy working but can improve productivity.

Connected whiteboard

One of the best tech gadgets for the office is a connected whiteboard. This cloud-based technology uses a large whiteboard screen to connect remote workers or those on multiple sites. It is ideal for brainstorming and planning when working offsite. This tech gadget also improves productivity by connecting people instantly instead of repeat meetings or email exchanges.


The office environment is ideal for bttns, interactive buttons that can implement a series of tasks with the touch of a button.  Automating business processes is a great way to improve both productivity and efficiency in the workplace.

Bttns can be used for a variety of tasks including callbacks, ordering supplies, marking off time sheets, and more, simply by pressing a button. They can also book meeting rooms and operate either as a stand-alone device or as an interconnected function.

Solar powered wall mounted battery charger

Reliance on mobile phones is increasing with technology advances. This means constantly needing a fully charged battery. One of the simplest ways to ensure your phone is always ready to go is to have a wall mounted solar charger. This maximizes the use of natural resources and ensures you are not caught out with a dead battery. Energy powered cycle chargers are a novel way of ensuring the staff stays productive by exercising and keep their mobile phones charged.

Contact your managed IT services provider for help implementing these and many other tech gadgets into your workplace.

4 tips for successful customer relationship management

The key to running a successful business is building relationships with your customers. For most modern business, keeping up with customer communications can be difficult with so many different communication options like email, telephone, text, and web-based chat available.

A recent study found that businesses are spending nearly $26 billion a year on customer relationship management (CRM) software. If you’re looking for a better way to manage your customer relationships, consider these 4 tips for implementing CRM software in your business.

1. Find the right CRM solution

With all the different CRM software programs on the market, selecting the right one may be difficult. Consider consulting your managed IT service provider for help finding the best CRM solution for your business.

The main difference between the CRM programs on the market are the features they have. Growing companies will need to find a program with features like advanced lead generation and call center features. You’ll also want to find a program with customizable features that you can add or change later as your business grows.

2. Implement the software

Once you have found the right CRM program to fit your business needs, it will be time to implement it. Having professional IT support during this process can save you a lot of time and stress.

You’ll also need to train your team on the new software. Make sure not to overload them all the new features at once. Focus first on the basics like creating records and assigning tasks. Consider regular training meetings to train your staff on the more complex features as they become more comfortable with the system.

3. Customize your approach

A well-built CRM system will allow you to customize both the customer and employee experience. Not everyone on your team will need access to every bit of customer data you collect. This is why you need to work on creating a single pipeline and then limiting access to some of the elements within this file.

Some business owners make the mistake of creating separate folders for the same client. If a client has separate folders for things like sales or support, it can become confusing. The beauty of using a CRM system is you can store customer data in one place and while limiting access to different parts of the information as needed.

4. Utilize mobile CRM tools

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past decade, you know how popular mobile devices have become. While the mobile CRM tools on the market are not as detailed as desktop software, they do provide you with the ability to update customer data from your mobile device.

These apps will also help your team pull up information like a customer’s contact data. Most CRM mobile apps allow users to create tasks and make notes about a client with the click of a button. If you have lots of employees who work in the field, then having these mobile tools is essential.

Are you ready to embrace the power and convenience of CRM software? If so, contact your managed IT services provider for help finding and implementing the right CRM solution for your business.

4 tech trends to watch in 2019

The winter holidays will be over before you know it and 2019 will be upon us. Tech trends move faster than ever before because innovation moves faster than it used to. Follow these tech trends in 2019 to make sure you don’t fall behind. Make it your resolution to work with the right IT service provider and keep your technology going strong year-round.

1. More Autonomy

In 2019 the robots will start to think for themselves a bit more. That’s not to say that we are getting anywhere close to some of the more scary science fiction movies with fully autonomous robots.

Some predict that cars put out in 2019 will have more autonomous features than ever before. Now, some new cars have features like assistance with parallel parking, but experts predict that at least 10% of cars hitting the road by 2021 will be fully autonomous. However, in May of 2018, GM announced that consumers would be able to buy the first fully autonomous car in 2019.

2. “Digital Twins”

A digital twin is not a new virtual pet toy for your kids to enjoy. It’s actually a useful tool that helps businesses monitor physical devices or even entire buildings. A digital twin can be a full 3D model of a device like a plane engine, or simply a monitoring system for your building or office.

Digital twins are a helpful way to meet safety requirements or monitor utility usage. Using a combination of sensors in physical objects & digital twins will help companies get more useful data than ever before, and this trend is expected to continue in 2019.

3. Blockchain Becomes More Than Bitcoin

Blockchain is the incredible technological idea that has enabled the widespread use of digital cryptocurrencies. It can be used to enable privacy and digital protections like never before. Other uses for blockchain are also being explored.

Expect this trend to continue in 2019. Some creative uses for blockchain include making the transfer of and collaboration on documents even more secure, verifying the authenticity of high-end luxury goods and some experts even believe it can be used to prevent voter fraud.

4. Video & Live Video Continue to Dominate

It’s not just enough to have social media channels anymore, it’s important to note that channels with video, and especially live video tend to have much more interaction. This is due in part to algorithms used that sometimes favor video posts..

According to one study, 90% of people use online videos to help with purchase decisions and even just mentioning the term video in an email newsletter subject line can increase opens by up to 19%. People spend 1/3 of their time on the internet watching videos.

This doesn’t mean you have to spend all your time and resources on pre-recorded videos According to information put out by video giant Vimeo, 80% of people would rather watch a live video than read a blog, and similarly, 82% of people would rather watch live video than look at a static social media post.

Expect this trend to continue to grow in 2019. Make sure to use live video features on your brand’s social networks like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and others.

Contact your Managed IT service provider to keep up with these and other tech trends in 2019!

Client Testimonial: Inventrust Properties

“CCS has definitely helped with increasing . . . IT’s partnership with my internal business.”

Dipesh Shah
Former Chief Information Officer, Inventrust Properties

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Which CRM solution is right for your organization?

Customer relationship management (CRM) software empowers businesses of all sizes and sectors to make smarter, more accurate decisions.

According to some estimates, over 90 percent of companies make use of a CRM solution—and for good reason. On average, CRM solutions see a return on investment of $8.71 for every dollar that you invest.

Despite the obvious benefits of CRM software, however, it’s not so obvious how to choose the best solution for your organization. There are a lot of options available to you. Plus, your company’s situation may be influenced by a number of different factors:

  • Number of employees
  • Industry
  • Specific business requirements
  • Preferred pricing model
  • Upcoming projects
  • Existing resources and technologies

Whether you’re making your first CRM purchase or replacing an existing system, this article will go over the most important concerns that you should consider when choosing a CRM solution.

Defining CRM return on investment

There are essentially three different approaches to CRM solutions: basic, standalone, and integrated.

  • Basic CRM systems include standard functionality without any custom features or coding. This enables you to get up and running quickly and easily.
  • Standalone CRM solutions include more complex processes than basic CRM systems, including custom features for reporting, views and workflows.
  • Integrated CRM systems connect a standalone CRM system with external applications, websites, and systems. This helps you share data and make your workflow more efficient.

No matter which type of CRM you select, you need to understand the value of your CRM solution to evaluate whether it’s the right choice.

For example, focus on how a CRM will improve your customer relationships by giving you easy access to important metrics and key performance indicators, as well as helping you manage connections on social media.

On paper, defining the ROI of a given CRM is easy: simply weigh the costs of using it against the benefits that you gain by doing so.

In practice, however, calculating CRM ROI involves a good deal of subjective assessments and estimates about how much given features are worth to you. Note that most of the value you extract from your CRM will likely come from a few of the most frequently used functionalities.

CRM factors to consider

The cost of a CRM solution is perhaps the best factor to contemplate first since it can disqualify certain options right off the bat. Consider questions such as:

  • What is the pricing model? Subscription-based or a perpetual license? Most CRM applications, especially those that are cloud-based, use a per-month, per-user pricing model.
  • What are the different pricing tiers? Which features that you consider important? Make sure you’re looking at the price for the tier of service you’ll need.

CRM software comes with many different features and functionalities. Some of the capabilities that might interest you include:

  • Lead management and sales for finding, nurturing, and converting new customers
  • Marketing tools for email and SMS campaigns
  • Reports and dashboards for highlighting important metrics
  • E-commerce integration

Depending on your business, you may have other questions to ask when evaluating CRM software options, such as:

  • How easy is it for employees to learn and use the software?
  • What kind of support and maintenance plans are available?
  • How will the software integrate with your existing technical setup?

Final thoughts on your CRM solution

With so many advantages at stake, deciding on the right CRM solution isn’t a task to be taken lightly.

If you need help selecting the right CRM software for your business, contact your IT managed services provider for additional guidance.

Cloud services and the SMB revolution

The word “revolution” gets more than its fair share of airtime.

Whenever something undergoes even moderate change, it seems there’s always someone standing by, ready to declare it a revolution. It probably has something to do with our American roots. The idea of an idealistic uprising stirs something deep within us.

And yet, this is one time when the word is totally applicable.

For decades, SMBs have faced a common set of obstacles. Sustaining and growing a small business has always required a delicate balance of resources. It still does, but cloud services are shifting the nature of that balance at a fundamental level.

Think of it like rolling a pair of dice. (Any SMB owner will tell you running a small business feels like a bit of a gamble.) What if you could swap the regulation dice you’ve been using for a weighted pair? New dice that are more likely to land on the numbers you want? The numbers you need?

Cloud solutions make that possible. They’re loaded dice you have license to use.

Savvy small business owners know it, too. It’s estimated that by 2020, 78% of all SMBs will rely on the cloud for core functionality. We’re not talking about a minor boost in convenience. This is transformational stuff. It has the potential to reshape how your organization operates, giving you advantages that SMBs have never had before.

Employee using a laptop


Cloud solutions are loaded dice you have license to use.

Big business agility

Small businesses have never been able to compete with large corporations when it comes to infrastructure. How could they? A “modest department” at an enterprise-level organization might have a staff of more than 100. A company with a few dozen employees simply doesn’t have the people to keep up.

But the cloud is changing that.

It’s no longer essential to build out your own internal solutions. There are cloud services out there that give SMBs the kinds of tools that Fortune 500 companies have had for decades, including the ability to dynamically adapt on a moment’s notice. What’s more, strategically chosen cloud solutions will work together, offering small organizations cohesion across every service.

The floodgates have opened. Today’s SMBs have access to tools that were once the exclusive domain of big business.

The 50 best cloud services for SMBs

Super-charged support

When SMBs embraces the cloud, they don’t just get the advantage of more agile tools. They get a huge upgrade in support, as well.

Cloud solutions are rarely offered like off-the-shelf products. If there are issues with functionality, there’s always an avenue for requesting support. Cloud services providers can’t afford to ignore bugs, glitches or missing features. Their services aren’t free, and commercial customers rightly expect the investment to pay off.

The good news here is that you can count on cloud applications to be reliable. They have to be, or providers won’t last. And because your business is one of many relying on any given cloud solution, the back-end support is typically robust.

Issues are rare, and when they happen they’re dealt with quickly.

Improved innovation

The emerging cloud model makes it possible for SMBs to offload a lot of routine-but-necessary tasks—everything from accounting to resource management. There are cloud services that incorporate automation, direct support, or a hybrid of the two.

That means you don’t have to use your most valuable resource (your people) to manually manage those services in-house.

Here’s where the real power of the cloud comes into play. When your people are free to plug into more productive, ground-breaking work, your business is poised to explode. The most successful companies, big and small, cultivate a culture of innovation. That’s only feasible if your organization finds ways to be efficient, freeing your staff to unlock their creativity.

Cloud solutions can make that happen.

Cloud services are extremely efficient.

Taking your business to the cloud

The benefits of utilizing cloud services are there. The key to making them work for your business lies in finding the right solutions in the right combination.

Your managed IT services provider (MSP) can help with that.

After all, your MSP already knows how your company operates. These are the folks who understand what makes your business tick. They should be able to find a complete set of cloud solutions tailored specifically to your needs.

And if you don’t already have a managed IT services provider, now is a good time to find one.

As we observed at the beginning of this whitepaper, running a small business can feel a lot like gambling. But it doesn’t have to. You can have your very own set of loaded dice, shifting the odds in your favor.

Isn’t it about time?

The 3 things you should be getting from your CRM

Few business tools have the potential to drive sales like a well-configured Customer Relationship Management application. You probably call it a CRM, as does practically everyone. In fact, it looks odd to see the words actually spelled out. But we’ve included the full name here for a very specific reason.

It’s easy to forget the functionality CRM solutions are meant to provide. For salespeople, the CRM is where prospects, leads and closed deals live. For customer service, it’s where you can find a customer’s information and history. For management, it’s a rich source of data brimming over with all kinds of reporting potential.

In reality, a CRM is all those things and more.

In this whitepaper, we’ll explore the three biggest benefits of using a CRM. If your current CRM isn’t delivering these three things, it’s time to reconfigure or replace. And if you’re not using a CRM, it’s time to incorporate this valuable tool.

Improved Productivity

CRMs give companies a single, centralized location for the data marketing, sales and service teams rely on day in, day out. When all that data is housed in one place, your employees don’t have to waste time hunting down customer information, unsure of who knows what.

crm solution

Just check the CRM. Everything’s there.

That makes it easier to market, easier to close, and easier to provide top-of-the-line customer service. Improve your organization’s efficiency, and you’ll feel it in the bottom line.

If you want an even bigger productivity boost, add mobile access to your CRM solution. According to Nucleus Research, CRMs with mobile access and social networking capability increase productivity by another 26.4%.

Higher Close Ratios

It’s an age-old adage. Sales is a numbers game.

For example, you might have to work through 10 leads to get to one sale. But what if you could close one deal for every seven leads? Or every five? The difference starts to add up. Quickly.

According to The Sales Management Association, a formalized sales process, like the kind baked into a CRM, can increase profits by as much as 30%. Individual salespeople will perform better as lead conversion rates skyrocket.

It’s all due to a powerful snowball effect. CRMs boost efficiency through organization, automation, and process management. As a result, it’s possible for salespeople to do more in less time.

Better Client Relationships

The CRM advantage doesn’t stop with sales. Not only will more customers decide to buy, but more customers will stick, as well.

Research shows that CRMs improve customer retention rates by as much as 27%. Additionally, CRMs have been shown to increase customer satisfaction by a high margin, as well.  The same productivity perks that lead a customer to buy make it easier to keep current customers and ensure they remain happy.

Ironically, it’s not even really the CRM solution that creates this effect.

Rather, a CRM simply facilitates the kind of organization necessary for your employees to focus their time and energy on prospects and customers. What’s remarkable is the fact that every person involved – the customer, the sales rep, the service rep and even management – benefits from this one powerhouse tool.

Get On It

What about your company?

Does your current CRM make good on its potential? Or, if the idea of using a CRM solution is new to you, are you convinced of the benefits, both for customer satisfaction and profitability?

If you’re ready for a new CRM experience, the CCS Technology team can help. Not every CRM is a good fit for every company. It’s important that you deploy the right solution for your organization.

That’s why we take a consultative approach. We don’t make blind recommendations. We’d much rather get to know you first so we can pair you up with the solutions that will do the most to drive your business forward.

Said another way, when our customers win, we win.

If you need a new CRM solution, we can help you find it. Contact us today to find out more about how we can set you up for success.