Why You Need an Open Source Monitoring Solution

Why You Need an Open Source Monitoring Solution

Open source monitoring solutions can help you maintain your IT network while saving money and providing peace of mind.

Monitoring the network of your business is crucial for many different reasons, and you want to make sure that you are always able to check in on what is most important to you. For example, what devices are accessing your network? What does your uptime looking like? What are your bandwidth utilization rates?

However, utilizing proprietary software may have limited you to picking and choosing which issues from your network you’re allowed to monitor, due to lack of available features or cost. Open source solutions, on the other hand, are some of the most cost-effective, powerful, and customizable tools of your business.

What Is a Monitoring Solution?

Before explaining why you need an open source monitoring solution, it helps to define what we mean by a monitoring solution. As Cisco explains:

Network monitoring provides the information that network administrators need to determine, in real time, whether a network is running optimally

Below, we discuss 3 main reasons why you need to have an open source monitoring solution.

Reason #1 You Need an Open Source Monitoring Solution: More Features, at a Lower-Cost

One of the biggest benefits of open source software is being able to build the solution that is appropriate for your business at a fraction of the price of your typical proprietary software solutions. If you ever felt restricted by what proprietary software tools were out there–maybe you saw tools that offered certain features you wanted but lacked others, or the price was out of your budget–open source is your best bet.

Building a monitoring solution that is tailored to your business needs and is cost-effective also helps you put that extra budget towards other matters you need to attend to.

Reason #2 You Need an Open Source Monitoring Solution: Security and Peace of Mind

When you see the benefits of being able to add custom features that you enjoy using at a cost-friendly price, you may think that there has to be catch: maybe open source solutions are not as secure as my proprietary tool I’m using?

Actually, open source solutions are incredibly secure, however. As Nahla from toolbox.com states,“There is much less open-source malware, any flaws are usually found and patched right away, and most developers [in the open-source community] actively collaborate on making programs and apps more secure by default.”

Additionally, you want to feel comfortable with the solution you’re using and the future of the solution within your business. Sometimes there are features that are working incredibly well with your current proprietary software, and before you know it your provider tells you that if you want to continue using that feature, you’re going to have to pay for a new “premium” membership to have full access.

With an open source monitoring solution, you’ll always have access to every feature that you want or need, as long as you want or need it. Because the open source solution was developed for you, you will always be in charge of what features get to stay, which ones can be phased out, and which new features you’d like to add.

Reason #3 You Need an Open Source Monitoring Solution: Scalability for Your Business

Finally, we understand that for many businesses, the goal is set on growing, expanding, and trending upwards in your ability to serve more customers and clients.

The great news is that open-source solutions are prepared for such growth!

If you started out with only a few devices accessing your business’ network, or only interacting with a few clients through your website–open-source solutions can be great for a small company to get started. The added benefit is that as your business grows, and you need to monitor a larger network of devices and access points, you don’t have to worry about needing to purchase the next level of a proprietary software program, or needing to switch to a bigger company’s product to meet your newly expanded needs. With open source, you can use the same tools you have been using, and can work with a qualified developer to add new features as you need them, or even features that don’t exist anywhere else.

Whether you’re getting tired of paying too much for your current proprietary monitoring solution, or you’re thinking of features that you wish you had access to, consider going open source for your future monitoring solution.

3 Reasons Why You Need a Monitoring Solution for Your IT Network

3 Reasons Why You Need a Monitoring Solution for Your IT Network

You may not think you need a monitoring solution for IT network, but you’d be wrong.

As a company, you are always looking to do your best for your clients and for your own employees, especially when it comes to working online. Clients may be trying to access your website or their own tools virtually, and your employees may be utilizing the company’s network to perform their tasks throughout the workday. One of the biggest issues that can bring all of that work to a grinding halt is an issue with your IT network.

No matter how big or small your business is, being able to monitor your IT network at all times to ensure a high-functioning and quality experience for all who are connecting to it is paramount. But, before diving into the reasons why you need a monitoring solution for your IT network, it helps to define what we mean by a monitoring solution.

For our definition, we take Cisco’s concise explanation that:

Network monitoring provides the information that network administrators need to determine, in real-time, whether a network is running optimally.

Here are our top 3 reasons why you need a monitoring solution for your IT network.

Reason #1: Improve Your Network Uptime

As we mentioned above, if your IT network were to have an issue or fail, it can bring all of your business to a grinding halt — something that no business wants to have to worry about.

A network monitoring solution can help put some of that stressful thinking to rest. Your monitoring solution can allow you to stay updated on the status of your network every minute of every day without you having to manually go in and check things yourself. You can set up notifications to be sent to your phone or email when your monitoring solution notices an irregularity or any kind of network failure.

Being able to get an immediate update on any issues allows you to act quickly to get things back up and running before a client notices or before a business begins grinding to a halt.

Reason #2: Diagnosing Issues Swiftly

Building off of the fact that your monitoring solution will be able to inform you about any issues as they occur, it also allows you to diagnose what the issue is and what caused it quickly. Without a monitoring solution, if you were to be informed about a network issue on your own, you would have to work through multiple troubleshooting sessions manually to diagnose and determine where the error is occurring.

This could lead to more downtime for your network as you meticulously do your best to find the cause of your issues, what clients it’s affecting, and how to remedy the situation.

Reason #3: Improve Network Security

Unfortunately, as more business is done online, there are more opportunities for hackers to steal your data, and the last thing that you want to happen to your business is a large data breach.

As helpsystems mentions:

By regularly monitoring traffic on critical devices, it’s easy to spot suspicious changes in inbound and outbound traffic. Having in-depth visibility into network activity helps you proactively identify malicious network activity and find holes to patch that could turn into larger security issues in the future.

Having a monitoring solution allows some more peace of mind as you will know all there is to know about your network at any given time.

Whether you are thinking about adding a monitoring solution to your IT network for the first time, or you are thinking about transitioning to a new network monitoring solution partner, this is a critical investment that you absolutely need for your business.

4 Reasons Your Business Needs Customer Personas

If you’re not familiar with customer personas, you may be unaware of all the reasons your business needs customer personas. Customer personas are useful to many aspects of the business process, including selling, marketing, user experience, and customer experience. Below are four reasons why you should develop customer personas for your business if you haven’t done so already.

What Are Customer Personas?

Customer personas are profiles of individual customers that represent a key demographic of your customer base. They often include such information as:

  • Name
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Brief Story
  • Needs
  • Frustrations

An Example Persona

Here’s an example persona for a route-planning app:

An example persona named Robbie, published to 4 Reasons Your Business Needs Customer Personas

Reasons Your Business Needs Customer Personas: #1 Selling

The first reason you need customer personas for your business is selling. Not all customers are alike. Each different type of customer you’re trying to attract has different needs, wants, and frustrations you can help solve. In order to understand how to sell your product or service to each individual you encounter, you need to be able to quickly analyze who they are and what makes them tick.

Consider asking your sales leads questions like the following:

  1. What is your biggest frustration as a [specific type of person]?
  2. What is your greatest need right now as a [specific type of person]?
  3. What solutions have you tried in the past to solve your [specific problem]?
  4. Tell me a story about your average day when you are doing [a specific task].

Questions like these can help you understand how to cater your product or service to different customers so that you learn how to serve each individual that comes your way. Once you get enough answers to these questions, you can then group the answers into different categories and develop unique personas.

Reasons Your Business Needs Customer Personas: #2 Marketing

Of course, in order to sell your product or service to a customer, you must first reach them. Similar to the selling process, marketing is all about reaching specific groups of individuals. Whether you’re marketing over Facebook or on a local radio station, you need to make sure that you’re reaching the types of people who match your customer personas.

This is where digital marketing really shines, of course, because on platforms like social media you can target ads directly to key demographics and behaviors. With traditional advertising, you get put in a single channel with a large audience, but there’s no guarantee potential customers will ever really engage with your ad.

Regardless: knowing the four or five specific types of people you’re trying to reach can mean the difference between a successful marketing campaign and a big waste of money.

Reasons Your Business Needs Customer Personas: #3 User Experience

Another reason to develop customer persons is user experience, or how easy it is for customers to engage with your key touchpoints as a business. Rather than having a website, mobile presence, social media presence, etc. that is designed for everybody, in other words, you should design these touchpoints for specific people: your customers!

Developing personas can help you design each touchpoint to appeal to the specific types of people you’re trying to reach. This process should start at the level of search engine optimization and should extend throughout the look, feel, and features of each touchpoint. The more you know about your customers and their wants, needs, and frustrations, the more you will be able to tailor your touchpoints to engage them.

Of course, nothing beats usability testing with live users for optimizing your touchpoints for specific types of customers!

Reasons Your Business Needs Customer Personas: #4 Customer Experience

Finally, customer personas can help you refine the entire customer experience. If you think your customer experience–meaning the entire process a customer goes through from the moment they first engage with your business to the moment you earn their loyalty as a repeat customer–should work the same for every person, you’re wrong! The modern customer experience is all about personalization, about making every individual feel like your customer experience was built just for them.

How do you achieve this? By tailoring all the touchpoints of your customer experience to each individual persona. Sometimes, yes, this means having different campaigns for different types of customers, but many times it means making sure that the landing page you just developed doesn’t alienate your main customer types!

Regardless: you should be considering every touchpoint in your customers’ journey from their perspective. Understanding what motivates a specific type of person to engage with your business is key to understanding how to earn their business, and hopefully their loyalty, for life.

Should I Usability Test My Website? 3 Reasons Why You Should

Should I Usability Test My Website? 3 Reasons Why You Should

Should I usability test my website? This is a question many business owners ask themselves at various points. If you offer products or services to customers through your website, the answer is a definite: “yes.” Below we’ll explain how usability testing all the technologies your company uses, including your website, can hugely benefit your customers, and ultimately your bottom line.

What Is Usability Testing?

In short, usability.gov defines usability testing as:

evaluating a product or service by testing it with representative users.

So, usability testing is a way of exploring how useful a product or service is to your customers, in other words. Why do this?

When conducting usability testing, your goal is to assess usability, which Jakob Nielsen defines as:

Usability is a quality attribute that assesses how easy user interfaces are to use.

Your business has a lot of touchpoints that customers use to purchase your product or service. These may include:

Usability testing can help you assess how easy all these touchpoints are to use. Can customers quickly and easily access and use each one in order to learn about your company, learn about your products and services, and make a purchase?

If you haven’t tested your company’s technologies, you can’t be sure what the answer to this question is. And if you aren’t sure how easy your technologies are to use, can you be sure they’re as easy to use as those of your competition?

And above all: your website is often the first thing that a potential client, customer, or user sees that represents your organization, who you are, and what you have to offer. Your website is also a gateway to help those people access the other technologies that your company offers, such as mobile apps, software, and other solutions.

Reason #1 Why You Should Usability Test Your Website: Your Company’s Credibility

One of the primary reasons that you should consider usability testing your company’s technologies is the impact that poor usability can have on your company’s credibility.

In a recent survey that asked, “Would you buy from a company that has a poorly designed, hard to navigate, or outdated website?” a staggering 85.8% of respondents said no.

If an overwhelming number of prospective customers find your website off-putting and immediately leave your website for a competitor’s, the hope that those customers will ever purchase from you greatly diminishes. Doing a usability test of your company’s website can help you figure out what problems your current design layout or content poses, and where improvements can be made. Fixing these issues means more people will want to stay on your site and browse through the other products and services that you offer.

You not only improve the design and experience of people on your website, but improve your company’s credibility as well.

Reason #2 Why You Should Usability Test Your Website: You Don’t Need That Many Test Users

One of the common misconceptions that stops a lot of companies from doing usability testing is the belief that you need to test with hundreds or thousands of people.

That is simply not the case!

In fact, in order to find a vast majority of the errors that your website may have, you only need to test with about 5 users, especially if you plan on conducting multiple tests. 5 users can help you find approximately 85% of usability problems facing your website, and if there are major problems that exist, fixing that 85% can drastically improve the usability of your website and the perception of potential clients and customers. If your company offers a wide range of products and services and thus has a very wide-ranging customer base, however, you may want to test about with 3-4 users per customer group.

Our only caution with testing is that in order for it to truly be successful you need to test with people outside of your company. As Craig Tomlin cautions, you want to avoid any bias you have in testing your own website. People that work for your company may already know where things are, how things work, and may give you “false positives” that things are working well on your website. If you test with people external to your site, with those people who are truly coming to your company in search of a product or service, you’ll get a much better understanding of what is working or not working.

Reason #3 Why You Should Usability Test Your Website: Usability Testing Can Be Cost-Effective

Another misconception about usability testing is that it can be expensive to complete, even if you’re only testing 5 people. However, this is another misconception.

One of our favorite techniques in usability testing is what is referred to as Lean UX, a process meant for quick and efficient usability testing. Lean UX focuses on 3 main goals or stages:

  • Design
  • Test
  • Refine

If we focus on testing with small groups of users, and doing multiple tests, we can more quickly and efficiently gain insight into what is working or not working on our website. We take our design, get our test users, and test it, and then take what we learn and refine our design. Then we keep going through that process until we’re satisfied we’ve solved the problems with our design.

Going through this Lean UX cycle throughout the process of building or redesigning your website rather than at the end when it’s finished can help you spot a lot of problems or issues early on and can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars in billable hours or potential lost revenue.

3 Ways to Get Started With Multichannel E-commerce

3 Ways to Get Started With Multichannel E-commerce

Looking for ways to get started with multichannel e-commerce? Maybe you’ve heard this term online and are wondering what it refers to. Maybe you’ve done some e-commerce over a few channels and want to leverage additional ones.

And, of course, it is without a doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic is changing the way we do business. The real secret, though, is that most businesses should be using e-commerce to improve their customer retention.

If you haven’t explored it, multichannel e-commerce may be anxiety-provoking. However, business owners can follow some simple practices that will lead them down the right path toward making e-commerce a core part of how they do business. If you’re looking to integrate multichannel e-commerce into your core business plan, or just trying to learn more about it before taking the leap, take note of our 3 ways to get started with multichannel e-commerce, below.

Way #1 to Get Started With Multichannel E-commerce: Establish a Third-Party Storefront

Large online retailers like Amazon.com, Ebay, Walmart, and Etsy welcome business owners (from solo entrepreneurs to leaders of international corporations) to sell products and services on their websites. For business owners who are new to e-commerce, there are numerous advantages to setting up shops on these platforms. The most obvious advantage is that these third-party websites are established in e-commerce and draw a lot of traffic. Also, these companies rely on business owners setting up storefronts on their websites as part of their core business models; they each have relatively easy ways to onboard businesses into their e-commerce structure.

Of course, setting up a storefront on any of these third-party websites is not free. Business owners who use third-party websites must pay these websites as part of doing business, whether it be subscription fees, referral fees, listing fees, closing fees, or the like.

Additionally, there is no guarantee that a business will make a profit from being on a third-party website. With an increasing number of businesses selling on third-party websites, some businesses prosper while others fail to gain traction. For business owners, it is worth evaluating the benefits and costs of having a storefront on a third-party website, as well as having a sound strategy for optimizing their ecommerce storefront.

Way #2 to Get Started With Multichannel E-commerce: Build Your Own Storefront

It is increasingly common for businesses to have their own website. However, business websites often serve as online billboards that advertise physical locations. Relatively few business websites have built-in ecommerce. For some, the prospect of managing online transactions on their own can seem daunting. Fortunately, there are a number of solutions for websites that business owners can take advantage of when creating ecommerce on their websites.

For example, business owners who have a WordPress website can easily integrate WooCommerce, an open-source e-commerce platform, into their website. Although WooCommerce (when using premium features) can cost more than other e-commerce platforms that integrate into templated websites (like Shopify and Wix), it is much more customizable.

Business owners can also take a more traditional approach to e-commerce by listing products and services on their own website (allowing for a shop cart feature) and redirecting final checkout to a third-party payment website (such as Paypal). Although Paypal is a trusted vendor, there are fees (transaction and flat) per cost of the transaction. Additionally, customers must also be comfortable with two different business vendors having access to their personal information when they use Paypal to pay a third-party business. Though there are costs to integrating e-commerce into custom websites, business owners build their online appeal by taking more control over their e-commerce.

Way #3 to Get Started With Multichannel E-commerce: Drive Leads With Social Media

Business owners should not overlook using social media for e-commerce. However, businesses should be strategic in choosing social media platforms: different social media platforms attract different consumer groups. For example, Snapchat is currently a great platform for engaging teens and young adults. If targeting middle-aged adults and seniors, business owners are better off creating an online presence on Facebook. When considering selling to other businesses, LinkedIn should be a top choice. These varied platforms also often require platform-specific means of advertising. Especially if business owners are invested in DIY advertising on these platforms to decrease costs, they need to be well-versed in how to create effective advertising on these platforms to generate interest, cultivate leads, and drive traffic to their e-commerce websites.

Or Give Our All-in-One Solution a Try

Do you need help in crafting a multichannel e-commerce strategy for your business? Do you lack the time or human resources to make multichannel e-commerce a reality for your business? Are you simply bewildered by all the requirements?

Contact us through the link below to talk about our all-in-one multichannel e-commerce solution.

The NegozYO logo, published to 3 Ways to Get Started With Multichannel E-commerce