Business Focused IT Support
Viewing posts categorised under: Office 365

Living on Microsoft Teams

by Nicki Dowsett in Disaster Planning, General, Helpdesk, IT Support, Microsoft, Microsoft Teams, MPR IT Work, networking, Office 365, Remote working, Software, Training, Uncategorised

Microsoft Teams was originally launched in March 2017 as a planned replacement to Skype for business. By March 2020, Microsoft Teams was used daily by 44 million people. One month later, much of the world was in lockdown and the number of daily users dramatically increased to over 75 million users.

The chances are that, as your team has been working across multiple locations, you have been using Microsoft Teams in your business. We don’t need to tell you that it is predominantly used for instant chat messaging, voice and video calls between employees and customers or suppliers.

MPR and Microsoft Teams

Since March 2020, with staff working remotely initially, and now with a limited staff level physically in the office and others still remote, Teams has been a vital tool in keeping everyone connected.

Daily morning and end of day meetings take place to check everyone is well and also to discuss the activity taking place. Whilst some members were furloughed an end of week meeting was put in place to have a general catch up and keep in touch with everyone. In addition to regular group chat to ask questions and the occasional ‘Dad’ joke from team members.

As someone that has worked remotely for the last 6 years with MPR IT, I can honestly say that with the regular meetings and chat I feel more connected to the company and my colleagues in other departments. Previously, I would drop an email or quick call to someone when I needed something now I see them all daily instead of 3 or 4 times a year when I would normally visit the office.

Click here for a Quick Start Guide to Microsoft Teams or to see the full range of training videos and resources see the Microsoft Teams website. In the meantime here are a few features we have found to be really helpful.

Video Calling Backgrounds

When making a video call to your clients or colleagues you may not want your background to be on display and be looking for a more professional image. Microsoft Teams offer a couple of options to overcome this problem

Blurred background – to avoid people in your video call seeing your home work space, or other people walking around the office you can blur out the background so that only you are on screen.

Virtual Background – a step up from the blurred background is to set up a virtual screen. If you are meeting with clients on video call or in a networking event, choosing a virtual background with your company logo can be more professional than you home or office background.

This can be activated in just a few simple steps: 

  • Generally, you should find the option under your audio and video settings as you start or join a meeting 
  • Click on settings 
  • Check under options 
  • Look for an option to blur your background or choose an image and click on it  

Group videos and Conferencing

Teams Live Events – Microsoft Teams can host meetings from 1-10,000 participants depending on your subscription and you IT Infrastructure. With many networking events, conferences or seminars moving to virtual events you can still easily reach your audience. Within a meeting you can also create individual rooms for different speakers allowing people to more around within the event.

Live Captions – Adding live captions to your meeting can be beneficial for people with different levels of language understanding or for anyone with hearing difficulties. Simply click on the 3 dots in the middle of your screen and speak slowly and clearly into you microphone and the words will appear as subtitles on the screen.

Sharing screens and content -ability to share content or powerpoint presentations with your audience. This is a feature that has been available on many video conferencing services for many years. Simply click on the share tray and choose the application you wish to share.

Recording and transcribing video meeting – Capture audio, video, and screen-sharing activity by recording your Teams meetings. Automatic transcription allows you to play back meetings and search for important discussion items in the transcript.

Follow up – After your event or meeting you can easily share your recording, files and content and chat with attendees as well we rescheduling the next meeting. When all linked together it easy to review previous notes and recording all in one place.

Collaborative Tool

Microsoft Teams is much more than a communication tool, it has many additional features making it an all round collaborative tool. With many additional apps that can be incorporated to share and edit content, plan projects, connecting with your CRM, social media channels, email platforms and live chat on your website. Additional apps are easily accessed through the main teams page.

If you would like to discuss Office 365, SharePoint or Microsoft Teams for your business in more detail please contact us on 0800 030 20 30

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Flexible remote working or back to the office? How technology helps

by Nicki Dowsett in Disaster Planning, Disaster Recovery, General, Hardware, Hosted phone, IT Support, IT Systems, Microsoft, Office 365, Remote working

During the last few months the majority of our team have worked remotely from home. With minimal cover in the office to accept deliveries, or work on hardware. Whilst some of our team have had to carry out socially distanced site visits. All this has taken place with no reduction in level to service for our customers.

Now as restrictions relax, like many business we must now consider the options for staff to continue remote working or a return to the office. We need ensure that this is as flexible as possible, to suit the needs of the business and our staff.

Here are a few key questions that we are having to consider:

  • Social Distancing – is there enough office space?
  • Do staff feel comfortable to be back in the office?
  • Are some staff concerned about mixing with other people on their commute?
  • What if there is a local lockdown?
  • Can it be a flexible and seamless mix between the two?

As a result of using the right technology, these questions can be easily resolved.

Hosted Phone Systems

Hosted telephone systems ensure a professional first impression for your customers no matter the location of your employees or the size of your business.  With a hosted phone system staying connected to your customers by telephone is seamless for remote working or the return to the office – it is very simple to switch between the two. Bringing the ultimate in flexibility, with a minimal initial capital outlay, along with an easy to manage monthly subscription.

MPR IT are highly experienced in both design and deployment of telecoms solutions for residential, commercial and hospitality phone systems. Offering the ability to integrate with onsite services such as CRM or MS Outlook, contacts and caller details automatically pop up when they’re on the phone. Choosing an MPR IT Solutions hosted cloud-based telephone system is the ideal solution.

With the latest connected solutions, we ensure that the design meets your requirements and ensure it is correctly deployed to your organisation and end users.

Office 365

Microsoft Office 365 has changed the way that many companies work over the last few years. A cloud based solution combining collaboration, communication and security tools at an affordable cost for everyone. Your staff can access their email and files anywhere with an internet connection. With 2 factor authentication you can be sure it remains secure.

MPR IT has invested time and resources into becoming an official Microsoft Cloud Accelerate Partner and Small Business Specialist. We are trained in a number of Microsoft Competencies that directly relate to implementing, migrating and configuring your Office 365 solution. MPR IT focus on a smooth and trouble free migration ensuring your business has minimal disruption. Followed up with seamless  ongoing support our team are on hand to advise and solve any problems should they arise.

Microsoft Teams

Superseding Skype for Business – Microsoft Teams was launched in March 2017. In November 2019, Microsoft announced that Teams was used by 20 million end users. Fast forward to April 2020 and 75 million people were using Teams. Integrating with Office 365, Teams is a platform combing communication such as video calls, workplace chat and file sharing and storage.

All the staff at MPR IT have been using Teams over the last 4 months. With daily morning meetings we can connect and be set up for the days task ahead, quick messages or video calls to team mates rather than emails. Having been a remote worker for a number of years, I feel more involved with my colleagues and more connected to the day to day activity within the business.

Flexible working

By using technology systems such as these, the question of enabling staff the flexibility of working either in the office or remotely is much simpler. Staff can connect to their files, email and colleagues through Microsoft and your customer calls can be answered seamlessly.

If you would like more information on more permanent flexible working approach for your staff that wont affect the running of your business please contact us on 0800 030 20 30 or email us sales@mpr-it.co.uk

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Free – Office 365 Migration

by Nicki Dowsett in Disaster Planning, Disaster Recovery, General, Helpdesk, IT Support, IT Systems, Microsoft, MPR, Office 365

Britain and many parts of the world are currently in lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The British Government recently announced that where possible people should now be working from home. Following this we have seen a dramatic increase in requests to set up remote access.

Office 365 package makes working from home so much easier. With Excel, Outlook, Powerpoint, Teams and Word all available through one simple log. Meaning you can connect to your workspace from anywhere that has an internet connection. As someone that has been part of the MPR IT team for the last 6 years and based in Berkshire, I can confirm that being able to connect with the main MPR IT team via Office 365 is seamless.

To support our local small business community we would like to offer FREE migration to Office 365 during the current lockdown due to Covid 19.

For more information on how Office 365 can package can support you and your business please call our team on 0800 030 20 30 Option 1

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Covid-19: Disaster Management Plans

by Nicki Dowsett in Disaster Planning, Disaster Recovery, General, Helpdesk, Hosted phone, Industry News, IT Support, IT Systems, Microsoft, MPR, Office 365

Covid-19 has fast become the hot topic in the media and conversations around the world. Whilst there is still much uncertainty as to how it will affect us as individuals and businesses, it is not something to completely dismiss.

The spread of Covid-19 is likely to increase over the coming weeks. With schools and businesses expected to be affected, be it due to members of staff/pupils becoming unwell or simply due to an external connection to someone that is affected.

This morning (Tuesday 3rd March 2020), Downing Street released a statement detailing various plans for the worst case scenario. Including a prediction that up to a fifth of the UK workforce potentially being unable to work due to Covid-19.

Disaster Management plans have traditionally been put in place for the scenarios where offices are inaccessible. With consideration made due to fire, flood or bad weather. It is unlikely that the current situation of a global contagion has been taken into consideration. Now is the time to consider and review your disaster management plan.

Catch it, Kill it, Bin it!

This phrase, and the recommendation of regular hand washing is promoted widely. Here at MPR IT, we are ensuring that this message is clear to all our staff members, whether they are office based or engineers visiting clients offices. We have also instructed all team members that should they be concerned they may have come into contact with someone suffering with Coronavirus symptoms, they should inform management and seek medical advise whilst self isolating.

Flexible Home Working

In line with the Disaster Management Plan already in place for MPR IT, all staff members have the ability to work from home and continue to support our clients with no loss of service. This is part of a plan that has been in place for many years. The main purpose of this plan is to ensure that our business can continue no matter what.

Office 365 and Cloud Computing

Software packages such as Office 365, and cloud based CRM’s are becoming more common place. Giving access to email and Microsoft applications such as Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Teams, from any location with Internet connectivity. Giving the ability to create and share documents with chosen individuals.

Telephone Systems

Along with access to documents and files, it is also vital for your business phone lines to be managed. With Hosted Telephone Systems your customers are still able to contact you. Without even having to know you are not physically in the office.

With a range of options and packages to suit businesses of all sizes, we strongly recommend that if you wish to consider the options available to your business, now is the time to contact and discuss with our team on 0800 030 20 30.

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Microsoft Support Ending

by Nicki Dowsett in General, Hardware, Helpdesk, Industry News, IT Systems, Microsoft, Office 2007, Office 365, Uncategorised, Windows 10, Windows 7

Microsoft will be ending support and updates for two of their platforms in 2020. If you are currently using either Office 2010 or Windows 7, it is important to consider your options now.

Microsoft have recently announced that support for Office 2010 will be ending on 13th October 2020. This means that from this date there will be no further extension of updates on this package.

Whilst Office 2010 will still continue to function it does mean that you will be at risk of potentially harmful and serious security risks. We recommend that you look to upgrading to Microsoft Office 365 as a replacement.

MPR IT Solutions are an official Microsoft Cloud Accelerate Partner and Small Business Specialist. This means we are trained in a number of Microsoft Competencies that directly relate to implementing, migrating and configuring your Office 365 solution. We have vast experience in migrating businesses over to Office 365 and ensure minimal disruption to your daily tasks.

Secondly support will be ending on 14 January 2020 for the operating system Windows 7. Available since 2009, there have been a number of updates since the launch, with the current recommended version Windows 10 now on the market. Please see our earlier blog explaining this.

If you are using Windows 7, either on a personal computer or at your business, now is the time to consider upgrading to Windows 10.  However, before you make the move, it is imperative that you consider any 3rd party software programme installed on your pc/laptop and hardware such as printers, scanners etc. as these may not be compatible.  You will also need to consider the hardware resources available, as Windows 10 is a powerful operating system and therefore requires a large amount of RAM installed.

Our team of experts can audit all of your software packages (e.g Sage) and hardware (e.g RAM, printers and scanners) to ensure these are compatible and where they may not be.  To upgrade without taking this into consideration, you may find that it becomes time consuming and more costly to rectify the issues.

For more information and to discuss your options to upgrade either of these Microsoft products please contact our team on 0800 030 20 30 or email sales@mpr-it.co.uk

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End of Life – Office 2007

by Nicki Dowsett in General, Industry News, IT Support, IT Systems, Microsoft, Office 2007, Office 365, Outlook 2007

Office 2007 was launched a decade ago, and included the Microsoft products – Excel,Word, Outlook, Powerpoint, and One Note.  Since its launch there have been significant advancements in connectivity and productivity for many companies.   This means that the majority of companies have left Office 2007 behind, and moved to Office 2016 or more likely to Office 365, however there are a few companies still using Office 2007.

Most Microsoft packages are only supported for 10 years and therefore it is the turn of Office 2007, to receive the end of life treatment.  Meaning by the end of October 2017 there will be no further:

  • Technical support
  • Bug fixes for issues identified
  • Security fixes for vulnerabilities released

In addition to the end of life support coming to an end, it is important to note Outlook 2007, will no longer connect to Office 365 mailboxes.  Therefore users of Outlook 2007 will not be able to receive or send emails.

Microsoft are now urging users of the 2007 version to consider upgrading to the latest offerings.  There are a number of advantages to this, not least the fact that support will be ending in a few months time.  During  2017, there has been a number of global cyber attacks.  People using packages that are no longer supported by Microsoft are at greater risk.

Earlier this year, in an unusual step Microsoft were pressured into releasing a fix for the Wanna Cry virus on Windows 2000.   Despite having stopped supporting the package in 2010, they still had a larger number of users, who were subsequently affected by the virus.  It is highly unlikely that they will make this move again in the future and are already publicising the end of life for 2007 package, with recommendations to urgently update software.  The most popular choice for businesses these days is Office 365.  Please see our page on Office 365 for full details on this product.

 

 

MPR IT Solutions has a wealth of knowledge and expertise in supporting companies in making the change to Office 365.  We have worked with a number of companies to ensure the transition is smooth, & there is minimum disruption to staff.  Please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss your options to migrate to Office 365 – whether you are currently using 2007 or another version of the Office Suite.

 

 

 

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Emergencies & out of hours IT Support

by Nicki Dowsett in Disaster Planning, Disaster Recovery, Engineers, Helpdesk, IT Support, Office 365, Uncategorised

Emergencies can happen in any office, as one of our clients found out one weekend.

One of our long standing clients, Russell Laboratories, has been receiving support from MPR IT for a number of years now.  The package we provide includes our fully inclusive Server Support package, as well as a number of larger projects including server replacements, network cabling and CCTV.  MPR IT and Russell Laboratories have a close working relationship and as with all our customers we meet regularly to discuss the support we provide, and help to identify any areas that require attention.

Russell Laboratories are a leading provider of advanced plating and finishing services to the electronics, aerospace and allied industries.  Based locally in Ashford the company has been in operation for 40 years.  The decision to outsource IT support was made to allow the existing staff, at Russell Laboratories to concentrate on their own main roles within the business.  As well as having the knowledge of a fixed price contract for ongoing daily support and security that any additional work required would be carried out by experienced engineers who fully understand the network.

As part of the inclusive server support, our systems monitor the servers on site 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, alerting our team to any issues with the systems.  This means that even at weekends or over holiday periods, Russell Laboratories are safe in the knowledge that should emergencies happen they have no costly invoices for out of hour’s support.

One Saturday morning, our out of hour’s team were alerted to an issue with the server at Russell Laboratories.  Our on call engineer contacted them to discuss this and it was then discovered that a water leak had occurred and the server had been damaged by water.  With the knowledge and expertise of our engineer, within a short period of time we were able to transfer email access to Office 365 enabling the flow of email to continue uninterrupted.  After a quick site visit to identify the equipment affected, new hardware was ordered to arrive the next working day ready for installation.  As part of the support package we provide, Servers are backed up daily by MPR IT and with the data from the Friday night incident it meant that no data had been lost.  The team at Russell Laboratories lost no data and they were able to continue working, with access to their emails and the total downtime from the first notification of the incident was 48 hours over the weekend.

Water Damage

Water Damage

Damaged Server

Damaged Server

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June Newsletter

by Nicki Dowsett in General, Helpdesk, Industry News, IT Support, IT Systems, Monthly Newsletter, MPR, Office 365, Password Security

Welcome to our June newsletter.  Now that summer has arrived we are entering one of our busiest periods of the year.  For many of our customers this a quieter time for their own business; so this is when MPR IT are called upon for more complex projects.  If you are considering an office move, new servers or installation of wireless networks or anything else please contact us as soon as possible to ensure we can complete the work in the time frame you require.

Happy 8th Birthday

We are excited to be celebrating our 8th Birthday here at MPR IT.  When Alex, Andy and Richard started this venture back in 2008 they set out to change the way that IT Support was delivered to clients throughout Kent and the South East.  Now 8 years later they can proudly say that this has been achieved and continue to look out they can continue to break the boundaries in supporting our customers.  Congratulations guys and Happy Birthday MPR IT.

Happy 8th Birthday

Happy 8th Birthday

Customer Feedback

For those of you that have contacted our help desk for support will know that we regularly carry out feedback surveys on work carried out by the team.  We are extremely proud to say that this feedback is extremely positive and our overage result over the last 6 months 4.84 out of 5.  Thank you to everyone that has completed the feedback survey our team are very pleased with the results, we are now clearly going to have to look at how we can push them even further to excel and get a full 5 out of 5.

Well done

Well done

Customer Security

MPR IT take security extremely seriously and with increased attempts of companies being victim to attacks, we have looked at ways to ensure we hold our customer data securely. With this in mind we would like to ensure our records are up to date of authorised employees at your business to provide certain information to, or that can authorise quotes for any additional work to be carried out. This also includes authorisation for password resets.  Our Customer Services rep, Nicki will be contacting each company in the next few weeks to complete an Authorised signatory form to ensure we have the correct information on our records.  We know that personnel and positions can change within our clients business and telling us of changes can be a low priority.  We would appreciate if you are contacted by Nicki if you can return the information to us as soon as possible so that we can keep your data correct and secure.

New Website

Our new website has now been launched which we have been working hard on for a few months now.  On the new page you will find case studies of many of the projects we have completed over the last 8 years.  Some of which we have been able to complete where larger organisations have said it is impossible.  Please head over to the new site and see the full range of projects we are able to work on to make your business more efficient in terms of technology. www.mpr-it.co.uk

MacMillan Cancer walk

As many of you know Richard is an avid walker in his spare time and has recently been enjoying his summer break by walking The Pennine Way.  This is no mean feat and is just over 250 miles in total.  In June he will be taking a short stroll in comparison and will be taking part in The South Coast walk from Brighton to Eastbourne approximately 26 miles in aid of Macmillan Cancer.  If you would like to support him in this worthwhile cause please head over to his Just Giving page https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/26SouthDowns.  Many of you may have had sadly experience of a friend or loved one suffering from Cancer and this is a fantastic charity that help both those suffering and their families in hard times.

MacMillan South Coast Mighty Walk

Blogs & Social Media

News stories have been a bit slow of late, and so you may have noticed we have not posted as much on our social media and blogs.  We strongly believe that we only post worthwhile news stories and keep you up to date on information only that is of interest.  On our new website you can still find all our historic blogs including our latest one on Office 365 and how your business can benefit from cloud based storage. www.mpr-it.co.uk/blog. Please also make sure you follow us on Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter for the most update posts.

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Office 365 and flexible working

by Nicki Dowsett in MPR, Office 365

Office 365 – allowing flexible working approach in the modern day

Having spent most of my working life in an office environment with onsite servers and personal PC’s and shared drives, I now work from home on a laptop with little option for back up.  When I first took on this role at MPR IT I was little concerned as to how I would connect easily with the office and what would happen if my laptop died on me.  I had taken a break from my career for 2 years after having my son and so had lost touch with some of the new ways that software and technology had moved on in what I thought was a relatively short period of time.  When the team almost laughed at me hysterically I was a little surprised – “Office 365 Nicki, it’s so simple even you can use it.”  Charming I thought.  So 2 years later working with MPR IT, I have no worries at all about how safe my documents and emails are should my laptop decided it has had enough, and whether I am working at home or visiting the office I have access to all my documents and emails with ease.  I can easily share a file with a colleague, and they can edit the document as required without having to email it back and forth, same as when I was office based with shared drives on the servers.  I can also share documents with a customer should the need arise.  When sharing files the recipient will only have access to the information I allow and not all my files.

No matter where I am in the world (though the days of travelling are pretty limited now), as long as I have access to the internet I can access all my files and emails by simply logging on Office 365 website.  In the couple of years that I took out it seems the whole style of working for many organisations has changed and become a lot more flexible.  We no longer need to be in the office and at a PC, we can use our phones, tablets and laptops wherever we are even on a train with WiFi.  It means no more working late in the office because you have been out at meetings all day, with Office 365, you can log in and catch up at a location more convenient to your needs.

Office 365 is a cloud based service, so depending on your business needs there is no need for large servers taking up valuable office space.  The data is stored off site at a data centre or “in the cloud” and you are safe in the knowledge that everything is secure and easily accessible for you.

Office 365 and a flexible working approach

Office 365 and a flexible working approach

Please see our Office 365 web page for for full details, case studies and a guideline of some of the package prices we can offer, however MPR IT can offer a wide range of options.  Whether you are a sole trader or a large corporation we will discuss your needs and priorities, and ensure you have the package that suits your requirements. Migration from your current set up is simple and can be timed to ensure minimal disruption for your business, with no loss of historical data and the knowledge that our team are highly experienced in this field you too will soon be able to access your documents from your smartphone, tablet or laptop anywhere with an internet connection.

 

 

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Skype for Business

by Nicki Dowsett in Office 365

Skype for Business

lync-becomes-skype-for-business1

You may have seen our recent blog about Microsoft Lync changing to Skype for business.  This was effectively a re-branding of the current service offered for instant messaging and video calling for the office.  At the time it was said there would be further updates.

Skype has recently announced the next phase of the re-branding, and these programs look to be promising tools for businesses.  With three new programs currently being launched for Technical previews from the 1st of July.  These programs will be part of the suite of Office 365 apps and will require users to use Office 365.

The first and probably the most effective will be Skype Meeting Broadcast, this will work as a similar product to GoTo Meeting.  This program will allow users to hold meetings with up to 10,000 people in a browser.  This will be beneficial for companies that want to hold a company meeting or Town Hall Meeting, without the hassle of travel for all staff members and finding the space big enough to hold everyone.  Saving a business time and money.  It will also allow businesses to hold Webinars with clients on a large scale, so not just viable for internal contacts but also external.

The second is Public Switched Telephone Network or PSTN Conferencing.  This function allows for users of Skype for Business to hold a meeting within Office 365 via land line or mobile.  A great additional tool to the Skype Meeting Broadcast for anyone not able to connect via a browser.  This is currently only being previewed in the US but should be available in the UK in the near future.  Something for us to look forward to.

The third part of this phase is Cloud PBX with PSTN Calling.  This program will allow users to effectively use Skype for Business as a traditional phone system.  You will be able to receive and make calls via Skype in the traditional manner and to manage these calls with the option to place calls on hold or transfer to a colleague.  This is currently only on preview in the US and will use voice technology of Skype for Business and will run on the Azure OS.  They expect this to be available worldwide by the end of 2015.  It will require a configuration option to allow users to use existing phone lines to link in with the Azure OS and phone systems so will involve an amount of set up to be operational.  However this is an interesting step forward in terms of communication.

At this stage of preview/testing period the trials are only available to selected end users, however it is promising to see a new phase already in the pipeline such a short time after the re-branding of Lync to Skype.  Microsoft are clearly planning to move a step ahead in terms of programs and tools to assist businesses work more efficiently with less travel and time spent away from the desk, whilst still having a small personal touch of video conferencing.

Personally for us here at MPR we prefer to meet our clients on a face to face basis as we find this is the best way of keeping in touch with our clients, however there will always be occasions when a simple phone call is not enough and the advantage of the video conferencing will be beneficial with clients that can’t get away to meet us.  Additionally the instant messaging feature is great to ask a quick question which may not need a full email or phone call.  With Skype for business a video call can allow you to share your screen and present documents, this is a great tool for us when offering support to our clients.

For more information on how Skype for Business or Office 365 can benefit your organisation please contact us to discuss your options.

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