What to Look For in a New Office Printer

Your business is as unique as the market and clients you serve. When it comes to office equipment, you need a printer individualized for your exact needs. There are many printers on the market, so determining which one is the right fit for your office can be difficult. We’re here to help you clear through the clutter.

It’s important to understand the role your printer needs to play and the frequency at which your business will use it. Businesses that print thousands of documents per month may value a machine with high printing speed and durability. A printer with high image quality and four ink wells may be more important for companies printing more colorful documents and images. 

Consider these factors before purchasing your next office printer.

Functionality

Most businesses opt for multifunction printers, or systems that can print, copy, scan and fax. Why? Small and medium-sized businesses need a printing solution that reflects themselves: efficient, versatile and reliable.

Budget

Size, imaging, speed and additional features affecting the price of a printer. When determining your budget for a new printer, it’s important to understand that the upfront costs could be compounded by the price of replacing ink. It’s common for inexpensive printers to have costly ink replacement fees. The reason: manufacturers make their money that way.

Leasing printers has become a popular option for businesses. Monthly leasing costs are easier to factor into a budget than the one-time cost of purchasing a multifunction printer. Leasing also allows companies to update their equipment as printer technology advances.

Quality

Your office printer will likely use an inkjet or laser printer. Inkjet printers use ink and are best for low-volume printing, while laser printers use toner and are suited for high-volume printing. Whichever you use, you want professional print quality. Both are measured in dots per inch — or DPI. Laser printers usually have between 600 to 1,200 DPI, while inkjet printer resolutions usually begin at 1,200 DPI.

It’s also worth checking if you can use third-party ink cartridges for your printer and if refilling cartridges is an option. Be aware that using unapproved ink cartridges might void your warranty.

Speed

If your office frequently prints reports or documents with multiple pages, you’ll want to pay attention to the printing speed on your new machine, measured in pages per minute — or PPM. Though printers will have slight variance in PPM for images and text, the measurement will allow you to determine what best fits your business’ needs.

Wireless Access

Most offices have on-the-go employees who want to print from laptops or cellphones. Printers with wireless or Bluetooth access provide more functionality. The feature also allows the machine to access a document management system. Users can use the printer to access electronically stored files without having to send the files through a computer.

 To learn more about print and technology solutions that best fit your organization’s needs, contact us here.

Infomax Honored as Iowa Top Workplaces for Eighth Consecutive Year

For the eighth consecutive year, Infomax is honored to announce that we have been named one of the best workplaces in the state by the Des Moines Register’s Iowa Top Workplaces.

When my grandfather, Frank Jacobs, founded our company in 1958, he knew that our business could be successful only if we support the people who comprise our company. Without a doubt, we must care for our clients and continue to innovate when it comes to providing the best technology solutions possible, but we know that our employees and communities are just as important.

My father and grandfather taught me about the responsibility our business has to our employees and communities. We’re a family-owned business, and that family extends to our employees, many of whom have worked at Infomax for decades — and some whose families have been with us for generations.

We’re honored that Infomax continues to be recognized with Top Workplaces awards, surpassing thousands of other Iowa companies who enter nominations. Workplace culture is incredibly important to us. We’ve worked diligently to define our company’s core values throughout the years, making sure employees have a voice in the process. We even created a culture committee to identify Infomax’s values, what those values mean to employees and clients and how the company can better share our principles.

We believe we have developed an environment in which our employees feel they can grow in their careers, celebrate success, voice concerns, create lasting friendships and have a little fun through our regular cookouts and employee outings.

Because we have such a strong community within Infomax, we feel we have a duty to help build strong communities where are Infomax facilities are located. In Des Moines and Ottumwa, we participate in local efforts through donations and volunteering. My passion is continuing to develop Infomax’s legacy.

Thank you for supporting our business and employees. Your success is our success.

— Greg Jacobs, president of Infomax Office Systems

What is A Cloud Server?

In the past decade, cloud computing transformed from an information technology buzzword to a part of our everyday language. However, most associate the cloud as the omniscient and vast virtual space that holds old pictures and long-deleted phone applications. Using cloud servers in the professional world offers businesses security and stability, especially for small and medium-sized businesses who don’t have the space or knowledge to implement a cloud server for their company.

Cloud servers are servers that run in a cloud, defined as multiple secure data centers that run via internet access. They can’t be reached physically. Cloud servers operate independently as software units. This system differs from the traditional server, which is a computer with the hardware to manage connections to other devices and store data.

Managed IT providers — or third-party IT organizations such as Infomax— can help secure a cloud server for your business. Let’s look at some of the benefits of using a cloud server.

Security: Consider all the sensitive data your business must have on file: company financial information, client records, data from past or current projects, confidential employee files and much more. It’s important to keep this data safe and secure from cyberattacks, natural disasters and accidental program or user corruption. 

Cloud servers provide more security than traditional servers because your data is represented in multiple secure data centers that are heavily protected to prevent breaches. If a natural disaster or cyberattack hits one data center, your data can still be recovered. Additionally, all data is encrypted.

Scalability: Because cloud servers are virtual, device connections can be added or removed from the server to fit the needs of your business. Most IT service providers charge your business for the amount of server traffic you use instead of paying in advance for the amount you think you might use, allowing you to scale costs based on your needs.

Efficiency: This model is more cost effective than traditional servers with hardware because you’re likely not paying for the cost of physical equipment and the energy needed to power it. Additionally, connection to cloud servers is typically faster because you use the virtual services of many servers.

Compatibility: Cloud servers can be used with nearly every operating system, allowing your business flexibility and peace of mind.

Think your business could benefit from a cloud server? Contact Infomax today at 1-800-727-4629.

IT Solutions for Remote Workers

More workers than ever — about 50 percent of Americans— are working remotely. Employers and employees see the benefits of the arrangement. Among other perks, the arrangement allows employees more schedule flexibility, less time commuting and the ability to connect with a team even while travelling for work. Employers have access to a larger pool of candidates and fewer hard costs in providing a work space.

However, remote working arrangements can create a whole host of cybersecurity vulnerabilities and technological snafus. Working with a third-party business that provides fully managed information technology services can keep your business secure no matter where your team is working.

Here are some IT issues employers and remote workers may encounter.

Problem: Unsecured hardware

As hackers become more advanced and cyberattacks more frequent, securing only the computers in your office building does not suffice. Ensuring your business’ networks are secure should be one of your highest priorities. Even if your company has just one fulltime remote worker, employees likely have business data through their email apps on cell phones, on laptop or desktop computers, tablets, smart watches and other devices.

Solution: Virtual private networks — VPNs — provide security by requiring employees to sign in when accessing the network remotely.

Problem: Data destruction, ransomware

A remote working arrangement means an employee’s office can be among coworkers in the employer’s workspace one day and a home office the next day. Productivity can continue at the airport, across the country, at a conference or in the neighborhood coffee shop. But spotty Wi-Fi connections can mess with a work schedule, prevent files from being saved on a server and wreak havoc on your company’s data security efforts. Hackers can steal data and use ransomware to block access to data until a debt is paid.

Solution: Managed IT services allow employees to connect to the business’ server through the cloud, data centers in multiple locations throughout the country. Through the cloud, connections to the servers remain constant and data is backed up consistently. If a natural disaster or hacker strikes, businesses have the upper hand by having recent data stored in the cloud. Managed IT service providers can implement the data recovery process.

Problem: Lack of training

The majority of cyberattacks occur through human error. Employees could fall prey to a phishing attack by clicking a suspicious link in an email or website, downloading files containing malware or not securing hardware. Remote workers may not get proper training on how to recognize phishing attacks or follow the most recent cybersecurity protocols.

Solution: Managed IT service providers, such as Infomax, deliver periodic training and send out information on the latest scams, alerting employees before attacks can occur.

Contact Infomax at 1-800-727-4629 to learn more about how to keep your business’ data safe in any environment.

Business Yearbook: IT Support Superlatives

How is your business addressing information technology services and security? Will your colleagues and employees remember your company as a cybersecurity success or a burnout that thought they had their information technology services figured out only to have the business endure a quarter-life crisis.   

Call Infomax for an evaluation, and let’s work to get iGuard Evolved IT in your business, bringing you a competitive advantage rather than just an irritating expense! First, let’s take a look at how the service models stack up to a complete managed services model, or working with a third party that offers comprehensive IT services.

The Tech Savvy Guy/Gal — Most Likely to be Overwhelmed

This IT support environment is most often seen in small businesses. Management has likely been focused on growth and finding employees with diverse skills. The IT support is likely one outsourced IT professional or an internal employee with a fulltime set of tasks and limited IT know-how who is able to spare a few occasional moments to help reset a password or assemble equipment.

Because errant IT questions, necessary software renewals and security issues occur regularly in most businesses, this staffer has an overwhelming amount of work to do in addition to their primary responsibilities. Not only is your employee overwhelmed, but the person’s productivity also plummets, and your IT support environment is left vulnerable. Your business’ network has no proactive monitoring or updating of firewalls. Data is not secured or stored for backup. No disaster recovery policy exists in the event of a fire, damage from a natural disaster or ransomware attack.

What happens to your business if that employee becomes so overwhelmed they need a long vacation — or worse — they leave the company?

No Managed Services — Most Likely to Have Uncoordinated Services

This service model really has no model at all. Some businesses have different vendors for many of their IT services: one vendor to work on their firewall, another to secure the network, one for wireless internet and phone systems, and yet another for their data backup and disaster recovery plans. While your business is outsourcing services to seemingly save time and money, the lack of management services could be more of a drain on resources. An internal worker has to coordinate services and payment between various vendors. Your IT support is also at the mercy of multiple companies’ operating procedures, leaving your business without a strategic, proactive plan.

Hybrid Break and Fix Services — Most Likely to Be Reactive

A hybrid managed IT services model may seem like a good option for smaller businesses that are still leery of a fully managed services model. However, this support environment is no better than having just the one tech savvy guy or gal taking care of IT. Companies with this model pay a base monthly fee for server updates and small security patches to a third party. However, all other necessary services are billable.

Typically, firewall updates and monitoring are done on request and not covered in your base costs. Similarly, help desk calls longer than 15 minutes also accrue additional costs. While a business may be paying a base monthly fee, services are often not covered and IT professionals are working only to fix problems when they should stop problems before they occur.

Managed IT Services — Likely to Be Proactive

Managed IT services offer more comprehensive and proactive support than other models in which your services kick in only after a problem occurs. Typically, the company providing your support offers a help desk for employees to call. Having one vendor allows your business to consolidate billing, and it allows the managed IT provider to take a look at all of the IT services that will best meet your needs.

But the biggest wild card could be narrowing down which IT services are covered in your monthly payment. Hardware, onsite work, security updates and security awareness training for employees may not be covered in base payments. Small businesses must be assured that your IT provider won’t give precedence to a larger company’s IT support. Your business must also consider future growth. Will the quality and quantity of technical talent keep pace with your business’ expansion?

Complete Managed Services with Co-Located Data Centers — Best Proactive, Comprehensive Services

This model is the cream of the crop, the class valedictorian. It allows you to get out of the IT business and back into your business! The cost is similar to that of managed services, but complete managed services offer a serious upgrade in security and unlimited data storage. The price is about cost of an IT professional, but the services are delivered by 30 or more IT experts instead of one or two IT workers who lack specific expertise.

The cost-per-service guesswork also disappears. All hardware costs — managed firewall, network servers, data backup and storage, monitors and more — are covered under one monthly payment. There’s no guesswork. Most importantly, services are proactive and managed by one vendor who is an expert on your business’ needs. That vendor provides a help desk for your employees’ small or significant IT issues.

In a technological world with rising cybercrime, this model provides the level of security all businesses require. Disaster and ransomware recovery are included in your monthly payments. Recovery is a breeze because your company’s sensitive data is continuously backed up in multiple data centers in various locations. Employees are able to work remotely through multiple devices — all through the secured cloud.

Contact Infomax today at 515-244-5203 to learn how we can set your business up with our iGuard Evolved IT, proactively securing and managing your company’s IT needs.

What You Need to Know About Large Format Printing

You may have spent hours online creating custom wallpaper for an accent wall, but have you considered how that wallpaper was created? How about the large banner you had printed for an event? These projects wouldn’t be possible without large format printing techniques.

Large format printing is defined as printing on materials anywhere from about two to 15 feet in size. We sat down with Infomax’s John McGill, solutions engineer, to hear about some of the trends in the large format printing industry.

Customization

Banners and signs have traditionally been popular large format printing projects. They’ve long been used for everything from business advertising to personal display pieces. However, consumers are wanting more customization than ever. Customers can design their own wallpaper through online programs, which are then printed on a large format system. Artwork is also popular with sticky-sided vinyl portraits and pictures printed on canvas on the rise. The desire for more custom jobs means printers must be more versatile, transitioning from one job to the next.

Material

Growing in popularity is printed window perforated film. The medium is being used more and more as a creative means for advertising or informative signs. Floor graphics — printed on material with one adhesive side — are increasingly being used in the same way.  Currently, printing on fabrics is a bit of a fad. However, John warned that the material can often be finnicky.

Ink

Ultraviolet ink will soon reign supreme in the large format printing industry. Previously, eco-solvent inks were used, which could be messy and required a certain amount of time for the ink to cure — or outgas — before the printed material could safely be handled without smudging. Most recently, latex inks were used. However, the advent of UV ink is saving printers time and money. When a printer uses this type of ink, a UV light passes over the just-printed section, instantly drying the surface. Additionally, about 35 to 50 percent less UV ink is needed to cover a printing job than is required for eco-solvent or latex ink.

Efficient equipment

Many companies that provide large format printing are working with Infomax to secure technologically advanced systems for the best value, such as the Canon-brand Colorado printer. Clients know this machine is built with quality and value in mind. It also saves printers time with its automated creep and crawl correction. Unlike other printers that could set the project lopsided, newer large format printers, such as the Colorado, will automatically correct the material if it starts to go out of alignment.

How Managed IT Could Affect Iowa’s IT Skills Gap

Iowa’s unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the country, hovering at about 2.4 percent since July 2018. For employees, the low unemployment rate is a reprieve from the 7.3 percent high nearly a decade ago, according to the Iowa Workforce Development. The low rate also means employees have more job choices. Employers are not only must secure skilled employees to fill open positions, they’re tasked with retaining their employees and finding employees with the proper skillset to fill open positions.

Iowa’s information technology employers not only need highly trained employees, but they also need specialists in the various fields within the IT industry. Iowa has one of the lowest rates in the nation of people graduating from post-secondary computer and information technology-related programs, according to an Iowa State University Iowa Community Indicators Program report.

So what are employers to do if they can’t find employees with the proper IT background? If they do find skilled employees, how do employers keep them happy? Managed IT services could be the answer. Managed IT services allow companies to use third-party experts to handle or supplement their IT needs.

Small businesses who don’t have a full-time IT professional may rely on a tech savvy team member for their technology dilemmas. That solution — or lack thereof — takes an employee away from their daily work while also leaving the company’s preventive and responsive IT services severely lacking.

“With managed IT services, Infomax can address many different business sizes,” said Doug Postel, Infomax’s IT director. “On the smaller end, we can bring in expertise for a single monthly fee that would be less than employing a full-time IT professional.”

Medium-sized businesses may likely have one or two IT professionals for more employees than they can manage. Additionally, IT professionals may not have experience with certain types of software, hardware or other industry intricacies. Employers could spend years training IT professionals, only to have the employee overwhelmed with knowing a little bit about a lot of facets of IT.

 “You could exhaust that employee,” Doug said. “When you hire a person, they have a certain set of skills. With managed IT, we bring a whole team of experts who have individual knowledge on security, firewalls, antivirus programs, software and hardware.”

With Infomax’s iGuard Managed IT, companies gain access to Infomax’s IT help desk. The help desk frees up the business’ existing IT staff to focus on specific projects instead of pesky password updates and software license renewals. Infomax’s IT team also maintains a company’s software licensing, security and data backup and recovery so IT needs are preventive, not reactive.

Overall, managed IT services can provide a business with a full team of IT experts for one consolidated monthly fee. Managed IT could also give time back to existing IT employees, allowing them to develop in their career while taking away stress.

“IT can be overwhelming for one person,” Doug said. “We can provide that net around an employee, and it allows business owners to know they don’t have their all their eggs in one basket.”

To learn more about our iGuard Managed IT Services, contact us today.

Inside look: Q & A with an Infomax printer technician

At Infomax, we solve our clients’ printing problems as soon as possible. While we have 24/7 remote support, some system snafus are best solved in person. Our technicians travel across the state to get your printer, copier and scanner systems fixed so your employees can get back to work.

Want to know more about how we do it? We sat down with technician Mike Cobb to learn more.

Mike Cobb has been a printer technician with Infomax since 1994.

Q: How long have you been working at Infomax? 

A: I’ve been working with Infomax since January 1994. I’ve seen a lot change with technology since then. In the late 1980s and ‘90s, most office printers were laser models. Now, inkjet has replaced most of the laser printers because they’re less expensive and are better at printing color documents. 

Q: Where did you learn about printer and copier systems?

A: My first job out of college was working on copiers in 1991. I worked at three other dealers in the Cedar Rapids area before I decided to move to Des Moines. 

Q: What are some of your favorite aspects about your job as a technician?

A:  I love traveling and seeing different parts of the state. We travel all through central Iowa and the rest of the state to service systems for our clients. I also love the feeling of fixing a problem and making the customers happy.  

Q: Have you had a challenging moment? 

A: Working on copiers and printers can be very challenging at times when you are stuck on a call and you can’t fix it. And while it can be frustrating, I also love a challenge and the feeling I get when I find a way to fix the problem. 

Q: What is something about your career that might surprise us? 

A: Good customer relation skills are a key to being a good technician. Facing printer and copier system problems aren’t on any business’ to-do list, so when they encounter an issue, it can hold up workflow in an office and cause stress. When I come to their office, I do my best to put them at ease and get them back to work as soon as possible. 

Q: What should business owners and employees know about printer repairs? 

A: Sometimes it takes a bit to find the problem, but a good technician will take it one piece at a time instead of replacing multiple items hoping that something fixes it. We want to fix systems with precision, not guess at what a problem may be. Anyone can turn a screwdriver, but not everyone can fix a customer. We do a great job of fixing all of the customer’s needs. 

Everything You Need to Know About Hosted Communications

When you think of a cloud, are you the type that envisions fluffy white water vapor trapped in the atmosphere? Or do you think of bits of data consisting mostly of old selfies and pictures of your pets whizzing around in a figurative holding space? For many businesses, the cloud means their lifeline to reach customers and operate on a daily basis.

Efficient and effective communication is essential to a company, internally and externally. Hosted communications systems — or internet-based communication applications — ensure that the process remains smooth.

Here are some of the benefits a hosted communications system can bring to your office.

Simplicity
In a hosted communications system, the hardware and carrier services typically connected to a phone system are moved to the cloud, or data systems represented in various areas across the country. The clutter of traditional communication systems disappears. But hosted systems aren’t just for phone services. They encompass video, email, document and chat programs as well. With all those programs in one communications system, businesses have only one vendor that handles regular service and maintenance.

Security
Because the cloud is represented in multiple data centers, sensitive information is continuously stored. Disaster recovery is a cinch, and gone are the days of interrupted work because a phone line went down. Additionally, the data in a hosted communications system is encrypted, protecting against cybercrime.

“The security that we have with hosted communication is second to none,” said Doug Postel, Infomax’s IT director.

Accessibility
Ease of accessibility may be the best feature of a hosted communications system. The system can allow a group of employees to collaborate and edit a document in real time and facilitate a video or phone chat for employees working in different areas. Hosted communications systems are also key for offices that have employees working remotely. Cell phones can be added to communications systems so workers can answer calls outside of the office. If the call is sent to a voicemail, the message is transferred from the individual’s cell phone to the voicemail connected to the hosted communications system. Calls from cell phones through the hosted system also show up on caller ID as the business’ phone number.

“The mobility of the system is a significant benefit,” Doug said. “Very few business owners will tell you, ‘I don’t want to take a call if I’m not in my office.’”

A hosted communications system allows for better office collaboration and businesses are more accessible to customers.

“Chat functions are huge,” Doug said. “It’s vitally important for people to look at their business and say you don’t have to communicate with me the way I want to. As a business, I’ll work with you the way you want to.”

Cost effectiveness
Because hosted phone communications consolidate services, maintenance and hardware, companies have only one monthly fee to one vendor. Additionally, companies get the exact number of channels they need. With traditional phone systems, companies paid for a set number of channels. If they needed to add additional channels, they had to purchase another large set instead of just one or two more channels.

“I don’t have a nickel and dime fee for upkeep or maintenance calls,” Doug said. “With the services that are in the cloud, I pay just for what I need.”

To learn more about how Infomax’s hosted communications systems, call us at 1-800-727-4629.

Document Management Systems: The Filing Cabinet of the Future

Do you remember when businesses first began to use email? It revolutionized how we communicated and conducted business. Workers and customers no longer had to wait days for a response to questions or comments. Employees could share information in seconds, even copy others into an email thread. Spam and junk filters added extra security, ensuring that suspicious emails or unnecessary notices were cleaned out of the inbox.

Businesses have been using email for decades to send and receive notes and documents, but they’re likely using outdated technology to store them. If you’re storing your documents on a single computer drive — or worse, a filing cabinet — you may want to consider a document management system for your company.

Here are some benefits to using a document management system to store, track and manage your regular documents.

Storage

Digitally-archived documents are more visible and easily accessible than files lounging in manila envelopes in filing cabinets, said John McGill, solutions engineer at Infomax. Searching for a document by keywords or dates is much easier electronically in a document management system than leafing through papers. Additionally, if one paper document is damaged or destroyed, your business could lose priceless information for good. Digitally archiving documents through remote storage and automatic backup ensures that disaster won’t destroy them.

Security

Consider how easy it would be to lose a document in the dregs of a filing cabinet or how difficult it would be to keep track of a document multiple people take out of a file. Even if employees store their documents on their individual computers, those files could be destroyed or compromised if a computer is damaged or hacked or if a computer file is deleted.

“If two people work in the same office, only one of us can see the document at the same time in a paper world,” John said. “There also could be documents in an office that not everybody should see. There’s nothing stopping from me from going to that filing cabinet and looking at it.”

With a document management system, you can set permissions so only some employees are able to view documents. The system can also track who checks out or edits a piece.

Forms solutions

Businesses that work directly with customers may benefit from digital forms solutions that allow clients or customers to fill submit forms. The system will then convert forms and input data directly into the company’s management program. The document management system cuts down on clutter and archives forms for future reference.

Digital workflow

Not only do document management systems provide necessary storage and security, they also allow employees an easy system to keep track of tasks. Documents can be edited by different employees and departments. They system will notify another user when the file is ready for their input.

To learn more about our document management system and how it can work for your office, contact us today at 1-800-727-4629.