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Is it legal to monitor employee emails?

February 6th, 2017 • By: Patricia Egen business intelligence, Computer Security, Data Security, Management

Is it legal to monitor employee emails.

Last week I got an interesting email from a client regarding the legality of monitoring and reading employee emails. There were some internal issues that were causing concern and they wanted to know what tools to use and how to go about implementing the process. Before looking into tools, I wanted to ensure that it was legal at all. The answers I found turned out to be a bit more complicated than we all thought. Today’s post is going to share what we uncovered.

Basically, the ultimate answer was “yes, sort of.” Of course that was the answer. This involves privacy, and ethics, and law, and a plethora of other considerations. It boiled down to proof. If an employee is using a company email address and sending out mail via the company email server, there is a good chance it is already being screened and monitored. Most of the time it’s to ensure backup. In some cases it is to protect and safeguard intellectual property.

The ECPA – Electronic Communications Privacy Act was designed to protect citizens from monitoring like wire taps. For businesses though, the law includes exemptions regarding business use that allows companies to do monitoring. The courts know this and generally rule in favor of the company.

There does need to be a good reason to monitor emails. One article I read stated one company found employees collecting monies or fostering deals for themselves rather than passing them through the company. (this actually was what my client was trying to monitor). In some cases, this resulted in court cases claiming theft and fraud. In other situations, employees were making derogatory and slanderous comments about other employees, management and customers.

From what I read, there is a very fine line between what’s right and what’s a violation of privacy. When I talked it over with my client, I suggested we talk to their lawyer. The lawyer basically echoed what I had discovered. If the email belongs to the company, so does the content of the email.

One final suggestion I made to my client was to prepare an email to his employees letting them know that, for business purposes, emails would be monitored. That way it is out in the open. Clear. Concise. And if someone complains, well, to me that sort of raises a red flag. My client thought so as well.

Happy and safe emailing.

Act! v19 Key Features

January 30th, 2017 • By: Patricia Egen ACT CRM

Act! v19 has been released and we are currently rolling it out to customers. With each new release, Act! keeps fixing outstanding issues or requirements from customer feedback. In addition, it is improving and modernizing the application to fit the current environment.

One of the most exciting aspects of the recent releases is the WebAPI. It has put in place a rich infrastructure to allow Act! to interact and communicate with other applications, such as Quickbooks online, EventBrite, Paypal and even Facebook. All of these systems have their own WebAPI and that is the magic. That’s how they communicate with each other. This evolution in connectivity truly broadens the reach and capability of both Act! and your usage of the application. There are several blog articles on the internet (and some on this website as well) that talk about the various API connections. Take the time to check them out. Look in particular at Zapier.

Another huge feature about v19 is the support for Office 64Bit. This is not to be confused with Windows 64bit which Act! has been compatible with for several versions. This is for the Office product suite, including Outlook and Word. More and more organizations need to have access to the higher power of 64bit and Act! needed to “play well in that sandbox.” Now it does. This was no small undertaking for the Act! development team. We are glad that it is now in place. 

We here at Patricia Egen Consulting are big users of eMarketing (as you should be as well). In v19 campaigns are now 5 times faster (a big jump), you can cancel a send, and the results are updated in place in history. That to me is the biggest feature that sets Act! eMarketing apart from other eMarketing applications. The information about who read your email, how many times they opened it and which links they clicked on is right with the contact record – where it should be.

Finally, a really cool feature added is Act! Companion Mobile App. This little app lives on your smartphone and talks to your Act! database – EVEN IF YOU DON’T HAVE A WEB SERVER. That last piece of the sentence is the important one. Many customers run Act! Premium but do not have a web implmentation. If your PC is on the internet and stays connected, you can get Act! data on your smartphone device without a web server. That is huge for many of my smaller customers. I’m looking forward to installing that for several of them in the near future.

We are very pleased with how Swiftpage is endeavoring to make Act! a key player in the CRM space. They are turning it into the right tool at the right price – for where you need it, when you need it and how you need it.

PEC acquires Kristi Smith Consulting

January 25th, 2017 • By: Patricia Egen ACT CRM, Business growth, Consulting

Chattanooga, TN – January 25, 2017 – Patricia Egen Consulting, a provider of business consulting services, located in Chattanooga TN, is pleased to announce the acquisition of Kristi Smith Consulting, located in Lincolnshire, IL. This acquisition strengthens our reach into the Midwest as well as bringing to our group a custom vertical CRM database designed for Physician Recruiters and Liaisons.

Kristi, a highly respected and talented consultant, will continue on in a sales and strategic design capacity in our organization. Our existing team of 6 Certified Consultants will become primary contact for the new incoming clients as well as provide a broader support infrastructure.

For more information on how Patricia Egen Consulting can help improve business processes through technology, visit our website at www.egenconsulting.com.

Act! v19 is here

January 18th, 2017 • By: Patricia Egen ACT CRM, Sales Automation, Sales management

The all-new Act! v19 is now available and shipping. Here’s what’s included:

64-bit Office compatibility

Work with the Microsoft® products you rely on every day, because Act! is now compatible with 64-bit editions of Microsoft Office 2016, 2013, and
2010.

Modern, new Connections (included in Act! Premium v19 subscriptions)

Stay connected to key Act! Premium v19 details when on the move with Act! Companion—a native mobile app designed for your iPhone® or Android™1.

Act! emarketing performance improvements

Save valuable time with performance improvements to Act! emarketing—campaigns send up to 5 times faster! Act! emarketing campaign management is also more efficient with improvements to email campaign history on the Contact Record, and more.

Customer-driven enhancements

Benefit from customer-driven feature enhancements that make Act! even easier to use, including 30+ refreshed standard reports, hundreds of quality updates, and more.

Call today to find out how you can get this new version – (423)875-2652.

Click here to view a What’s new document for v19.

 

Is the Cloud one of your New Year’s projects?

January 18th, 2017 • By: Patricia Egen ACT CRM, Business growth, Cloud Computing

It’s a brand new year.  People are looking at ways to start the new year off right. They are organizing their data, cleaning up files, and looking at current office setups.  One of the things we are finding customers looking at is Cloud based hosting of their critical files. Which for me can either be a very good idea or opening Pandora’s box.

First off, let’s make something very clear.  Cloud basically means a computer somewhere else.  There is no magic involved.  What is attractive about Cloud based technology is it’s typically running in a secure, 24×7 facility and is backed up regularly.  What is not so attractive is they have to be accessed via the internet, which goes down once in a while. Actually, more than once in a while.  Even if you do have internet connectivity, occasionally Cloud servers themselves are down. We’ve all seen servers in our own environment (called on-premise) not be working but usually there is someone “responsible” for getting them working again and you have direct access to that person.  That’s not so with Cloud based servers.  You have to go through support and service and hope/pray/beg/grovel to get someone to talk to you understanding that you are not their only customer. Get the picture? Good.

Now that we’ve got that clear (or not so “cloudy” – sorry just had to say that) we can now talk about what works well in a Cloud environment and what you may want to keep close at hand.  When considering a Cloud implementation, ask yourself, as a business owner, “sellf – what would happen to my business if the cloud was not available.” Now ask the same question but further define it as to “how long” – for some a few minutes is not a biggy. But say you have your accounting systems on the cloud.  And it’s down for 2 days. Yep, this has happened to a couple of my clients.  Now, that’s critical.  You can’t send out invoices, place orders, etc. Critical.  It really all depends on how important it is for you to access this data 24×7, no matter what.

Which brings me to CRM. Customer Relationship Management tools actually are good candidates for a Cloud environment.  While I have clients where they are more attached to Act! than they are to their accounting system, this is not always the case.  However, if you really look at the data, if this is history data, etc it can be “offline” for a day or so – unless of course you are using the calendar at which point, no, it can’t be offline.  You can’t afford to miss appointments. Customers simply don’t like it.

As you can see, you have to ask the right questions about your systems and data before making a plunge and putting everything in the cloud.

But say, now, you have decided you really would like to have some redundancy in your data.  For the rest of this post, I am going to talk about options for Act!

One of the things I love about Act! is that you have options. You can run it on your own server (on premise). You can run it on a cloud server and access it via a browser – not needing to install it on every computer (browser based only in this scenario).  You can have a master copy of your database live on a Cloud server, have a remote that lives on your on premise server, and your staff accesses it locally, knowing that it is being backed up every night and in a secure facility if something happens to your local server.  You can have people in the field, using laptops, running remotes that send their changes to the Cloud server.  Or, they can be at a customer site and access it via a browser.  You can have mobile devices like iPads and smart phones accessing the data real time on the Cloud server or on your own server (it needs to be accessible via the internet).  That’s what I mean about options.  Act! can be where you want it, when you need it, how you want to see it.  The graphic below shows that – lots and lots of options.

As you plan out your year, and look for ways to streamline and make you business more efficient, ensuring that your data is safe and secure is key. Knowing that you have options makes it easier to help make your decision.

If you would like to hear more about Act!, Cloud environments, or your choices, give us a call at (423)875-2652.  We can help.