Myths About Moving to the Cloud…

What does it mean to “move to the cloud”? In this eBook, we break down myths about the cloud and detail what you really need to know when considering Microsoft Office 365.

Download the eBook and get answers to questions like:
• Can Office 365 only be used online?
• Is on-premises data safer than data in the cloud?
• Does all of your data need to be migrated to the cloud?
• Will you still have control over your technology?

Then once you’ve had a chance to review, give Office 365 a test-drive to determine the value of this platform in your situation.

Three Predictions for the Future of Online Video in 2016

The online video industry had a very impressive year. With YouTube’s 400 hours of content uploaded every minute and Snapchat and Facebook’s 4 billion video views per day (each!), digital video is only getting more popular. While individual milestones are important, so are the overarching trends in the online video industry as it moves forward.

Source: Three Predictions for the Future of Online Video in 2016

What is social selling?

Social selling is when you use social media to interact directly with your prospects. You provide value by answering their questions and offering thoughtful content until the prospect is ready to buy.

But what do you actually do?

Pay attention to the customer’s buying and service history. Listen to social networks to gather content created by customers and prospects. Provide relevant and helpful information.

Making sense of customer information

You know it’s critical to understand your customers better than the competition. You’ve heard that gathering customer insights can boost that understanding. And you may have noticed a lot of buzz about business intelligence.
But what’s behind those concepts?
And what do they mean for your business?
Here’s the deal … Business intelligence (BI) refers to the tools and techniques used to turn raw data into useful information for business analysis. Once affordable only for the biggest companies, BI is now easy-to-use and budget-friendly for small and midsized businesses.

Invest in cost-effective technology to grow your business

Do you spend money on technology, or do you invest in technology? If you spend money on technology, you buy software after you already need it. Purchasing is reactive. Excess money is spent on services you ‘think’ you’ll need, but do not actually use.

If you invest in technology, you do things a little differently. You think long-term and invest in solutions that grow with you. And you find innovative ways to wring more value out of every dollar.

Today, the investment approach is best represented by cloud computing. When your IT solutions are hosted in the cloud, you avoid high capital expenses associated with on-premises technology. That’s true even when you need to add more storage or host new applications. And business costs are more predictable with the flexible subscription models offered by many cloud solutions.  Read more.

Test Your Internet Security IQ…

Cybercrime is a mounting problem costing small businesses thousands of dollars annually. Is your business protected?
Take the Cyber Security IQ quiz to test your knowledge, and start safeguarding your business today.

Taking the risk out of working on the go…!

The future of work is mobile. But you may be worried that working from anywhere, on any device, could expose you to added security risks. Whether you’re a road warrior or remote worker here are some simple tips to stay protected.  Here are 5 tips you should consider when working remotely:

  1. Bring your own Wi-Fi
  2. Beware of ‘evil twins’
  3. Use a VPN if you are not already
  4. Make firewalls your friend
  5. Losing a device shouldn’t mean losing sleep

Get The B2B Sales opportunities You Need With An Organization Database

Getting business to business leads for your organization with lead generation may not always yield the leads you want. Corporations need leads when they want to make sales and stay more profitable. However, they don’t need simply B2B leads they need B2B leads that meet their specifications including target industry. Adding to that, the freshness of the leads must always be ensured. Lead generation might not always bring in those types of leads. That’s why some businesses choose to buy a business database.

A business data source is now a common choice by many companies. By buying a database, they come into possession of the leads they’ll need to make their marketing campaign profitable. Making a sale depends upon how good a new lead is, after all, the higher the quality of the lead the better the chances of closing a sale. Although a lead is clean doesn’t necessarily mean it can turn quickly into a sale, often there is the chance they may not need what you offer.

When considering the possibility of making a sale, you should consider who and what market you sell your services and/or products. You are unable to just randomly decide on people and wish they would be interested in whatever you decide and have to offer.

A business repository can be your aid in closing sales. You will have a lot of fresh sales opportunities at your disposal the moment you purchase your database. Aside from that, your current database can be configured to any criteria you could possibly provide, thus giving you a more effective way to manage your marketing. If targeted sales opportunities are what you need, the database can provide the business leads for a certain industry. Also, all leads are filled up with the relevant data necessary for making a sale; therefore the chances are certainly increased. All of the data is updated on a regular basis; hence all of the leads tend to be kept fresh. Because of so many good leads to use, you can expect an increase in sales.

If you are considering obtaining a business database, then find a good business database provider with an above average reputation. A little research can go a long way when it comes to an investment like this and doing so can save you from an unwanted purchase of an inadequate database. When looking for a provider, always pick one that can guarantee the database they provide is accurate and up to date. When you’ve found a provider, you can assure yourself that your purchase is worth the cost, knowing that the service they provide will be satisfactory to your needs.

Article Courtesy of ExpertsArticles.com.

The Small Business Idiot\’s Guide to Intranets & Extranets

Author:

Pankaj Taneja

Intranets, Extranets & Customer Portals Demystified

 

Intranet”, “Extranet” & “Customer Portal” are fashionable techie jargon nowadays, and likely to pop up in all sorts of contexts – conversations, articles or even conference talks. Yet the meaning of these words is somewhat elusive and overlapping and might sometimes leave one scratching one’s pate. It would therefore be in order to get the definitions out of the way at the very outset. 

 

INTRANET – The term’s similarity with ‘internet” is likely to cause a little confusion.  Unlike the internet, which is public network of computers across the globe, an intranet is a private network of computers which functions only within the boundaries of an organization. It also differs vastly from the internet in terms of its audience & strategic objectives. It is true however, that an intranet might sometimes use the internet as a vehicle to connect across facilities and locations. Even so, access is still restricted and not available to the general public.

Audience & Objectives of an Intranet

Audience – Employees

Objectives

–  Information Repository

–  Communication

–  Automation of Processes

–  Training

–  Team Collaboration

During early days, the main purpose of an intranet was merely to act as a substitute to the back and forth medium of mails, and act as a central repository where employees could access company information and resources.

Some Practical Uses

–  Company Policies

–  Development & Training

–  Employee Directories

–  Project Management

–  In-house Social Network

In the modern context however, intranets are a vital component of a company processes which enable real time communication across company levels, facilitate & make efficient information flows, and enable real time collaboration between groups spread across locations. This is an interesting case study of intranet use. 

The audience of an intranet is primarily the staff. It facilitates and improves the efficiency of staff work, or it may act as a forum for social communication, mutual learning, or managers at the top echelons use it to communicate company objectives and policies to the lower levels.

 

EXTRANET – Like an Intranet, an extranet is a private network. But rather than being directed internally for staff needs, it is an outward facing network used to securely collaborate, share information or integrate operations with suppliers, vendors, partners, customers or other businesses.

 

Since the abovementioned parties are spread over diverse locations, extranets use the internet as a vehicle to connect to these parties. A company might have multiple dedicated extranets for different key partners or clients. It can sometimes also be seen as an extension of an “intranet” where external parties are brought into the fold of the company’s private network.

  

Audience & Objectives of an Extranet

Audience – Suppliers, Vendors, Partners, Clients

 

Objectives

 

–  Share Information  

–  Communication

–  Integration of Processes

–  Training

–  Collaboration

The possibilities created by information technology have spurred new approaches like the “supply chain” approach which have redefined attitudes towards businesses and their interrelations. The movement is towards greater information exchange and integration with external parties. Enter extranets.

Some Practical Uses

 

– Client Support

–  Product Demos

–  On-Line Catalogues

–  Joint Project Management

Like intranets, extranets enable communication, information sharing & collaboration. But the information in this case is very different from intranets and specific to the needs of the vendors, partners, or clients it is created for. One example of an extranet would be one created for a key client of a software services provider. This would serve as a space for managing project timelines, communicating specifications, sharing project resources, providing deliverables etc.

 

Another valuable application of extranets is to provide support to key customers. Online knowledge bases, training materials, discussion forums and an interactive help desk are a few examples of ways to serve an important client using an extranet. 

 

A study conducted by Highbeam Research in 2001, with top Times companies showed that 38of respondents now give customers online access to information and reports. A further 23plan to implement extranets by the end of 2002. 

Uses

–   Share Information  

–   Joint Projects

–   Product Training

–   Customer Support

–   Cross Selling

–   Feedback Mechanism

CUSTOMER PORTAL – A “Customer portal” is an extranet built specifically for an important customer. Hence it is a subset of the term “extranet”. It is a unique environment created specifically for the needs of a particular client. The purposes may be as varied as collaboration needs of working jointly on a project for a client, to providing dedicated support and training materials to an important client, to merely a shared information area where product specification documents, contracts, reports etc are shared with a client leading to finalization of a contract.

 

Customer portals in addition to enhancing efficiency of customer service, also lead to more satisfied customers and offer a good opportunity for cross selling and getting feedback. A company can use its customer portal to regularly supply information on related and new products to customers, and present it in a manner appealing to that particular client.

 

Broad Benefits of Intranets/Extranets/Customer Portals

1. Increased Productivity: Intranets/extranets enable instant access to important internal and external information; hence the lag between those who have the information and those who need it is next to nil. With just a few clicks, users can access data held in any database the organization. This allows employees to perform their jobs faster, and more accurately.

2. Communication: Intranets/Extranets are powerful tools for communication within an organization, vertically and horizontally and across organizational boundaries. This could mean anything from company policies being communicated across the organization to working together with a client of a project.

3. Auditing: Intranets/Extranets allow a clear visibility into information flows and business processes. Details of projects & files are captured at each step and responsibilities, time & changes can easily be ascertained and retraced at any stage.

4. Operations & Management: Intranet/Extranet project management tools allow companies to move to a “project based” system, where cross functional and cross organizational teams can quickly be convened irrespective of location for different tasks. It also allows managers to spend less time “being there” to personally supervise & monitor progress of activities. They need to simply log in to create projects, assign responsibilities and track progress.

5. Enhanced Collaboration: Because distance is not a constraint, teams can quickly get together and work jointly in real time in a virtual environment without actually being there. 

6. Capture & Share Knowledge: Intranets & Extranets also act as forums where different people can get together, share their expertise and learn from each other in the process.

Are they a Big Business Thing?

According to a study by Modalis Research Technologies, 70 percent of small and medium-sized U.S. businesses feel that an intranet is important. 

 

The Hosted, SAAS Model – Going by the massive investment needed to develop a customized intranet/extranet system a few years back, it might not have made sense for a small to mid sized company to get the system then from a cost-benefit perspective.

 

But in recent times, the hosted, SAAS, approach to application delivery has made available these technologies even to the smallest business at a minimal price.

Changing Environment – Moreover, the changing business landscape, even small businesses have to manage distributed teams and increasing client expectations. May it be traveling sales persons, an outsourced development team based in Asia, work-from-home executives, or a key client with special support needs – it makes sense to have an intranet/extranet portal where they can log in, and share information and work together.

 

Possible Uses – It can be put to a multitude of uses, like displaying announcements, uploading policy documents, sharing employee directories or managing projects. Modalis Research found that one of the ways companies used their intranet was to put up their daily lunch menu!

 

Beats Email!Considering the fact that an intranet solution costs little more than setting up business email, it’s a logical next step compared to the cumbersome and confusing method of sharing information through mail.

(Former?) Disadvantages

1.       Expensive – Intranets/Extranets used to be very expensive to implement and maintain. This included software development costs, costs of hardware, training costs, costs of specialized technical staff etc. But the new hosted model allows companies to have a ready made solution for a reasonable number-of-users based monthly fee.

2.       Security – Security of intranets and especially extranets can be a big concern since sensitive business information is transferred over the public medium of internet. But there are many hosted intranet/extranet solution companies which have an impeccable record where it comes to safeguarding client information. The importance of security only underlines the need to be very careful when choosing a solution provider.

Introduction to Selection Criteria

KEY FACTORS

–    Features/Customizability

–    Company Background

–    Cost

–    User Friendliness

–    Security

Implementing any software in the organization involves a commitment, and especially intranet/extranet software because of its organization wide implications. It is therefore important to make an informed and well researched choice while choosing between different solutions. Companies looking to set up an intranet for the first time may not even have a clear idea of what tools might be necessary to facilitate operations.

The decision needs to be very broad based, depending upon specific factors – the feature set & costs of the solution being the most immediate; as well as general factors, such as a company’s security record, background etc. 

A comprehensive list of factors to be considered for buying intranet/extranet/ software is listed below and will be elaborated in other sections of the site.

–   What features are on offer as part of the solution? Does it allow customization according to my needs?

–   What are the costs? How do the costs behave as the organization scaled up?

–   What is the company background? 

–   Is the solution user friendly? How steep is the learning curve? Will it require technical staff?

–   Is my data safe?

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/intra-net-articles/the-small-business-idiots-guide-to-intranets-extranets-421522.html

About the Author

The author has 5 years experience working with web based technologies. His expertise lies especially in collaboration applications for the SMB segment.

Software As A Service: Revolutionizing The Way To Do A Business

By Vijay K Shetty

Well well, how do you feel to wake up early in the morning, search for some cash, go to the nearest outlet to grab a copy of your favourite monthly magazine or a comic book before its sold out like pan cakes? Just can’t imagine the trouble taken and the frustration on not getting it, right? Just imagine you had subscribed for an annual offer where every month a copy would be at your door step without you having to wake up early and also take all the trouble to get to the outlet. What would you prefer? Option #1 or option #2?

Well if it is option #2, then SaaS services are definitely meant for your kind. SaaS (Software as a Service) is a relatively a new concept which allows you to Consume/use software on a subscription basis. True, it’s time to bid good bye to the traditional model of purchasing expensive software licences and getting it renewed every year or two. SaaS is sometimes also referred to as “Software on Demand”. SaaS is basically a method of delivering software applications to the customers over the internet. It is based on the “Pay as you go” model of business and is considered to be the key segment among the 3 segments of Cloud Computing.

Let us look at some of the benefits which individual users and small businesses can obtain by switching to a SaaS Concept:

1. No Installation:

Gone are the days of installation where you sit in front of the computer loading installation discs one by one as required. Since SaaS is based on the concept of cloud computing, it does not require you to install any software on your computer. All you need is to have an uninterrupted power and internet connection.

2. Independent of Operating System:

Well, are you worried over the Operating System installed on your personal computer? Then it’s time for you to be happy as SaaS is not dependent on the System Software you use, but mainly needs a fast and reliable browser.

3. Automatic Upgrades:

Since the software is installed in a host server and made accessible through your browser window, the SaaS is always upgraded whenever you log in to your account.

4. Ease of Access:

One of the greatest advantages of SaaS has been accessing the data on the move, i.e. accessing data from anywhere at any time. This is because the data is stored in the servers called as SaaS providers which are accessible 24/7.

SaaS providers mainly generate revenue by pricing their services on a per-user basis or per-business basis. But there are some SaaS providers who give away applications free of cost to the user, some of the big names include, Gmail, Google Docs etc.

SaaS has definitely proved its worth since its emergence in the market 7 years ago. SaaS has also helped the business organisations as an approach towards effective cost cutting strategy. It helps a business to grow and provides even greater opportunities for lower costs and better high quality service. So what are you waiting for? Go and subscribe for application with a SaaS provider to grow your business.

Vijay K Shetty.
Get more information on Saas Services
QA Automation

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Vijay_K_Shetty

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