Considerations Before Bringing Your Small Business on the Tech Bandwagon

With the emergence of cloud computing coupled with software as a service (SaaS), Web 2.0, and the proliferation of advanced wireless technologies and mobile devices, small businesses today are able to access a wealth of powerful and affordable technology solutions like never before. Moreover, those small businesses that are willing and ready to bring this technology into their operations are beginning to realize that they can even outrun and outsmart their big business competitors.

But with all this hoopla, it may become difficult for small business owners to sort out which equipment and applications are necessary, and which are not (or at least not for right now). Knowing how, if, and when, to bring in new technology is essential to the health of your business and can noticeably impact your bottom line. Here are a few things to consider before acquiring any new equipment or software for your company.

Why are you looking for this technology? First you need to define what you want to change or improve in your business. Depending on your needs, you may decide to hold off acquiring new technology if a viable, cheaper

Executive Information Systems Give Business A Competitive Edge

At the start of the computer revolution, pundits began predicting a “paperless” office. In point of fact, however, computers have become the most prolific printing machines in history. The paperless office remains a dream.

Yet computers have evolved to the point where they provide the potential to reduce the volume of paper through which you must plow in order to understand your business. “Executive Information System” (or EIS) is the most common term used for the unified collections of computer hardware and software that track the essential data of a business’ daily performance and present it to managers as an aid to their planning and decision-making.

Automated EIS of one kind or another have been around for a dozen years, but didn’t catch on as well as simpler and more familiar business aids like automated spreadsheets or accounting systems. One reason is that computers are only now becoming fast and inexpensive enough to let an EIS do all the computations required to appeal to the typical manager. A typical desktop computer of today has all the number-crunching power of a typical mainframe costing $1

New Technologies, New Opportunities

Information technology is an integral tool for businesses of all sizes, including small and mid-size business (SMB) and branch office market. In these sectors, understanding how IT can grow your business, reduce operating expenses, improve customer service and enhance employee productivity is imperative to achieving top and bottom-line success and maintaining a competitive advantage over larger competitors.

There are five key technologies that owners of startup and small business should keep their eyes on:

The New Telephony Model: Voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) can help increase the productivity of your small business. The benefits of VoIP are simple: only one network must be built, operated and secured. Moving a telephone is as easy as moving a PC, and the added cost of moving a traditional phone line is avoid. A converged network enables connection to a broadband network through a business digital subscriber line (DSL) line or cable modem rather than the more expensive public voice network. With IP, it’s possible to cut your phone bill in half.

Telephony-Grade IP Networks: Most networks used by small businesses don’t distinguish between data

Let’s Be Good Employees

Employees are essential elements of a company. The quality of employees that will impact on increase company productivity. Therefore the quality of the employees is very important. Especially today’s rapid technological development. Employees are required to use the technology properly in order to increase the productivity in your company. If were less competent in use technology, you can do technology training employees fatherly to increase the quality of your employees. What are the benefits of employee training? will give you answer from that question. It’s the professional one all about IT training, so just learn more to the link above. However, here Some of the benefits of job training technology are:

  1. Increase Productivity

Development and training of employees will lead to increased productivity. Your employees will not only be able to do more and more understanding, but they will gain confidence in their job because their skills have been developed.

  1. Out with the old practice

Train your employees will give them the opportunity to understand the latest developments and trends in your industry. Whether it’s a new engine or a new social media tool, the world continues to grow. If

Microsoft ‘Albany’ Fits Between Online Docs and Full Office Suite

Hands-up: how many small business owners have picked up a discounted copy of Microsoft Office for Teachers and Students to use in the office?

You’re not alone. The suite gives you most of what you need and you don’t *really* need to fit the profile to buy it — you can’t pick it up in a store like Costco without much fuss.

If you like your software packaged, Microsoft may soon have another alternative for you — and one that doesn’t force you to pretend you’re still a student.

InfoWorld tells the story:

Facing pressure from hosted productivity suites like Google Docs and Google Apps, Microsoft is planning a new package of low-end productivity software and hosted services through a secretive project code-named Albany.

Project Albany puts together a combination of Office, Office Live Workspaces, Windows Live OneCare and the Windows Live suite of services in one package that eventually is expected to be available in retail outlets such as Best Buy.

How to Successfully Execute IT Projects

According to a 2008 Gartner report, 15% of all IT projects failed that year because of high cost variance, while 18% were unsuccessful because they were substantially late.* This means that in 2008, 1 in 3 technology projects failed. Why such a dismal success rate? Such projects primarily involve the management of human resources in order to accomplish the target schedule, cost, and quality, so it is safe to assume that poor resource management played a large role. Unfortunately, without effective resource management processes, such organizations are left asking questions like:

  • “Who is working on what?”
  • How do I get this project back on schedule?”
  • “How much more work will it take to finish?”

The Problem with IT Projects Today

Resource Management

IT project teams are made up of knowledge workers who are categorized by skill types or job functions. For example, a project team might require business analysts, developers, team leads, project managers, architects, or database analysts. Finding the right person to assign to a project or task can be the most challenging problem confronting the organization. Typically, quality staff is scarce and therefore heavily sought by competing projects. Without resource management processes, the organization struggles with

Double Your Fun With Dual Core Technology

Here at ITSPA, part of our mission is to stay on top of the latest and greatest technology offered by the tech industry and to translate how that technology can benefit your business.

We work closely with technology consultants, also called solution providers, all across the country to keep tabs on those technologies that are relevant to small and medium businesses. One you’ll soon hear about, if you haven’t already, is dual core technology. This is a capability that you are finding in desktops, laptops and servers designed for businesses. It’s also used in high-end consumer gear designed around the heavy computing needs of gaming enthusiasts.

It’s actually a chip technology pioneered by Intel, and now also available from Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), and found in gear sold by companies like HP, Apple and Dell. Earlier versions of the technology have been around for about a year, and technology trade publications report that companies like Intel are betting on the next generation of this technology. Intel intends to roll out dual core through the rest of this year and hopes to play a significant role in the computer purchasing behavior of business customers. My bet? With

SmartBiz’s Keys to Online Success How and When to Delete PC Data

Press the delete key and the file is gone, right?

Wrong. Data is not erased from the hard drive of a desktop or laptop PC by pressing the delete key. It’s only renamed and stored elsewhere in the device. That’s why it’s possible to retrieve the file later by using undelete functions.

It’s important to understand some basic facts about deleting data from computers. For one thing, special programs are necessary to truly delete files. Even some of these aren’t foolproof. Forensic computer experts can often can resurrect data despite their exposure to these programs.

It’s also important to understand when it is okay to use the programs. Experts say that deleting—totally deleting—files can be a problem if, for instance, regulatory time periods for their storage haven’t passed or if they are or may be relevant to legal proceedings.

The bottom line is that it is important to know if the data you think is being deleted really is gone—and when it’s okay to make that happen

SmartTraveler Six Web Services To Make Small Business Traveling Easier

From long security check lines to missing your loved ones, business trips are never fun. If you’re a small business, they can be even tougher — you don’t have a corporate travel department or travel agency to help you book your travel.

But for Smart Biz followers we have a handful of services, sites and tricks for making the most of airline travel. Everyone knows how to use their airline Web site or online travel booking sites like Expedia or Orbitz. But here’s some tools and resources you might not be familiar with

1. TripIt

One of the most interesting new travel-oriented sites is TripIt. The site’s big trick: you simply email them the flight agenda — for instance, that you get from your airline — and TripIT automatically sets you up a travel itinerary page including all the flight, hotel and car rental information, plus local maps, weather and a guide to local landmarks. It’s like having a travel agent of your own. TripIt is particularly useful if you book travel via many different Web sites; it brings all that different information together in one location.

2. FlightAware

Need to know what’s going on

Microsoft Continues Small Business Push With Centro Apps, Server

First came a storage server, then online office tools, not to mention a business search engine — all with a significant small biz focus. Now, Microsoft is readying release of a version of its core business software suite specifically suited to small- and medium-sized businesses.

According to Information Week, Microsoft’s code-named Centro software — now re-named Windows Essential Business Server– will be shipped next year.

Whether you need Centro depends on how big your business is and what sort of in-house IT/admin support you have. Microsoft says the software is targeted at companies with 25 to 250 computers. You’ll have to install and maintain it yourself, which makes it out of reach for some small businesses.

The Standard Edition of the new platform will include Exchange Server 2007 for messaging, Forefront Security for Exchange, System Center Essentials for management and Internet Security and Acceleration Server aka ISA Server for firewalling and security.

Pricing isn’t available yet, but if your small business is big enough to run its own infrastructure, Microsoft servers and software are always a good option.

SmartBiz’s Keys to Online Success You Get What You Pay For

There are a lot of free things available, and small businesses can save a lot of money by taking advantage of these offers. However, when it comes to antivirus and Internet security software, it is better to ante up and go with a paid versions.

There are two kinds of giveaways: Not-as-good versions of legitimate products and bogus software. Internet security is too important an area on which to save a few bucks, since the difference between paid and legitimate free versions can be substantial.

It is even more foolhardy to go with free software if the vendor is unknown. The reality is that adware, viruses and other pieces of code that you want to stay miles away from often lurk in no-name freebies. Clearly, executives may feel better if they install software that carries security labels. The reality may be, however, that they are a recipe for disaster.

There Is No Mystery to Protecting Cardholder Data

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Keeping the Lights on When Mother Nature Hits

This past winter, the entire country was battered with snowstorms and ice storms, forcing closures to everything from schools and businesses to supermarkets and clinics. Small businesses were especially affected, closing doors due to a lack of power and energy – despite their customers’ dire need for cash, food and other supplies.

Unfortunately, winter may be passing but another extremely hot and sizzling summer is just around the corner. And many small business owners will lose revenue, profits and even customers from the ensuing power outages likely to occur.

Small businesses all across the country are not immune to Mother Nature, nor the effects of a significantly weakened power grid. With no means of business continuity when the power goes out, every owner faces the realistic possibility of significant revenue loss when a blackout occurs and the doors remain closed for any length of time. It’s simple in today’s global economy: If your customer can’t do business with you, they will find someone else.

For a small business owner, being prepared means ensuring a constant and uninterruptible source of power to remain up and running. Although we will always have to “batten down the hatches” and evacuate until

Even Microsoft Admits You Might Be Thinking Twice About Windows Vista

Chances are you might be at least considering upgrading your small business PCs to Windows Vista. It sure looks slick and it’s been around long enough for at least some of the kinks to get worked out.

But you might want to think twice about making the upgrade — according to, Microsoft is now allowing its hardware partners (including Fujitsu, Lenovo, HP and Dell — to offer a “downgrade” option on new PC purchases that will let customers choose Windows XP rather than Vista.

The move is aimed specifically at helping out small businesses, which don’t have the time or IT staff to deal with a new operating system, reported:

“That’s going to help out small- and medium-size businesses,” Fujitsu marketing manager Brandon Farris told

The Vista/XP choice may end soon though. Microsoft requires that PC makers stop offer XP as of January 31, though some PC makers are hoping to extend the XP “window”: “We’re all lobbying for it,” Fujitsu’s Farris said.

What do you think? Has your small business made the move to Windows Vista? Or are you holding off?

ASPs Offer the Best of Both Worlds

More and more companies are examining how application service providers (ASPs) can benefit their business. Some are looking to find a way to execute back-end applications while saving money in operating costs. Others are simply looking beyond their traditional IT solutions.

Whatever the reason, this approach can greatly benefit the bottom line. According to a recent IDC study cited by the accounting firm of Bennett Gold, an ASP implementation will yield significant quantitative and qualitative benefits including an average ROI of over 400 percent over five years.

Web-based IT solutions have come a long way from legacy enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. Affordable web-based software is an alternative to big-ticketed CD-Rom applications. While both options provide solutions for human resources administration and accounting, companies still pay an arm and a leg for IT department management (including high salaries and expensive equipment) and application purchases.

Now envision an economical hosted version of the same application without IT operating overhead. This is the ASP. Companies can now outsource their back-end applications and have the ASP vendor develop, build, distribute and maintain custom applications and databases for client use. At a typical price of only $50

The Hot, Dark Days of Summer

Nothing seems out bounds since the massive breakdown of civil services that characterized Hurricane Katrina last year. The summer is barely a month old, but significant power outages already have hit St. Louis and the New York City borough of Queens. Indeed, within the shadow of Shea Stadium, some homes and businesses are without power a full week after severe thunderstorms and high temperatures caused the power the outage.

The scariest issue is that nobody seems certain of precisely what is going on. New York has its share of high heat and thunderstorms every summer. Why should this year’s storms knock power out for more than a week?

The inability to quickly get the problem solved—or even diagnosed—should serve as a wakeup call to small business people everywhere. It doesn’t take a massive, city-wide catastrophic failure to impact your business. You just need to be in the wrong neighborhood. Indeed, problems that are relatively isolated may well go on longer. After all, the power utility—Con Ed, in the New York situation—still had the rest of the city to worry about.

The inability to isolate the problem immediately suggests that it may in reality be a series of

Using SaaS to Draft and Manage Financial Documents

For years, all companies regardless of their size have suffered the pains and raising costs that accompany deploying and maintaining traditional software applications that, ironically, were intended to make them more productive. Today, the trend is finally changing as new kinds of Web-based services are gaining popularity and pushing legacy applications aside; thus, giving users the business benefits they’ve been wanting.

This new form of technology, called software-as-a-service (SaaS), is changing the way businesses are communicating and managing documents. The developments in the SaaS arena can benefit small to medium sized businesses because of the increased functionality, not to mention the lower cost and less risk associated with implementing the application.

AMI Partners, a research firm that specializes in the small and medium business market, recently said this about the growth of software-as-services vendors, and where they are focused:

“The number of vendors offering software-as-service (SaaS) solutions has grown exponentially over the past few years, we estimates that there are currently over 500 such vendors in North America. While most providers have concentrated on horizontal business application markets — e.g., customer relationship management and human resources — AMI-Partners’ research points to

Cyberspace Turf Battles

The Internet is virtual real estate. It is the infinite mall where the commercial visionaries foresee massive sales of goods and services taking place. The stakes are high and the players are scrambling to acquire valuable addresses.

An address in cyberspace is referred to as a “domain.” A domain can be used both as the address for sending e-mail messages and as the location of a website. Domain names have principally two components: One is a generic suffix such as “.com” for commercial entities, “.gov” for government entities, or “.edu” for educational institutions. These suffixes might also identify foreign addresses such as “.uk” for United Kingdom and “.fr” for France.

The other component is the word preceding this suffix which specifi-cally identifies a particular company, product or person. This “second level” domain address is the hot real estate.

Addresses that are either easily remembered, or have names that a customer would expect, have great value because they facilitate contact with customers. When you put these components together, you might arrive at exclusive real estate such as “”

Domain Name Registration

With the entry of commercial interests on the Internet, domain name

SmartBiz’s Keys to Online Success Be Careful With Your Trash

The reality is, however, that the bad folks—some sophisticated, some not—also have access to these tools. It’s a cat and mouse game. Luckily, the use antivirus software, firewalls, virtual private networks and other security products and procedures has been accepted by an increasing number of small business people.

Perhaps there is a psychological barrier in play, but the reality is that once people are done using the data they have, they become far less careful with it.

For one thing, it is important to cut up documents before putting them out in the trash. On a more technical level, old computers should be handled must be handled with care.

This is partly a legal issue. Rules and regulations about handling—and discarding—of data spelled out in Sarbanes-Oxley and the Health Insurance Portability And Accountability Act must be followed by small as well as large organizations.

Simply erasing hard drives isn’t enough. Experts on the “dark side”—the crooks—easily can resurrect data removed in this manner. The best advice is to retain professionals to dispose of old computers. The drives can be physically destroyed, or these firms can use sophisticated procedures to make the drives truly

Is the iPhone the Perfect Small Business Smartphone?

Do you own a smartphone?

If you don’t, you should. These days, smartphones are basically mini-laptops — enabling email, Web browsing and more. It puts an extension of your online business in your pocket.

With this week’s launch of the iPhone 2.0 from Apple, smartphones will get more attention than ever before.

Should you buy an iPhone? With this new version, the price is right (just $199 with a two-year AT&T contract) and the new version has faster 3G downloading, an integrated GPS chip for taking advantage of and learning about the mobile Web and a bevy of new applications from third-party developers.

Many of these capabilities have been available with other smartphones for some time — for instance, my Treo running on the Verizon network has everything about but GPS — but few phones are as elegant as simply as fun to use as the iPhone. Like most things Apple, user experience sets it apart.

See this video from CBS News for a closer look at the iPhone:

How should you choose a smartphone? The bMighty blog has a some good guidelines from Info-Tech Research to guide you in choosing a smart phone.

Boiled down, the advice is as follows: