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One Size Does Not Fit All: Choosing the Cloud for Your Business

| Blog | July 10, 2013

Laptop with CloudsCloud computing promises to take IT infrastructure and management out of enterprise hands, which is a relief to businesses that want to focus on customers instead of IT. Vertical markets want to jump into the cloud, but predicting how it will develop in the next five years is essential.

Corporations in education, manufacturing, retail and healthcare all have different cloud computing needs. This means we’re in for a huge cloud computing playing field. Already, OpenStack, the cloud collaborative group, boasts over 150 members. It’s just the beginning.

The right cloud for your business

The best cloud for your business depends on your company’s need for scalability, customization, security and cost. Just as your business will change in the future, so will your cloud computing needs. Below are the main types of cloud technologies for your enterprise to consider.

SaaS cloud computing allows companies to access applications from the Internet, which may include online banking, document creation and email. The downside is these applications are controlled by the provider and provide little to no customization.

PaaS cloud computing is great for developing applications without. These applications can be developed, tested and deployed without purchasing hardware, software and hosting. The downside of Paas is customers have no control of underlying infrastructure, making audit requirements in some industries difficult, if not impossible.

IaaS clouding is a complete outsourcing of operations infrastructure. One of the strongest advantages of this type of cloud is its accessibility and flexibility. You don’t have to pay for an entire cloud infrastructure deployment, either. You can get pure cloud storage or computing power; you can also mix and match based on your needs. The downside is this system is heavily reliant on an experienced IT administrator.

The battle of public, private or both

Public clouds are beneficial in that enterprises share resources and only pay for usage. If your enterprise should evolve its business, it’s simple to change systems, as long as your provider uses a non-proprietary deployment.

A private cloud requires a greater investment, as the company has to purchase and deploy its own hardware and software. This gives your company the freedom to completely customize your system and design security procedures and features specifically for itself.

A hybrid cloud brings enterprises a combination of public and private. Some companies need different levels of security and customization for various departments. A combination of public and private may work best.

There are so many options that vendors from all industries are collaborating to stay one step ahead of customer needs. The IEEE World Congress on Services hosts a cloud conference alongside four other technology seminars to help the industry remain updated on the latest developments. No technology works in isolation and your corporation will benefit from ongoing innovation.

The type of cloud computing most beneficial to your business will require assessing and prioritizing your company’s needs. For example, a manufacturing company would need to assess whether a SaaS cloud would be workable depending on its invoicing and order processing needs. A university perhaps would benefit from hybrid cloud computing, using SaaS clouds for document sharing and PaaS for researchers and data analysts.

Whatever your corporation’s needs are, make sure you go with a flexible cloud solution. In IT, very little remains the same. The cloud industry will see more vendors, more brokers, more options. A larger playing field is great news for companies that want to return to their core business focus.

Image credit: bplanet on Freedigitalphotos.net

3334 total views, 12 today

Top Five Reasons Your Company Should Opt For Payroll Outsourcing

| Blog | January 17, 2013

Payroll Outsourcing Saves Money

To minimise excessive and often unnecessary workload, small businesses and start-ups are looking for different ways to focus their efforts on core business functions. An effective way of streamlining business processes is to outsource functions like payroll to professionals. Instead of managing an in-house team of payroll experts, start-ups find it more convenient and cost effective for many different reasons. Here are five of the biggest reasons in favor of opting for a payroll outsourcing company.

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1261 total views, 2 today

Your Personal Guide To Boston

| Blog | December 10, 2012

Boston’s residents and visitors should visit the new Boston NearSay website to learn about the city’s main attractions and read news articles about the city. Deciding what events in Boston to attend or learning about the terrific deals in Boston are conveniently listed at this website. Marketplace listings provide important details regarding restaurants, businesses and professional services that are available in the Boston area.

Information about Boston’s theaters is available in the arts and entertainment section. Articles about health and beauty or other services offer Boston NearSay website visitors useful tips and suggestions. A listing of museums in Boston is posted in the family and kids section. Finding information about shopping or real estate listings in Boston is easy at the Boston NearSay website. Boston visitors and residents interested in information about what to do in the evening and on weekends in Boston can find this information in the nightlife and music section of Boston NearSay. A final category of information for dining out is the restaurants and food section.

The Boston NearSay website is a good place to find articles about restaurants, museums, businesses and services in different locations around Boston in one convenient place. These areas of Boston include Fenway, Kenmore, Back Bay, South End, Beacon Hill, Central Boston, East Boston, West Roxbury, Hyde Park, Roslindale, Mattapan, Dorchester, Roxbury, Jamaica Plain, Brookline, Coolidge Corner, South Boston, Cambridge and Charlestown. The Boston NearSay website is a wonderful way to stay current on everything going on in your favorite city.

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Improving Employee Morale to Weather Economic Turbulence

| Blog | February 10, 2012

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To think that capital is the only casualty of businesses during tough economic times is to make a big miscalculation. Though financial losses may be the most obvious result, money is only the paper-thin surface that obscures other and deeper consequences that often arise during an economic downturn. At the forefront of these issues is employee morale, which has been proven to fluctuate parallel with economic trends. And while low employee morale can become an issue even within companies that aren’t experiencing turmoil, this problem particularly becomes amplified for companies that are undergoing restructuring or downsizing efforts. This will have long-lasting ramifications on a business’ bottom line.

Stephen Balzac

Stephen Balzac

However, the good news for many business managers is that improving employee morale can be simple and cost-effective with enough well-meaning effort, says Stephen Balzac, who works as a professional speaker on leadership and business management, as well as the author of The 36 Hour Course in Organizational Development (McGraw-Hill). According to Stephen, employee morale is amongst the most important and underappreciated aspects of running a business – in part because it can’t be easily measured in charts and graphs. But as any good business leader will attest, having a high employee morale will inevitably lead to higher profits.

So to give some practical advice on the subject, Stephen Balzac shares some of his experiences improving employee morale:

What is the key to building employee morale?

SB: The first and most important way of building employee morale is your own enthusiasm: the manager who can remain upbeat and positive about the future serves as a bell-weather for employees. Conversely, the manager who is in the dumps will drag them down. Praise from a manager who is positive, upbeat, and confident goes a long way; sadly, most businesses do not invest in the manager training to make this work even though it’s cheaper than the cost of low morale!

[Then], focus on successes. Take the time to sit with each employee and go over the year’s successes. Build them up; when you build people up, morale and motivation both increase.

What are some practical ideas can one use to improve morale?

SB: Take a break from the daily routine to do something fun: a movie, department lunch, etc. Don’t make the event contingent upon anything; rather, make it a random “thank you for your efforts” event.

[One way I like] to increase morale in people is to get them tickets to a movie, play, or musical performance — of course, you have to know your employees well enough to know what they’d like. If you don’t, well, maybe that’s why you’re worried about morale in the first place! Dinner at a nice restaurant for an employee and spouse/significant other is yet another powerful way of increasing morale and motivation; make sure you cover babysitting for employees with kids.

How can an office deal with cutbacks while simultaneously improving employee morale?

SB: If you are looking at cutbacks, the good news is that you can apply many of the techniques I described without any real changes. Most of the techniques don’t involve any cost at all (enthusiasm, focusing on success). While it can cost some money to take the department out to lunch or a movie or treat someone to dinner, at that point you’re looking at priorities: where is the money being spent? You have to decide if it’s a priority to take care of your employees or use the money for some other purpose. If nothing else, consider it part of your advertising budget: after all, if you have unhappy, disengaged employees, your advertising dollars will be wasted anyway. Put another way, if you want engaged, loyal customers you need engaged, loyal employees.

What is the best way to approach employee layoffs while not damaging morale?

SB: If you’re looking at layoffs, the most important thing is to be totally upfront. Be as transparent as possible: lay out the problems the company is facing and invite employees to contribute ideas for the solutions. For example, perhaps layoffs can be avoided by having everyone agree to a temporary salary reduction. Demonstrate that you have skin in the game: as CEO, reduce your salary and/or perks first (HP did the shared reduction approach as a way to avoid layoffs and it was very successful at maintaining loyalty and morale). Shared sacrifice gets people pulling together. Putting the sacrifice on others only gets people pulling apart.

It is very common to tell employees that layoffs will be targeted at the poorest performers or something similar. The problem with this approach is that you are immediately telling your employees to compete with one another. If I’m worried about my performance, maybe my best strategy is to make sure you fail dramatically.

Once layoffs have occurred, it’s even more important to be clear about what standards were used and how employees can avoid future layoffs. You must be specific: vague comments like, “work hard,” don’t cut it. You need clear standards and you must encourage employee participation in avoiding future layoffs. Again, the goal here is to encourage employees to pull together as a team, not get into an “every man for himself” attitude. If you can get them pulling together, morale and engagement become infectious. If it’s “every man for himself,” nothing you do will really matter: cynicism is also infectious, especially if it appears to be coming from the top.

Though all companies will inevitably experience turbulent times, the moral of the story is that a little effort can go a long way towards improving employee morale, which will ultimately help a company stay afloat during economic storms.

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5 Pre-Requisites before Launching Your Start Up

| Blog | October 7, 2011

Startup

Nearly half of all the startup businesses in the United States fail within the first year or two of opening. The competition is fierce, but do not be deterred by the odds—many people have made the attempt and succeeded.

There are 5 pre-requisites to ponder before launching a startup. Covering these may not directly lead to a successful business, but the odds will definitely increase.

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1621 total views, 2 today

Why is Google Good for Small Business?

| Blog | September 27, 2011

Google

Google’s hearing before Congress last week brought to light a number of pressing topics about the future of information control, and the power it has over commerce. During the three-hour event, executive officer Eric Schmidt responded to Senators’ questions on a range of topics including anti-competitive practicescuisine and horse-racing.

An entire section of the hearing was centered around Google’s effect on small business. When asked what Google could be doing better to promote small business, Schmidt responded that he’s, “always interested in creating better platforms for innovation.” He pointed to Google’s mobile operating system, Android. “The number of opportunities for companies to build new mobile apps is exciting. We could invest a lot more money in developer support, in platform support.” 

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What You Should Know About Starting a New Business

| Blog | December 7, 2010

Embrace Technology

With the global economic uncertainty and poor job market, many people are turning to their own business ideas. Hence, “Startups” have become a source for supplemental income and the chance at a big time payout. While its true only a few small businesses will be wildly successful, its a common fallacy that over 80% of businesses fail in the first few years according to the US Dept. of Labor. In fact, “More entrepreneurs launched new businesses in 2009 than at any other time in the past 14 years, according to a study released… (in May of 2010 by the Kauffman Foundation).”

So we are here to say, “YES, YOU CAN DO IT!!!”

 

Invention

Most people never take the plunge. If you have a good idea for a new invention, product or service then stop hiding it from the world. Modern technology has empowered the small business owner like no other time in history. From concept development, manufacturing, computer aided design, process management, project management, rapid prototyping, focus grouping, business intelligence, super granular analytics, viral marketing, social media marketing and the list continues…

Free and cheap ways exist to get almost anything done RIGHT NOW! Learn to embrace new technology.

Embrace Technology

Its always wise to do your research first, Google can provide you a decent answer to mostly anything. Be sure to take your advice from reputable sources.

Once your research phase has completed, develop a strategic business plan, make decisions based on facts and not emotions, and set goals.

Getting expert opinions and analysis is always a good tactic. Keep an open mind but be cautious before taking a blind plunge based on any one persons advice.

“Always be testing,” and set up alerts in your respective systems where possible, so you can respond quickly to massive spikes or dips in key data streams. Important data streams to monitor usually include your sales per hour, visits per hour, call per hour and so forth.

Consider finding an investment partner or venture capital;

 

 

Work Smarter, Not Harder

Also remember to calculate the “opportunity cost,” your investment is not just money, its also time, a commodity far more precious than money. Running “Lean and Mean” is necessary for survival in the business world and seems to be the law of the jungle too!

Free & Cheap Tools for Small Businesses & Getting Exposure…

Plan for Success!

The free options for record keeping & bookeeping software are wonderful so get your accounting in a system before the IRS agents haul you in for tax evasion or even harsher civil and criminal penalties. There are many free tools for small businesses (see also: http://www.smbceo.com/free-small-business-tools/) these days that rival enterprise technology so it always pays to be on top of new developments. Change is the only thing constant in the universe, so learn to embrace it.

Other important decisions include things like getting most possible exposure and brand awareness for your budget. Cheap and effective ways to do this include EBAY.com, Amazon.com, Search Marketing, CJ.com, Google Local Ads, Ads on Local Blogs, Ads in Local Newspapers, Radio, Facebook Ads, Twitter Ads, Location Based Coupon Sites, Mobile Directories and the list grows bigger by the day because of inventors just like YOU! So get in the game, “Nothing Risked, Nothing Gained.”

No matter what type of business you decide to start up, you will only be successful if you are committed and have a good plan. Price your products competitively and always offer and be afraid to take a small risk on innovation. Some of the greatest companies were built on a small innovations.

Lastly, always strive to provide good customer service in order to facilitate brand loyalty and word of mouth marketing. If you make a customer happy, they will come back for more, and eventually bring a friend. On the other hand, one bad customer may be worth more than ten good customers because they could be pointing out holes in your defense, so listen carefully to their criticisms and adjust tactics.

by Marc Beharry

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