Blog

March 23rd, 2010

smartphoneHold on to your mobile devices: IDC predicts 20.9% growth in smartphone sales from 2009 through 2013. Symbian and Research In Motion (RIM) remain the market leaders, but you can be sure that competition will intensify with giants Microsoft, Google and Apple in the mix.

A few weeks ago, Microsoft announced the release of Windows Mobile 7, officially named Windows Phone. The announcement, made at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, came soon after the debut of Apple’s iPad. Early hardware partners were announced, including Dell, Garmin-Asus, LG, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, and HP. While hesitant to give any specific dates, Microsoft says to expect Windows Phone handsets to hit the shelves “in time for the Holiday season of 2010.″

Business users will find the ”Office” particularly interesting: a center where users can access Office, Outlook, OneNote, and SharePoint Workspace on their mobile device. A feature called the “Marketplace” will also be useful, allowing you to easily find and download certified applications and games.

Meanwhile, news has been circulating recently on websites such as The Wall Street Journal, Mashable and VentureBeat about Google’s plans to sell third-party software for its Android mobile platform. While an app store for their smartphone OS has existed for some time, many have criticized it for not being business ready, with its lack of a more stringent review and vetting process for apps. However, all that’s expected to change with the launch of a new app store completely filtered for business-ready apps.

You can be sure that Symbian, through its sponsor Nokia, is not taking all of this sitting down. Soon, you’ll be able to download the popular VoIP product, Skype, for free from Nokia’s Ovi Store. The app will work over a Wi-Fi or mobile data connection – GPRS, EDGE, and 3G – and you’ll be able to call, instant message, text message, share photos and videos, receive alerts when your contacts are online, and import a phone’s address book.

Not to be left behind, RIM also made a recent announcement of its plans to develop a new browser for its Blackberry products. Many have felt that the company’s products has been outperformed by the competition in terms of its web capabilities and UI. With this announcement, it’s believed that the Blackberry will finally have support for websites with AJAX, CSS, and HTML5, although no mention of flash was made.

It’s truly exciting times for mobile device users. If you spend your day connected to customers, partners, and employees, you can see the value in these capabilities, with even more useful useful devices that really help you stay in touch and work on the go.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles
February 15th, 2010

tabletMuch has been said about the launch of Apple’s long awaited, new mobile device. Called the Apple iPad, the device promises to boost sales of a new category of computing devices called tablets.

What are tablets?
Tablets or tablet PCs are not new, and the concept itself has been around for 30 years. Although it’s had some success in industrial and commercial environments, it’s struggled to gain wide adoption among consumers in the past. Tablets, simply put, are slate-shaped, hand-held personal computers often with a touch screen or a stylus as input devices instead of a traditional keyboard. They are smaller and handier to carry around than Netbooks, but have larger, more capable screens than smartphones. With its launch, Apple has largely stolen the spotlight on tablet PCs – but is by no means the only vendor selling them. Other vendors include HP, Fujitsu, Samsung, Asus, and many more. Some use Windows, others Linux, while still others have their own proprietary operating systems.

A special category of tablet PCs is ebook readers such as Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes and Nobles’s Nook. These are specialized tablets, primarily designed for viewing digital content.

What are tablets good for?
For consumers, the tablet’s appeal is that its form makes it easier to carry around and surf the Internet. Its larger screen allows users to view and interact with applications and media more comfortably than with a smartphone.

What about business?
Tablets seem to have hit their stride in niche applications within industry and commerce. For people in the field, it can be more convenient to carry around and better suited to outdoor conditions than a laptop, yet can be as powerful and capable. With the entry of Apple into the market, more generalized business applications could find its way to the devices, including:

  • on-the-go presentation delivery
  • quick information access
  • on-the-go content creation and editing, such as photos, audio and video recording, and documents
  • easy information sharing and collaboration

Are Tablet PCs right for your business?
If you’re considering using Tablet PCs in your business, here are some things to consider:

  1. Connectivity. How does the device connect to the Internet? Can it work within your existing office network? Can it securely access your data remotely (i.e., work with your existing VPN infrastructure)?
  2. Security. Does the device support the encryption of data? Can it authenticate against your existing applications?
  3. Portability. How much power does it consume? How long can it go between charges?
  4. Interoperability. Can you access your existing applications such as email? Can you use your existing network services? Can it open existing data and file formats such as your office documents and spreadsheets? Does it require significant investment to outfit and manage on an ongoing basis?
  5. Usability. Does it have enough power to run the applications you need? Is it easy to use or will it require extensive training?

Even if you decide not to adopt the Tablet into your business environment, you may need to consider the impact that your employees may have using these devices on their own to do their work, as many began doing when Netbooks and Smartphones came out.

If you would like to learn more about how Tablet PCs can affect your business and your IT services, contact us today. We will be glad to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles
February 11th, 2010

mobileMorgan Stanley has just released the Mobile Internet Report, which estimates that within five years, more users will access the Internet via mobile devices than desktop PCs. The growth in mobile Internet usage, according to Morgan Stanley’s analysts, is being driven by five technologies:

  1. 3G adoption – especially as more devices come out that support the wireless broadband standard at a lower price point than in previous years. Subscription costs for data access across the world have also been decreasing as service providers build out their infrastructure and achieve cost-efficiencies with scale.
  2. Social networking – which is driving a “constantly online” behavior among users engaged in communication, information sharing, and relationship building.
  3. Video – which has encouraged users to exchange rich, multimedia content online
  4. VoIP – which is lowering the cost of communication while improving the user experience by not tying them to their desks.
  5. Interesting new devices/initiatives – such as the launch of the iPhone, Palm Pre, and lately Google’s Android.

What does this mean for SMEs? Well, for one thing this will require more vigilant monitoring, control, and oversight. Mobile devices can pose a significant security risk, since it’s getting difficult to track the data going in and out of these devices. Also, audit and control tools and procedures are simply not as mature as those available for desktop computers. The risks associated with theft and loss also increase since mobile devices’ small sizes make them easy to conceal or misplace.

Is your organization ready for what’s coming? As mobile devices become the primary Internet access for consumers and workers, it’s time to for your organization to become aware of the issues surrounding their use.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles
October 2nd, 2009

Etiquette for the Electronic AgeFrom the heavyset computing devices of Charles Babbage to today’s simple novelty items, electronic devices and gadgets have become smaller, more functional, and more integrated into our daily lives. With mobile phone calls, SMS, and email we are seemingly in constant need to be in touch with other people electronically.

And therein lies the problem. Many people seem to put such a high priority on immediately replying to electronic communication that they often unintentionally offend the people they are actually physically with. For example, how does that colleague doing the “Blackberry Prayer” during a meeting – hunched over a handheld device, texting and emailing – make you feel?

Here are a few etiquette tips when using our electronic devices:

  • When in meetings, turn your phone off – or at least put it in silent mode.
  • Check your messages and return calls and emails after meetings, not during them. It’s much more polite to explain to a caller or email sender that your response was delayed because you were in a meeting rather than explaining to everyone with you that the person on your phone is more important than them.
  • If you are expecting an urgent call you must take, inform others about it before the meeting begins. When your phone vibrates, excuse yourself quietly and take the call outside.
  • Never wear an earpiece while in a meeting.
  • Don’t use your mobile phone or PDA while you are talking to somebody – it gives the impression that the person you are talking to is unimportant and insignificant.
  • Loud ringtones are inappropriate for certain settings, so make sure they’re off at the right times.
  • If you need to use speaker phone, ask the person on the other line for permission first, and announce who else is in the room with you. Many people are (understandably) uncomfortable not knowing who else may be listening to them.
  • While in video conferences, treat the people on the other end of the line as if they were actually in the room with you. No discreet playing of Plants vs. Zombies on your iPhone while the brand manager from the other end of the line is giving his sales report – regardless of how boring it may be.

Remember: electronic correspondence can never replace actual human interaction and conversation. Even though we’re in the electronic age, the old saying still applies: “Politeness is to human nature what warmth is to wax.”

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic News
August 10th, 2009

img1If you enable your employees to work where and when they like, at any hour of any day, you’ll likely see big gains in productivity.

With traditional network infrastructure, when employees are away from the office—because they’re traveling for business purposes are or are taking time off—collaboration is impossible and productivity is lost.

As a result, many companies are helping their employees to work remotely. A 2007 study by Nemertes Research revealed that 83 percent of organizations now consider themselves virtual, with workgroups spread across multiple locations and geographies. In addition, 91 percent of employees work outside of headquarters, and 96 percent use some form of real-time collaboration tools.

A mobile workforce may involve:

  • Real-time access to desktops and documents;
  • Internet and instant messaging access through mobile devices;
  • Real-time collaboration tools (such as editing documents simultaneously); and
  • Audio and video conferencing.

Companies that effectively enable a mobile workforce:

  • Improve productivity through ongoing access to information;
  • Drive business responsiveness through constant communication between employees and clients; and
  • Support work-life balance and improve job satisfaction—which helps attract and retain talent.

However, there are challenges to enabling a mobile workforce:

  • Deployment can be disruptive to your current IT infrastructure;
  • Devices and applications may be incompatible with your current infrastructure;
  • Employees may not know how to use new tools; and
  • Mobile devices and data may not be protected.

We can help you avoid these problems when enabling a mobile workforce—and at the same time, minimize your investment in technology with products that scale to support your evolving needs. Contact us for more information.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles
June 22nd, 2009

Rumors abound that we may soon see Microsoft’s Office suite on mobile devices. Some people are speculating that it may even be made available to the (gasp!) Apple iPhone. What is sure is the ubiquitous office productivity suite is making its way online, onto to the Internet cloud, and one day may even be provided free with an advertising supported model.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic News
May 29th, 2009

In a down turn, large businesses slash staff which often leads to poorer customer service – for the small business owner it’s easier than ever to win over these disgruntled customers and increase your market share.

It’s a massive advantage to be a small business in this current economic climate. Small businesses are generally more flexible, agile and much quicker to change or adapt than their bigger competitors. That’s why I’m telling my clients that there’s no better time than now to seriously consider some changes to their business that will quickly enhance customer experience.

With the ubiquitous technologies available to all levels of business these days, think about the systems you could quickly integrate to win and keep new customers. Think about how you currently interact with customers and what improvements you could make. Think outside the box.

Maybe I’ll go in to more details on these areas individually in later posts, but to keep you thinking:

Customer information: A spreadsheet or the database within you financial package just doesn’t cut it when you want to precisely track client activities and communications. Can’t afford a CRM package? Think again. Zoho offers a hosted online CRM package FREE for 3 users. Microsoft offers their comprehensive Dynamics CRM product as a hosted service at an affordable monthly price.

Customer enquiries: Many customers choose to email enquiries and expect a fast response. If you’re on the road and without access to your PC and email for hours then you will lose customers. You need to get mobile! Receiving email on your mobile is very simple in most cases and allows you to provide the fast response customers expect. Do you have Small Business Server 2003/2008 already? If so, you already have the ability to natively receive email on Windows Mobile devices, iPhone 3G and many other new phones and PDAs that support Exchange ActiveSync.

Collaborating with customers on proposals, specifications etc: Old way – you go to customer and present, wait a few days, customer responds with issues, wait a few days, you go back to customer and present, wait a few days, customer comes to you with changes….yuk. New way – online collaboration and meeting tools allow you and the customer to work on documents together, track changes and versions and generally work smarter together. Heard of Windows Sharepoint Services? It’s free and provides some of this functionality. Want the solution but can’t afford the infrastructure to run it? Check out Microsoft’s newly released Business Productivity Online Suite.

Seriously quick and low cost (or cost free!) ways to improve your customer experience through technology.

Topic Articles
February 2nd, 2009

When you first opened your Smartphone and took it right from the fresh, “new smelling” box (or from the plastic sandwich bag from the friend you bought it used from) it was a tool for speaking, basic scheduling and contacts.

However, over time, some of you have found that you could do so much more with the device as you found good software to make it a powerful productivity tool. Some software you might want to consider, to enhance the mobile warrior within you.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic News
January 20th, 2009

More business people are taking to the road these days, armed with all the tools they need to do their work — PDAs, laptops, etc. So it pays to know a thing or two about how to use the new Wi-Fi connections available on some airlines.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles, News
December 4th, 2008

Notebook computer vendors are now more aggressively pushing to have you buy a mobile wireless card that’s built into your computer. Nothing to lose, nothing to break – and you might just get a sweet deal.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
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