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AVG: Business Technology May Have Evolved But Sadly We Have Not

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The recent trend towards implementing BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies in companies, both big and small, is actually not a new trend at all.  The issues surrounding BYOD have actually been around for many years, going back way before we were all using smartphones and tablets.  In fact, I would argue that IT people have more control over remote users and devices than ever before.  That’s because there are more and better tools available today to help them do this.

But first, let’s take a look back.

Before the fast, all pervasive, easy to access internet, there was synchronization.  This was back in the late ‘80’s and ‘90’s.  Companies would supply bulky laptop computers to their remote employees or pay their IT guys to get them setup on their own home computers. Software back then could not be accessed quickly online like we could today.  There were no cloud based applications.  Things were slow.  Dial up slow.  “You got mail.  Ding!”

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How to get older staff to use technology

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(This post originally appeared on AVG)

If your old sales guy is a good sales guy than you must accept reality: after decades of doing the same thing you’re not going to change him. Particularly if he’s an asset to your company, like so many experienced sales people are. So you will have to compromise. Don’t worry if he’s not taking advantage of all the great things that technology can do for him.

Let the younger guys enjoy those benefits. Don’t force upon him things that will take him away from doing what he does best:  selling. Instead, just make sure he is doing the absolute minimum necessary so that you get the information you need to help you run your company. And here are a few tactics that seem to work for many of my clients.

What’s In Your Pipeline?

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(This post originally appeared on AVG)

My company sells CRM software and every year I get a few sales managers calling me that pretty much say the same thing:  “Gene, I just changed jobs.  At my last company we used one of the software products you sell.  I’m not saying it’s the greatest, but I’m OK using it again at my new job.  Please come in here, get it setup for my guys, and most importantly:  get me my pipeline report!”

Got a salesperson?  Or five? Or ten?  Then you have to manage them.  And today’s technology allows you to do that.  Whether it’s a simple spreadsheet or a full blown customer relationship management system it’s critical that you’re getting the right reports to make sure your sales people are as productive as possible.  My company has about 600 active clients.  And our very best ones rely heavily on reports to make sure things are heading in the right direction.  Which reports are the most popular for the sales group?  There’s a bunch of useful ones.  But the most important, by far, is the pipeline report.  Do you have one? Read More…

Customized customer communications

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(This post originally appeared on AVG)

 

The answer’s yes.  Sometimes you have to spend the money to keep up with the times.  Otherwise you fall behind in the times.  And your competitors, who are keeping up with the times, pull ahead.  Once in a while we all need a facelift.

I still prefer to read a newspaper then get all my news online.  Yes, that’s old and out of touch but that’s just the way I like it and I’m the guy who writes the checks OK?  When it comes to my high school kids they prefer to conduct all communications with me and my wife via text messaging, which is just fine by us (you seriously don’t want to spend too much time talking to high school kids…it’s not healthy).  I have clients that don’t care to speak to me…but don’t mind getting emails.  I have other clients who HATE emails and, like my grandmom, only want to hear from me by phone or not at all.  And then there are those crazy, crazy people who actually like to read a letter once in a while.  My God, what century is this?

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How to get the most from your office printer

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(This post originally appeared on AVG)

I’ve got some thoughts.

For starters, stop the soul searching and buy a laser printer.  Ever wonder why those ink jet devices are so cheap?  Because you get what you pay for.  A laser printer is a little more expensive, but so much better.  We use a Brother HL2270 unit and love it.  It prints fast and clear.  It’s reliable.  The quality is good.   True, it’s a little noisy.  And yes, we sometimes inexplicably suffer from the Chinese character syndrome mentioned above.  And yes, I cry every time I have to purchase one of their $70 replacement cartridges.  But I’ve found that, over the long term, a laser printer provides better ROI compared to an inkjet model.  And I’ve also figured out a few ways to reduce the cost of ink, which I’ll describe shortly.

Stay away from color printers.  Really, do you have to print in color?  Is it that important?  I understand if you’re a design or graphics business, but then again if that’s the type of business you’re in then most of my advice here is irrelevant anyway because you’re probably looking at a whole other universe of high end printing machines.  For most small businesses though, a straight black and white laser printer is more than sufficient.  It saves significantly on color ink (can you believe some printer manufacturers actually make you replace ALL the ink when only one color cartridge runs out?  Believe it. ).  The printing is faster.  The cost is less.  And if you’re really in need of a color print out just take it to a local office supply store and print it out there.

And of course, there’s ink.  I’ve got lots of thoughts about ink.

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AVG: Four Common Myths About the Cloud

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(This post originally appeared on AVG)

Everyone’s talking about the cloud nowadays so you’ve got to consider it, right?  It enables companies to be more flexible and save on their IT costs.  It allows free and easy access to data for employees from wherever they are, using whatever devices they want to use.    A recent survey by accounting software maker MYOB finds that small businesses that adopt cloud technologies enjoy higher revenues.  Another analysis finds that small businesses are losing money as a result of ineffective IT management that could be much improved by the use of cloud based services.  And another poll of more than 1,200 small businesses by technology reseller CDW found that “…cloud users cite cost savings, increased efficiency and greater innovation as key benefits” and that “…across all industries, storage and conferencing and collaboration are the top cloud services and applications.”

For many companies, particularly startups, small companies, virtual firms and organizations with remote employees, cloud based technologies make a lot of sense.  And it also makes sense that the more popular ones are the ones that provide storage and collaboration –these are easy to setup and not as mission critical. There are a lot of myths about cloud computing in 2013 that just aren’t true.  Here are some of the more common ones I hear from my clients.

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AVG: Best Mobile Apps for Small Business

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(This post originally appeared on AVG)

The reality is that mobile apps for business are still in their infancy.  Within the next few years we’ll be seeing mobile applications for our phones and tablets that will truly integrate with our back end applications so that our people in trucks and in our warehouses can do data entry and look up real time information instantly.  But that’s in the not so distant future.

For now, there are great mobile applications available for any busy professional looking to become more productive with their smartphone or tablet, whether it runs on Microsoft, Google or Apple technology.  I’d like to share 10 mobile apps we use in my company every day.  These are not in any particular order.  Maybe you’ve got a few to add?

1 – Evernote.  
I do a lot of writing.  And thinking.  And when I come up with a brilliant idea I pull up Evernote on my smartphone.  Whatever notes I take are automatically saved on the cloud so I can access these brilliant thoughts from any other device, wherever I am.  Evernote power users upload photos, images, graphics, websites and other stuff.  And they love the powerful searching too.  Notes can also be shared.

2 – E-mail and text.
Duh.

3 – HopStop. 
Ever try to figure out the New York subway as an out-of-towner?  It’s easier to get your PhD at Columbia.  That’s why I use Hopstop every time I go to New York or any other city in the country where I want to use public transportation.  You put in your starting and ending point and the application guides you through the rest, be it subway, bus, train or rickshaw.

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