We all want to use technology in furtherance of the growth of our businesses. However, we also know that technology can be pretty confusing (for many business owners) and at times even filled with errors, crashes and security breaches.
I asked a few executives of technology vendors to share their best tips, thoughts, insights and more importantly TIPS on how the POWER of technology can help business owners be MORE productive.
20 tips, 6 companies, 8 executives
Companies submitting tips:
- Research in Motion
- Use all in one printers
- Buy from companies with a history of reliability
- Use tech with an environmental benefit
- Use online services
- Implement better data storage
- Use desktop, server and infrastructure virtualization
- Print on both sides of the paper, use draft mode to save money when printing
- Use online collaboration tools
- Have wireless printers
- Leverage social media more
- Boost battery life
- Investments in mobile technology
Here’s their insight:
Select products from companies that have a history of reliability as well as great customer service to help if something does goes wrong – this helps ensure you aren’t wasting your time or money during crucial business moments.
Choose products that offer an environmental benefit to yourself and your community – consider Energy Star certified products, product recycling programs and companies that make conscious efforts to have responsible manufacturing policies.
John Wandishin, Vice President of Marketing and Product Development
The power and sophistication of SaaS (software-as-a-service) business applications found in the cloud are hugely compelling for SMBs, and up until now, something they have had to do without. The cloud helps small businesses to afford solutions that were previously too expensive, and run as efficiently as larger companies.
Paulette Altmaier, Vice President of SMB Solutions, in AllBusiness.com
There’s no way around it — we’re in the midst of a data explosion — an explosion many small businesses are struggling to keep up with without ever-increasing budgets. By eliminating redundancies, organizations can maximize their storage capacity and see immediate results.”
Antonio Julio, Executive Director, Enterprise Product Management, in Small Business Computing
Desktop virtualization, when implemented effectively, will transform your desktop/end user computing environment into a more flexible, agile infrastructure. Like any transformation, this is a journey, not a race—so plan, budget, and resource accordingly.
Antonio Julio, Executive Director, Enterprise Product Management, in PC Today
IT infrastructure virtualization promises simplified management and greater efficiency. The idea behind virtualization is to break the old model of multiple servers with each running a single operating system for a dedicated application; instead, you can run multiple virtual machines on a one physical server, with each virtual machine running its own operating system and applications.
Tony Parkinson, vice president of consumer, small and medium business enterprise solutions, in Small Business Computing
The increase in the power and memory capacity of today’s servers means they are often underutilized, and have excess capacity… A typical server may use 10-20 percent of its computing power and 20-30 percent of memory at any given time, the rest ends up being wasted. [With server virtualization], instead of utilizing 10-20 percent of your resources, you now have 65-75 percent of your resources working to make your company’s IT resources more productive and efficient.
Tony Parkinson, Dell’s vice president of consumer, SMB enterprise solutions in Small Business Computing
Storage, especially for small and medium-sized businesses, is more important than ever [because] data is growing at exponential rates. We’ve found small businesses, in particular, are struggling with data management more so than their larger counterparts as they lack the IT infrastructure to manage ‘storage sprawl’.
Tony Parkinson, Dell’s vice president of consumer, SMB enterprise solutions in Small Business Computing
Small businesses are often the essence of efficiency, given the challenges they face on a daily basis. Epson has recognized that, and offers products that we feel can keep up with them. By doing things like printing on both sides of the page, utilizing draft mode for internal documents and even turning the unit off when not in use, users can maximize efficiency. It’s the little things that can have the biggest impact.
Rodrigo Catalan, senior product manager, Consumer Ink Jets, Epson
Online collaboration tools can help your business share and store data without having to worry about server space or file size. Sites like Box.net are great places to start and work well with your existing technology.
New printing technology like eprint and wireless printers allow businesses to connect and print directly from a mobile device, saving time, space and hassle while boosting productivity for businesses on the go.
Engaging customers through social media is becoming increasingly important for efficient and successful customer relationships. More than two-thirds of customers use online tools to help them decide which products or services to buy. With channels like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ customers are sharing their brand experiences and giving feedback to businesses on how they think the product or service can improve. It’s important for businesses to stay a part of the online conversation by listening to, engaging with and understanding customers through online profiles, posting conversations and updates, and responding intelligently to customer feedback.
Battery life is a main concern for professionals on the go. Some tips on how to prolong your PC’s battery life include turning down the lights and heat, defragmenting your computer regularly, using hibernation mode instead of standby mode and checking your computer’s power options to make sure their optimized.
Some industries including real estate and insurance can really benefit from the cost savings and increased efficiency that mobile technology provides. If your business is constantly on the go, setting up a mobile technology system that includes mobile PCs, printing and applications could increase productivity, operational flexibility and overall ROI.
Chris Ogburn, SMB segment marketing director for HP’s Personal Systems Group, Americas.
Local social marketing is one of the major digital marketing trends for small businesses that will continue to expand in 2012, along with mobile and deals.
Industry estimates put businesses in America spending approximately $136 billion annually on local or regionally targeted advertising. Because consumers are using different devices and referencing different mediums to make purchase decisions including online reviews, local merchants need to ensure that they are able to be found using these channels and tools.
Social media networks like Facebook and Foursquare are popular with shoppers, with 44% of those surveyed in the recent Deloitte holiday survey saying they will use social networks to find discounts, get gift ideas or shop for products.
We are definitely seeing a significant increase in demand from small businesses to reach consumers through local mobile, social marketing and daily deals, and turn online shoppers into offline buyers. In fact, with the rising popularity of smartphone and social media usage, our mobile and social small business offerings are both seeing solid month-over-month growth.
The number one goal of our small business customers is to increase their sales and market share with ready-to-buy local consumers. Ultimately, advertisers want to get local consumers in their stores or calling for services they offer.
We have seen strong demand for our integrated product suite that delivers a comprehensive combination of a first-page ranking, geo-targeted website, mobile integrated website, social media presence (Facebook and Twitter) and brand-centric display advertising – all in one. In this way, we are helping to meet the need of local businesses to go beyond the traditional business profile and expand their online presence to reach ready-to-buy consumers who are searching online for local businesses, products or services.
Lori Chavez, vice president of marketing for online media company, Local Corporation
Research in Motion (RIM) – BlackBerry
Make your technology do more – to save, increase efficiency and simplify work for your users.
Look for a unified Inbox on your mobile device that displays urgent business emails alongside your customer’s FaceBook® or Twitter® responses or requests, so you stay on top of it all – even when the apps aren’t running. Take advantage of apps that automatically integrate travel plans with Calendar entries or connect you to conference calls from the road. The more parts of your business you can access and manage from one interface, the more you can focus on growing your business.
Boost job satisfaction by recognizing that people no longer work traditional office hours or sit behind their desks all day. Work time and downtime is now more fluid. Offer mobile solutions that help employees access what they need – for work or entertainment – and see how productive they become. And do all this while ensuring you have a trusted solution in place. For example, BlackBerry® Balance technology allows the use of personal apps and services while restricting copy-and-paste functionality to help prevent business information from being shared.
The mobile solution you purchase today should be flexible enough to adapt to tomorrow’s needs. Choose a platform that mobilizes your sales people just as well as it supports employees out on the floor – whether your team is five or 500 people. Ensure you’ve got room to grow: in devices and tablets, touch and/or keyboard form factors, with security options that cover everything from managing lost devices to meeting advanced security requirements, and with IT management features that make it easy to manage and keep track of it all.
Alan Panezic, VP Enterprise Product Mgmt & Marketing, Research In Motion
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