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Technology & Productivity Weekly
This Week's Headlines
Should Your Business Go PC-Free?
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The phenomenon of mobile technology has prompted businesses to consider whether PCs are obsolete. While tablets like the iPad were initially deemed consumer gadgets, the technology was widely adopted by businesses. Business applications became a standard among SMBs, enabling them to conduct business from more affordable smartphones and tablets. As cloud-based services emerged, the need for PC-based tasks was supplanted by the Internet. Doug Grabowski of Ubiquitor, a managed technology services company, has eliminated the use of laptops at his company. Instead, Grabowski heavily uses iPads and smartphones, customizing these devices with user-friendly dashboards to increase productivity. According to Grabowski, more SMBs will invest in tablets instead of laptops due to their appeal of affordability and mobile productivity. While all SMBs have yet to entirely replace laptops with tablets, there is definitely a case for using tablets as a robust mobile productivity tool. <more>
Accounting firms are using social media as a tactic for attracting new clients and engaging with existing clients. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have become popular outlets for contacting clients or publicizing new services, with many firms reporting significant leads from these sites. Firms like Naden/Lean LLC have garnered as many as 3,000 followers from their Twitter account. Firms have also used strategies like creating blogs, sending newsletters, and checking in on sites like Foursquare to increase their exposure. Social media has significantly impacted client-firm relationships, with firms stating clients have reached out to them from social media leads. Other firms like Chapman & Burris CPAs LLC say social media is some clients' preferred method of communication. <more>
There are three major components of IT security: confidentiality, integrity, and availability. Confidentiality consists of protecting information from access by unauthorized individuals. Implementing password usage, encrypting data, and creating authorized user access are all important parts of upholding confidentiality. Data integrity consists of preserving the accuracy and legitimacy of data. Data availability concerns the ability of businesses to recover data that has been corrupted or deleted, as well as ensuring data backups have been conducted. Robust IT security ensures that anti-virus tools are functioning at full-capacity, all software is updated, and security tests are regularly conducted. <more>
There are several things individuals can do to ensure their online passwords are secure. They should avoid some of the most common passwords, like "123456," "abc123," "welcome," or "ninja," and they should aim for longer passwords than the minimum required length. They should use a complicated password that involves a sentence that is easy for them to remember, translating "I drive a 1978 Volkswagen!" into "IDA78VW!," for instance. They should use different passwords for each of their Web services; create a base password and add characters based on the service they are logging into, adding "gml" onto their base to denote their Gmail account, for instance; change their passwords several times a year; and take advantage of Google's two-step verification process. Finally, after selecting a new password, they can test its strength at howsecureismypassword.net. <more>
Using passwords has traditionally been the standard for ensuring Web site security. Yet with employees using multiple passwords for various Web sites and applications, a simpler solution is using a tool like SecurEnvoy. SecurEnvoy is a system that generates security codes delivered via text message to employees' or clients' mobile devices in real-time. The risk of data loss is mitigated by real-time requirement to provide the unique key, as well as the fact that mobile devices are generally not shared. Two-factor authentication is a security best practice that all businesses should observe, especially because single passwords lack the same level of security in an era of rampant malware. Another option for small businesses is using single sign-on options through a portal like Google Apps that only require site-specific credentials rather than a password. <more>
The online accounting software Xero has been integrated with the Harvest time tracking and invoicing tool. This means users of Xero now have access to time and expense functions. According to Jamie Sutherland, Xero's president of U.S. operations, "Xero is continuing to partner with industry leaders, like Harvest, who round out our cloud-based offering with tools that make it even easier for small businesses and accounting professionals to manage their finances from anywhere, anytime." <more>
There are several blogging tools small businesses should consider for increasing their online presence. WordPress represents about 20 percent of all Web sites online, positioning itself as the most popular blogging tool. Free and cheap options from WordPress present the site as affordable and attractive to businesses, which have access to customized themes. WordPress is not optimal for managing multiple plugins, however, which could be an issue for some SMBs. Blogger is another SMB-friendly site, owned by Google, and consequently more likely to show up in search engine rankings. Blogger is user-friendly and boasts a huge Web community, plus its ties to Google position the site as less likely to experience server downtime. HubSpot is useful for SMBs that seek creation of a lead/customer database, while featuring several marketing tools. Some features of HubSpot include search engine optimization assistance, Google Analytics, and social media assistance. <more>
CRMCulture will soon launch its updated version of Productivity Pack for Pivotal CRM, due out in May. The Pivotal platform allows user-enhanced customization and comes with Auto-Complete, Summarize a Column, and Share a Shortcut features. CRMCulture Founder and President Steve Roch says the productivity pack aims to save companies enormous time and effort. He notes, "For us, productivity is all about saving users clicks." The latest product features a preview pane that can display hundreds of contacts within a few minutes, eliminating the need to open contacts with multiple clicks. Other important features include the ability to create a preview pane without programming and the ability to eliminate batch editing challenges. Roch adds that the user-friendly platform enables most companies to customize and configure Pivotal with ease. <more>
LAST UPDATED 2/22/2013