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Mobile Payment Solutions: Are they Right for Small Businesses?
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Many small businesses might consider whether mobile payment solutions are suitable for their office. Mobile payments provide an unparalleled level of convenience, while meeting the growing demands of tech-savvy consumers. Mobile payments also provide significant benefits for SMBs, who generally have smaller staff, as services are rendered at a lower cost. Additionally, the phenomenon of smartphones and tablets have supported the case for widespread adoption of mobile payments. SMBs that might not benefit from mobile payments include those working in industries where high-volume, low-margin businesses could be impacted by transaction fees. Other businesses that lack an invoicing model might not be suited for implementing mobile payments. <more>
Microsoft has released Office 365 Small Business Premium, costing $15 per user monthly or $150 per user annually. The cloud-based office productivity suite features Word, Outlook, and Excel, and tools for creating a Web site. There are three points Office 365 users should recognize, starting with the fact that the suite is ideal for heavy Word, Excel, and PowerPoint users. File sharing has been streamlined on the latest version of Office 365, with the suite including customizable email addresses and integration with mobile apps. The second point about Office 365 is that small businesses might want to use the Home Premium version to save money. For $100 annually, Home Premium provides access to full versions of Microsoft's programs for up to five computers, as well as access to SkyDrive. Lastly, for collaboration needs, using Web apps might be better. A few setbacks impede Office 365's collaboration processes, so using Google Apps or Zoho might be much simpler and faster than using Office 365. <more>
The cloud has proved to be a useful platform for small businesses, particularly in the form of improving productivity and boosting collaboration. Cloud customer relationship management tools have enhanced SMBs' ability to serve clients, while providing greater security for businesses. Common misconceptions about the cloud include its inability to secure data and its high cost, though IT experts say these misconceptions are due to lack of information about the cloud. According to Symantec's Tom Powledge, SMBs do not take full advantage of the cloud. A Symantec survey noted that seven in 10 SMBs have experienced rogue cloud deployments, otherwise known as cloud deployments without the permission of management. Consequently, IT experts say leveraging the cloud is to a business' advantage, as many cloud solutions have higher levels of data security than businesses maintain on-site. Furthermore, vendors are working on cloud solutions that uphold compliance standards across various industries. <more>
There are four hard drives businesses should consider for protecting their data security. The first is My Passport Edge from Western Digital, which provides 500GB of data for only $100. The USB 3.0 drive is compact and includes software that provides password options for protecting data and automatic backups. The ioSafe Solo G3 is another USB 3.0 hard drive, which is waterproof and heatproof. Three options for the Solo G3 are available: 1TB for $300, 2 TB for $350, and 3 TB for $450. The LaCie Little Big Disk stores data at exceptional speed, transferring files of 635MB per second. The Little Big Disk includes two Thunderbolt ports, with options including 512GB for $700 and 1TB for $1,000. At an affordable $200, the Seagate GoFlex Satellite provides 10 hours of battery life and 500GB of data storage. The GoFlex Satellite includes the capacity to support up to eight Wi-Fi devices and is compatible with both Mac and Windows. <more>
There are three software solutions small businesses can use for migrating their desktop to the cloud. The first, Mikogo Cloud Desktop, enables SMBs to rent space for long-term and short-term employees, including interns. Mikogo offers the ability to host meetings via the cloud, featuring screen sharing capabilities. Nivio is another cloud solution, starting at $35 per user monthly; for $50 per user monthly, Microsoft Office is included. Nivio features options that include pre-made desktops, the ability to rent software and applications, and 10GB of storage per user. loud My Office is another similarly priced solution, ranging from about $36 to $46 per user monthly. Cloud My Office displays a dashboard administrator panel for customizing desktops and viewing applications, as well as the ability to access their desktop from any mobile connection. <more>
Improving the availability of a business network is critical to the efficiency of any firm. According to Mark Tauschek, an analyst at Info-Tech Research Group, the first step in improving network availability is improving the monitoring of an office's network. Assessing a network's performance and noting any irregularities is an important part of preventing network outages or disruptions. Tauschek advises businesses to report their current traffic flows, data extracted, and which thresholds have been configured. He says businesses should leverage free and low-cost solutions which are often as useful as more expensive solutions. Network managers should provide as much redundancy as possible, while creating backup options for mission-critical network equipment like routers. Tauschek says a multiple-link router is useful for balancing inexpensive broadband connections and adding capacity without cost. He adds that training employees is an important part of ensuring successful network management. <more>
There are seven ways that firms can upgrade their offices, starting with enhancing tech-savvy displays to their meeting spaces. High-definition televisions like the Samsung ES9000 include a built-in camera for video conferencing needs. Technology like the HP HD-5210 Webcam is great for capturing high-definition images during meetings, especially as speakers frequently shift. Quality paper is another important part of improving an office, particularly because flimsy paper is more prone to jamming printers. Simple changes like upgrading lightbulbs to LED lights and replacing an old coffeemaker for newer models like Keurig play an important role in conserving energy and saving money. New keyboards are an equally good investment, with options like the Logitech Bluetooth Illuminated Keyboard K810 featuring an option to switch between multiple mobile devices. Finally, offices should prioritize ergonomics and invest accordingly in office furniture. <more>
According to a ZenCash survey, businesses of all tiers waste significant time managing receivables. The survey indicates that about 40 percent of businesses spend an average of 25 hours per month on accounts receivable, and 20 percent spend as much as 160 hours monthly. A majority of firms surveyed allocated two or more people for managing receivables, while 40 percent allocated 5 people for managing the process. As a result of SMBs' receivables management challenges, ZenCash has created a Receivables Dashboard for improving the efficiency of processing receivables. ZenCash, which integrates with QuickBooks, automates the receivables process with features like days sales outstanding; total amount outstanding; assessment of concentrated risk; and average days outstanding across all customer accounts over time. Blinksale, a Web-based solution, is another receivables automation tool featuring built-in payment options and estimation tools. <more>
LAST UPDATED 3/8/2013