The unexpected Techy

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Stocks and Bonds

You could say that I’m somewhat a geek when it comes to business news and watching the stock market trends throughout the day. You see, I was influenced at the very young age of 8 to the marvels of Wall Street by a game called, “Stocks and Bonds.” My parents owned the original 1964 Readers Digest version equipped with a stock board for recording opening and closing numbers and a cool slide calculator for the bear/bull market which told you if you’ve had a Happy Monday or a Black Friday. This game literally transported all who dared play it to Wall Street. The object of the game was to become the wealthiest stockholder in the game by choosing the best markets to purchase and/or sell stocks and bonds. And yes, I was only 8 years old when I was hooked on this game. (I had an older brother and sister who influenced me).

As our economy continues to be quite sluggish, I’m reminded about the game I played and all the external forces that contribute to the type of market we’re in. And, given this significance of all the technological advances today and associated cost, the importance of being able to compete leveraging best in class technology could not be more important and true. After all, customers not only want ‘Quality’ products and services but want the best price delivered the fastest way possible, right?

Working for an IT company has opened up my eyes to the endless possibilities that technology affords and at varying price points. I’ll be blogging on this soon so stay tuned.

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Benefits of "outtasking" for your SMB

What are the benefits of outsourcing/outtasking for SMB’s?

The term outsourcing sometimes carries a very negative reputation when you think of large scale companies laying off thousands of their workers when transferring their factories of administration services to developing countries in particular to the BRIC nations. (Brazil, Russia, India, and China). But this popular misconception doesn’t even begin to touch the surface of what the term outsourcing really means, and it fails to address many of the clear benefits that outsourcing can have for many SMB’s (small-medium businesses).

When a company outsources an entire division to an off-shore site then this is known as Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) but it’s the concept known as outtasking that can serve the needs of SMB’s perfectly. This concept refers to the outsourcing of specific tasks or processes that are outsourced to an external freelancer or contractor because the required expertise or skill cannot be found within the existing company. Why is this so useful for SMB’s then?

If you are operating a start-up or an SMB then of course a lot of the work will have to be done by a small number of employees as you don’t have the luxury of a large budget in order to hire a large number of experts in a variety of fields. Moreover, it is conceivable that when you are founding your company there are certain tasks that only need to be undertaken once, and thus your company does not need the service of a full-time in-house employee. The most stringent example could be within the creation of your brand, where you can outsource the task of creating a company logo design to an expert designer on a temporary basis. Furthermore, by choosing to
outsource certain tasks then this leaves SMB’s more time to concentrate on what they do best - developing business strategy.

Quality and expertise
Another clear benefit that outsourcing can bring to your SMB is that when you choose to award your project or need to a specific freelancer or contractor, you can be sure that this individual will bring professionalism and experience to the task. When choosing to use an outsourcing platform, you are free to view the references provided by each service provider in order to ensure their quality and expertise.

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Can technology really boost employee productivity and satisfaction without risk?

All the so-called “feel-good” psychological methods of improving employee satisfaction and  productivity metrics are great, but they’re useless without the right tools. And the right tools mean the right technology. For an employee to be efficient and productive in today’s job environment means equipping employees with the right tools. (I.e. remote access via a phone connection or an unsecured wireless link, smartphone access to check emails outside the office, a netbook while traveling, web applications, social media networking sites, etc.) Companies that fail to upgrade or ignore the necessity for these tools run the risk of diminished employee productivity.

Here’s the problem though – traditional security models in which company information is protected by secure network perimeters only around the office environment are becoming obsolete. This is due to more mobile employees accessing systems remotely from outside the office. As IT departments come under pressure to effectively manage and protect employee behaviors enabled by these tools, threats to the company network are becoming more sophisticated.

Where’s the balance? In conjunction with employee education and internal safety/security policies, it is essential that your IT division/company is taking a proactive approach to securing your computer network. They can make sure your network is secure from viruses, hackers, and annoying spyware thus reducing downtime and losses with up-to-date firewall and Unified Threat Management (UTM).

Some examples of what internal policies should cover include (in addition to technological advances to protect your network):

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Signs that you need a cloud solution

In my last blog, I talked about the value of outsourcing IT with a focus on the cloud and how you can save money – my ultimate passion! Well, did you get your arms around this yet? Do you really want to save money and become more productive? As promised, I have listed below a few simple signs that could mean it’s time you took a look at the cloud:

  • Your software licensing is a mess. You don’t know which PCs or users have licenses for which packages. And you constantly have to delete licenses from user profiles in order to free up more versions of the software.
  • Your server workload fluctuates wildly and sometimes unpredictably.
  • Users are constantly reporting frustrations with a slow network, access to the database etc.
  • You are several iterations behind on the latest versions of crucial applications that underpin your business.
  • IT tells you that you need to take the server offline in order to install upgrades, but your business can’t afford the downtime.
  • Your workforce is frustrated – they want to have a more mobile productive working environment but your IT constraints means their locked to your legacy desktops.
  • You want more flexibility – in applications, storage and services.

If one or more of the above are affecting you and your business, you should strongly consider moving to the Cloud. It’ll save you money, allow for better organizaton and productivity, lead to increased employee satisfaction, and will give you the competetive edge in the marketplace.

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Did you say, “Outsource IT?”


Far be it from me to be known as the, “technology queen,” however; I have a decent amount of business savvy coupled with a passionate desire to save money while not comprising value.  Take my car for example.  Over the years, I have never been a ‘car owner’ per se’ rather a ‘care lessee.’  You see, I thoroughly enjoy having a “new” car every 4 years.  Not only does it feel great but I also get the latest gadgets, technology advances, and safety features and ‘usually’ never worry about a breakdown.  You see, I have very little competency on car maintenance or problematic issues of any kind relative to a car and how it all works and, quite honestly, no desire.  What I do know is this—I jump in my car, insert the key into the ignition, shift the gears, step on the gas, and GO - no worries.  My schedule is hectic and demanding at times and this is one less worry in my day.  If I were to purchase the car outright, the depreciation alone would make me dizzy and numb.  Sure, I’d own it after 5 or 6 years along with all the repairs that it will require to keep it running in tip top shape.

Guess what?  Our office technology is the same way.  Technological advances and changes are occurring everyday! In order to set-up your office, it’ll require an initial investment in hardware and software resources just to get started and that comes with a whopping price tag.  IT related costs are spiraling and users are constantly reporting frustrations with a slow network, access to the database and so forth. And, you invest all the money, time, and effort only to do it all again in another 4-5 years.  IT equipment can run you well into the thousands.  So what’s the option?  Lease your infrastructure with Cloud computing!  Hardware resources (such as storage) and computing power (CPU and memory) are offered as services to you.  This enables you to rent these resources rather than spending money to buy dedicated servers and networking equipment.    

Cloud computing is changing the way we do business, work, live or lives, and generally interact with data and services.

Stay tuned--next, I will be sharing ways to know if Cloud computing is right for your company.

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Jargon Smargon - Part II

So, we left off last week talking about the odd and offensive computer lingo in the Information Technology world.  Let’s see, what is a thin, dumb, and fat client?”  I am going to share the differences but first, I must share a couple true stories…

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Jargon Smargon

The technology world changes faster than my failing eyes, and yes, my eyesight seems to change every 6 months or so! And even more disturbing is the computer jargon used to describe the equipment and processes.  For example, why do we have thin clients and thick clients?  That’s offensive!  So over the next few weeks, I’m going to share my stories and honest take on this technology madness as I like to call it.  And for a little irony, guess what field I work in today?  That’s right, the Information Technology field!

Speaking of thin clients, I still recall one of the first computers I used in business working for one of the largest banks in the country.  The IT guys would refer to it as a “dumb terminal,” odd really because I thought this gadget was incredibly smart.  After all, it had a built in phone with a hand receiver intact, now that’s not dumb, right? I could make calls all day long using my special computer phone.  Oh, and I’ll never forget the pretty black and green colors.  Mine had an all black background with a glowing green font color like plutonium that you see in the Superman movies- yes, my screen always glowed.   I was so impressed with this computer, so much better than my electric typewriter I had grown accustomed to.  And who could forget those dot matrix printers?  There’s a print head that prints by impact, striking an ink-soaked cloth ribbon against paper.  Okay, a little loud and clunky but very effective for more than just printing.  For example, whenever I was feeling down and needed a confidence booster, I’d wait to hit the print button until an important client would call.  They would hear the printer keys diligently working away and almost always comment, “Ma’am, you are so efficient and type incredibly fast!”  And so it goes, one of the best strategies back in the day was to jot down a note to your manager sharing the positive client feedback specific to being ‘efficient and fast,’ especially beneficial around annual salary planning.   Yes, I looked forward to those raises and bonus checks.

And speaking about the terminology to describe a thin (dumb terminal) and thick client I mentioned earlier, that’s another whole irritating topic to discuss.  Thanks for reading and hope to see you back soon to continue this conversation…

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