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?

Flexibility
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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Azzaron's Q2 Survey Results

At Azzaron, we strive to improve our service level and expand our product offerings on a continuous basis.  The respondents of our latest survey for July-2011 have already provided us with a lot of information but you are always welcome to send us suggestions and comments by email as well to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Our customer satisfaction survey ran during the month of July and we were very pleased with the tremendous participation rate–even higher than the last one! The overall survey results showed that 85 percent of our clients are satisfied with us and 95 percent of those responding would recommend us to friends or colleagues.

Last month, we heard your feedback for wanting us to be a bit more patient and to slow it down when dealing with your technical difficulties.   We are pleased to report that this score did improve so we’re headed in the right direction (see report).  Customer Service and meeting your needs is of the upmost importance to us at Azzaron.  We thank you for your feedback to help us improve both our products and services to you.

An area we need to focus on more (and we will) is our Help Desk Ticketing system.  The question is looking for feedback on the process being both helpful and informative in terms of logging a ticket and getting follow-up on the ticket disposition.  Overall, we dropped by 11% on this question with the gap being from those of you responding ‘undecided.’   That tells us we have more work to do.  As we didn’t get any specific feedback comments on this question, we will continue reaching out to you for that feedback as well as making enhancements along the way.  Please feel free anytime to provide us feedback.

Lastly, we would like to congratulate Michele A. with Pinnacle Lien.  Her name was randomly drawn to win the $10 gift card for completing the July client survey - 2011.  Congrats Michele!

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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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