Your New Year’s resolution was to expand your small business in 2013. How is that resolution faring? If you’re struggling to improve your small business’ revenues so far this year, it might be time to look to your IT department. Yes it’s true: Your IT department delivers the technical expertise to make your business even more efficient. That, in return, can raise your employees’ productivity and grow your business’ bottom line. Here are some tech projects that Small Business Computing.com suggests for small business owners who want to see their businesses grow in 2013.
Bring Wi-Fi to your business
The bring-your-device movement continues to grow. This makes sense: Employees often work more efficiently when they can work on their own personal tablets, laptops and smartphones on the job. After all, they are more familiar with these devices. Taking their own devices to work can also help when employees need to put the finishing touches on a report or presentation when they’re at home or traveling. But this policy only works when your office provides a strong and reliable Wi-Fi network that employees are able to use to access the Web, send and receive e-mail messages and update your company’s Twitter and Facebook pages. Make investing in a reliable Wi-Fi network a key goal of 2013.
Your employees are able to do more when they can tote laptops to meetings with customers. Traditional laptops, though, are too clunky. And small Netbooks are often too slow and limited. Ultrabooks, though, are a different animal. These laptops are both small and light enough to be portable, and powerful enough to enable employees to show multimedia presentations and reports to potential customers. One way to watch your business grow is to provide your employees more options for snagging new customers. Ultrabooks are one of these options.
No more Windows XP
Windows XP is a solid operating system, especially compared with the universally unloved Vista. But Windows XP’s time has come and gone. Microsoft will no longer offer technical support for the 10-year-old operating system come April of 2014. And the company will stop delivering security updates for the system at that time, as well. Which means that it’s time for you to upgrade any machine that is still running this operating system. Upgrade to Windows 7; it’s one of Microsoft’s more popular operating systems.
You’ve heard of cult movies. Cult bands, too. But have you ever heard of a business app that had its own cult following? Now you have, thanks to a recent story by BloombergBusinessweek. The story highlights the remarkable popularity of Evernote, a five-year-old organization and note-taking app that has swiftly developed its own cult of fervent users. These users aren’t shy about praising the application to the uninitiated. And Evernote’s chief executive officer isn’t boasting when he says he’d one day like his organization app to boast more than 1 billion followers.
According to the Bloomberg BusinessWeek story, Evernote today boasts more than 50 million users, amazing for an app that’s only existed for five years. More remarkable is the fact that new users are signing at a pace of 100,000 per day. That makes chief executive officer Phil Libin’s goal of reaching 1 billion users across the globe seem more credible than farfetched.
According to the BloombergBusinessweek story, Evernote presently has more than 50 million users worldwide. Plus the number of users remains on the rise. The story states that more than 100,000 new users sign up for Evernote each day. That’s impressive. And the BloombergBusinessweek interview quotes CEO Phil Libin as saying that his goal is to reach 1 billion users.
This popularity might seem unusual to people who still take notes on pen and paper. However, fans of Evernote say that new users become devotees quickly for just one reason: Evernote helps make sense of increasingly busy lives. It’s tough to keep track of children’s hockey practices, work meetings, lunch with friends, and family gatherings. Evernote, though, allows users to do this efficiently, by using, basically, just three columns on a screen. The Evernote promise is a simple, but powerful, one: If you use this app, you’ll never inadvertently forget a phone call, meeting or anniversary again. Looking at it in this way, that goal of 1 billion users doesn’t seem so farfetched.
<p>You can learn about anything on the Internet. At least it seems that way. The fact is, if you are doing research online, you're likely to stumble into information that looks true but actually isn't. And that can scuttle your research easily. Thankfully, Web site Lifehacker recently provided several tips on how to conduct more effective research on the Internet. Follow these tips and you'll soon be finding the truth online.</p> <p><strong>Watch for your bias</strong></p> <p>Lifehacker's first tip? Be cautious about your own bias. All of us are guilty of something termed confirmation bias. We want to find information with which we already agree. For example, if you're a lifelong liberal, you'll be more likely to believe studies demonstrating that poverty is the real reason behind low school test scores. It is crucial when researching online to identify your own biases and to make sure that you're not selectively sourcing studies that confirm it. It's important to give weight; too, to research that contradicts your beliefs.</p> <p><strong>Look for bad information</strong></p> <p>Lifehacker points to poorly cited articles as a big trap for online researchers. Unfortunately, the Internet is packed with "research" that isn't very methodical in nature. Look for articles that are highly sourced and that originate from respected journals, magazines or newspapers. You can generally count on medical journals and government reports, as well, when it comes to online research.</p> <p><strong>Specialized online research</strong></p> <p>To find the newest and most comprehensive studies on your subject, you'll need to expand your search beyond the usual suspects of Google, Bing and Yahoo! Instead, use specialized scholarly searches that can yield more detailed information. Google Scholar and Scirus are powerful tools for academic research. So is PLOS, run by the Public Library of Science, and the United States Library of Congress.</p>
<p>Google Glass — Google's augmented reality glasses — are getting closer to hitting the market. These computerized specs allow wearers to surf the Internet, send and receive e-mail messages, chat with friends and take photos. Pretty awesome for a pair of glasses. But there was a time when glasses were used just for seeing things, which was an important job, too. Is Google's Glass project, then, truly necessary? Or is it a diversion from real life?</p> <p><strong>Augmented vision</strong></p> <p>The news that Google Glass, as stated by CNET, will be released by the end of the year has been a bit of a surprise. Google was initially planning to release the glasses in 2014. The sped-up timeframe gives a hint of how important Google considers its augmented eyewear. Even better, the news is that the glasses, even though pricey, are somewhat affordable. They are expected to retail for $1,500.</p> <p><strong>Do we need augmented reality?</strong></p> <p>So, are Google's Glasses an example Google providing consumers what they want, or are the glasses are high-priced novelty that will never catch on? It's hard to deny that there's some usefulness to the glasses. They can be used, after all, to run directions to a new Chinese restaurant as you're walking down the street. You can make a call to tell a friend that you're running late. You could even pull up the subway timetable before you head underground to catch a train. But can't we already do all of this with phones, mobile devices and, of course, paper and pen?</p> <p><strong>A connected world?</strong></p> <p>The Google Glass project will test just how linked to our electronic devices we want to be. We've already grown to be dependent upon our tablets and smartphones to tell us when the next movie is playing, whether we should pack an umbrella, or where that new French restaurant is located. You could look at Google Glass as just the next step in our growing relationship with mobile devices. It remains to be seen, though, whether an augmented reality is more spectacular than just plain old reality.</p>