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Posts Tagged ‘small business technology’

Small Biz Resource Tip: Dragon Remote Microphone

March 20th, 2012 ::

Dragon Remote Microphone

When you need a piece of paper to remember something (important meeting, client you need to call, great business idea you had spontaneously), it always seems like there’s no pen, no paper or you’re not in a good place to take notes. Besides, if you’re like me, you’ll inevitably lose the paper. Nuance Software’s Dragon Remote Microphone lets you use your mobile device as a wireless microphone for dictating text and commands to your PC or Mac. Available free for your iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, the tool lets you record and transcribe anywhere you and your phone are—an invaluable benefit for entrepreneurs on the go.

Mobile Marketing’s Hottest Audience

February 20th, 2012 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

If you think mobile marketing is all about reaching out to teenagers, techies or Gen Y hipsters, think again. One of the hottest markets for mobile purchasing is one you may not expect: moms.

It’s no secret that moms are major decision makers when it comes to household purchases. And if you know any moms, you know how much they rely on smartphones to stay connected, whether at the office, at home or on the go with the family. Now the advent of tablets is changing the game even more by giving moms a new way to access information and shop wherever they are.

Over the holidays, tablet computer ownership surged, with many of them given as gifts. Pew Internet and American Life data shows nearly 20 percent of Americans now own tablet or ereader devices. And a Nielsen study late last year found almost half (43 percent) of tablet owners are female.

The Kindle Fire and the latest iteration of Barnes & Noble’s Nook are also changing the game because they compete more directly with the top-selling tablet, the iPad, and are heavily marketed to women.

Tablet users are desirable customers: Many studies have found tablet users spend more time browsing online, are more likely to buy online and spend more when they do buy than smartphone users. Simply put, the tablet shopping experience is a lot more enjoyable than shopping on a tiny phone.

So what do you need to do to grab tablet-toting moms’ business? First, make sure your business website is optimized for tablet use. This means focusing on visuals, so be sure you have outstanding photos of your products. Think of tablet shopping like a digital catalog. The phrase “couch shopping” has been coined to reflect where most tablet use takes place—while relaxing at home—so your tablet experience should be fun, easy to use and engaging.

Of course, moms aren’t mindlessly flipping the pages of your digital catalog. They’re hunting for information and bargains, so be sure your tablet shopping experience is packed with product details, including reviews and comparisons to help Mom make the right decision.

While research so far seems to indicate tablet shoppers prefer browsers to apps, you shouldn’t discount apps altogether. If you can create an app to make shopping more fun, faster or simpler, do so. Also keep in mind that many moms share tablets with kids or use them to keep the kids entertained. If relevant to your business, an app targeting kids (such as the ability to create a “wish list” that Mom can access later) could be a great marketing tool.

Take the time to explore how tablets can help you reach moms, and your business will reap the benefits.

Image by Flickr user anurag adrihoti (Creative Commons)



Businesses Plan to Spend More on IT This Year

February 15th, 2012 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

Is your small business getting ready to spend on IT in the next six months? If not, you may want to change your plans. The latest CDW IT Monitor survey found that IT decision-makers’ optimism—and plans to invest in their businesses’ IT—have reached their highest point since the survey began in late 2007.

Almost every sector in the survey was planning to spend on IT in the coming months, including state and federal governments, and small, midsize and large companies in the private sector. The biggest increases were in midsized businesses, with the percentage planning to spend on IT up 7 percent since the last Monitor in October, and in state and federal governments, with the percentage planning to spend up 11 and 10 percent, respectively, since October.

In addition, plans for increased spending were found in almost every industry, including healthcare, manufacturing, IT, professional services, retailing and manufacturing.

Overall, 80 percent of respondents plan to spend on new hardware, with small business hardware spending plans up by 9 percent since October—the largest jump among groups surveyed. An overall 82 percent of respondents plan to spend on new software, with small business IT departments again leading the pack—the percentage planning to spend on software was up 10 percent since October. (Tied with small businesses, local governments’ planned investment in software was up 10 percent, too.)

Midsized businesses and state governments were the most likely groups planning sizable investments in IT. And midsized businesses and federal governments were most likely to be hiring new IT staff. (Overall, projected IT hiring for the next six months is down from last October’s poll.)

What are IT decision-makers’ highest priorities in the next six months? Among those planning to spend on IT, networking (58 percent), security (57 percent), virtualization (56 percent) and cloud computing (47 percent) topped the list.

“The IT spending outlook has reached a significant milestone. More IT decision-makers are feeling optimistic about the prospects of their IT budgets increasing, and they are anticipating significant IT investments in the next six months, especially on the hardware and software fronts,” said Neal Campbell, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at CDW. “We believe that organizations will continue to look at technology investments as ways to boost efficiencies, increase productivity and gain new competitive advantages in 2012.”

What’s the upshot? Even if your business won’t be spending more on IT this year, chances are some of your key clients will—and that could spell opportunity for you.

Image by Flickr user Martin Terber (Creative Commons)


Small Biz Resource Tip: McAfee Mobile Security

February 14th, 2012 ::

McAfee Mobile Security

Computer security solution provider McAfee recently announced its mobile security app for BlackBerry, Android and Symbian OS platforms. The app not only gives your mobile device automatic backup and restore capabilities, it also scans all new apps and downloads for viruses and blocks against risky websites—things you think about when you’re on your computer, but may not always stop to consider when you’re using your smartphone. In case your mobile device is lost or stolen, the Mobile Security app also contains a location and locking device so you can remotely find your smartphone and protect it against unauthorized access until it is returned to you.

Small Biz Resource Tip: Codecademy

January 30th, 2012 ::


Ever wish you could just code your own blog or website without having to call in the tech team? Started by two guys who were frustrated by having to learn programming, Codecademy teaches coding the way it should be taught–by actually having you do the coding. Courses range from “Basic Functions in JavaScript” to “Hello, New York,” which is a quick course in the basics for even the busiest of New Yorkers (assuming New Yorkers are the busiest people on the planet).  Encourage your employees and fellow business associates to sign up and you can encourage each other and check up on each other’s progress.

Who’s Buying What on Mobile Devices?

January 30th, 2012 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

What are Americans doing—and buying—on their mobile phones and tablets? Increasingly, they’re buying products and services. Among smartphone owners, a December survey of a sample of TechBargains.com visitors found 32 percent of women and 25 percent of men made half or more of their holiday purchases via mobile phones, reports Internet Retailer.

iPhone users were most likely to use smartphones to shop. Overall, 34 percent of iPhone users and 20 percent of Android users who made purchases with their phones said they did half or more of their holiday shopping on the phones.

While tablets are relatively new to the party compared to smartphones, they’re already slightly ahead of smartphones as a shopping tool. Among tablet owners, 35 percent of women and 21 percent of men in the survey said that half or more of their holiday purchases were made using tablets. And overall, 75 percent of respondents had made purchases on a tablet, compared to 58 percent who had done so on smartphones and 94 percent who have done so on laptops.

For those who shop with their phone:

  • 79 percent use the phone to research products,
  • 77 percent to compare prices, and
  • 73 percent to browse stores.

Of the 58 percent of shoppers who make purchases via their mobile devices:

  • 69 percent use both the mobile browser and apps to buy products,
  • 18 percent only use apps, and
  • 13 percent only use a mobile browser.

What were users buying on mobile phones?

  • 70 percent of shoppers purchased digital goods,
  • 60 percent purchased physical merchandise,
  • 46 percent purchased services, and
  • 38 percent purchased consumable goods.

Of the 75 percent of tablet owners who use their devices to make purchases:

  • 90 percent use tablets to browse stores,
  • 89 percent research products, and
  • 85 percent compare prices.

The iPad has the edge in mobile shopping with 86 percent of iPad 2 owners making purchases via their tablets. However, despite being brand new, the Kindle Fire is close behind, with 74 percent of users making purchases via their devices.

What about people who aren’t using their mobile phones to buy? Of those, 42 percent of men and 38 percent of women said security concerns kept them from buying on the device, while 54 percent of men and 59 percent of women cited problems in completing purchases. Want to capture shoppers’ mobile dollars? Make sure your security is airtight (and that you promote and explain this to users), and make sure your process is simple and easy to use.

Image by Flickr user Charantan Patnaik (Creative Commons)

Small Biz Resource Tip: Lookout Mobile Security

January 27th, 2012 ::

Lookout Mobile Security

With the world going mobile at an increasing pace, the threat of malware crashing your phone is increasing, too. All you have to do is visit a “bad” website from your smartphone or download a malicious app, and you could become a tech hostage to the scammers who attacked your phone. Lookout Mobile Security can help you identify threats before you visit a site you shouldn’t and also backs up your data to the cloud in case you lose your information (or actually lose your phone). You can also erase your entire phone’s contents remotely if your phone is stolen or lost.

Small Biz Resource Tip: Office2 HD

January 23rd, 2012 ::

Office2 HD

Getting used to your new iPad and can’t wait to try out all the nifty apps available to you? If you’re looking for an app to help you read and/or create a word processing file, slide deck or spreadsheet, check out Office2 HD. You can also work on an important PowerPoint presentation right from your iPad with Office2 HD. The app lets you work with Google Docs, store and transfer files, save files in a PDF format and print wirelessly. And, if you connect an external keyboard, even text-heavy editing becomes a breeze.

Small Biz Resource Tip: Onavo

January 20th, 2012 ::


Too many apps slowing down your smartphone? Onavo is a free service that can help you control your mobile date usage by compressing the amount of data used by your favorite apps. You won’t notice the compression, and it won’t slow down your apps. Once Onavo is installed, you can go back to normal usage and double or triple the space available to install even more apps. Onavo also breaks down the usage of each app, so you will know which apps are costing you money and can decide which apps are worth keeping and which to get rid of. Available for iPhone, iPad or Android.

Small Biz Resource Tip: Knoodle

January 18th, 2012 ::


If you need to create a training program for employees or customers that incorporates PowerPoint, videos, voice-overs, surveys and more, consider Knoodle. With Knoodle you can create customized presentations to engage your audience and interact as much or as little as you want. Consider doing your online training with Knoodle or even creating an HR presentation for new hires. Your Knoodle sales presentations will stand out, and you can also add a social element with chat boxes for anyone who might have a question or comment. Plus, real-time analytics let you know if your message is getting through.