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Starting a new Blog?? January 29, 2009

Posted by Jeremy in Business, Green Business, Social Networking, Tools.
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Blogging is an awesome way for people to share knowledge.  Whether it be for personal or business reasons there are many good reasons to give it a try.

Personally, I think that businesses should have a blog.  It would be in their best interests to have an active blog.  They can discuss what’s going on with their business, products, markets, etc.  This allows the customers and potential customers to connect with the company in a more personal way than they will on a standard web site.  It also allows the business to be a knowledge provider and earn trustworthiness with the clients and potential clients.

If you decide to start a blog you need to start reading ProBlogger’s Blog (twitter @ProBlogger).  He has a wealth of information for blogging.  His blog should be on every blogger’s list of required reading.

Today, he compiled a list of 29 tips (archive articles) for you if you are starting a new blog.  Here is the article:

Starting Your First Blog? 29 Tips, Tutorials and Resources for New Bloggers

If you haven’t started a blog for your business yet, you might want to consider it.  If you do consider it, check out the ProBlogger blog post above for help.

Do you blog?  Does your business blog?  What do you see as the benefits and drawbacks?

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Google to get Skype’d?? January 27, 2009

Posted by Jeremy in Business, Efficient Technologies, Tools.
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Just read a “rumor” that EBay is looking at selling Skype.  Rumor has it that Google may be the suitor.  That could be quite an acquistion for Google.  They are quickly expanding their offerings and this could really help them to expand the potential of VOIP.  Skype also makes pretty good money so that could be good for the bottom line.

Rumour: Google to buy Skype

Google could rapidly become the one stop shop for online communcation.  Also, how can Skype and Android be integrated??  Very interesting potentials when you consider Google’s focus and other assets.  Interesting rumor.  We’ll see what happens.

What is crowd sourcing? January 27, 2009

Posted by Jeremy in Business, Business Solutions, Efficiency Process, Efficient Technologies, Green Business, Resourcing, Social Networking, Tools, Virtual Office.
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Okay, I am going to share information that I am finding as I try to understand the concept called “Crowd sourcing”.   Here is what I found as a base definition on WikiPedia:

Crowdsourcing is a neologism for the act of taking a task traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people or community in the form of an open call.

So from a basic perspective utilizing many resources to do a task.  It’s a very interesting concept and I am wondering how it can be best utilized.

I will keep you up-to-date as I try to figure out how to best utilize it…

Please feel free to help me understand and post a comment!  Have you crowd sourced something?  Have you provided crowd sourcing services?

Observing the Twitter in it’s native environment January 26, 2009

Posted by Jeremy in Business, Business Solutions, Efficient Technologies, Green Business, Social Networking, Tools.
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Twitter Bird

Well a little over a month ago I posted an article called “Some Thought about Social Media” and I said at the time that I was trying out Twitter.  Well, I have definitely enjoyed using Twitter up to this point.  I think that it is pretty cool technology but I am never quite sure how to answer the question “What is it?”.

Even though I can’t answer the question, I have found a few things that I think could be utilized when utilizing Twitter.  Three observations that can help improve traffic, communication, and marketing.

1. Blog/Web Traffic

One of the things that I notice with Twitter is that is a great tool to announce new content on your site/blog to people who are following you.  This can be very beneficial to companies because you can get your customers to follow you and send them virtually instant updates.

There are tools that can be used such as TwitterFeed that can automatically create tweets when your blog gets updated.  This is a great feature to promote the new content on your blog.  By providing the information via Twitter your followers can see when you have updated your blog and hopefully come check out you new content.  You may have even expanded on discussions from Twitter on your blog so this could generate traffic and conversation on your blog.

2. Hash tags

Hash tags are really a work around that someone came up with in order to get around the fact that Twitter doesn’t have groups.  The group simply picks a hash tag like #refocusing and then you put that in every message that you intend for the group.  When the group wants to see it the conversations they can either search or use some of the tools that can monitor search results.  This allows for anyone who wants to be involved to simply add your tag and provide feedback.

This could be a way that you could interact with remote employees, vendors, business partners, etc.  You could also utilize it to receive feedback about your recent presentations or product releases or whatever you have been doing.

Through creative use of hash tags there are many things that you could do on Twitter with them.

3. Potential for constant instantaneous contact

Many companies thought that sending emails over mail was so advantageous because it got in the hands of their customers faster.  Can you imagine how quickly you can get a tweet in the hands of your customers?  Many people have constant connection to Twitter through the Blackberries, IPhones, and other mobile phones via SMS.   This means that you can potentially have instanteous constant contact with your customers.

I read something that gave an example of a restaurant that was extremely slow one Thursday evening.  So, at 5:30 the owner decided to put out a tweet that said from that time until 9:00 anyone who came in with the special code provided on twitter would receive a 40% discount and free dessert.

Obviously, this wouldn’t bring in everyone who was following but on a slow night wouldn’t five, ten, or twenty families make a pretty big difference?  What other form of marketing could you do this kind of thing?

No bull tweet

I think that Twitter has a lot of potential for use by business.  “The rules” haven’t really been defined as to how to best use it for business.  The ideas above are just some observations that I have noticed in the last month of using the product.

Are you using Twitter?  Do you have creative ways that you are using Twitter?  Any observations that you have of the product?

Shameless: Follow me on Twitter

Great post: 5 Steps to Improve Productivity January 22, 2009

Posted by Jeremy in Business, Tools.
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Okay, this article is very loosely technology related but I thought that you might find it very helpful.  I think that author discusses some great efficiency/productivity tips.

5 Tips for More Productivity in 2009

In the article the author says the following:

And AVOID the “summary” section of a meeting in these emails. Truth is, very few people read it.

That was amazing to me.  I actually always read it and I like to have an Agenda in that area.  I guess it really depends on the person.

There was also a duh moment in here to me.  When I read it,  I really thought that it was a paradigm shift for many.  It was when he said:

In meetings, too many people focus more on taking notes than on capturing action steps.  We focus more on communication, storage, and organization of information than on the one thing that actually moves us forward: ACTION.

Great quote.  Very good post.

I hope that it helps you!

Big brother technology? January 19, 2009

Posted by Jeremy in Business, Business Solutions, Tools.
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Alright, I recently had someone tweet a link that really gave me wierd feeling when I read the article.  From a technological perspective I thought WOW that is cool.  But, from a personal standpoint I thought WOW that is scary.  I will share the link and let you decide what you think of the new technology that made me think that.

New RFID Technology Allows You to be Tracked WITHOUT Your Knowledge

Give me a comment on what your feelings are!

You Don’t Know! January 16, 2009

Posted by Jeremy in Business, Business Focus, Business Solutions, Efficiency Process, Tools.
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We track data for everything in today’s world.  We have thousands of fields worth of data on our clients, customers, employees, acquiantences… everyone.   How are you using that data?  No… I mean USING that data.  Is there a report that is generated once a day that no one looks at?  Do you have a screen that you can look at if you are interested?

Shouldn’t you be using that data to make more sales, improve expenses, or whatever?  If you aren’t using the data to make things better, why are you storing it?

Found a great blog post about this kind of thing that you will enjoy called The 1 Secret Small Businesses Must Know In Order To Survive And Prosper.  In that article the author makes the statement:

You don’t know what you don’t know.  Failing to realize this fact and make adjustments is a very good way to ensure you make mistakes.

That is absolutely true.  You have all of the data you need available to you but are you using it?  You definitely should be.  Imagine the impact of being able to analyze the information that you have available to you.  Examples:

  1. Which vendor is providing us the best cost/benefit?
  2. Which salesperson is most successful?  Why?
  3. Which customer would be most apt to take on that new add-on for added revenue?
  4. Which customer has provided us with the best referrals?

Those are just a few of the potential questions.  What other questions can you come up with?  Do you have the data to find out?  Why aren’t you?

New Blog Address January 16, 2009

Posted by Jeremy in Tools.
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Well, I am in the process of making a few first of the year changes to Refocusing Technology.  The first of those is to actually have the domain… so without further ado:

Refocusing Technology Blog is now at www.refocusingtechnology.com

The old address will continue to work for the forseeable future but please feel free to change your links now!

In the upcoming weeks I will also be moving the RSS feed to Feedburner but I will let you know when that happens.

Sorry for the changes but need to do some housekeeping!

Game Changers January 15, 2009

Posted by Jeremy in Business, Business Solutions, Efficiency Process, Efficient Technologies, Green Business, Tools, Virtual Office.
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There are going to be changes to the way we do business over the coming years and I believe that mobile technology in phones is going to be a huge game changer in that realm.  It all started with email and SMS and now we are entering a new dimension.

Mobile/Phone Computing

This is probably the biggest market for growth in the business sector over the next year, at least from an efficiency standpoint.  There are many new “toys” that are available or will be available in pretty sort order.

The first one I have to mention is the business favorite Blackberry.  With the release of the Bold and the Storm, Blackberry is staking it’s claim on trying to be the leader in the SmartPhone for business market.  Many applications are going to be written for the platform and it has the potential to change the way you do business if it hasn’t already.

Obviously, the iPhone is going to be a huge player.  Right now, it trails the Blackberry for business use but if I had to bet it will make a serious run at the BlackBerry.  iPhone really changed the rules when it comes to user-friendliness and “cool”.  It is definitely a cool customer and has huge potential to revolutionize.

Palm has apparently restaked it’s claim on the PDA market with the Pre.  I haven’t actually seen or played with this system but from the reviews I have read, it may just put Palm back on the playing field.  Many had written Palm off, but remember how successful the Treo was in the day?  Pre may get them back there.

I haven’t been able to try out Android from Google yet but I have some great things about it.  Some of the applications that are being written for it are awesome.  Utilizing GPS positioning and data mashing to provide best prices in the area,  nearest restaurant, etc., etc., etc.

Of course we can’t leave out Microsoft’s Windows Mobile offering.  We all know that they won’t be far behind.  They have a huge installed base, a bunch of big name partners, and pile of cash.

The Game Will Change

No matter which system reigns supreme or which vendor falls the fact remains that the game is changing.  Mobile phones are going to change the way we do business.  It won’t be long and we won’t remember a day that we couldn’t get information at our fingertips no matter where we were.

How can you optimize your business and services to take advantage of these new wonders?

Make Confetti! 4 Tips to limit paper usage January 13, 2009

Posted by Jeremy in Business, Business Solutions, Efficiency Process, Efficient Technologies, Green Business, Tools, Virtual Office.
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One of the things that I see in most businesses when I work with them is that the use of paper as a medium has not decreased.  In fact, I wonder if to some extent the ease of printing hasn’t actually caused it to increase.  Growing up in a household that was funded by the production of paper (Dad worked at a paper manufacturer) I would say thank you!  Ha Ha.  Seriously, I think that there will always be some demand for paper but through intelligent use I think that you can decrease your use, thus lowering your cost of doing business.

Idea #1: Use your document management system

Store all of your electronic documents in a management repository.  Whether that is a Windows file folder, Sharepoint server, or what ever utilize it.  Make sure that people use it and have access to what they need.   I have seen so many instances where the system existed and things were still printed because the people who needed it didn’t have access.

The type of system that you use will probably really depend on your needs and your budget.  Simple folder based systems will store documents but aren’t designed for easy searching of the documents.  More complicated solutions allow for searching and indexing.  Some systems will also add intelligent routing and document handling so the document will end up on the right screen at the right time.

Idea #2: Invest in a projector

If I had to guess I would say that 50% of all printed documentation is printed to hand out at a meeting.  That is a total guess on my part but I bet that the percentage is pretty high.  How many times have you printed 10 copies of some documentation so people can review them during the meeting?  And… how many times do they get pitched after the meeting?

The better solution: invest in a projector and display the necessary documentation when you need it during the meeting.  This will drastically cut back on your cost of printing and supplies and also the amount of paper in your office and garbage.

Idea #3: Invest in a scanner

Probably the single largest source of paper in many offices is the U.S. Postal Service.  Mail is a huge generator of paper in your office.  I would say invest in a scanner.  If you scan mail as it comes in and then put it in the document management service that you have available you get many benefits.

  • No more mail that gets lost.
  • You have a record of correspondence.
  • Your employees can get mail even if they are out of the office
  • Virtual office employees have access
  • With intelligent routing systems even someone being on vacation doesn’t stop the mail being dealt with

Idea #4: Store your faxes

Instead of printing faxes send them to your document management system.  This will allow you to not have to print documents that don’t need to be printed.  It also gives you all of the benefits listed above for mail.   If you are really looking to take the leap there are services available that could allow you to get rid of the fax machine all together.

Now we can make confetti!

The more that you can keep the paper in electronic format the easier it is to track and find.  Also, it makes your office more easily accessible from the virtual world.  You will decrease the cost of doing business when it comes to office and printer supplies.  Also, you will decrease the amount of products that you sending to the recycler or landfill.

If you have other ideas of how to limit paper usage and expense in your office post a comment.  If you need help with the document management and intelligent routing please let me know!