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Cool tool: Mofuse November 19, 2008

Posted by Jeremy in Business, Business Solutions, Efficient Technologies, Tools.
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If you have a blog and are interested in making your blog mobile friendly, I found a cool tool that you might be interested in.  It’s called MoFuse.  Basically you provide the link to your blog and they will provide a mobile friendly link that you can provide for your readers.  There are some extra add-in tools that you may be interested in as well for automatically detecting mobile browsers but they will only depending on your current blog provider.   Anyway, take a look if this sounds interesting to you.

http://www.mofuse.com

You’ll notice that I added a mobile option to my blog on the right side menu (http://refocusing.mofuse.mobi/). 

Hope that this is useful to you.

Business Example: Stanley Steemer November 18, 2008

Posted by Jeremy in Business, Business Solutions, Efficient Technologies, Green Business.
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Well, I guess that I find examples in some strange places.  Recently, though the technology came to me in my home.

About 3 or 4 years ago, we had Stanley Steemer come out to our house and clean the carpets.  At that time Stanley utilizes the tried and true method of carbon paper.  They fill it out and you get the pink copy.   On top of that, in order to utilize a credit card… you guessed it… rub a pencil over the numbers on the carbon paper.  Obviously, there are some problems with this method.

Today’s Stanley Steemer is not in the carbon paper era any longer.  When the crew arrived at my house a week ago, they brought with them a handheld kiosk.  It had all of my information and of course the ability to modify my order with all the other things that I needed.  Once they finished cleaning, they walked through the order, and allowed me to sign that they had done the work.  A simple swipe of my card and a wireless connection later and I had paid my bill.  The kiosk had a printer attached to it (although I would have preferred an emailed receipt) and they printed and handed the information over to me.

I am always impressed when I see companies who have taken the step to make their businesses more efficient and in this case more green.  Mobile applications and wireless access provide so many options but many companies don’t embrace the opportunities to utilize it.  It can be a daunting task to make these kinds of changes but imagine the savings on supplies and denied credit cards not to mention removing the identity theft issues of all crews having the credit card numbers. 

This is a very simple example of how one company has utilized technology to make their processes more efficient.  Is there a way that you can utilize mobile technology to make your business simpler and more efficient?  Can you utilize it to reduce paperwork and follow up?

If there is any way that I can help you, please feel free to contact me.

My Police Ride Along November 1, 2008

Posted by Jeremy in Efficiency Process, Efficient Technologies.
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For the last couple of months I have been involved in a program that our city’s police department puts on called the Citizen Police Academy.  I have learned quite a few things about how the department operates and how the basic system works.  This last Monday I had the opportunity to go on a ride-along.  It was a pretty cool experience and I found it pretty interesting.  The reason that I bring this up is to talk about the computer system that the police cars in our city have and how they have created serious efficiencies.

The Old Way

I am sure that you all know what the old way of doing things in police cars was.  If they needed information about a person or a car they did what?  Get on the radio and ask the dispatcher to find out.  This seems like a decent way until you think about the fact that in many metro areas there will be hundreds of police officers out and needing information.  This does not include the other emergency personnel.  In many areas this really got to be a nightmare. 

What I saw

When I got into the police car on Monday evening, the officer showed me what the car had in it.  Obviously, it still had the radio, lights, scanner, etc.  Also, it had the audio and video system that watches and listens to what happens around the car.  Then she showed me the computer system in the cars.  It was very impressive what functionality they are provided.

First, the system obviously was completely wireless.  I know the system had a Sprint wireless card in it but I also think that it might have connected to our city’s private WiFi net. 

Anyway, at any time, the officer is able to see all of the calls that are currently active in the city.  They can look up information about a person or car just like the dispatchers can.  So they can punch in a license plate and the information starts streaming in.  This provides them the ability to access data without calling in.

They are also able to see their current position on a map via GPS.  Now, that’s not a huge deal but then the data is mashed with the current call information and other car locations.  So they can see where they are headed and where the other cars are at that time.  This provides for a better idea of where they are going on a call and also who else is the neighborhood should assistance be needed.

From that system, they also have the ability to instant message other cars.  I found this to be a pretty cool feature.  Instead of taking up radio space and being able to be heard by every scanner in the area they were able to message specific cars.   This allows an exchange of information without the typical headaches. 

Also from the cars the police are able to do their paperwork.  This is a huge benefit when you think about how much paperwork they are required to do.  Would you prefer that the cops are on the road the majority of the time or sitting in the office filling out paperwork?  I know that here in our city the police chief makes presence a high priority and I think that the citizens can see that.

Final Paperwork

I always knew that the police had access to some pretty cool technology, I guess I had just never seen it in person.  I must say that I was pretty impressed by the level of access to informaiton that they had at their fingertips in the car.  By providing this kind of functionality they are able to provide better service to the citizens.  This type of efficiency allows the police to be out on the streets instead of sitting in the office.  It also allows the use of the radio to be much more efficient.  There is little talking over each other while still being able to do their jobs.

Is there anyway that you could employ technology to better serve your customers?  Could you make your employees more efficient and productive by employing mobile technology?

If there is anything that I can help with, please feel free to contact me.  Also, thank you to Officer Murphy for the ride-along.

Efficient Business Study October 17, 2008

Posted by Jeremy in Business Solutions, Efficiency Process, Efficient Technologies.
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As I was looking through some articles I found one that really my attention (Commentary: Technology improves efficiency, services throughout Long Island).  This article discusses how the The Family and Children’s Association in Long Island is dealing with the economic downturn.  They are striving make themselves more efficient.  I think that this is a great focus for times like this.

One of things that I noticed in the article is discussion of collaborating with other organizations.  This is a fabulous idea and something that every business can consider.  Are there ways for you to integrate with you vendors, partners, or customers?  This can give you multiple benefits. 

  1. You can actually help the other organizations and yourself become more efficient.  
  2. You gain credibility with your customers/clients because you are working to save them money.  You can really become a value add.
  3. By making your vendors more efficient you may be able to have lower costs. 
  4. Integration can make your relationships stronger.

There are many other reasons but you get the idea.  Doing this type of collaboration can be trying at times but it can yield significant benefits if you follow it through.

Greening up technology October 17, 2008

Posted by Jeremy in Efficient Technologies, Green Business.
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I meant to post this earlier this week but have been busy with landing a new full time contract.  Interesting days.

Anyway, I found this article (Smart Companies Take the LEED for Energy Efficiency) interesting when it comes to greening up business.  I definitely believe that there is potential in utilizing technology to make yourself more green but this is definitely taking that a step further.  This is the hosting companies looking into making their offerings more green.  So, you can outsource your network infrastructure which will make you more energy efficient and now the host will be more energy efficient so it won’t just move the consumption around.  This is a very positive thing and I think that it will help with finding solutions to energy efficiency.

Between the use of efficient technology and outsourcing many things can be made more efficient.  This will happen from both a business standpoint and an energy standpoint.

Green Business: How to allow technology to green up your business September 29, 2008

Posted by Jeremy in Business Solutions, Efficiency Process, Efficient Technologies, Green Business.
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In today’s world of high energy prices and changing priorities many companies are considering how to be more environmentally/energy friendly.  Of course, this is the green movement.  I definitely feel that it is time for our society to start making changes to be more responsible.  Many people think that this will require huge investments and difficult transitions in order to make this happen.  I am not completely certain that’s true.

Decrease mail volume

By decreasing mail volume you would be decreasing resource usage in two major areas: oil and paper.  Of course it takes gasoline to move your mail around the state/country/world.  Now, at least right now you can’t replace all shipping but you could probably replace quite a bit.  Think about utilizing electronic invoicing, electronic collections, online payment, etc. to decrease your need for mail services.  Many companies invest huge amounts of money to send invoices and follow-up letters and to handle the incoming payments.  By doing these simple things you could green up your business.

Decrease paper usage

How many of your processes involve printing out a document?  Do you need a printed copy?  How many times does it really need that person’s signature?  I have found that in many cases the paper document is unnecessary, it’s the approval that is important.  If you were to utilize a document management and routing system you could handle all of this process without the need for the paper to be printed.  Also, this allows the document to be retained in an online repository so there is no need to store it in the file cabinets that take up precious office space.

Another potential option to do this is the fax-to-email services provided by many vendors.  This allows any incoming fax to be sent directly to email.  This can also be integrated to go directly into your document repository.

Telecommuting

By putting in place electronic document storage, fax-to-email, and accessible business systems, it will allow you to be able to allow more telecommuting for you and any employees.  By doing this you will decrease the amount of oil that they burn to get to work everyday.  Because they can access your business systems from home they still have the ability to do the job you hired them to do.

You can also implement online collaboration tools (i.e. SharePoint, Google Apps, etc.) that will allow you to share documents and ideas over the Internet.  This allows your people to correspond with each even if they aren’t in the office. 

Sum it up

This is barely scratching the surface of what is possible but it should show that many of the possibilities are well within reach if you want to make your business more green.  Many times it is simply thinking through how to lower your “footprint” and then utilizing the existing capabilities of technology to acheive those goals.

As always, please feel free to contact me if you are interested in finding ways to use technology to green up your business or just make it more efficient.

Another thought on Seizing the Market September 24, 2008

Posted by Jeremy in Business Solutions, Efficiency Process, Efficient Technologies.
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Yesterday I posted reasons to build efficiencies during a downturn.  This morning I read an article in Entrepreneur’s RSS feed that discusses another thing to think about.  It would be a way to actually build business volume during the downturn.

Article: Starting an Online Business in a Down Economy

This is a great article if you are thinking of starting a business but I also think that you could implement some of the ideas if you are an existing business as well.  The question I would ask is: “Is there a way to utilize technology to reach customers?”.  In today’s market, that is probably the Internet but maybe it’s TV, or cell phones, or the iPod.  Who knows where the ideas can take you?

Telecommuting 2 September 22, 2008

Posted by Jeremy in Business Solutions, Efficiency Process, Efficient Technologies.
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Well apparently telecommuting is my topic for the week (see other Telecommuting post).  I just read another interesting article about telecommuting.  This one is from Denise O’Berry on the allbusiness.com website.  She discusses some of the video conferencing software out there today.  I am not sure if I totally agree with everything that she says but I do think she is on the right track.

As I said in the previous post, I really think that remote employees and telecommuting are going to be huge topic in the next 5-10 years.  The questions are always going to be raised about communication and productivity but I think that many people are figuring out those issues now and we are seeing active case studies being created.  I personally believe that it is going to take a different type of oversight than what we have been used to but it is going to happen.

As the baby boomers leave the job world and the Internet generation join the ranks of the working many of the long held beliefs are going to be questioned.  I think it is going to be an interesting discussion and will have some wide reaching impacts.