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How Cloud Computing Saves Small Business Resources

Every creator of a new small business hopes its operation will result in lucrative profits. The types of profits generated will often depend on the business owner and his or her staff expertise.

Even if the business can generate large amounts of income, the outfit will not turn a profit if the owner does not know how to reduce the amount of money that’s paid out in operating expenses. As explained below, cloud computing may be the one of the best new resources for small businesses in their effort to turn a profit.

Tracking expenditures and technology cost

In the quest for greater financial efficiency, one of the first things a business owner should do is review how much money is being spent and where the money is going. Hard figures for these elements are the bedrock for the business owner’s ability to make profitable business decisions.

A specific area where business owners should look closely is how much of the company’s resources are being spent on technology. Whether the company has hired a permanent full-time employee to handle technical concerns, or pays a contractor to be on call, technical support can be very costly if the owner does not know how to make the essential adjustments.

Reducing costs by using cloud computing

A more specific area of tech that should be reviewed when evaluating cash flow with an eye toward cutting expenses are the hardware and software applications the business uses. Because hardware and software can add a significant amount of expense to the budget, small business owners are increasingly turning to an alternative that can be used to reduce spending significantly.

The alternative that many small business owners are looking at for their operations is cloud computing. By turning to cloud computing as a means to reduce expenses, some firms have quickly integrated it into their infrastructure as a staple in their business plans.

Cloud computing is designed to use or at least share the resources of others, so it can save companies a significant amount of money on their expenses. Companies that specialize in cloud computing supply the hardware and software that various clients make use of.

For example, if a company has been thinking it will have to invest $50,000 to buy new servers for its operations at the end of the quarter, it may avoid that cost by implementing a cloud computing solution. That means the servers it was intending to purchase will be replaced by an infrastructure that uses the resources of an off-site network provider.

This kind of business practice allows a business owner to rent resources instead of spending a large sum to purchase them.

Weighing the alternatives

While there are many advantages to this kind of infrastructure in your business plan, there are drawbacks as well. One involves data security, since the company’s sensitive information will be handled in an off-site environment instead of in house under lock and key.

Before a business owner chooses this type of network infrastructure, therefore, it will need to review the provider’s reputation, data security measures and practices, and disaster recovery plans — all of which are vital to the success and the failure of the overall organization.

Mobile:

Apps Ironically Designed to Help You Unplug

In the age of technology, it’s easy to find people glued to their smartphones or tablets. With products that offer heightened levels of versatility with different apps, it can be difficult to unplug and enjoy life in the real world. Surprisingly, there are a few apps available that can actually help you reconnect to life outside of technology. While most apps work to garner your attention, these are effective at doing the exact opposite.

1. SelfControl

SelfControl is an app that forces its audience to moderate their time online by instantly blocking distracting websites, email servers, and other websites that can be a waste of time. Instead of limiting Internet access altogether, which may not be an option for some, it simply limits the most distracting places to spend time.

2. Mindfulness Meditation

Anxiety levels and depression are at an all-time high with an increase in Internet usage, spurring people to neglect real world relationships. Mindfulness Meditation works to teach individuals to take moments throughout the day to reflect on positive aspects of their life and focus on the peace. It’s a great way of refocusing your attention and regrouping from too much tech access, according to The Huffington Post.

3. Sleep Cycle

Sleep Cycle is a modern alarm clock that tracks your movement during the night and monitors your personal sleep statistics in order to give you a better understanding of how much rest you’re really getting. It not only features a journal where you can jot down your caffeine intake or periods of insomnia, but it also awakens you slowly and steadily to help you feel more refreshed throughout the day.

4. Freedom

True freedom is not feeling compelled to check your status update or look at your Twitter feed each hour, which the Freedom app tries to enforce. Instead of forcing you to disconnect from your computer or phone completely, it still allows you to get work done without having access to the Internet, according to 148Apps. You can even customize how long you want to be disconnected from the web for an easy way of limiting your access to pages that can be addicting.

5. Pause

Pause is an app that works to help users weaken their dependency on technology by putting their phone in airplane mode and tracking how much time is spent away from the device. The average smartphone user checks their phone approximately 150 times a day, which was the motivation behind the design of the app.

The app also asks what real-world activities you’ll be partaking in for a tool that makes users more aware of their addiction to technology for improved time management skills, according to The Guardian. If that’s not enough, the app even shows your time away from the phone or tablet compared to other people who are using the app.

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last update: December 23, 2014

Gadgets:

Big Data Looks Inward

With every passing month, the business community discovers more benefits of the Big Data revolution. Although transitioning to taking advantage of Big Data requires expense and effort, most firms that pursue this goal realize major achievements. For example, systematic data collection allows businesses to gather incredibly detailed information about their customers. By learning about the behaviors and attitudes of their customers, companies can design more effective marketing campaigns, product lines and lead generation techniques.

Unfortunately, far too many companies are reluctant to change well-established modes to take advantage of Big Data. Such reluctance can come from a number of different places. Companies with solid long-term profitability might feel uncertain about changing winning formulas. By the same token, companies with less profitability are often loathe to make investments in new systems. Time and time again, organizations that take a risk on implementing Big Data solutions achieve worthwhile results. New data collection and analysis procedures can improve revenue streams, or reduce waste that comes as a result from redundant business processes, in potentially surprising ways.

Reducing Costs and Saving Far More than Money

Companies that are struggling to make ends meet should consider prioritizing the implementation of Big Data concepts. Instead of doubling down on old-fashioned methods, adopting new strategies can turn around corporate fortunes quite readily. The potential of Big Data is particularly relevant to the discipline of Business Process Management (BPM). Due to technological advances and vendor competition, companies are gaining affordable access to ever-larger amounts of customer data. If properly used, this data is useful for short-term and strategic decision-making.

BPM platforms are integrated, multifaceted systems for examining business processes in detail. Even for midsized companies, processes can become so complex that it is difficult to see the big picture precisely. By looking inward, Big Data reveals the subtle problems and paradoxes that can lead to systemic crises. With the data provided by BPM platforms, process managers can take decisive actions and forestall growing problems. For example, managers can adjust internal resource streams to prioritize the most profitable activities. While experience and intuition will always play a part in resource management, BPM software is critical for filling in gaps in human knowledge.

Customize, Optimize, Analyze

Generally, BPM platforms can easily handle multiple processes. This is ideal for analyzing the huge amount of data that the Big Data revolution is generating. With a separate analytics engine attached to each process, companies can fine tune their operations with remarkable precision. Although BPM platform vendors provide comprehensive services, each client should take responsibility for optimizing process management. While default vendor analytics are generally useful, people can gain greater insights by customizing analytics to the best of their abilities.

Interestingly, BPM is useful for far more than simply extracting and importing data from various applications. BPM channels all data and improves data quality by identifying missing or damaged items. Combining Big Data concepts and BPM is fairly easy for companies of all size. As awareness of Big Data grows, new BPM tools are increasingly easy to implement and maintain. Oftentimes, these tools require little or no coding for long-term usage. By looking inward and really focusing on internal data, companies can improve their processes and set new standards of success for the future.

Clean:

Chevy Spark Goes 139.7 Miles on One Charge

Chevrolet Spark

One of the biggest knocks against the electric vehicle revolution is range. It’s hard to get from one charging station to another in some places around the country. They are city drivers, designed to get you back and forth from work less than 20 miles away to get you there without incident on the EPA-rated 82 mile range Chevrolet Spark.

Digital Trends wanted to put the limits to the test. According to Chevy, they could get well over 100 miles in ideal situations. Those “ideal” situations weren’t exactly practical – 18 MPH nonstop with the right driving conditions. To test it, they took it to the track and set the record, unofficially. There are no recorded events for this type of test, so it’s the record as far as we know. That’s good enough for us!

According to the driver:

I prodded the Chevy team for more info. The Spark EV engineers admitted that in ideal conditions, the Spark could probably go 160 to 180 miles on a single charge, which – at 18.5 mph – would take around nine hours of non-stop driving.

Read More: Digital Trends

Science:

The Fisherman vs. the FAA: The Saga of Beer Delivery Drones

It’s been a beautiful winter for ice fishing in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Due to the especially cold weather, many lakes froze early giving hardy ice fishermen an early start to the season. On top of that, a Wisconsin Brewery, Lakemaid from Stevens Point, had developed the ability to deliver cold and fresh beer straight to their fishing spots via drone. They’d never run out of beer again! No one would have to make that cold trek to shore to visit the bar or liquor store. Technology to the rescue!

Enter the FAA, or Federal Aviation Administration. They spotted a video put up on YouTube by the brewery showing their test flight of what they call their UAV – Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. The FAA won’t have it, and they put a stop to it.

Although there are almost no laws governing drones specifically, the FAA rules the airspace and have determined that commercial drones, even when granted a research exception to the ‘no commercial drones’ rule, cannot fly higher than 400 feet. This means that the typical RC helicopter (seen here) is fine for a toy, but toss a delivery service into the mix and things become criminal. Additionally, Lakemaid was caught dead to rights. These drones flew higher than that and were officially in the FAA’s domain.

The Internet arose in full fury mode. Twitter and Facebook were inundated with stories of the beer drone shutdown. What seemed like a peaceful, logical and useful application of drone technology was being eliminated while military usage grew almost unrestricted.

Lakemaid even started a Whitehouse government petition asking the Obama administration to put their drones in the skies again. As of this writing only 1405 signatures have been gathered with only 98,595 to go by March 1st, 2014.

The drone in use by Lakemaid Brewery is a DJIF550, which can handle about a 12-pack or a little less on a day with windy flying conditions. Jack Supple, the president of Lakemaid, has said the company was pleased with their drone marketing so far and were about to order a larger model when the FAA called and put a stop to their drone operations. They will be keeping a sharp eye on the upcoming regulations, so they can continue their drone beer deliveries in a safe, legal manner.

Lakemaid isn’t the only commercial operator of drones that has received cease and desist orders from the FAA. A real estate company in Wisconsin had been using drones to get pictures of properties, and the University of Nebraska had been using them for journalism purposes. These programs have been halted.

Currently there are few regulations for drone technology despite the publicly-announced development by large companies like Amazon and Domino’s Pizza. The FAA is expected to come out with comprehensive regulation in 2015. In the meantime grounding protects the public from things like falling objects that could do harm to people or property.

It’s expected that special training and licenses will be involved, so drones won’t be filling our airspace for some years to come. For the time being ice fishermen will have to haul more beer out on the lake by themselves!

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Gadgets:

5 Ways to Make Sure Your Tech Work Survives Your Worst Fears

There’s only one thing that may be harder than performing difficult technical work: recovering emotionally from the disastrous event of losing all that work.

You might assume we’re going to give you the same bland advice you’ve always heard about saving your work. But take a look at the ways that you might manage not to lose your work, and how you can mitigate the danger of these fearsome disasters becoming a horrific reality.

Here are five ways to ensure your work survives your worst fears.

1. Intellectual property rights

Intellectual property protection is an issue of ongoing contention and legal conflicts, but one thing is for certain: you need to protect your work in this way. Due to the lightning viral nature of today’s Internet, and the hunger for great content, the “borrowing” (which is to say, stealing) of creative work is at all-time high.

Ask an attorney who specializes in this type of protection, or check out solid informational sources on intellectual property protection.

2. NDAs

NDA stands for Non Disclosure Agreements, which help to prevent people from running away with your most prized intellectual ideas and properties after they’ve been exposed to them. This is something you’ll definitely want for your developers and employees.

If don’t have NDAs in place, you could lose your hard work to someone who did nothing other than take it from you!

3. Hold workers to milestones

If you’re not setting and measuring milestones, there’s a chance your project (and the hard work involved) will be a complete waste of time. A good resource for this are the principles of lean startups. If you don’t finish the project, you lose your work. Period.

4. Debug

If you’re not testing and debugging everything you build, then you’re potentially making a massive mistake that will kill your entire project. Certain types of bugs, if detected early, can alter the essential design, but if you discover the problems too late, you might not have the budget or time to make the necessary alterations.

5. Backups

Backing up your data has always been a habit that every techie utilizes (or should), but what about the devices themselves?

We’re talking specifically about backup power. You’re going to want to find a battery-based backup service with the kind of ongoing maintenance plan that works for your needs and budget.

When your data is backed up, and the power to get to that data is also backed up, you’ll be especially well protected from any type of calamity that might endanger your ability to use all the work you’ve done.

Social:

Is Anyone Watching Your Commercial?

After going to all the trouble of creating a commercial for the world to see that promotes your brand, don’t you want to know if anyone is watching it? That’s the message behind the Adobe Marketing Cloud.

With state of the art analytic tools, Adobe can help marketers make sure that their ads are effective and viewed by the proper audience. Learn more by visiting http://www.adobe.com/solutions/digital-marketing.html.

Lifestyle:

4 Creative Ways to Help Your Real Estate Sell Quickly

At an auction

When it comes to selling real estate, it seems like nearly every type of creative maneuver has already been executed. And while that might be true – somewhere, somehow, nearly every type of idea has been attempted once – that shouldn’t stop you from going above and beyond with your real estate listing, and being as creative as possible.

Your agent may have some unique ideas for you, but take a look around the Internet, and you’ll find all kinds of extra things you can try to help your home sell faster (or at least generate some free buzz and word of mouth marketing). Here are our favorite ways we’ve seen people taking creative action to sell their homes.

1. Arrows

It’s been rumored that directional arrows sell as much real estate as the computerized listing systems, although that claim is hard to track accurately. Whatever the truth, arrows work. Find the heaviest traveled streets and place signs in a pattern that lead people to your property. Also include a URL on the sign, for people walking past it.

2. YouTube

Video marketing is only just beginning to materialize in the real estate industry, and you can be an early innovator before it’s crowded. Online video viewership is happening at an astounding rate, so this trend is here to stay.

You could give the tour yourself and make it fun, with inside information about certain areas. And nobody can quite convey the emotion as positively as you, since you loved living there.

3. Flyers

This old-school technique is one of the most underutilized methods out there. Of course, you can’t put them in mailboxes, but there are all kinds of places around town where free flyers can be posted. Just look for them, and you’ll notice all the locations you can use to create a little extra buzz for your real estate listing.

4. Word play on the city or street

Think of how you might play on the name of your town, and what kind of promotion you might do around that. If your real estate listing is in Truckee, Calif., perhaps you could sell your old truck along with the property! The ad could say “Free truck in Truckee, first accepted offer drives away happy!” That’s the type of promotion that will stand out from the rest, and it’s such a simple idea to implement.

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