Five essential tips for the travelling entrepreneur

bizThis post, written by Jared Lindzon, originally appeared on Betakit and has been republished with permission.

Small business owners can rarely afford to take a step out of the office, let alone the country, which make travel plans — even for business purposes — a major productivity sacrifice. Fortunately, today’s workplace has become ubiquitous, and with the right technological tools, small business owners can keep one foot in the office no matter what part of the world they’re in.

Keep Tech Light and Powerful

CEOs on the go can’t afford the luggage space or muscle strength required to drag an office worth of equipment onto an airplane, which makes compact hardware a vital companion. Fortunately, lightweight laptops, tablets and smartphones can accomplish more today than a clunky desktop could 10 years ago.

Take it To the Cloud

Lightweight mobile devices are also becoming more powerful thanks to emerging cloud technologies. Instead of saving documents, applications and other media onto physical hard drives, cloud technologies like Office 365, Rogers Mobile Work Folder, and Google Drive allow users to stay directly connected to their files and their office on the go.

Avoid Hard Copies- Use Mobile Apps that Can Scan

While printers are still a key component of any office environment, they’re not very favourable travel companions. Most hotels and offices on the road are more than happy to print documents, but putting the old John Hancock on a physical document and sending it back to the office via email isn’t always an option without an all-in-one printer/scanner. Fortunately, there’s the JotNot Scanner, an iPhone application that allows users to take pictures of documents with their smart phone and save them as PDF files, ready for emailing back to HQ.

Poke Your Head Through the Window

While it’s difficult to keep an eye on things at the office without a physical presence, there are a wide variety of free video conferencing programs available, which allow users to digitally attend meetings and conferences. Application such as Skype, Google Hangout and Oovooprovide an open window into the boardroom from any location with an Internet connection.

Plan Your Data Needs Ahead

With your lifeline to the office sitting in your pocket it’s important to hit the road with a pre-loaded data plan that will enable you to safely and reliably access these powerful online tools. To make things simpler for their US-bound small business customers, for example, Rogers allows customers using a Share Everything Plan to receive 100 minutes of talk in the US, unlimited text messaging and unlimited Canada to use minutes for only $20 per month. Be sure to talk to your wireless provider before hitting the road to ensure you’re not overpaying for roaming and data packages

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5 ways the cloud can strengthen your business

Cloud post imageBusiness is becoming an increasingly mobile activity as technology and the infrastructure needed to support it proliferate. And employees, both in the office and on the go, want simple, reliable access to business data and applications. Supporting their use of personal mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, so employees can work how and when they want to, is a great start.

But a more complete solution is to combine mobility with another transformative technology—anywhere, anytime cloud services. Cloud-based business applications turn smartphones, tablets and other connected mobile devices into hyper-flexible digital tools, with virtually unrestricted functionality, storage and mobility.

Employees rely more and more on the simplicity and convenience inherent in retrieving information and services where, when and how they want—and this is most easily and reliably provided when that information is stored in the cloud. A connected workforce is good news for business, and not only because connected employees enjoy increased job satisfaction and productivity. A more connected workforce can collaborate better, make smarter decisions and provide your customers with superior service.

Of course, there are challenges in adopting cloud-based mobile applications. You’ll need to develop a mobility management policy and address new security issues. However, the results are worth the investment. Here are the top 5 advantages we see in moving some or all of your data into the cloud:

1. Lower cost of ownership. No longer having to worry about either acquiring or maintaining expensive servers, systems and applications means you can spend more time and money expanding your business or supporting your most important initiatives.

2. Improved economies of scale. A more productive workplace generates higher output with lower costs because employees will spend less time negotiating old or unreliable systems; but employees who trust their employers to provide them with systems that work are also more productive, so moving critical applications and data to the cloud is doubly advantageous.

3. Scalability and flexibility. Committing to a cloud solution greatly simplifies adding computing resources to support expansion and moving nimbly in new directions. The time you would have spent setting up new hardware is yours for hitting the ground running on new initiatives or ramping up current ones.

4. Security. Storing critical files in the cloud means data isn’t compromised if hardware is damaged or goes missing. Managers, IT and employees will be more productive the less they need to worry about whether or not business data has ended up, or could end up, in the wrong hands.

5. Business continuity. Catastrophic events such as fire, floods or other emergencies can’t touch your data in the cloud, which means your business can remain up and running under almost any circumstances.

Are you planning to move your corporate data into the cloud?

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Improving mobile device security and management

enwinEnWin Utilities distributes electricity and services Windsor’s power infrastructure for over 83,000 customers. They also provide management services for fleet, billing, collections, credit, financial, human resources, customer service and information technology services to Windsor Utilities Commission and the City of Windsor.

Like many other businesses, EnWin Utilities’ mobile IT environment used to be a lot more homogeneous; until December 2012, the electricity distribution company only supported BlackBerry smartphones plus some ruggedized laptops for field workers. EnWin began to face pressures from various parts of the organization to support other devices and operating systems on the corporate network. In part, this demand was driven by the desire to roll out mobile applications for field crews, management and executives. “Our BlackBerry Enterprise Server did not support other devices, which meant that the IT team could not enforce security policies or wipe lost or stolen devices,” said Andrew Ciavaglia, Technology Services and Support Manager at EnWin. While Ciavaglia and team realized that they needed a mobile device and mobile app management solution, they also didn’t want to overburden the IT administrators.

EnWin turned to Rogers Communications for an enterprise mobility management solution that would allow the IT department to manage its fleet of devices and securely roll out apps to end users. Rogers suggested a managed solution that would deliver all the security and control benefits that EnWin needed while minimizing the time and effort of IT administrators. Rogers provided a fully managed, cloud-based mobile device management and mobile application management solution. “Rogers worked closely with us to set up our security policies, onboarding tools and end user documentation,” said Ciavaglia. Today, participants in the program can enroll themselves, and soon they will be able to download approved business apps through a secure enterprise app store.

EnWin has identified a number of benefits from its managed MDM solution:

Improve mobile security. The managed MDM solution allows EnWin to secure company and customer data on devices and on the EnWin network. “This solution gives us peace of mind. We know we can act to protect ourselves if anything happens.”

Simplify deployment and management. A cloud infrastructure and Rogers managed services significantly reduce the level of effort for EnWin. “With a managed solution, we don’t have to invest as much time ourselves. We know that the software is up to date, that we’re running the right version.”

Control costs. The hosted and managed solution has enabled EnWin to eliminate up-front infrastructure costs, reduce ongoing resource requirements and achieve cost predictability.

Enhance employee satisfaction. With the managed MDM solution in place, EnWin’s IT team can secure, manage and support the mobile devices and apps that employees want to use to be more productive.

How does your IT organization manage and secure smartphones and other mobile devices?

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Highflying Vancouver snowboard startup capturing major airtime through mobile solutions

endeavorThis post, written by Jared Lindzon, originally appeared on Betakit and has been republished with permission.

Like many sports enthusiasts, Vancouver native Max Jenke dreamed of becoming a professional snowboarder as soon as he learned to ride at age 12. But unlike most, he managed to make that dream a reality in a few short years, and went pro at age 16.

But after three blown ACL ligaments in his knee prevented him from competing in 2002, he took up a new passion: using his knowledge of the sport and the industry to create Endeavor Snowboards with his friend and photographer Scott Serfas.

“I was always involved in design and marketing with the brands I was sponsored by, so it was a dream to start my own thing,” says Jenke. “I had spent years riding other boards, so I knew what I liked and disliked in a snowboard.”

Endeavor snowboards thrived in the following years thanks to their award winning Seamless Sidewall Technolgoy, which Jenke developed after investing in Canada’s only snowboard lab. Today, his unique snowboards are sold in 20 countries.

As a result, Jenke spends much of his time travelling the world, overseeing production in Asia, visiting retailers in North America, and attending trade shows in various locations all over the planet.

“The trips are always full-on — long days, late nights and early mornings,” he says, adding that he occasionally gets in a few rides before returning home. “I’ve been (snowboarding) throughout Japan, an indoor snow dome in England, and for the first time this year we went to the Austrian Alps, which was an insane experience.”

But whether in a factory, on a convention floor or on the slopes, Jenke says that reliable communication is vital for any business owner on the road.

“Travel plans are always changing, so being in contact with our colleagues at the factories to advise them if our flights have been delayed is critical for a smooth trip,” he says. “It’s a comfort thing. Being connected means that even in the most remote location in China, you can call home.”

Documenting such adventures abroad has also become vital to Endeavor Snowboards’ social media marketing strategy, where their 3,000 Instagram followers and 16,000 Facebook followers can keep up with the company’s latest innovations, as well as Jenke’s travels, in real time.

“We actually use our phones for all of our social media marketing, so it’s key the phone works anywhere in the world so that we can access Facebook and Instagram,” he says. “We use Rogers for all of our company’s smart phones.”

Combining the need to be connected and current options available to travellers when they go abroad – investing in a low-cost travel plan, just using Wi-Fi in a coffee shop or other venue, or depending on a prepaid local SIM card – Jenke doesn’t take any chances and relies on simple and hassle-free data plans that ensure he is connected and protected from large bills.

Jenke just returned home from a week in China and it won’t be long before he’s back on the road again, but he knows that no matter where his next adventure takes him he won’t lose touch with his head office in Canada and partners around the world.

“Being connected is key to maintaining and growing,” he says. “My phone works everywhere, and that’s all I need.”

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Going mobile makes a difference

ashmacToronto’s MacIntyre Communications is a small boutique PR firm with an impressive client list. It includes such fashion heavy hitters Le Chateau, Danier and Lancome Paris, the kind of internationally renowned clients often served by large multinational public relations firms. Founder/owner Ashley MacIntyre says the accessibility and reliability of smartphones and tablets with fast Internet speeds helps give her business the nimbleness and clout to take on much larger companies in the fierce battle for clients and win.

“We only have one office in downtown Toronto with 10 people, as opposed to our competitors who have offices in many North American cities and hundreds of people on staff,” MacIntyre says. “But thanks to our devices, we can stay connected when we travel where we need to be to support our clients, be it Montreal, Vancouver or New York.”

By staying small, MacIntyre Communications can offer a level of personal service and quick response that large PR firms cannot match. “My clients know that, whether they call at 7 a.m. or 11 p.m., they can get me on the phone,” MacIntyre says. “That’s a level of committed personal service that only a boutique communications firm can truly offer.”

But it’s about even more than service: Ashley MacIntyre understands the new and ever-changing digital world that her clients operate in, and what it takes to get their messages through the Internet clutter. “We create real-time strategies for our clients, which take advantage of the ‘on right now nature’ of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other forms of social media. Opportunities to purchase them should be just a click away.”

One of MacIntyre’s most powerful strategies is to form relationships with influencers, among them the bloggers and online fashionistas whose followers count on them for day-to-day style advice. “Working with Le Chateau, we have created a program where key influencers act as our shoe ambassadors,” she says. “They incorporate the newest shoe style from Le Chateau into their wardrobe, showing their followers how these shoes can be mixed and matched with various kinds of clothing. This gives the readers the fashion advice they want, the influencer the web traffic they need, and Le Chateau the sales buzz they’re seeking. Everyone wins.”

MacIntyre’s focus on influencers, plus her use of social media to provide her clients’ fans with backstage snaps of fashion shows and other VIP events, illustrates her grasp of what works in PR today. It is why clients count on MacIntyre Communications to keep their messages fresh and relevant, and deliver them to their target audiences.

Looking ahead, MacIntyre intends to keep her boutique communications firm nimble, responsive, and well-connected. “With our personal commitments to clients, strong relationships with fashion influencers, and reliable mobile from Rogers, we will continue to outdo the big PR firms,” she says. “MacIntyre Communications is here to stay.”

 

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LG G3: Is it built for business?

lgg3pic-225x300

A great display can make or break a business phone. And if it’s a big, high-quality screen you want, the LG G3 delivers— but there’s a lot more to a business phone than pixels. The LG G3 is packed to the brim with productivity-boosting business features, check out five of them below:

User-friendly design
The device, available with Rogers in metallic black, is ideal for those who need to stay connected on the go. Designed with a high quality anti-scratch metallic body, the LG G3 is lightweight for ultimate portability and even has a rear-key that lets you easily use the device with one hand.

Record breaking display
The LG G3 boasts a 5.5-inch Quad HD touchscreen display with a leading resolution of 2560×1440. This means its display produces images that are 400 per cent sharper than traditional high definition smartphone displays.  Whether you have PowerPoint presentations, training manuals or maps, you can view your material with incredible clarity.

Smart features
The LG 3G is loaded with all kinds of brilliant business-enabling tools that will let you record audio from meetings, speeches and conferences, and capture white boards, documents, speeches and meetings with cameras and video recorders.

The LG Smart Keyboard lets you text, type an email, edit a presentation, and more with ease, speed and accuracy. The keyboard caters to you as you can compress and expand the keys depending on your typing preference.  The LG G3 also predicts the words you’re about to type after learning your habits, even suggesting symbols to complement your sentence.

Longer battery life
With a removable battery that delivers longer usage time, the LG G3 can keep up with your busy work schedule. The 3000 mAh battery gives you up to 21 hours of talk time so you won’t have to go back to your desk to recharge.

Faster Hardware

Activate your LG G3 on the Rogers LTE network to take advantage of super-fast speeds. You’ll be able to upload and download files, stream video content and collaborate on documents with your team at faster speeds.

The LG G3 is now available in stores and on Rogers.com. For more information, check out Rogers.com/LG or contact your local Small Business Specialist.

Tell us. What LG G3 business feature has you talking?

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The Future of Workplace Collaboration

workplace of the future imageThe transformation of work into something that can be performed anywhere, anytime is a hot topic these days. On one hand, some companies are moving away from remote work policies, saying people are more productive when working in physical proximity. On the other hand, the Connected Workplace Report from Rogers found employees were more satisfied if remote work was a real option for them.So how can employers balance employees’ need for flexibility with the benefits of close collaboration?

The transformation of work isn’t about replacing human interaction. It’s about elevating the conversation and increasing engagement by allowing workers to take advantage of technology when and where it makes sense. It’s a productive combination of face-to-face and virtual communication.

This transformation is arising out of the seamless integration of our technology tools: instant messaging, email, video conferencing, audio conferencing and voice over IP, to name a few. Bringing all these tech tools together in increasingly easy to use but sophisticated forms, on a range of devices, is the future of technology—so we can communicate, collaborate and be more productive, regardless of physical location.

Technology can strengthen and support a team, as well as broaden its scope. It doesn’t replace people or relationships; rather, with the right tools for whatever challenge a team is facing, it provides more options for balancing effective and fast communication.

Concerned about the time, money and effort required to implement enterprise voice and collaboration? Integrating platforms should save money both now and later, as well as increase efficiency and productivity. Wireless costs may rise a little, but reliance on wired services should diminish, which will save money: less physical infrastructure usually means both fewer IT maintenance requirements and better use of IT resources. The outcome of these trends should be more effective working conditions, as well as savings.

As all our platforms become integrated, what we think of now as unified communications will become universal communications. All these platforms will eventually be available, affordable and easily used by everyone; we will be able to work seamlessly, affordably and easily together. Without compromising business integrity, everyone from contractors and small business owners to the C-suite—and all those in between—will be brought into the fold through the unifying influence of Enterprise Voice & Collaboration platforms.

How do you think the workplace will transform in the next decade?

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For Richmond’s 505 JUNK, relying on social and mobile proved worthwhile

505JUNK-truckdecThis post, written by Jared Lindzon, originally appeared on Betakit and has been republished with permission.

Finding hidden treasures, dropping off goods for charity, and providing award-winning service is all in a days work for Barry Hartman and Scott Foran, but its the sharing of such experiences through social media that allows their small Richmond-based business, 505 JUNK, to compete in a highly saturated industry.

“We use social media to not only build our brand awareness but to share our story so clients can have an inside view of our company,” said Hartman. “It allows us to connect with people that maybe we wouldn’t have been able to connect with before because of the cost of advertising.”

According to Hartman, the junk removal business can be very competitive, largely because anyone with a pickup truck and a free online ad can enter the market. Social media has provided 505-JUNK with an edge over the competition by allowing them to build an online audience without requiring additional costs or resources.

“It does cost money to purchase eyeballs,” said Hartman. “But on social media, as long as your putting out good content, you’re doing the right thing and you’re a transparent business, people are going to be motivated to share it. You don’t need a huge budget.”

In its brief three year history 505-JUNK has grown from a home office to a downtown location, more than 90 per cent of which was furnished with recycled materials. In that time Hartman and Foran have been nominated for the 30 Under 30 award by the South Delta Leader, won the 2013 Rising Star award by the Delta Chamber of Commerce, and were nominated for the Best Community Impact Award by Small Business BC, among others.

“I don’t think we would have been nominated or won awards (without social media), because nobody would have heard of us,” he added.

Hartman says his and Foran’s five-person team depend on their smart phones for instant communication, but also use their devices to share real time stories with their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram audiences. “It’s important that we have that connection, because it’s essential to the business,” he said. “We make sure all of our employees are connected through the Rogers LTE network, either through tablets or smart phones, and it allows us to stay connected and share our stories online.”

Hartman adds that Rogers has literally helped since day one, when they assisted in securing one of the last phone numbers in the area ending in 5865, or “JUNK.” Today, their Rogers devices remain among the most essential they bring to job sites.

“We’ve never had an issue with dropped phone calls or the LTE network going down, which is really important when we’re doing mobile payment processing with the tablet,” said Hartman.

With a new office, a growing fleet of trucks and an expanding staff, Hartman and Foran are excited to continue sharing the stories of their friendly, charitable, social-media loving company. “We’re taking more of an organic approach, and we’re confident that as long as we’re out there doing the right thing and sharing quality content with people, they’re going to like, comment and chat about it,” said Hartman.

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Addressing 4 key challenges of BYOD

BYOD security challenges image smallWith the growing popularity of smartphones and tablets, more and more enterprises are adopting a bring your own device (BYOD) strategy to build the connected mobile enterprises of the future. However, some IT managers are concerned that mobile workers using their own unsecured mobile devices for work could lead to IT security issues.

Many of these concerns are based on misconceptions about mobile security. With an effective security strategy, BYO mobile computing can deliver real gains to the enterprise in terms of productivity, efficiency and more engaged mobile users.

Below we explain four of the key perceived challenges about mobile enterprise data security and policies:

 “BYOD users are security problems.”

Even if you haven’t enabled a BYOD policy, employees may already be using personal mobile devices to access, manipulate and share enterprise data through mobile apps. By implementing a BYOD program with the right policies and tools, you are not only securing your data against unauthorized access but also increasing employee productivity by creating new ways of performing tasks. By taking a comprehensive view of enterprise mobile security, organizations can reduce risk and reap the rewards of a more engaged, connected mobile workforce.

 “Enabling BYOD increases the complexity of IT environments.”

Businesses already manage complexity by providing corporate-owned smartphones and tablets to employees and allowing them to work from home by connecting through a virtual private network (VPN). The big thing that’s changing with BYOD is allowing personally owned devices secure access to your enterprise network. There are now tools that make it easier to manage this and reduce the risk (see next section). Enabling BYOD could outweigh the cost of managing complex IT environments by providing improved flexibility and enterprise agility.

“Mobile security is a primary technology challenge.”

It can’t be denied that hackers are finding new ways of attacking mobile devices and corporate networks, but that shouldn’t be a hindrance to adopting BYOD. Consider using a mobile device management (MDM) solution to manage the fleet of mobile devices that connect to your network. With MDM you gain complete visibility and control over mobile devices; detailed hardware and software inventory, location, network and usage data and can bring mobile computing into compliance with IT security policies. If implementing and supporting MDM is one more thing than your IT team will struggle to manage, consider a managed MDM solution.

“BYOD can pose a threat to personal employee data too.”

IT managers who allow personal devices into their businesses have expressed concerns about security threats to corporate data due to loss of mobile devices, data integrity compromises and sharing of sensitive confidential information over social media. But some IT managers see a threat to personal data too.

When a device carrying corporate data is lost, stolen or compromised, IT needs to be able to lock it down and even wipe the data. When an employee leaves the company, IT may also need to remove all company information. The perceived risk in these situations is that individuals will sacrifice personal emails, photos and apps to satisfy corporate privacy and security policies. But containerization tools are making it much easier to keep personal and corporate data and apps separate on both BYOD and COPE (corporately owned, personally enabled) devices.  You need to respect the privacy of users and secure only the corporate data on personal devices.

Please visit Rogers.com/enterprise to learn about how Rogers can help you build a secure mobile enterprise.

How are you addressing mobile security concerns in your organization?

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How online reviews can make (or break) your business

Redboard Biz 1-02Not too long ago, when potential customers wanted to know about the quality of your product or service, they relied on the opinions of friends and family. Word-of-mouth is still alive in today’s connected world—it’s just become exponentially amplified with the use of online reviews. 90 per cent of consumers are influenced by reviews they read online, but in a study of 300 small and medium sized business owners, a quarter said they aren’t tuned-in to online reviews, and only half considered them important.

Why are online reviews so important to small businesses?

According to research by MarketingLand, 90 per cent of customers are influenced by positive reviews and 86 per cent are influenced by negative ones. And an overwhelming 80 per cent of consumers look for products online every single week. So why aren’t small- and medium- sized businesses paying attention?

Online reviews can take a lot of time and it can be challenging to create a strategy to monitor them. Online Reputation tools can help ensure that your presence online is impactful, bringing you new customers, and helping you to stay in tune with what customers are saying about you.

“Staying connected to your clients and audience through social media has become easier with the latest mobile devices and solutions,” says Carrie Shaw, Head of Marketing at OutRank by Rogers. “It will make sure you are always engaged and responsive, even when you’re on-the-go.”

Turn online reviews into a marketing strategy.

Online reviews not only give you valuable feedback about your business, but, when managed properly, can:

  • Keep your customers engaged and curious to read more about you and your business
  • Increase traffic to your website
  • Give you testimonials to show off on your website or in your advertising
  • Improve your search engine optimization
  • Help you build customer confidence, trust and retention

If you are able to highlight great reviews on your site, you can help customers decide whether to call you or the other guys. Online Reputation tools can help you retain the clients you already have and increase the amount of referrals you get by making it simple to collect reviews and make them visible.

 Negative reviews: they’re not as bad as you think.

 So what if you get a bad review? Just remember: no matter how excellent your customer service might be, negative reviews are just a reality in the world of small business.  In fact, 68 per cent of customers trust reviews more when they see both good and bad results.

Instead of panicking, have an action plan! We suggest the following:

  • Show you’re listening by responding thoughtfully
  • Apologize if necessary
  • Empathize with the customer
  • Offer a way to make it up to them

Customers appreciate being responded to and understood, and might even turn into repeat customers and submit a positive review later on.

Don’t leave your online reputation to chance. Take charge of online reviews by reviewing what people are saying about you, interacting with customers, and taking the time to ask a new customer for their feedback.

For more information on complete solutions from OutRank, visit rogersoutrank.com.

 

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