Business Trends at the Consumer Electronics Show

3D PrintingThis post, written by Connected For Business, originally appeared on Connected For Business and has been republished with permission.

Every January, the massive International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) takes place in Las Vegas. This year broke records, with 170,000 people from around the world attending to find out what’s new in tech.

Technology ranged from gorgeous 4K TVs to wearable devices and drones. But there were two areas in particular that have great promise for the small-business community: 3D printers and high-capacity portable storage.

3D Printers

Many view 3D printing as either a fun novelty technology, or something geared toward large enterprises. But there are practical small-business applications that involve these next-generation devices, which hail from companies such as UltimakerMatter and Form and MakerBot.

In fact, a recent Tech Pro Research report indicated that 3D printers are gaining a greater acceptance among small businesses, with almost a third noting they’d consider using one in the next year.

How?

A 3D printer could, for example, be used to create a product prototype so a company has something tangible to show clients, potential investors, retailers or other partners. A three-dimensional product is far more compelling than a simple mockup on paper, and using a 3D printer helps avoid the need to get a costly prototype made at a manufacturing facility.

A builder or architect could use a 3D printer to create a realistic model of a planned building or development. Or, it could be as simple as a restaurant or grocery-store owner creating realistic versions of menu items to help enhance sales and/or experiment with plating. This could help generate greater sales, and reduce food waste.

High-Capacity Portable Storage

These days, talk of storing data typically centres on the cloud. And that’s a good thing – it eliminates the need for expensive servers, hard drives, and remote storage facilities, and reduces the risk of theft, loss or damage. However, there are still some advantages and use cases for a business to store data – from documents to photos, videos and presentations – on a backup drive.

There’s a level of convenience – you can access your files from anywhere in the world, even offline, no internet connection needed. And with the latest drives boasting upwards of 1 TB (terabyte!) of data, running out of space is a highly unlikely scenario. One such option is Samsung’s credit card-sized T1 portable drive. To put this in perspective, a single terabyte can hold up to 17,000 hours of music, 320,000 hi-res digital photos or 1,000 hours of video. Text-based documents? More than you could even imagine.

Plenty of other high-capacity portable drives are available from companies such as Seagate and Toshiba – some even support automatic backups. And they are all getting slimmer and more attractive, making them ideal for slotting into a briefcase when you need to access a big presentation or share some important numbers with a client.

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5 Tips For Balancing Your Company and Family

Work Life BalanceThis post, written by James Cowan, originally appeared on ProfitGuide and has been republished with permission.

There’s no separation between work and life. Here’s how some successful female entrepreneurs manage both. The idea of finding “work-life” balance is something that torments many entrepreneurs. How can you build a successful business, while not neglecting your family?

At the PROFIT/Chatelaine W100 Idea Exchange, three entrepreneurs shared their best time management tips: Noemie Dupuy, the co-CEO of Budge Studios, an app developer;Stephanie Perry, the President of restaurant equipment wholesaler Permul; and Victoria Sopik, the CEO of Kids and Company, a childcare provider.

Sopik raised eight children while building her business, while Perry wrestles with twins and Dupuy darts out of the office at 5:30 p.m. each day to get her kids from daycare. What was their first piece or advice? Business people should stop thinking of “work-life balance” as a teeter-totter, where commitments can pitch too far in one direction or the other.

“Personally, I think we’re past that,” says Perry. “I started looking at it as a stew, a soup or a recipe. It’s not either work or home. You can adjust as you go. So, some days, I leave more of the work to others. Some days, I’m all in at work.” Here are five other ways to manage your time, from those who have mastered the skill:

1. Don’t build divisions Many people try to focus only on their professional responsibilities at the office and their family responsibilities at home. But having a fluid boundary makes life easier.

“I don’t separate—I don’t think I even want to separate,” says Sopik. “I had six boys who played hockey and football and rugby and I would try to go watch their games. But if they weren’t actually on the field, I was sending emails. So I was there, and they’d know I was there, but I was getting work done.”

READ: There’s no Such Thing as Work-Life Balance »

2. Find technology that helps Perry and her husband use an app called “Nozbe,” which enables them to share task lists, so they know what needs to get done. “You can create a grocery list, or a list of things that need to be bought at Home Depot, and then when you’re in that place, you know what needs to get done. It cuts out a lot of calling back and forth.”

READ: The Truth About Work-Life Balance »

3. Cut the fat out of your day Some parts of your days—like commuting—add nothing to your productivity. Perry faces an hour-and-a-half drive when she goes into the office, so she only makes the trek on two or three days each week. “You get certain things done when you go into the office and sometimes you get more done by yourself,” she says.

Similarly, Dupuy refuses to hold meetings that take an hour to make a simple decision. “I love 15 minute meetings. I have senior people who come to me and say ‘here’s the situation, what should we do?’ And then we make a decision right away. I don’t over analyze things.”

She adds: “I can see all sorts of things that I do that bring no value, or almost no value to the company. So I always focus on the 80% that really matters. Yes, if I worked 100 hours per week, it would bring more to the company. But it wouldn’t be double.”

READ: Why You Should Tailor Your Business to Your Lifestyle »

4. Figure out what’s non-negotiable in your life Founding your own business means tailoring your career to your lifestyle. “Even before I had kids, I didn’t want to work weekends,” says Dupuy, so she’s structure her business to make her happy. “I organize my life and delegate certain tasks, so I can have the lifestyle that I want. That means there are certain things that I can’t do, because I don’t want to be at work at 10 o’clock at night.”

And while some customers—and even employees—might complain, Dupuy says it helps to be transparent about your motivation. “I get pushback all the time. But I have no issue saying ‘No.’ I says the real reasons: ‘This meeting has to stop. I have to go pick up my kids.’ I don’t want to feel guilty about it.”

READ: Why You Should Let Working Moms Leave Early »

5. Learn to say “No” at home too Parents feel an obligation to attend every piano recital and football game. But you can pick your family priorities, not just your work ones, says Sopik. “People say ‘Where do you take your kids everywhere they want to go?’ But it never crossed my mind that I wanted to take them all those places. I had a thing—I would go to one sporting event, per child, per season. So they would carpool or my husband would take them. I didn’t feel like I had to go to every practice, every game.”

More from the 2014 W100 Idea Exchange:

How do you manage to have both a company and a family? What strategies and tools do you use to balance work and home responsibilities? Let us know using the comments below.

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Controlling costs and increasing agility with mobility management

CBC case study blog post imageAs our national public broadcaster and one of this country’s largest cultural institutions, CBC/Radio-Canada is a leader in delivering radio, television, internet and satellite-based services. While CBC/Radio-Canada focuses primarily on TV, radio and internet, these channels, once so distinct, have become increasingly consolidated and interconnected as Internet, telephony and broadcasting technologies have evolved.

The ever-changing tools and technologies available to CBC/Radio-Canada have created the expectation that content providers will be able to produce for multiple channels, as required; related to these technology shifts are changes in how CBC/Radio-Canada audiences want to consume their content. On top of all this, the corporation is under financial constraint to find more cost-efficient ways to facilitate content creation.

While mobility enables CBC/Radio-Canada to evolve how it creates and distributes the high-quality content it’s famous for, the Mobility and Communications Services team needed to gain better insight into and control over employees’ use of mobile devices and bandwidth.

Tangoe, a Rogers solution partner, was selected as a partner for CBC/Radio-Canada through an RFP process to provide Telecom Expense Management (TEM) and Mobile Device Management (MDM) services. The TEM solution includes device inventory management, cost and usage reporting at individual and group levels, billing management and contract optimization features. The MDM solution allows the Mobility team to track every smartphone and tablet, remotely configure and update the devices with new software and apps, and enforce security policies such as passwords. This combined TEM/MDM solution allows CBC/Radio-Canada to monitor corporate devices over their entire lifecycle.

As part of the solution integration, a deep audit of the organization’s mobility usage was performed, revealing corporation-wide cost and process inefficiencies; the Rogers-Tangoe solution has provided a number of key improvements:

  • Cost reduction, as the number and types of supported devices has been reduced;
  • The MDM-based infrastructure allows mobile employees to securely work on their device of choice; and
  • Transforming mobility management has allowed CBC/Radio-Canada to cost-efficiently improve the way it performs the day-to-day business of broadcasting.

As Jean-Pierre Bédard, Senior Director of Mobility & Communications Services and Media & Enterprise Technology Services at CBC/Radio-Canada says, “We’re more agile now in the way we work, the way we create content. Our employees have the support they need to build the quality content Canadians have come to expect from us, and we’re able to provide that support cost-effectively and efficiently.” You can read the full case study here.

How is your organization managing mobility usage to increase productivity and reduce spend?

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Tech in 2015: What will be big for business

2015 tech predictions imageIt’s that time of the year again: tech enthusiasts of all stripes, from connected consumers to IT managers and business leaders, are abuzz about the technology trends that will define 2015. The recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas celebrated the innovations, inventions and eye-popping gadgets that are rocking the consumer and retail worlds—but what technology will be big for business this year? Deloitte has released its annual tech predictions and we think three in particular will have the greatest effect on business.

Mobile payments will explode. According to Deloitte, the “end of 2015 will mark the tipping point for the use of mobile phones for NFC-enabled in-store payments in Canada.” Smartphones enabled by near-field communication technology will make wallets an increasingly unnecessary accessory for consumers looking more and more to both simplify and speed up all their transactions.

This could fundamentally change how goods and services-focused businesses, both medium and large, interact with their customers. Helping people complete their transactions in more efficient and user-friendly ways is just good business sense, and can form an important part in building even better long-term customer relationships.

In 2015, content will be king. This is hugely important for medium and large businesses, and from marketing, branding and selling perspectives. It’s well known that 18-34-year-olds seek out content on multiple platforms; the big news this year, according to Deloitte, is that they’re also more than willing to pay for it: Canadians in this age group “will spend an average of $750 for content, both traditional and digital. With 9 million millennials, that’s nearly $7 billion in sales for the Canadian media industry.”

Not surprisingly, millennials are most interested in TV, music, computer games, live sports and streaming video. Less expected is that they’re also as interested in print—especially books but also newspapers—as every other generation. What all this means for business is that content-focused customers and prospects can be reached in multiple ways, and not only in terms of actual offers and services. The content marketing campaigns that will allow big businesses to either build on or sustain their brand identities will have to happen over multiple channels and in both new and refreshed formats.

The Internet of Things (IoT) will continue to make radical inroads into people’s everyday lives. Connected home solutions will likely dominate the consumer market this year, but this continued move towards a world defined by IoT also represents huge opportunities for enterprise companies. In particular, those sectors manufacturing and selling “IoT-specific hardware…will be worth $10 billion,” while “the services enabled by the devices will be worth about $70 billion.” This is a great opportunity for medium and large businesses to succeed by bulking up that side of their businesses, but also to form lucrative partnerships with businesses using IoT-enabled hardware and services.

Check out all 10 of Deloitte’s predictions for 2015 tech in Canada here or on SlideShare.

Where would you like technology to take business in 2015?

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Don’t say goodbye to the flip phone just yet: meet the Samsung Rugby 4

Samsung rugby 4 imageFor those who work outdoors or in challenging environments, staying connected while on the job site can be crucial. Having a tough phone that can withstand the elements is even more critical.

The Samsung Rugby 4, like its predecessors, is that kind of phone: designed durable, specifically for industrial use in sectors like construction, field service, transportation, and oil and gas.

How durable? The latest entry in Samsung’s series of rugged phones is military-grade certified and proven to better protect against water, dust, shock, extreme temperatures, and even high altitudes. It’s the practicality you want and the protection you need, all with a name you can trust.

 

  •  Military casing and military-grade certified to better protect against rigorous environments.
  • Wi-Fi connectivity keeps co-workers connected and saves on wireless data costs.
  • Voice commands save employees’ time and improve efficiency.
  • Multi-functional business features extend and enhance the workday to help increase productivity

The Samsung Rugby 4 also has unique, multi-functional capabilities to help rugged workers extend, and manage the workday:

  • Task Manager: Lets workers switch quickly between common applications without searching through menus to save time.
  • Powerful battery and camera: Allows employees to push the limits of the workday with the extended battery life. Snap images of progress at work with the 3 MP front-facing camera and upload them quickly over the 4G network.
  • GPS functionality: Offers an easy way to find destinations for meetings on the go. Go the direct route or take the path of least resistance with proactive traffic alerts and turn-by-turn navigation.

This device is now available from Rogers on a two year plan. For a full list of features, check out the device on Rogers.com.

Does your business take you outside the office? How will you use the Samsung Rugby

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Networks built for retail

retail white paper post 3 imageRetailers depend increasingly on wireless networks for essential business functions, ranging from email and time management, to field-service automation and real-time system monitoring. But what type of network infrastructure is right for your organization?

Your network must provide the performance and coverage you need today, as well as be flexible enough to let you easily add capacity and coverage as you grow. Your network infrastructure will also have a direct impact on other key considerations, including security, accessibility, efficiency and maintainability.

The opportunities for retail success provided by a robust wireless network infrastructure are myriad; among other things, such a network can:

1. Arm your workforce with mobile enterprise apps and data accessible in real time;

2. Connect remote assets to back office systems to collect transactional data or monitor systems;

3. Replace primary wired connections at mobile, temporary, pop-up and hard-to-reach locations; and

4. Provide cost-effective backup or failover connections for key infrastructure and applications, such as point-of-sale terminals.

A stable network infrastructure has a direct and positive impact on how effectively employees do their jobs; in a world of connected consumers, employees require access to fast, reliable wireless. So, how do you choose and integrate the right combination of networks to build, maintain or expand a successful retail business? Your wireless solution might include:

1. A state-of-the-art LTE network for blazing-fast mobile connectivity;

2. A 2G or 3G wireless network for lower-bandwidth mobile and machine-to-machine (M2M) solutions;

3. Robust Wi-Fi to keep up with employee and customer demand at all your locations, and to connect a wide range of office equipment;

4. Guest Wi-Fi to securely meet the needs of customers and VIP visitors; and/or

5. An in-building solution to enhance signal strength and capacity.

It’s not just about smartphones and tablets. Wi-Fi capability is available in a broad range of common office tools, including laptops, notebooks, printers, projectors and VoIP handsets. By supporting these devices with high-performance wireless, you’ll make it easier for your employees to build strong customer relationships in both the short and long terms—which will help them reach their productivity goals.

What network improvements do you have planned for 2015?

Learn more about how retail leaders are embracing mobile-enabled shopping; download the white paper here.

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THIS SPACE WORKS SHOWS HOW THIS SPACE WORKS

10258994_277571452414915_8667306120835852811_o-1050x700This post, written by Jared Lindzon, originally appeared on Betakit and has been republished with permission.

During her 12 years working for a leading technology company, Lise Snelgrove noticed how drastically the workplace was changing thanks to advancements in mobile technology, and found a way to make it drastically more efficient.

The team she worked with all lived within a kilometer of each other, yet each morning they would all get into their cars, fight through the congested Toronto street and pay for parking, just to sit down with their neighbours in a different setting.

Ms. Snelgrove, however, realized that she could conduct the same meetings with the same people in a more convenient and affordable space, so long as they all had their mobile devices on hand. At the same time, the increase in mobile workers at her company left many desks and boardrooms empty for much of time.

Last year Ms. Snelgrove decided to leave her corporate position in order to found her own business, This Space Works, an AirBnB-style rental company that allows companies, non-profits, schools, event venues and even art galleries and museums to rent out their excess space for meetings or other business purposes.

“Spaces like boardrooms or empty offices are consuming energy and costing money, even when they’re not being used,” said Ms. Snelgrove. “People are more mobile now, and we’re finding that more and more offices have empty spaces that are available.”

Not only does the service provide affordable space for renters and additional revenue for owners, Ms. Snelgrove explains that businesses are also able to promote themselves by having visitors from outside their organization pass through.

“Even an event space, Tuesday morning it’s just sitting there costing them money and not earning them anything,” she said. “Someone can conduct a meeting in there who might know somebody that’s getting married, so its a great way to network and get the word out about what you do.”

Ms. Snelgrove even uses her own product, which allows her to run her lean five-person microbusiness with minimal overhead. She worked with Rogers to find the right mix of devices and plans and now she relies on them to run her business.

“We have access to all of our contracts, any information, we never have to say ‘we’ll get back to you later,’ we always have the data close by on our mobile devices,” she said. “Because the best business is unplanned, you need to be ready for it.”

With space available for rent in Toronto and Ottawa, and with plans to move the company across Canada and beyond, Ms. Snelgrove is confident knowing that she can take This Space Works anywhere her mobile devices can go.

“We just need to be able to do what we need to do on the road without limits,” she said. “Between a phone and an iPad we can do everything, because we’ve set our company up in the cloud to be accessible from anywhere at any time. Location is not an issue for us.”

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Tablets Can Help Entrepreneurs Work Smarter

This post, written by Connected For Business, originally appeared on Connected For Business and has been republished with permission.

In a coffee shop waiting to meet a client, at the garage getting a tire change, standing in line at the bank, or waiting to board a flight – wherever they happen to be, small-business owners need to remain connected.

A multitude of smart devices is already available to entrepreneurs and employees on the go, and more are becoming available every day. The right mobile device can provide the ease of access and freedom to make working whenever and wherever necessary possible – but sifting through all the options to make the right device choice can be difficult. Where can small-business owners start? What kind of device best facilitates working on the go?

Tablets are ideal for business owners who work in multiple locations but need to stay in touch with their files, databases, employees, clients and prospects. Research, note taking, writing and other activities normally performed on a laptop or desktop computer can also be comfortably handled on a tablet. Smaller and lighter (and therefore more easily portable) than a laptop, but with a larger screen than a smartphone (making accessing and working with files easier), tablets nicely complement other devices in a variety of mobile circumstances. Some even have telephony apps, for those who really need to work and travel light.

Baseline Mag recently posted an article discussing a Harris Poll focused on tablet usage. This poll revealed that in companies where tablets are relied on as an “essential work tool” they are “increasing employee productivity.” In fact, tablets support a variety of business activities in a wide range of settings, but so far are most widely used in these contexts:

* IT: 93%
* Sales/marketing: 70%
* Executive suite: 67%
* Business development: 63%
* Administrative: 60%.

Tablets are making a big impact, not only on how and where people work, but also in the quality of their output, no matter what form that output may take. According to the poll, 81% of respondents said tablets increased their productivity, and cited an increase of 20% or more.

Tablet use will continue to become more popular as people work more and more while on the move and outside traditional office hours. Such flexibility is, of course, especially important for small-business owners. Entrepreneurs are bulking up their online presences, through online selling/storefronts, social media engagement, and content marketing, and are engaging with others members of the small business community, and tablets provide another user-friendly way to become more involved in those efforts. Out of the incredible number of mobile-device options available to small-business owners, tablets represent the right balance of usability and convenience for working in any and all circumstances.

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Embrace Mobile Payments this Holiday Season

intro_suretapAs a smart businessperson, you stock the products and provide the services that your customers want. So, why not take the same approach with the method they use to pay for their purchases?

This boxing day and winter shopping season, more customers than ever will use mobile payment options, if you sell from a brick-and-mortar store or online, accepting mobile payments will help you stay competitive and even encourage customers to shop more often at your business.

So where do you start? The suretap wallet is an application that lets customers make payments with their NFC-enabled smartphones at the same contactless point of sale terminals used today.  Customers can store and manage eligible cards they currently carry in their wallet and customers can  purchase virtual gift cards or send gift cards to a friend through , all in one place on their smartphone.

With the suretap wallet, retailers have a new way to reach customers on their mobile devices. The application is an “open wallet” meaning it is designed for any bank, loyalty card or gift card issuer to have their products in the wallet and available to consumers.

Here are a few ways the suretap wallet can help Canadian retailers:

Faster check-outs: The suretap wallet uses NFC (Near Field Communication, a form of secure, short-range wireless communication) technology that works with the same contactless payment terminals that customers already use with some of today’s credit and debit cards. As a merchant, all you need to accept mobile payments made with suretap is a contactless payment terminal.

No new or additional fees: There are no additional associated with processing mobile payments on the suretap wallet.  This is because the suretap wallet is taking cards that consumers carry today, and making them available on their smartphones.

Better loyalty and engagement programs on mobile: In the future, suretap wallet will become the place on their smartphone for consumers to store all of their loyalty and gift cards. As a retailer, you now have the ability to create virtual versions of your loyalty and gift cards and can develop personalized offers.

For more information on the suretap wallet, visit rogers.com/suretap

Have you started to accept mobile payments?

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GIVE AWAY: The BlackBerry® Classic

classic-preorder.png.originalAs 2014 starts to wrap up, many business owners are thinking about resolutions and investments for the New Year. If technology is on your mind, why not start thinking about which smartphone would start you off on the right foot?

Just in time for the holidays, the new BlackBerry® Classic has arrived and is available to Rogers business customers. The device is a mixture of all the good things about BlackBerry smartphones, such as the Physical keyboard and classic navigation keys, combined with the new speed and performance of BlackBerry. Like the recently released BlackBerry Passport, the Classic also comes loaded with Blackberry 10.3 software including Blackberry Blend Technology (brings documents, emails etc. from your device to your laptop or tablet) & BlackBerry Assistant (lets you complete actions on-the-go using voice and text commands).

In addition, the device comes ready for both work and play:

  • The physical keyboard and beloved classic navigation keys let you navigate with confidence using the optical track pad, menu and back buttons as you move between documents, emails, phone calls, etc. Not to be forgotten, you can also rely on the touch screen to get you around!
  • The BlackBerry Classic packs some serious punch, with a 3.5-inch screen, a fast processor with 2GB of RAM making multitasking even easier. It also has a 2,515-mAh battery for up to 22 hours of battery life and a microSD card slot to expand your storage if need be.
  • There’s no shortage of apps at your fingertips for work or play, with access to BlackBerry apps on BlackBerry® World™ and Android apps through the Amazon App store.

Want to give this new device a try? We’re giving one away. All you have to do is to tell us how your business could benefit from a BlackBerry Classic device (100 words or less) in the comment section of this blog post to be entered into our draw.

We’ll be doing a random draw of all eligible email subscribers on January 19th, 2015 and will be announcing the winner here, and via our Twitter account, @RogersBiz within approximately ten days following the draw.

For more information about this device contact your local Rogers Small Business Specialist or Rogers representative.

Contest closes at 4:00 pm ET on January 19, 2015. Open to residents of Canada who are 18 years or older, excluding residents of Quebec. Prize: one (1) BlackBerry Classic valued at approximately $500. One entry/person. Odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries. Mathematical skill-testing question to be correctly answered to win. No Purchase Necessary. Full rules here.

UPDATE (January 19, 2015, 12:01 p.m): The  contest is now over. Thank to everyone who participated  We’ll be drawing the winner later today and announcing the winner both here on this blog post and on our Twitter account, @RogersBiz in the coming days. Stay tuned!

UPDATE (February 12, 2015, 10:09 a.m):  Congratulations to Marc from HUNTERS International Insurance, the winner of the BlackBerry Classic in our RedBoard Biz give away contest. Thanks for participating and thank  you to all our readers. We hope you’ll enjoying receiving our update.

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