Posts Tagged ‘RedBoard Biz’

Moving beyond fire-fighting: Innovation and IT spending

redfire

ZDNet recently published an article, “Forget strategy, IT managers are too busy fighting fires,” that describes what day-to-day life is like for IT managers. Author Colin Barker writes that rather than focusing on innovation, embracing new technology, or growing their businesses, IT leaders spend most of their time fighting fires.

Fire-fighting, keeping the lights on, bailing water out of the boat—the metaphors matter much less than what they point to: the loss of the spirit of innovation that gave birth to IT in the first place. Almost half of those surveyed identified supporting their company’s basic IT operations as their primary job activity. Barker also notes that 33 per cent list cutting costs/cost management as central to their jobs.

These two startling facts give rise to a question: How is effective cost management that supports business growth even possible if your daily tech focus is to keep things running? This kind of cost management just isn’t likely to break that fire-fighting trend. So how can IT leaders extract themselves from this dilemma?

1. Think about IT spend long-term and strategically—the same way you think about business goals. Realizing the goals laid out in your three- or five-year strategic plan will become easier if you have the technology infrastructure and services in place to do more than simply manage the day-to-day. Invest in infrastructure and services that will support your strategic goals instead of inhibiting them.

2. Perform an IT/telecom spend audit. A formal audit, done either in-house or outsourced to specialists, will help you get a clear and detailed picture of where and how your organization currently spends its money. You’ll likely find that unnecessary costs have been growing due to unused services, outdated infrastructure, and inefficient and duplicate processes. Discovering where you can legitimately cut costs without undermining still valuable infrastructure and programs will open up possibilities for smart investments elsewhere.

3. Spend the money you save to build your future. An audit can form the basis for a technology spend overhaul that will move you away from fire-fighting and towards business innovation. The effective IT leaders of both the near and longer terms will be those who find the opportunities for advancing their business goals through optimizing their IT spend.

Re-evaluating how you invest in technology today can lead to more strategic IT investments tomorrow. And this can help make sure that your talented IT team isn’t just putting out fires, but is also using their invaluable skills to drive innovation and productivity.

How else might you begin moving away from IT damage control to get back to innovating?

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Are you one of Canada’s most social-savvy small businesses?

Small businessThe majority of Gen-Y Canadians think it’s important for small businesses to have a strong social media presence, according to research we reported last month.

Recognizing this trend,  and in honour of Small Business Month, we’re on the hunt for Canada’s top social media-savvy small businesses. If you’re part of a small business with a passion for social media, you can be eligible for an awesome opportunity from Rogers,  including recognition of your skills, media opportunities with some of Canada’s top broadcasters and publications, and a feature right here on RedBoard Biz.

We’re looking for businesses who are active on a few social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram or a blog, and are passionate about engaging with their customers in the social space. If you meet these criteria, we want to hear from you! Simply comment on this blog post by letting us know how we can reach you online, and telling us: What makes your business social savvy?

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A brand new way for small businesses to Share Everything!

Share Everything for businessFrom the real estate firm with 20 brokers sending clients directions and photos via mobile devices to the design firm with mobile account managers sharing files on-the-go, managing wireless data costs and consumption across your business is a bottom line necessity.

Earlier this month, we announced Share Everything to simplify the data management process for businesses and consumers. Today we are expanding that plan to offer even more value and flexibility for small business with up to 25 devices. Share Everything for Business is a flexible plan that lets businesses share voice, long distance, features and wireless data between multiple employees and devices.

Share Everything for Business plans can accommodate the changing needs of a team.  Pick the data bucket that works for your business – from 3GB to 30GB – and share it on any combination of smartphones, tablets, the Rocket™ stick, hub and mobile hotspots. You can share across up to twenty-four devices in addition to the first smartphone line.

It is also easy to manage the billing. Consolidated billing for the whole team streamlines operations, eliminating the time-consuming task of managing multiple wireless bills for employees. If you have employees who bring their own device, Share Everything for Business is a great solution to help extend applications from your laptops or desktops through the cloud to tablets.

So, whether your employees are on tablets, smartphones or both, Share Everything for Business keeps them connected while making sure the costs to your business are under control, and all on one bill.

To learn more about Share Everything for Business plans, visit www.rogers.com/shareforbiz. For more information about small business offerings from Rogers, or to find a Rogers Small Business Specialist in your region, visit www.rogers.com/smallbusiness.

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Social media 101 for small business

Rogers small businessSocial media is a great way for small businesses to self-promote, connect with customers and take the pulse of how their products and services are being received. And, according to recent research from Rogers, more than half of Gen Y (60 per cent) feels that small businesses should operate ecommerce sites and be more active online. But with so many options – Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, etc.– it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Here are three tips to help you get started Tweeting, posting and liking.

1. Help customers find you. Having a website or social network account is a great start – but the value comes from visitors and followers. Your business needs a strategy to send people to your online presence.

“Every business needs some kind of web presence, whether it’s a website, a blog, a Facebook page or all of the above,” says Carrie Shaw, head of marketing at Outrank, an online marketing solution for small businesses. “But let me emphasize that none of these will do a business any good if there is no traffic directed to them. The two most common strategies to do so are paid search and SEO (search engine optimization), and I would recommend both.”

2. Consider your audience. Social media is about more than simply creating an account and posting updates. You need to think about what kind of content is valuable to your customers. While they certainly want to know about your latest product announcement, they may also be looking for helpful how-tos, news about your industry and the opportunity to share their opinions.

3. Start a conversation. Nearly half of social media users have sought out support on their networks, according to research from sentimentmetrics.com. Have a plan for answering blog comments, Tweets and Facebook wall posts to help build relationships with your customers.

To help you stay connected, Rogers is offering small businesses a chance to win an office technology makeover. For more details, visit www.rogers.com/bigidea before Oct. 5, 2013.

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Four ways Rogers helps you get the best new devices for business

Trade-upRunning your own business gives you the freedom to choose the devices and technology that best suit your needs at work and play. Rogers has the largest selection of LTE-enabled devices powered by Canada’s fastest wireless internet.  This means super-fast mobile browsing and downloading, uninterrupted on-the-go performance and the productivity that comes with having the latest and greatest device.

Here are four ways Rogers can help you get your hands on the season’s most efficient smartphones:

1.       Check the Rogers Reservation System: Rogers business customers can now use our online system to pre-order high profile devices. The system guarantees hassle-free reservations, emails you status updates, and ships the device directly to the address of your choice – eliminating the need to call Rogers or visit a store to get the latest devices for you and your team. New devices are added frequently, and you can follow @RogersBuzz for updates as they become available for reservation.

2.       Rogers Trade-Up Program: Bring your current phone to a local Rogers store or visit rogers.com/tradeupquote on your mobile device to find out what your device is worth. We’ll honour the quote for 30 days so you can lock in the value as you wait for the new smartphone to become available.

3.       Hardware Upgrade Program:  Upgrade to a new device by paying your remaining FLEXtab balance or the early upgrade fee.

4.       Hand Me Down: Give your device to another person on your team and they’ll receive 10 per cent/month off their monthly plan by signing up with Rogers. Or sign up for a Share Everything for Business plan to share  one bucket of wireless internet with up to 10 devices, and you can save up to $20 when you add a device you already own to the plan. The more you share, the more you save!

What devices help you support your business?

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Act small, think big: The next generation’s impact on small business

Small biz researchLarge businesses may have been the first to embrace ecommerce, but the needs of Gen Y – Canadians between the ages of 18 and 35 – are changing. Today, both Baby Boomers and Gen-Ys are committed to supporting Canadian small businesses. But the way they choose to interact with local companies are very different, according to new research from Rogers, commissioned by Harris Decima.

The majority of Canadians – over 85 per cent – agree that convenience and personal service are the most important reasons they support small businesses. But small businesses can also benefit from offering online services to their customers. More than half of Gen Y (60 per cent) feels that small businesses should operate an ecommerce site and are not currently active enough online, while under 35 per cent of Baby Boomers agree.

The survey reveals that understanding how your customers want to be engaged is essential to your business’s success. More than half of Canadians (51 per cent) would shop at small businesses more often if they offered more of their products and services online, while more than half of Gen Y (56 per cent) said they would shop at small businesses more if they were rewarded for their business with loyalty and incentive programs.  Incorporating the right solutions and technology, innovative social media practices, loyalty programs and online marketing strategies can make your business more efficient, help you work from anywhere and enable you to engage with customers at any time.

We are launching national Small Business Month activities designed to give small businesses the tips, tools and technologies to get ahead. Starting in October, Rogers will host experts in social media, marketing and sales for Rogers Talks, a national series of breakfast events. Thought leaders will share ideas and actionable tips in Toronto, Kitchener/Waterloo, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver from Oct. 28 to Nov. 12. Small business owners and employees can register at www.rogers.com/RogersTalks.

Rogers is also giving Canadian small businesses the opportunity to upgrade their technology. Rogers Small Business Big Idea Giveaway, a national contest launched today, will award five prize packages worth over $20,000, including mobile devices from Rogers and BlackBerry. Owners of small businesses with up to 99 employees across Canada can enter by sharing how Rogers could give their business a competitive edge at www.rogers.com/bigidea before Oct. 5, 2013.

The new Rogers small business research report also found:

Pride, support for local economy and a personal shopping experience is important to all Canadians:

  • More than half (64 per cent) of Canadians who shop at small businesses do so to support their local economy and for a personalized experience
  • More than half (62 per cent) of Canadians feel a sense of pride when shopping at a small business
  • The most frequent small business shoppers are over the age of 60 (58 per cent), reside in Atlantic Canada (55 per cent) and do not have children at home (50 per cent).

Baby Boomers are the largest supporters of local businesses, while Gen Y wants more personal and online interaction:

  • Baby boomers are the greatest supporters of local business in Canada as almost two thirds (58 per cent) of Canadians over the age of 60 shop at small businesses at least once a week
  • More than half (68 per cent) of Gen Y think it’s important for small businesses to offer a loyalty rewards program
  • More than half (60 per cent) of Gen Y think it’s important for small businesses to offer an ecommerce website
  • More than half (51 per cent) of Gen Y think small businesses should have a strong social media presence.

For more information about small business offerings from Rogers, or to find a Rogers Small Business Specialist in your region, visit www.rogers.com/smallbusiness.

Lauren is a regular contributor to Redboard Biz 

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How to protect your company data

SecurityConnected for Business writer Bryan Borzykowski shares five ways businesses can help prevent computer fraud. This post originally appeared on Connectedforbusiness.ca

It’s a lot easier and cheaper to prevent computer fraud than you might think. Here are five ways to stop cyber-criminals from stealing sensitive data.

Update anti-virus software

While most people know that they need to install anti-virus software on their computers, it’s also important to upgrade these programs when new updates are released. Sunil Mistry, a partner at KPMG Enterprise in Toronto, says that many business owners fail to do this. “There are constant viruses and phishing emails that figure out ways to get through anti-virus software and into an inbox,” he says. “The updates make sure that any gaps are covered.” Anti-virus software should send any potential phishing scams – emails that ask you to click on a link and enter information – to your spam folder and delete any emails that have viruses attached. Users will typically get an alert when a new version is released, so there’s no excuse not to upgrade.

Wipe data off old computers

Business owners often throw out old computers, but many fail to erase the sensitive data that’s on the hard drives, says Mistry. “You could have a bunch of passwords on it, or an Excel document with credit card information that someone forgot about,” he says. Wiping hard drives of data is becoming more important as computers become cheaper, he says. Companies can now upgrade systems every couple of years. With many companies donating or selling the old computers, you never know if it will fall into the wrong hands.

Use encryption software

If you’re sending sensitive data – such as customer information to a supplier – via the internet, you need to install encryption software. This puts a “casing” around the data and essentially turns it into meaningless numbers, making it harder for hackers to steal information that’s travelling from one place to another. “Encryption hides what’s being sent,” he says. “It prevents anyone from trying to access that data.” These days, most anti-virus companies offer low-cost encryption services, says Mistry.

Log off computers

It can be hard to stop an angry employee from stealing information – they’re in the building, after all. One of the best ways to prevent fraud by a staff member is also the simplest: make sure people log out of their computers when they leave their desks. “That’s a big one, even for us at KPMG,” Mistry says. Small businesses are especially at risk, since it’s easy to tell when the boss goes on a lunch break. Often times, no one else may be around. “If you don’t have the right people there, you can easily be taken advantage of.” Logging off makes it significantly harder for a fraudster to quickly grab information.

Lock down computers

Computer fraud doesn’t always occur via insidious emails or a quick transfer of data to a USB key. Mistry has heard of numerous companies that have been compromised after someone walked out of the building with a computer. It may seem outrageous, but it’s not hard to steal a company laptop. He recommends actually bolting down computer hardware. “Lock down the laptop to the leg of a desk,” he says. “People aren’t going to get cable cutters to get it.”

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Introducing Rogers TechXpert for Business: 24/7 tech support for a worry-free office

Choosing the right internet for your businessTechnology challenges can happen at the most inconvenient times. Like just before a big client presentation or when you are in the middle of accessing customer information. When you’re facing a deadline, you need someone you can call on to sort out problems, fast.

Now available for small business customers, Rogers TechXpert is a reliable 24/7 support service that can quickly diagnose and fix your IT issues so you can get on with your business day. Our experts are available to support you whenever you need it, while ensuring that all the work is carried out professionally and according to best practice requirements.

How does it work?

When a technical issue happens, you’ll get access to your own, personal technology expert by phone or online chat. With your permission, the Rogers technical support specialist will connect to your network remotely to help remove viruses or spyware, get you connected to the internet, make sure your applications are ready when you need them or fix any other problems that you may have. Rogers TechXpert can also guide you on the best tools for your business, helping to improve your bottom line.

While your Rogers tech specialist is working on the issue, you can continue with your business day. They will contact you to let you know when you’re back up and running.

How much does it cost?

Rogers Small Business customers can sign up for a month-to-month subscription with Rogers TechXpert for Computer Support ($19.99/per month, per user) or a subscription that also includes other devices (printers, hard drives, etc.) with Rogers TechXpert Whole Office Support ($27.99 per month, per user). For those unforeseen emergencies Rogers TechXpert also offers a one-time fix for non-subscribers starting at $74.99 per incident.

Rogers TechXpert for Business is an effective way to get the IT support you need – without incurring the cost of a full time IT consultant.

To become a subscriber please visit, rogers.com/techxpert4biz or call 1-877-377-3666.

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Talking Tablets with OS&B

OSBFor the past few weeks on RedBoard Biz, we’ve been highlighting companies who have found creative ways to support their business with tablets. From a dentist managing patient care to an IT company simplifying the process for field agents, tablets have become an essential part of daily operations for many small businesses.

Today, we’re featuring OS&B, a bath fixture fittings manufacturer in Oakville, Ont. As this business dealt with safety inspections and increasingly complicated data requirements to meet Ministry of Labour and WSIB reporting standards, Chris McLeod, Vice-President of APPinspect Inc. (“APP + inspect“) said they realized the best option was to write an app.

“We wrote our own iOS app, Hazard Manager 3, and do our inspections with it, and even more,” said Chris.  “Right now I’m creating an emergency procedure using a 3-D floor plan of our factory, including big fat green and red arrows and evacuation zones, and a legend for the various emergencies WSIB would have us prepare for.”

Importing images of a factory’s floor plans into an iPad, the app organizes nine colour-coded, renameable layers of “HazardPoints,” entered by tapping at the appropriate location on the floor plan on the tablet.  “Each layer has an uploadable text list of hazard tags, allowing for list selection of hazard tags instead of typing in,” said Chris.

The company is currently working to add even more options for safety management managers responsible for upholding Building and Labour Code requirements across a variety of worksites. “Every new need adds a function for the app and it never seems to stop growing,” added Chris.

The only drawback? “We keep getting asked for an Android edition,” said Chris. “For the moment, iPad and Dropbox are serving us great; tomorrow, who knows?”

What apps help you support your business?

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Talking Tablets with dentist Marlon Gutierrez

Hand typing on a digital tablet with mobile phone

Recently on RedBoard,  Neil Shuart shared how companies are using tablets in creative ways, including as menus, control panels and apps for sales teams in the field.

As part of a series on RedBoard Biz we’ll hear from some of these innovative companies. Today, in our third installment of Talking Tablets, we’re featuring Dr. Marlon Gutierrez, who operates a dental clinic. Marlon uses tablets as a key component of virtually every aspect of his practice, from patient care to security.

“We have used the iPad to help our patients to understand what kind of treatment plans they will receive, not just by listening to us but also seeing through clear and easy to understand animations and illustrations,” said Marlon. “We also use tablets (to control multimedia) … so it’s easy to stream children’s movies directly from online multimedia services to keep kids entertained while they’re being treated or are just in the waiting room.”

The practice also has used tablets for information hubs, for example for drug references such as e-CPS and Lexi Comp. “It is much easier to find what you’re looking for with a digital copy or app rather than flipping through a hard copy text book,” he explained. “ We’ve also used tablets for written manuals and procedures, since health care and increasing legislation require you to be updated on your operating manuals and procedures.”

Tablets are tapped into the location’s security cameras and will notify staff if there’s a problem. They’re also useful for emergency maintenance on their software and hardware and support.

“With tablets, remote emergency maintenance is made easier since it can be done nearly anywhere,” said Marlon. “In fact, a high bandwidth connection such as LTE and a secured VPN connection is all you need. Remote assistance is also very convenient when you’re not at the office and your employee needs a little help doing a particular task.”

What facets of your business can tablets help support?

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