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When it’s Smart to Build a Smartphone App for Your Small Business

You may have been pondering whether or not it’s a good idea for your business to spend the time and money needed to develop and implement a mobile app for your business.

Does a mobile app even make sense for your business? What would it cost? Who’s going to update it? These and many other questions need answers before you can really make an informed decision. Let’s look at some of what you need to know.

The Pros and Cons of developing a mobile app for your business

Pros:

  • More than 50 percent of adult Americans are using smartphone technology
  • Keeps your brand prominent in the marketplace
  • Increases customer retention and loyalty, as the app is always in front  of them
  • Users spend more time on apps
  • Usually load faster than mobile sites
  • Available offline, though they would need to login to purchase, or perform any other action.

Cons:

  • A mobile app needs to be made for each platform, iPhone, Android, Windows, or any other platform
  • Mobile apps require ongoing care, both as regard fresh content as well as technology updates
  • Not as easy to optimize as a mobile website
  • Mobile ads may well serve the purpose
  • Can be wildly expensive! While there are some Do It Yourself solutions, they are minimal in functionality and hard to update.

We all know that there are as many uses for an app than you could ever imagine, but some are better than others. Here is an example of how apps were developed in the health care market. Making sure your app is useful and not a mere novelty will go a long way toward helping you make your decision.

While it’s pretty much a given that you need a mobile version of your website, the question of whether or not you need to shell out what could be big bucks for an app is one you need to look at carefully.

Take the time to weigh the pros and cons for your business before you leap into developing a mobile app!

Posted in: Business, Mobile Computing, Tech Tips for Business Owners

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How to Take Advantage of Instagram at Your Business

Marketers looking for a way to engage and grow their reach would do well to consider the meteoric growth and popularity of Instagram, a free online photo sharing and social network platform acquired by Facebook in 2012.

Instagram allows members users to upload, edit and share photos with other members through the Instagram website, email, and social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Foursquare and Flickr.

On Instagram, you can follow other users’ photo streams, be followed back by those users, and search for friends by name or find any friends that may have previously connected to you on other social networks.

Some ridiculous numbers…

Just so you get a idea how popular Instagram has become in just a few short years (founded in 2010), here are 7 eye–popping stats:

  1. Instagram has 100 million monthly active users. (Instagram)
  2. 40 million photos are posted per day. (Instagram)
  3. 28 percent of U.S. Internet users between the ages of 18 and 29 use Instagram. (Pew)
  4. 98 percent of Instagram photos posted by top brands are now shared to Facebook. (Simply Measured)
  5. 59 percent of Interbrand’s top 100 brands are on Instagram. (SimplyMeasured)
  6. There are 8,500 likes per second on Instagram. (Instagram)
  7. 1,000 comments are made per second. (Instagram)

How small businesses are using Instagram

Small business is finding that connecting with their customers on a visceral level works best with a tool like Instagram. Understanding that what is interesting to the brand and to the core target customer are where they need to be.

Smart business will use Instagram as a window into their world. By sharing small business owners put a face to their business, and begin to enrich their relationships with customers.

Private Picassos, a children’s art studio in New York City, uses Instagram to record their student’s work, and this has led to parents commenting and sharing the photos, thus increasing their business. “I don’t do any paid advertising, so it’s a way to encourage your client to do the marketing for you,” director Valeen Parubchenko says.

 

 

Posted in: Social Media Marketing, Tech Tips for Business Owners

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Is Single Sign-on Right For Your Business?

When your workers log onto their computers, do they automatically, by entering one password and login name, gain access to all of your business’ software systems? Does their single login allow them to access the company’s Intranet, their e-mail systems and your company’s sales data? If so, your company’s software systems operate under a single sign-on system.

Different versions

There are several versions of single sign-on systems. Under a Kerberos-based system, workers must supply their login names and passwords when signing onto their computers. After this, they get a Kerberos ticket that gives them access to email clients, editing software and other systems. This happens because the Kerberos ticket supplies the user’s credentials to each new system that the user tries to access. This prevents workers from having to re-enter their passwords and login names each time.

Benefits

The main benefit of single sign-on is that workers don’t have to constantly enter passwords and logins every time they need to access a new software system. Not only does this prevent password fatigue for your company’s employees, it also saves time. Employees don’t have to stop working to enter their passwords throughout the day. Single sign-on might also save your company IT costs; your IT department won’t be swamped with as many calls from employees struggling to remember their passwords and login names throughout the day.

Cons

Of course, there is some risk to single sign-on. A hacker can gain access to your company’s software systems more easily if you rely on single sign-on. This is why it’s important for your company to tie single sign-on to authentication methods such as smart cards or one-time password tokens. As with all forms of electronic security, then, single sign-on isn’t perfect. You’ll have to take a close look at your company to determine whether this system is right for your business and your employees.

Posted in: Business, Security, Tech Tips for Business Owners, Technology

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Adding Comments to Excel Can Boost Your Productivity

Have you ever re-opened one of your Excel spreadsheets only to find that you’ve forgotten what half the formulas in it stand for? Have you ever opened a spreadsheet only to find yourself asking, “What, exactly, was I up to here?” Well, you can prevent this from happening by adding comments directly to the formula cell in a spreadsheet.

Jogging your memory

The tech Web site Lifehacker explains how to do this. You’ll simply have to access Excel’s N() function. To use this function, add a plus sign after your formula. You can then write out your comment in quotes inside the function.

Why do it

Now, whenever you click on that cell, both your formula and your comment will appear. Doing this can save you plenty of time when poring over a half-finished Excel spreadsheet. You won’t have to wrack your brain trying to remember what you were trying to accomplish.

This function is available in Excel 2013 and earlier versions. If you have Excel don’t be shy about using it. You might be surprised at how much more productive you can be.

Posted in: Business, MS Office Tips and Tricks, Tech Tips for Business Owners, Technology

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Not using Word 2013? You’re missing out

Have you been debating whether it’s time to upgrade to Word 2013? PC World says it’s time to stop dithering. The new version of Word is packed with features that can make you and your employees more productive than ever. Maybe you like that current version of Word that you’re using. That’s fine. But before you decide to stick with it, consider these nifty new features that come with Word 2013.

A better design tab

The first reason to upgrade to Word 2013? PC World points to the program’s new and improved design tab. Word 2013 lets users choose from a wide variety of themes, colors and fonts. And if you find a certain combination that you’d like to use all the time, you can click the “Set as Default” option to return these themes every time you create a new document. Microsoft Word 2013 also allows users to preview a document style before they apply it to the entire document.

A better reading experience

Maybe you use Word more often to read documents than to create them. If so, Word 2013 comes with a new Read feature that makes reading Word documents more pleasant than ever. First, the Read feature automatically resizes Word documents so that they fill your entire screen. Secondly, Read provides on-screen arrows that let you flip through pages or swipe the screen from either edge of the display if you’re using a touch-screen monitor. You can also click on images, charts or tables in Read mode to make them bigger, and easier to read.

PDF Viewing

Word 2013 makes editing and reading PDF documents an easier task, too. First, Word 2013 can open any PDF document. But that’s just the beginning. The program also allows you to edit PDF documents without bringing in a third-party application. According to PC World, you can also move images around a PDF document and edit any information contained in a table. For anyone who works with PDFs often, this is an amazing new feature.

Posted in: Business, MS Office Tips and Tricks, Tech Tips for Business Owners, Technology

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Phishing Attempts Can Snare the Best of Us, Even the AP

 

We would all like to think that we’re clever enough to detect phishing e-mails in our inboxes. Some of them are easy to spot. But the scam artists behind phishing e-mails are getting better. And that means that they’re netting some high-profile victims. For instance, as Slate recently reported, a particularly sneaky phishing e-mail recently caused a lot of trouble for the Associated Press, the country’s biggest provider of wire-service news.

Syrian Electronic Army

Earlier this year, a group calling itself the Syrian Electronic Army hacked into the Twitter account of the AP and posted a message stating that President Obama had been seriously injured in an explosion at the White House. This Tweet was false, of course. But that didn’t stop the stock market from taking a big plunge. And it shows, too, that even the savviest among us have to be on guard from sophisticated phishing attacks.

The E-mail

The Syrian Electronic Army hacked the AP Twitter account through a process known as spear-phishing. As Slate explains, this involves sending specific recipients e-mail messages that look legitimate. In the case of the AP hack, the group sent a message to AP staffers containing a link to what looked like a Washington Post news story. The message looked professional enough that it tricked some AP staffers into clicking on it, the first step in giving members of the Syrian Electronic Army control over the AP’s Twitter account.

A Warning

It’s easy to poke fun at the AP for getting hacked. But the truth is, no one is safe from the more sophisticated con artists behind the newest phishing attacks. These scammers no longer send phishing e-mails about Nigerian princes. Instead, they send messages that look like they’re coming from people we know. The lesson here? You need to be constantly vigilant if you want to protect yourself from today’s trickiest online scammers.

 

Posted in: Business, Security, Tech Tips for Business Owners

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Guilty of These Bad Tech Habits?

No one is perfect. We all have bad habits. Some of us smoke. Some eat in our cars. Some write e-mail messages in all capital letters. Here’s the good news, though. When it comes to technology, it’s relatively simple to identify our bad habits and break them. PCWorld magazine recently ran a list of the most common bad tech habits. Took a look at these tech mistakes. Do you suffer from any of these bad tech habits?

Easy Target

Some of the worst tech bad habits identified by PCWorld make you an easy target for thieves. For instance, do you ever leave your smart phones or tablets sitting at your booth in the coffee shop while you run back to the counter to get another shortbread cookie? Leaving your devices unattended and in plain sight can make it easy for criminals to quickly snatch them and disappear. Or what if you spend all your waking minutes staring at your smart phone screen without taking notice of your surroundings? This bad tech habit can hurt, too. While you’re staring at your screen, you don’t notice that suspicious guy walking close to you. Before you know it, the guy’s popped you in the face, grabbed your smart phone and run away.

Hurting Your Health

Bad tech habits can damage your health, too. Maybe you sit all day hunched in front your computer. This bad posture can lead to serious back pain. It can also cause carpal tunnel syndrome. The solution here? Sit up straight, take frequent computing breaks and purchase a comfortable chair that places less strain on your back. Speaking of breaks, another bad tech habit is not taking any. As PCWorld says, your can hurt your eyes, strain your back and blur your thought processes if you insist on spending the entire work day focusing on your computer screen. Remember to take regular breaks to keep yourself healthy.

Oops

What happens if your computer suffers a sudden hard-drive crash? Will you lose your important files? If you suffer from the bad tech habit of not backing up your files, you probably will. And do you reuse the same passwords frequently at several different Web sites? This tech habit can open you to a world of pain should someone crack that go-to password. Now, instead of gaining access to your personal information on one site, this cyber criminal can gain access to it on several. Finally, do you ignore the updates that publishers create for the software that you most frequently use? Don’t. Ignoring these updates can leave you vulnerable to hacks and keep you from fully enjoying your software.

Posted in: Business, Security, Tech Tips for Business Owners, Technology

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Does Your Business Have a CyberSecurity Plan?

Here’s an interesting fact: In 2012, companies with just one to 250 employees — what we commonly think of as small businesses — were the victims in more than 30 percent of all cyber attacks. Entrepreneur Magazine cites this statistic, taken from the 2013 Internet Security Threat Report from Symantec, to prove a point: Even small businesses need a cybersecurity plan.

Anti-Virus Software Matters

The Entrepreneur story says that the first step in any cybersecurity plan is anti-virus software. As the story says, this software is a must for small business owners. Anti-virus software isn’t perfect, and especially clever viruses can slip past it, but businesses that don’t have any anti-virus protection are setting themselves up for a massive hack.

Suspicious E-mails

Next, small businesses should make sure that their employees understand how important it is to delete e-mail messages that seem suspicious, whether sent by known or unknown senders. Businesses should also remind their employees to never click on the links contained in these suspicious e-mail messages. Not all employees will listen or remember. But many will.

Firewalls

Entrepreneur also recommends that small businesses use firewalls to protect their inbound and outbound network traffic. Firewalls can keep hackers from tapping into a small business’ network. Firewalls can also block employees from accessing potentially dangerous Web sites.

Posted in: Business, Disaster Recovery, Security, Tech Tips for Business Owners

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4 Ways to Help Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

4 Ways to Help Prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (via http://drproodian.com)

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome occurs when we spend a lot of time doing things that involve repetitive hand and wrist movements. This can include common work activities like typing and using a mouse, hobbies like knitting, or more strenuous physical labor like using a screwdriver or operating power tools…

(more…)

Posted in: Business, Tech Tips for Business Owners

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Don’t Let Those Batteries Dwindle!

You love your tablet because you watch movies and play songs from any room in the house. You rely on your smartphone to search the Web and send e-mail messages while you’re running from one meeting to the next. And you’re constantly toting your laptop computer to the library, bookstore or coffee shop to do your work on the go.

But you’re running into a problem: Your device’s batteries are fading quicker than ever.

Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to extend the battery life of your smartphone, tablet and laptop. Take them, and you won’t have to worry about your laptop shutting down as you’re putting the finishing touches on that report.

Your laptop

Slate Magazine recently ran an interesting feature on ways to boost the battery life of your laptop. The best advice? You can keep your laptop battery running at top power by not punishing it too much.

This means that you should never undercharge or overcharge your battery. Slate recommends that you keep your battery charged from 20 percent to 80 percent at all times. You will have to remember, of course, to unplug your computer before the battery charges to 100 percent capacity.

Slate recommends, too, that you never let your battery’s charge run all the way to zero.

Moreover, here’s a battery-drainer that few of us think about: heat. Laptops can run hot, and that can be devastating to a battery. Slate recommends that when your laptop is turned on and plugged in that you take out the battery. The magazine also advises users to charge their batteries only when their laptops are turned off.

Yes, that seems inconvenient. Nevertheless, these actions can dramatically boost the lifespan of your computer’s battery.

Your smartphone, tablet and other devices

The advice is similar for boosting the battery life of your other devices, devices such as your smartphone and tablet. Again, keep the batteries in these devices charged in the range of 20 percent to 80 percent. And do what you can to keep these devices cool.

If you make the mistake of leaving your iPad or Nook on your patio table during a sunny, 90-degree summer day, you’re just asking for a drained battery.

It’s important, too, to remember that digital cameras are notorious for running out of battery life. Make sure, then, to store your digital camera in a cool place when you’re not using it. You would hate for its battery to go kaput during your daughter’s first birthday party.

The app solution

The New York Times recently ran a blog post on several apps that can help boost the life of your smartphone, tablet and laptop batteries.

One of the best? The Times recommends Battery Doctor Pro, which costs $1 on iTunes. This app not only tells you how much time you have left on your battery, it also gives you advice on how to boost that time. For instance, it might tell you to disable Wi-Fi to extend your iPad’s battery life.

The app also comes with a “Maintain” submenu that will lead you through a process to boost the performance of your lithium batteries. Basically, this means letting your device’s battery run down to less than 20 percent power and then re-charging it to 100 percent.

Battery Boost Magic, which is free on iTunes, is another app recommended by the New York Times. The Times says that the app works in much the same way as Battery Doctor Pro, though it is designed more for less experienced device and smartphone users.

The Times also gives a positive review to the Easy Battery Saver app, which is also free on iTunes. This app allows users with just one tap to turn off such battery-draining features as Wi-Fi, GPS and Bluetooth. Users can also lower their screen’s brightness level with just one tap with this app.

Read more at …

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