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Small Business IT

2
Dec

Each year, the CPA Technology Advisor posts its Year-In-Review and Executive Predictions article. For 2009, Executives in the business software industry made some very interesting predictions that I think any business owner or accounting technology manager would do well to take note of.
Some of these are trends already in motion, but which will reach critical mass in the near future of 2009 and beyond.

Prediction #1: Working Remotely
by Mike Sabbatis from the TOP 5 TRENDS IN THE ACCOUNTING PROFESSION

Meeting client, firm and employee needs requires anytime, anywhere access to information and knowledge. No longer a 9-to-5 desk job, firms report that, on average, 22 percent of their professional staff works remotely to some extent and nearly one-half expect to see this increase over the next three years.

Prediction #2: SAAS To Replace Traditional Software
by Shafat Qazi

Software-as-a-Service will replace desktop software in the next 10 years, completely. The rate at which people will transform to browser-based, or cloud computing, is going to grow exponentially in the next few years, and will really begin to take off in 2009. It will grow tremendously from there. The nature of this change is as significant as the boom for the personal computer was in the 1980s or as e-mail was in the 1990s. As a simple example, what e-mail did to the fax, SaaS will do to desktop computing.

Prediction #3: Outsourcing Continues as Broadband Availability Increases
by Shafat Qazi

The world is going to get even flatter. The ability for us to collaborate with other teams around the world is going to become more and more possible because the countries that did not have the capability a few years ago are rapidly implementing newer technologies, with broadband often being available free to homes and businesses. So opportunities for collaboration with remote companies or offshore companies is going to be astounding. This is a massive change wherein the playing field is going to level-off even further in the next few years and more workflow processes that were traditionally handled locally will increasingly be processed remotely. While this has nominally been around for a few years, we see it growing exponentially in many new areas including functions in the legal and accounting professions. The rapidly increasing and often free availability of broadband access across the world is going to change the dimension of the working class, shifting it to countries where the processes can be done more rapidly and efficiently.

Prediction #4 (FREE BONUS PREDICTION!): More Automation & Efficiency in Small Businesses
by Shafat Qazi

Automation of business processes will boom. Most businesses, from small to big, are realizing the considerable benefit of automation across virtually all of their work processes, and they will start to invest significantly more in automation technologies, perhaps 2 to 3 times more, in the next few years. More and more businesses have seen the value offered by the productivity enhancements and efficiency gains of automation, from good email systems, to exchange-based domains, to popular accounting software and enhanced collaborative tools like SharePoint. Many of these businesses have just started to wet their feet, but this area is about to explode in the next few years, with greater investment in these technologies.

Hope you enjoyed those! Any predictions of your own for the world of business management technology in 2009? Please share with a comment!

Category : Industry News | Opinion | Small Business IT | economy | Blog
23
Oct

First thing’s first.  If we start with the assumption that time is our most precious resource, then those new to blog reading may not know that there is a way to read more in less time.  As my father always says, “laziness breeds efficiency, son.”  So, if you don’t know what RSS is – you should know that any blog worth its salt syndicates its content so that you can aggregate the “news feed” that each blog produces so that it can be read efficiently without surfing to scores of separate web pages.  Being a Google fan, I use the Google Reader to aggregate the 50+ blogs I track to stay up on my industry and interests.  There are scores of other options – just google “feed reader” and you’ll see what I mean.

And now, on to the blogs!

1) Trust Matters – blog of Charles H. Green, author of The Trusted Advisor and Trust-Based Selling.  Green’s analysis of social media phenomena and the difference between linking to someone and connecting with someone is vital and very relevant.  There is no greater expert on the importance of trust in business that I have found.

2) 43 Folders – speaking of time being a valuable resource, David Allan, author of the landmark book on time and task management for the 21st century workplace has spawned dozens of blogs and communities online but 43 Folders leads the pack.  I’ve linked to the “getting started with getting things done” post that gives a great overview of the “GTD” method.

3) On Startups – despite its moniker, I believe even businesses that have been around for more than 20 years can benefit from the advice on offer here. This blog covers all sorts of issues affecting businesses today – to partner with larger firms or not, for example. Another offers analysis of a badly-written article that perpetrates myths about the value of Software as a Service (SAAS).

I know that only three gems (at least in the eye of this beholder) on business is just the tip of the iceberg. What business blogs that are off the beaten path of the big publishers do you read? Please leave us a comment – I’d love to see what I’ve been missing.

Category : Small Business IT | Blog
14
Oct

For those who have never heard of OpenOffice, I have to say – I’m sorry to hear that.

OpenOffice is a full-featured office suite that is of the Sun Microsystems StarOffice lineage. It is in fact the open source development version of StarOffice.

OpenOffice has just released its 3.0 version with significant new features and improvements. It can open the new Office 2007 for PC /Office 2008 for Mac file formats and supports VB Script in those files (unlike Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac). This is a multi-platform product, available on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. The native file format for OpenOffice is supported by numerous other office suites used in the open source world, such as KOffice.

While file format support for Microsoft office docs is not 100%, it has come forward leaps and bounds and should prove a strong enough replacement for those outside of the finance office (Excel power users) that your company could try it out and see if you can save big on an expensive upgrade to Microsoft’s flagship suite.

OpenOffice is available for the low low price of free. Get OpenOffice (or for those in the know, get it even faster via legal bittorrent).

Category : Small Business IT | Blog
14
Oct

I’ll cut right to the chase: Google Apps for your domain.

Google Apps

No, I’m not talking about Google Docs or Google Spreadsheets by themselves. I’m talking about the near-complete IT replacement available at no cost right now. All you need to have is a domain name to use it.

Google Apps’ main draw is its ability to serve a replacement for a Microsoft Exchange server, and for many, as a replacement for a costly BlackBerry Exchange server as well. Further, it incorporates web-based document storage and sharing (a lot like having a web-accessible intranet) and even includes some web hosting capabilities to boot. You can even build an iGoogle-like custom company start page where employees who are logged in can preview their emails, calendar and documents.

But how does it achieve this? What is so special about it?

Google allows free use of the service with minor limitations (most wouldn’t affect the small businesses I work with). It’s their text ads that are displayed in a very unobtrusive manner that pay the bills. Believe me, I’m not a fan of flashy animated web ads, but Google’s text ads are the least annoying kind of ad I’ve seen on the Internet.

We’ll explore some more specific functionality of Google Apps for your Domain in Part 2.

Are you using Google Apps for your Domain?  Why or why not?  Please write a comment and tells us what you think.

Category : Small Business IT | Blog
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