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May 3rd, 2016

2016May3_BusinessIntelligence_AFrom free information products such as ebooks to brochures and email campaigns, today’s marketers have a wealth of tools and tactics at their disposal. While content marketing and social media garner most of the attention in the marketing world, it’s easy to forget about tried and true techniques that are as effective today as they were twenty years ago. Recent data supports that one age-old sales tool in particular is still incredibly effective today, and even beats out some newer marketing tactics. What is it? Let’s take a look.

What is one thing every consumer has in common? They all love to save money. This is why the marketing technique of offering coupons is still as effective today as it was decades ago. Shocked? Don’t believe this is true? Well, let’s explore some statistics.

A recent report by Valassis, a large marketing firm that serves clients across the globe, provided some enlightening information on the effectiveness of coupons. Here’s what they discovered in terms of how coupons influence consumers.

  • 82% of all consumers are more likely to buy from a brand they wouldn’t normally because of a coupon
  • 85% are influenced to try a new product because of a coupon
  • 84% are more likely to switch brands because of the weekly specials on offer
  • 24% choose to shop at another brand’s store over their preferred because of better advertised bargains
This same report also uncovers some interesting data about brand loyalists, revealing that 78% are more likely to buy from a brand they wouldn’t normally patronize, due to a coupon. While this number is surprising close to the amount of total consumers influenced by coupons (as mentioned in the first bullet point above) this next bit of data may come as more of a surprise: 43% of brand loyalists have a more positive view of a company that offers coupons over those who don’t.

While this recent report goes a long way to revealing the benefits of coupons, how do they compare to another common marketing offer used today: free information products?

The appeal of coupons over information products

According to one marketing firm based in Waterford, Connecticut, a coupon was chosen 9 out of 10 times over an ebook when offered simultaneously. This raises an interesting question: why would a coupon be more effective than a free ebook or other information product? Let’s look at some common psychology triggers at play here.

Broad appeal - simply put, coupons have mass appeal. While information products are likely to be seen as more valuable to those with a higher education, a coupon can appeal to all income brackets - from the very wealthy to the very poor.

Instant value - to gain results from an information product requires a time investment and action. For example, if a customer receives a free 30 page ebook that explains how to get the best discounts on electronic equipment, he or she needs to read the book and then take action (and possibly create a plan) to gain the rewards of that time investment. Many consumers would rather spend their time doing something else, but a coupon on the other hand offers immediate value. Simply hand it over to the service provider, and you save money instantly. What’s not to love about that?

Uniqueness - the online marketplace is flooded with free information products. While they’re still an effective tool to gain a prospect’s email address, far fewer businesses offer coupons on their website, especially in the small business sector. By offering a coupon, you provide a free offer that immediately separates you from the pack.

The point here is that just because a marketing tool is popular doesn't mean it’s the most effective. This is why we encourage you to review data and statistics before implementing any marketing technique in your business. It can save you a whole lot of time and also make your business stand out.

Want more valuable business information that can help you connect better with your customers? Curious to learn how IT can help collect data more easily? Call us today to find out more.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic business
May 3rd, 2016


Photo from report by Sports Business Daily, “Biometric technology speeding entry at ballpark gates,” 11/16/15.

Whether it’s convenience-oriented apps, electronic tolls, or even pre-ordering your latte at Starbucks, consumers are seeking solutions that moves them through their day faster and easier. People want to think as little as possible about basic tasks, and companies are leapfrogging through technology to be that “frictionless” solution.

In many cases, this is creating unexpected “friction” in the area of privacy. Creating a seamless system often requires giving up elements of privacy. For example, if someone makes a payment by Paypal, consumers usually opt to store their credit card information in the cloud with Paypal to make it easier. More and more, people are making decisions to give up their personal information so long as the benefit is a more efficient lifestyle.

But the New York City-based company, CLEAR, is taking the lead on closing the gap between convenience and security at airports through biometrics. For an annual membership fee of $179, CLEAR members get their own line at participating airports (13 to date) with a 30-second verification using biometric identification that clears the current bottlenecks facing most travelers.

Anyone who has checked their watch while standing in line knows just how stressful it can be to be powerless to move the line faster. CLEAR claims you can get through security in less than five minutes, because of their exclusive “CLEARlanes” at airport security checkpoints. You skip the line and go straight to screening.

The benefits of using biometric identification to enhance security and convenience goes beyond airports for CLEAR. In the wake of increased terrorist threats, security screening are being used to protect attendees at high-profile events. Major League Baseball (MLB) began requiring fans to go through metal detectors last year, and, in response, CLEAR Sports launched in four stadiums – including Yankee Stadium – allowing fans to skip the security lines and get to their seats faster.

Security screening is just the beginning according to CLEAR CEO, Caryn Seidman-Becker, who sees a future where you can even buy a hotdog with your fingerprint. CNBC reported, “While Seidman-Becker sees congestion at airports as a clear opportunity, she wants to push biometric identification even further. The company is testing a pilot program in San Jose, California, where members show up at the airport, put their fingers on the CLEAR machine to prove their identity and their boarding pass immediately comes up.”

Biometric identification is not new. The iPhone 5S unveiled its TouchID fingerprint authentication technology back in September 2013 and many companies are beginning to integrate similar technology. ABI Research predicts that by 2021, the biometrics market will reach $30 billion as the industry shifts toward consumer electronics and banking. For enterprising companies who use technology to build bridges between physical and data security, this means a horizon of market opportunities. For consumers, it means technology will continue to reduce the time it takes to accomplish basic tasks while promising to boost the security of those actions.

“In the [conflict] between providing a great buying experience and making sure that this is really secure, biometrics is the way to provide higher security but also a better experience – it’s a win-win,” Intelligent Environments CTO Clayton Locke told TechWeekEurope.

Topic Articles
May 3rd, 2016


U.S. Office of Personnel Management computers were breached last year using a social engineering scam. Photo from New York Times report, “Hacking of Government Computers Exposed 21.5 Million People,” 7/9/15

Social engineering is the psychological manipulation of people into performing actions or divulging confidential or sensitive data for the purpose of fraud and/or system access. It is often difficult to identify the attacker because it is just one layer in a sophisticated hacking scheme.

Whenever someone has information about us, we are more likely to trust them. One type of social engineering scheme, referred to as “spear phishing,” uses an email sent to a particular person inside an organization and tailored to appear as though it had come from a contractor, bank or other trustworthy source. Instead, such emails contain a link which, when clicked on, lead to malware that is downloaded onto the person’s computer or device. From there the remote access tool – or RAT – is employed to hunt through the computer network or even infect other people’s computers. Approximately 70% of cyber-attacks on businesses involved social engineering.

Social engineering really hit the radar screen in 2013, when Target customers found out that information was stolen from 40 million credit and debit cards. Investigators suspect the attackers initially gained access to Target’s network using credentials obtained from a HVAC subcontractor via a phishing email that included the Citadel Trojan. Target has worked for 3 years to settle the financial damages caused by the breach which is estimated at $162 million (after insurance reimbursements). The lesson learned in this case is to require better security from third-party contractors and limit the network access those parties are provided.

One of the most shocking data breaches in the past year affected the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Personal information for about 21.5 million people was stolen, including Social Security numbers and some fingerprints. The New York Times reports that “every person given a government background check for the last 15 years was probably affected” and “hackers stole ‘sensitive information,’ including addresses, health and financial history, and other private details.”

While social engineering schemes are difficult to prevent entirely, there are a number of steps you can take help avoid these types of attacks:

  • Create a culture of security in your organization. Educate your employees and implement a data security policy.
  • Be sure that all your system patches are up-to-date. (Sinu does this automatically for its customers.)
  • Use the best anti-virus software. While anti-virus software cannot eliminate social engineering schemes, it can help mitigate its effects and that of other malware. (Sinu monitors the market closely to adopt new security products as technology evolves.)
  • Reduce and control local admin rights.
  • Commit to strong passwords. Change passwords every six months and use two factor authentication whenever possible. (See Sinu blog for more detailed information on creating strong passwords.)
  • Learn to identify spoof emails. (See our blog on this topic.)

Whether it is through malicious emails or fraudulent phone calls, social media has made social engineering easier. From finding out your work history on LinkedIn to knowing the names of your friends and family on Facebook, it is easier for hackers to use details from your personal life to gain your trust. The key is to be diligent and train yourself and your employees what to look for and how to avoid situations that put your valuable data at risk.

For more information about data security, download our brief, Oh the humanity: The role people play in data security.

Topic Articles
April 28th, 2016

2016Apr28_Security_AKnow thy enemy. When it comes to hackers, most business owners get hung up on the technical and mechanical details of a cyber attack forgetting another important aspect: motive. Why are they attacking people and organizations in the first place? And who are they targeting? By answering these questions you’ll have a better understanding of what resources need the most protection in your business.

Script Kiddies

When it comes to skill level, Script Kiddies are at the bottom of the totem pole and often use scripts or other automated tools they did not write themselves - hence the name. With only an elementary level of technical knowhow, Script Kiddies usually don’t cause much damage...usually. The Script Kiddy virus known as the Love Bug which sent out an email with the subject-line “I LOVE YOU” fooled millions of people, including some in the Pentagon, in the early 2000’s. The virus reportedly caused around 10 billion in lost productivity and digital damage.

So who is a Script Kiddie? Most of the time they’re simply bored youth looking for a thrill or notoriety. Many never evolve into a full-time hacker, and instead just use their skills as a hobby. Oddly enough, many Script Kiddies find a career later on working in the security industry.

Hacktivist

If you’ve heard of Anonymous, LulzSec or AntiSec, then you’re familiar with Hacktivists. These groups are made up of members of varying skill levels, all the way from Script Kiddies to some of the most talented hackers in the world. Their mission is largely politically motivated as they aim to embarrass their targets or disrupt their operations, whether that be a business or government body. Two of the most common ways they attack their target are by stealing sensitive information and exposing it or denial of service (DDoS) where a server is overloaded till it finally crashes.

As a small or medium-sized business owner you are not necessarily immune to Hacktivist disruption. If your business or a company you’re associated/partnered with participates or provides services that can be seen as unethical, such as Ashley Madison (who fell victim of a major Hacktivist attack last year), then you too may be targeted by Hacktivists.

Cyber Criminals

Often talked about in the media and well-known by most SMBs, cyber criminals are after one thing: money. Their targets run the gamut, including everyone from individuals to small businesses to large enterprises and banks. But what do these targets usually have in common? They either have a very valuable resource to steal or their security is easy to exploit...or a combination of both of these. Cyber criminals can attack in a number of ways including using social engineering to trick users into providing sensitive information, infecting an organization/individual with ransomware or another form or malware, or exploiting weaknesses in a network.

Insiders

Perhaps the scariest type of hackers are the ones that lurk within your own organization. Insiders are made up of disgruntled employees, whistleblowers or contractors. Oftentimes their mission is payback; they want to right a wrong they believe a company has perpetrated toward them, so they’ll steal sensitive documents or try to disrupt the organization somehow. Edward Snowden is a prime example of an insider who hacked his own organization - the US government.

Now that you know what motivates your enemy, you’ll hopefully have a bit of an idea as to whether or not you’re a target. To learn more about how to secure your business from these types of hackers, get in touch with our experts today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
April 25th, 2016

2016Apr25_InternetSocialNetworkingAndReputationManagement_A500+ LinkedIn connections can open doors. It can lead to more business, new clients, and provide social proof to yourself or organization. However, getting to 500+ connections can seem like a daunting task, especially if you have a business to run. So how can you break through and become a LinkedIn power networker? Here are a few tips to get you to 500+.

Network every day

If you’re struggling to grow your LinkedIn network, you may not be spending enough time on the platform. If you want to become a power player, you need to use the social network often. So dedicate 15-30 minutes a day to network on LinkedIn, and make it a goal to reach 500+ connections.

Join and participate in groups

Utilizing LinkedIn groups presents an opportunity to meet other professionals (and eventually add them as connections) as well as learn and share valuable advice. The point is not to just join a group, but actively participate in them. This requires a degree of focus and smart selection.

How many groups should you join? Shoot for around ten. This will ensure you have time to participate in each group and connect with its members. As for the groups you join, you’ll obviously want to join those in your industry, but you should also diversify. So choose five within your industry and five that relate to your other interests or provide you an opportunity to learn from its group members. Some suggestions to consider are an alumni group for your university, groups that represent causes/charities you care about, and groups that relate to a new skill you’re hoping to learn. Obviously, all the groups you join need to be active. If members only post in a group once a week, this is a red flag to avoid joining.

Once you’ve joined, you should spend some time each day contributing in at least five of your ten groups. You can ask questions, provide advice, or share valuable articles or original content you’ve created. Once you’ve developed a rapport with group members, you’ll have an easy, non-awkward way to connect with them.

Personalize your “Connect” request

The less you know a person, the less likely they are to connect with you if you send a generic connection request. You know the one: “I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”

Many people will simply ignore requests like this. This is why it’s important to include a quick note that either refreshes that person’s memory of you, mentions a common interest or connection you might share, or simply introduces yourself and your reason for connecting. The more personal your note the better.

Use keywords in your profile

Just like Google, Bing and the other search engines, keywords help you get found on LinkedIn. Plant these keywords in your professional headline, profile summary, and skill endorsement section. How do you know what keywords to use? Think about what you want yourself or your business to be endorsed for. What skills do you have to offer your clients? For example, if your business specializes in web solutions, some keywords you may think about using would include SEO or “web content”. As for your skills, be careful not to choose keywords that are too narrow. For example if your business is in the financial services and tax preparation industry, don’t use the names of niche tax solutions you specialize in like “estate taxes” or “small business taxes” as your endorsed skills. Instead, choose more general words like “tax preparation”. By doing this, your connections will be more likely to endorse you as it’s a broader category.

By following these tips and spending at least 15 minutes a day on LinkedIn, you’re sure to see the number of connections you have grow. And the more connections you make, the less work you’ll have to do to grow your network as more and more people will send you connection requests instead. This will provide more business opportunities and chances for you to meet new clients. If you’d like more ideas how to improve your social media efforts, feel free to email or give us a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
April 18th, 2016

2016Apr18_Productivity_ALove it or hate it, mobile technology in the workplace is here to stay. While more and more companies are utilizing it as a way to up their productivity, there is a right and a wrong way to go about it. Here are four tips to help you successfully integrate mobile devices into your organization to create a more efficient and productive business.

Use the right tool

Some work tasks just aren’t cut out for mobile use. While using a mobile phone or tablet to send emails is an effective way to work on the go, trying to write long form reports on these same devices is a bad idea. As a general guideline, small tasks such as email, viewing documents, using search engines and project management apps are good for mobile work. Anything that is too detailed is probably better suited for a computer or laptop. Lastly, only train your employees to use and learn the mobile devices and programs that make sense for their role. If you want them to be most efficient, you don’t want to overwhelm them with every mobile tool your business uses.

Communicate face-to-face

Email is undoubtedly a valuable communication tool. But it’s also become the bane of existence for many of today’s employees and business owners. Too many emails kills your employees productivity, overwhelming them. And unfortunately, many times email is simply unnecessary. Instead of sending that email about a question concerning an upcoming meeting, simply go and ask in-person. You’ll likely get a response much quicker and you avoid adding yet another message to the email overflow.

Consider adding a face-first policy in your office. This means that every time your employees consider writing an email, they should question if it’s easier to just go talk with that person directly. If that person is located a quick walk away, then the conversation should take place in-person. This especially makes sense if your employee needs an answer within a few hours, as sometimes emails go unanswered for much longer than this. By enforcing an email policy, your employees’ inboxes are less likely to be overflowing and your communication will take place in a more timely manner.

Set boundaries

There’s no question that mobile tech can help productivity, but it can also hinder it. The problem is that many employees who utilize it have difficulty “switching off”. The lines between work and personal life begin to blur as completing work tasks is always right at their fingertips. While on the surface more work output from your employees may sound like a good thing, in reality it’s far from it. Being “always on” can quickly lead to burnout. And even if it doesn’t, if your employees don’t take time to break and recharge, their productivity will suffer. To demonstrate just how many employees fall into this trap of overworking, the 2015 Staples Business Advantage Workplace Index surveyed 2,602 employees and found that a quarter of them regularly worked after standard business hours, and four out of ten worked on at least one weekend a month.

So how can you resolve this issue as an employer? Simply set boundaries. Create time frames for when work platforms and applications can be utilized and for when emails can be sent and responded to. Also, don’t encourage employees to work on off-hours by sending emails during the weekend. If your concern isn’t urgent, then by all means wait till Monday to send it out.

Be flexible

While it may sound a bit contradictory to the last point, being flexible in your work policy can be a smart decision to boost productivity. By being flexible, we mean the ability for your employees to work at hours and locations of their choosing. Most people work better and quicker at certain hours as they are more focused at specific times of the day. And some people will work better remotely than they do at an office space as there can be less distractions. The Staples survey supported this fact as 59% of the employees surveyed said that flexible schedules had a positive effect on productivity.

Cloud tools like Office 365 and Google Apps can help encourage a flexible workplace. But regardless of how flexible your office becomes, be conscious that parameters on work, mentioned in the last section, should still be in place to prevent employee burnout.

Mobile devices in the workplace can go a long way towards making your business more efficient and employees happy. If you’d like to learn more about utilizing mobile devices in the workplace or how you can leverage technology to make your business more productive, call us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic business
April 13th, 2016

2016Apr13_Security_ABring your own device (BYOD) strategy is when an employee uses their personal mobile device to work with your company from anywhere. This strategy can bring about many advantages to your business such as increased efficiency and convenience. However, this can also bring a number of security risks for your IT infrastructure and data. If you’re thinking of incorporating BYOD in your office, consider some of the risks involved before making a decision.

Data leakage

The biggest reason why businesses are weary of implementing a BYOD strategy is because it can potentially leave the company’s system vulnerable to data breaches. Personal devices are not part of your business’s IT infrastructure, which means that these devices are not protected by company firewalls and systems. There is also a chance that an employee will take work with them, where they are not using the same encrypted servers that your company is using, leaving your system vulnerable to inherent security risks.

Lost devices

Another risk your company has to deal with, is the possibility of your employees losing their personal devices. When devices with sensitive business information are lost, there is a chance that this could end up falling into the wrong hands. Additionally, if an employee forgets to use a four digit PIN code to lock their smartphone or tablet, anyone can gain unauthorized access to valuable company data stored on that particular device. Therefore, your company should consider countermeasures for lost devices like completely wiping the device of information as soon as an employee reports a missing or stolen phone.

Hackers can infiltrate your system

Personal devices tend to lack adequate data encryption to keep people from snooping. This along with the fact that your employees might not have updated their devices can allow hackers to infiltrate your IT infrastructure.

Connecting to open Wifi spots makes your company more susceptible to hackers. Open wireless points in public places can put device owners at risk because there is a chance that hackers may have created that hotspot to trick people into connecting. Once the device owner has connected, attackers can simply surveil web activity and gain access to your company’s accounts.

Vulnerable to malware

Viruses are also a big problem when implementing BYOD strategies into your business. Using personal devices means your employees can access whatever sites or download any mobile apps that your business would normally restrict to protect your system.

Jailbreaking or rooting a device also puts your systems at risk because it removes limitations imposed by the manufacturer to keep the mobile software updated and protected against external threats. It’s best to understand that as your employees have the freedom to choose whatever device they want to work with, the process of keeping track of vulnerabilities and updates is considerably harder. So if you’re thinking about implementing BYOD strategies to your business, prepare your IT department for an array of potential malware attacks on different devices.

So you might be thinking that it would probably be best to just avoid implementing a BYOD strategy in the first place. However, BYOD will help your business grow and adapt to the modern workplace, and should not be dismissed as a legitimate IT solution. It’s just important to educate your company about these risks so that problems won’t occur for your business down the line.

If you need some help implementing IT security solutions for your company, or if you have any concerns regarding IT, give us a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
April 5th, 2016

2016Apr5_Facebook_AYour news feed is about to get a lot more expressive, thanks to Facebook reactions. Aside from ‘Liking’ a status update, you now have five more options to express what you feel about a post. The new feature not only makes it easier for you to appropriately react to a piece of bad news but it also provides you with exciting ways to manage your business’s social media page. So how can you use Facebook reactions effectively? Here are a few ways you can use the new emojis to your advantage.

Ask your audience for reactions

Sometimes, audiences won’t know how to react to your posts. You can point them in the right direction by giving call to ‘reaction’ phrases like “Did you learn something new? Give us a ‘wow’ by hovering over that like button”.

As Facebook reactions are a relatively new feature, you can increase the total engagement of your posts by simply asking your fans to use one of the six available expressions on your post. This will not only increase your overall engagement and reach but will also give your fans the opportunity to learn about the new Facebook reactions.

Soften the blow of negative reviews

If your service ever experiences any technical difficulties, reactions can be a lifesaver. Back when there were no Facebook expressions, people would often resort to negative comments or trolling when they are unhappy with a particular post. This could lead to a toxic page environment and may encourage others to do the same or even unfollow your page entirely. With Facebook reactions, you can minimize the effect of negative reviews with a more innocent ‘angered’ or ‘saddened’ emoji. Overall, this looks better on your page rather than lines of nonsensical text in all caps.

Gain more visibility with your page

Commenting and reacting to other local pages on your business’s Facebook account increases your chances of being discovered by potential customers. And, as an added benefit, engaging with other local pages can encourage them to return the favor.

Use reactions as constructive feedback

Facebook reactions add an extra level of depth to measuring how well your posts are doing. Before, more likes would mean more engagement. But now, reactions show that people are invested in your content.

What’s more, you can now measure what people feel about your content. This allows you to tailor your next post so that it gets the most engagement. For instance, if you notice that people are leaving more ‘Haha’ reactions to your posts, then this could suggest that your audience engages with your posts if they see more humor included in your content.

Check out your competition

You should note that page posts are public and can be see by anyone, even those who haven’t liked your page yet. This also means you can review your competitor’s posts and find out how people are reacting to their posts. This is valuable information to gauge what type of content, announcements, or status updates work for your target audience. Or if you find that your competitor is only getting likes rather than reactions, you can try experimenting with creative posts to get people to engage with your content instead.

Facebook reactions create a new and exciting way for people to express how they feel about certain posts. While some social media marketers would not pay too much attention to this feature, focusing on reactions can give you an edge when it comes to measuring how your target audience feels about your service. So the next time you’re going to make a new post, consider some or all of these tips to make the most out of those Facebook emojis.

Need more advice on managing your Facebook page? Contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
April 4th, 2016

2016Apr4_BusinessValue_AYour technology needs to produce a return on investment. If it doesn’t, you’re wasting you and your staff’s time and money. But how can you ensure you gain that coveted ROI you’re after? What does it actually mean to have a positive ROI? And how can you tell if you have one? Here are a few tips for calculating the true costs of a new technology investment.

ROI basics

What does it mean to have a positive return on investment? It’s pretty simple. A positive ROI means the results a technology produces are greater than or equal to the amount of time and money invested. Obviously you want a positive ROI, but when is the right time to consider it? Should it be before or after you make a technology purchase? The answer is both. Before purchasing, you want to carefully consider whether a technology service or product is worth your money. Then months after you’ve implemented it, you should analyze whether or not you made a good investment. Doing this enables you to learn from your mistakes (if you made one) and make a wiser technology purchase next time.

Also, don’t forget to look at your technology currently in use. Ask yourself, is your technology simply keeping the lights on? Or is it providing a solid foundation for your business to grow? If the answer is the former, there are likely better options out there worth trying.

How to calculate ROI

When calculating ROI, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Here is a simple formula to get you started.

ROI = net gain/cost Example: You spend $100 and make $150. Your net gain is $50 ROI = 50/100 = 50%

If you’ve yet to purchase a service or new equipment, you obviously don’t know how much profit it will generate. So you’ll have to do a bit of guesswork and estimation. It’s also important to consider some intangibles. Think about the productivity costs of staff time, disruption, and frustration (because most of us don’t work effectively when frustrated). Let’s take staff time for example. How much time will your staff save if you implement a Managed Services solution? With your employees no longer having to put out IT fires daily, what if your entire staff saves 50 hours a week because of it? How much does that add up to in saved salary expense? It’s important here not just to think about the savings in time, but also what your staff could be doing with those extra 50 hours. They could put those hours towards marketing or growing your business. And that alone could make up for the costs of the technology investment itself.

Intangibles don’t just apply to saving time, frustration and disruptions, but also the costs of implementing the new technology. For example, how much time will be required to train your staff on the new technology? What’s the cost of that? Also, how much time will it take to migrate from your old system to the new one? You should consider all of these when estimating your ROI.

Lastly, don’t forget to consider the unique circumstance of subscription purchases. Since you are usually paying these on a monthly basis, it can be a bit tricky to add up real costs. That’s why it’s important to use a timeline for these. For example, if you subscribe to software as a service, what’s the cost of that plan over the course of one year or five? How much money will you save over that time span?

What’s the benefit?

Besides the staffing example mentioned above, consider how a technology investment can create new revenue streams. For example, an investment in VoIP opens up an opportunity to offer video consulting to clients in parts of the country (or even world) that would normally be out of reach. This obviously leads to a new revenue stream and increased profits. So ask yourself, can the technology you’re considering create new revenue streams?

Next steps

Before making a technology purchase, it’s wise to talk with both management and end users about your decision. If you fail to consult your end users before implementation, they may disagree with your decision and therefore take longer to adapt or even rebel against it. Checking with them beforehand gives them a chance to offer valuable feedback on how it will be used in the trenches, and will get them onboard with the technology if you implement it. As for your management team, they can be a valuable resource to bounce ideas off of and gain insights about the technology you may have overlooked.

Lastly, ROI does not need to be calculated for every purchase. If you need to buy something small, like a new keyboard, just go and buy it. Save your ROI calculations for much larger investments that can have a dramatic impact on your business.

If you need help determining the ROI of a potential technology investment, feel free to give us a call for a chat. Our experts can help you determine the true benefits of a given technology and help you make a wise investment.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic business
April 4th, 2016


Mark Zuckerberg walks to the stage at Samsung’s Galaxy S7 launch event. Photo from Forbes, “Mark Zuckerberg and Virtual Reality Outshine Samsung’s Galaxy S7,” 2/22/16.

When Samsung released its new phone, the Samsung 7, the buzz was less about the phone and more about virtual reality (VR) and a surprise appearance by Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg.

At the launch event held in Barcelona on February 21, guests sampled Samsung’s Gear VR headsets, through which they could watch a 360-degree video of people playing freestyle soccer on the streets of Barcelona. Samsung also unveiled its Gear 360, a camera for shooting virtual reality videos.

According to Forbes, Zuckerberg wasn’t there to talk about the S7, “but the promise of virtual reality. Virtual reality was the next platform, he told the audience. ‘It’s going to change the way we live and work and communicate.’”

Virtual reality has been around for decades, but experts say that this could be the year VR goes mainstream. TechCrunch reports that Oculus Rift VR headsets took the spotlight at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this year, HTC and Sony have confirmed launch dates for their headsets in the first half of 2016, and Google announced they are staffing up for their new virtual reality unit.

So what’s the big deal about VR? According to Daniel Rosenfeld, TechCrunch contributor, “It’s gearing up to be the next frontier after the web.”

While most people think about using VR headsets for immersive entertainment and gaming experiences, as the cost comes down and new applications are developed, there are exciting applications for enterprise. VR has been making traction in several industries over the past few years, including medicine and education, and promises to change the way businesses use technology for training, product development and communications. For example, Ford Motor Company already uses VR headsets to design new vehicles, develop autonomous vehicle technologies and collaborate with teammates across the globe. Ford reports using these VR tools has resulted in an increase in productivity and a drop in costs and time.

Others see VR as providing a whole new set of marketing opportunities. Through VR, companies can immerse consumers in their brand, evoke emotion, and market to them in a more persuasive way. A few media companies have already stuck their toe in the VR water to help cross promote their product. Last November, The New York Times gave more than 1 million Google Cardboard devices to its print subscribers late last year to watch immersive video associated with one of its print articles. On February 23, ABC’s Good Morning America partnered with IM360 and broadcasted a two hour, live show in 360-degree virtual reality from Tanzania. People could view the virtual safari using an Android or iOS app along with the Google Cardboard, or with Samsung Gear VR.

If successful, it will no doubt become the largest advertising platform on earth,” writes Rosenfeld. “In fact, one could argue that virtual reality is more about controlling reality than it is virtual.”

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