Category: Cloud Business 101

When it comes to businesses in the current age, there are more than enough questions which are constantly asked and many of them revolve around saving money. However, while businesses are currently looking for ways to save money and cut back on their general costs, they also must be comfortable with the idea of continuing to grow and come up with revenue producing strategies.

Cloud meeting

The biggest thing you will want to consider is the following few questions when it comes to holding meetings online in order to potentially save your organization money while also improving production and efficiency.

Costs Of Attendance And Travel

The truth of the matter is, while the entire world is able to actually go anywhere for any reason, the costs of traveling has gotten more and more expensive over time.

According to the US News, you don’t just have to worry about the anticipated costs of travel, but you also have to be aware of the unexpected costs of travel that can creep up as well. Plus, when you start to think about the costs of regular travel, you still aren’t even considering the crazy costs that can happen such as being injured or getting sick when traveling, having delays and effects on meetings, or even the possibility of the meeting being all for nothing in case the plans of the party you are meeting happen to change on short notice.

Basically speaking, traveling can be a pretty big gamble and certain companies will spend a considerable amount of time and effort making travel one of their priorities. By having the ability to connect with people face to face, you can literally look them right in the eye as if they were only a few feet from you and then you can go right back to your life afterwards without any sort of travel costs involved in the process.

Traveling Takes Time

When you think about the fact that traveling costs money, you know it can be a considerable expense. However, there has become an even greater cost on your employees when they are forced to travel and that cost is the time that your employees are robbed of and will never get back.

Just trying to get to the airport will take a considerable amount of time to wake up early, beat traffic, arrive hours before the flight to check in, clear baggage, sit around for layovers, and then try to get to the hotel or motel in a reasonable amount of time. This is all before you even consider the time it will take to actually fly and be in the air or be in the taxi.

Cloud conferencing

As simple as all of this might sound to some, it is a complete and utter waste of the employee’s time. That means it is a waste of the employer’s time, because when they are supposed to be getting work accomplished, they are instead stuck wasting time. Video conferencing small business solutions offered by providers like BlueJeans Network can be used as a real substitute for face-to-face time, saving employer’s money on paying their employees to travel. The only thing employees need to do is boot up their computer and log into the cloud – regardless of their location.

Costs Of Stress On Employees

People are routine and they are creatures of habit. When you take them out of their element they need to spend considerably more amounts of energy and effort just to accomplish the same things. Not only does this mean it can take them longer to get into a routine, it can be more difficult to actually accomplish some of the very things that individuals are able to do without even thinking about on a daily basis.

On top of all of the relative inefficiencies of stress, according to Forbes there are even more potential problems as too much stress on the body from traveling could wind up causing employees to become sick and could cost employers with respect to paid time off, increased insurance costs, and general lost time for work getting done. Instead of dealing with sick employees and the stress that follows with travel, it might make more sense to just log into a computer and have online meetings.

Takeaway

Travel used to be the only way to do business and it used to be the norm specifically because employers and businesses didn’t have any other option. When it comes time to potentially save money and be better at what your company does, however, it certainly makes sense to consider making the switch to cloud-based meetings.

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So your brilliant idea has gone from just that, an idea, to a solid business plan that’s ready to go. For the last couple of months you have done nothing but think about how this idea could turn into something excellent. You have gone through the possible difficulties, but the business idea you have is very solid and can stand as a standalone company.

You moved on to the business plan and laid out every single detail. The business plan is not just a small outline, but you have built out all the pieces to make sure your new business, and company, can grow successfully. If that’s the case, your next step may be to start a company website.

Company website security measures

Now, one major concern that you should be aware of is cyber security.  In essence, building a company website is one thing, but securing it is another thing.  Many businesses focus on the former but neglect the latter.  What gives?

Perhaps what’s important to them is what’s seen by the eyes. But, just like any other thing in life, what’s not seen by the eyes will most likely to give you headaches. In term of website building, cyber security is often neglected.  Not providing adequate protection to your business website will potentially ‘disrupt’ your business – in a negative way.

But how bad can it be? Well, consider this: Did you know that 43 percent of cyber attacks are on small business?  What would be the main reasons, do you think? Well, let me tell you something: It’s because many small business owners don’t realize that cyber attack would be destructive.  Therefore, attack preventions are limited, even non-existent on some small businesses.

Three steps to creating a cloud-secured company website

Cloud-secured website

1. Cover the basics

Craft your brand

If you are going create a new company and want to have a company website, one of the key steps is to make sure your branding is complete and aligned. Once you have set with a logo, colors, and general branding, then you can move ahead with your company website. Your website’s look and feel have to go along with the branding of your company, so that’s why it’s key to have your branding done before you start your website.

Pick a domain name

The next step is to pick a domain. You need to buy a domain to register it as your company website. Head to the many online services, or even use these Groupon Coupons for Namecheap, and pick out your company’s URL. It’ll stay with you for a long time so pick one that you love!

Design and develop the website

The next key step to design and develop the website. You can use services that have templates, and make it simple to get your website up and running. Designing your website can be fun and it should be! Like we mentioned, the branding dictates the overall color, design, and feel of your website. At the same time, you have a lot of room for creativity and expression. At the end of the day it is your own company website so make sure it is personal, you like it, and it makes you as the owner very proud!

2. Host on secure cloud hosting

Today, essentially all web servers are located in the cloud.  However, not all use the best practices in securing hosted data and websites.  That said, it’s better for you to focus true cloud hosting providers: Fully secured, scalable, customizable, and distributed.

Read this for knowing the difference between true cloud hosting and “fake” cloud hosting.

3. Screen your website’s incoming traffic in the cloud

Not only securing your website’s hosted data, but you should also securing the traffic that comes to your website from the “cloud”. Using CDNs like Google Cloud CDN, Cloudflare, Incapsula, MaxCDN, and other top CDN providers can boost your website’s security and speed.

Takeaway

It’s about time that small businesses should focus on both the frontend and backend of their websites.  While branding and design are important, those are rendered useless if you’ve got hacked – just ask these victims.

That said, securing the backend of your company website is very important; don’t let your business becomes yet another statistic.

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Software As A Service (SaaS) companies nowadays are faced with a pretty high competition. This was not the case in the past as we only had a few such companies on the market. At the moment we are faced with such a high competition that the smallest things end up making a huge difference.

Most of the business will be handled online, through the help of the cloud and even finding clients is directly connected with the visual image created on the internet. With this in mind, it should come as no surprise to notice that the companies that buy a domain name that is not appropriate will end up facing huge struggles in growing.

Cloud domain name

Choosing The Correct Domain Name

While there are so many things that can be mentioned, everything online starts with the domain name. It is vital that you take all the time that you need in order to make a correct choice. In most situations we see SaaS companies going for the standard format of using the company name in one way or another and then buying the .com domain. That is definitely an appropriate choice but how about taking it to the next level?

One of the most interesting things in the recent evolution of domain technology is the appearance of various extra domain name extensions that are quickly gaining popular. While some of them like .guru and .ninja may seem like a good joke, one domain extension in particular is incredibly useful for the SaaS providers.

We are talking about the .cloud domain name.

This domain extension makes a lot of sense because of the fact that it highlights a huge part of the service that is offered by the company. Since most of the software services offered will be provided through the use of cloud technology, why not clearly highlighting this from the moment the interested client visits the domain?

Ubuntu Cloud screenshot
Ubuntu.cloud

Need some examples of great SaaS companies that use .cloud domain name? Here are some: Ubuntu.cloud, Fashion.cloud, and Weebly.cloud

Memorizing The Domain Name

Every single company out there wants to be memorable. Branding is always a very important thing for the future growth of the company so any step that would make branding better helps, especially when thinking about the huge competition on the market.

Because of the fact that domain extensions .cloud are brand new on the market, the visitors are going to remember this much faster than the regular .com domain, which is basically a standard in all industries. If you want to offer anything that is based on the cloud it is a good idea to focus on getting such a domain name. This is actually something that works with much more than just SaaS companies.

Conclusions

Although we highlighted only two things about the domain name that is chosen by the SaaS company, it should be more than enough to highlight the importance of this choice. Whenever the domain name is not memorable and does not stand out, the potential clients will not remember it. That is why you have to be sure that you will make a choice that is suitable for the business, one that helps branding and promotions.

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The first place that you go looking for information, for anything ranging between finding a good eatery close by to car rental services within 5 miles of a particular location, is a search engine like Google and Bing. With the web being the first repository for market-driven information, web-sites and blogs are often the source from where business-related information is obtained.

SEO techniques are critical in order to maintain market competitiveness and sustain consumer awareness. SEO consists of all activities undertaken to ensure that an organization’s web-site shows up high in the listings whenever users tap their queries in to major search engines to look for services, products or key information.

Cloud hosting enhances SEO

There are several techniques that are used to implement SEO. While many of them are methods related to the way content is authored; there are other methods that can help improve SEO. One among those is cloud hosting. Let us look at a few ways in which switching to cloud hosting can help improve SEO.

High up-time

Each instance of a website downtime would trigger most search engines to lower the authority rating of the website, which in turn would cause page-rankings to go down for all associated keywords. It is critical for a website to maintain high uptime if it is intended to show up high in the search listings. Downtime affects SEO in a couple of ways:

  • It diminishes the effectiveness of your SEO strategy
  • When a search engine is unable to reach your website it reduces the authority rating accordingly. Whenever the authority rating of a website goes down, the page rankings for the site also go down for all related keywords.

One of the biggest advantages of tapping a cloud based hosting for your website is the very high site uptime, typically upwards of 99.9%. Such high uptime ensures that your SEO strategy has the maximum opportunity to be successful. It also does its part to keep page rankings high for your website.

By reducing loading time for the website

There are several factors taken into account by leading search engines such as Google and Bing while determining the rank of a site. While a rank is always specific to search terms, one key influencing factor is the User experience rating(UX) of the site. The UX rating of a site is a summary rating that denotes the quality of all past experiences that users have had with that site. All else being equal in terms of the factors influencing page rank, a site with a higher UX rating will always be displayed higher in the search listing.

Cloud storage

Cloud based providers are able to provide organizations with superior quality of services in terms of responsiveness, experienced IT staff, faster systems recovery after failures and scalable infrastructure. When you contract with a cloud based provider to host your site, you are invariably able to ensure loading times that are consistently lower than competitor websites based on traditional hosting. By achieving this, you are also able to sustain high UX ratings for your site, helping to keep the page ranks with search engines consistently high.

The ‘Local’ Hosting Advantage

One more factor taken into account by search engines while calculating page rank is related to how the hosting location compares with the location where the search is being run. Search engines give priority to locally hosted servers when calculating page rank. For instance, if a user is looking for golf clubs in the UK, seller sites with a.uk extension would be listed higher up when compared to sites with a .de extension or a .com extension.

Before the advent of cloud computing, companies used to purchase domain names and maintain separate web-sites in order to cater to users from different geographies. With cloud hosting providers, this process has become very intuitive and easy, given that the nature of cloud hosting automatically lends itself to making multiple geo sites available at low cost. By improving the ease and availability of local hosting, cloud hosting helps improve the opportunities for a web site to get a high rank during searches.

Bot protection

When a search engine calculates the ranking for a web-site or page, one of the avenues for a significant negative impact on ranking is from bots or malicious programs which tap your site’s content in inappropriate and illegal ways.

Bot and malicious program protection

For example, scraping bots are responsible for a lot of the duplicated content that we see on the internet. The instances we are talking about are those where you see that a website’s content has been exactly duplicated on another site. By scrawling through the site, copying content and publishing them on another site, not only are these scraping bots stealing your content and links, they are also increasing the possibilities for confusion among internet users regarding which site represents the actual web site. Not only does scraping affect the search engine rank for your website, it also negatively impacts your business’s reputation among internet users.

One more type of bots which causes significant amount of damage to your SEO ranking is the link spamming category of bots. Anytime you are opening up the stories on your site for comments or have a discussion forum on your site, these link spammer bots can automatically insert links which are often malicious. You would have seen several such links on the web which invite you to click a particular link to get more information on how to make $$$$$ every day by clicking ads.

Most such links are malicious and their presence on a site is considered negatively by search engines. Search engines maintain specific Trust and Authority ratings for all web sites which are one of the factors taken into account while calculating the rank of a website. Whenever such links are found on a website, Trust and Authority ratings get downgraded which causes page rankings for the website to go down for all related keywords.

Given that cloud hosting providers host your site in a professional and technically sophisticated manner, several advanced tools are employed by providers to protect the site against bot attacks. The use of these tools helps to avoid impacts from bot attacks and consequent hits to your page rankings.

Sophisticated tools and solutions for managing SEO

The fundamental concept of cloud hosting is that IT systems, sites and resources are better located at remote locations where specialized providers can provide higher quality of services and maintenance. By locating all infrastructure at one place, providers are able to deliver cost advantages arising from scale and also provide flexible capacity. In addition, cloud hosting providers also provide management consoles, dashboards and tools that provide powerful capability to manage web sites remotely.

Cloud dashboard

Particularly for SEO, cloud hosted websites come with advanced management consoles and tools to optimize strategy. These utilities can help you implement uniquely customized SEO strategies. Cloud hosted providers are also able to provide web logs and user activity logs for web-sites in a form that is amenable for analysis. Such logs can provide critical input when looking at how well your SEO strategy is working.

For example, consider the case where a smartphone servicing company located in Philadelphia wants to look at data related to the first 5 web-site pages navigated by users who enter from Google off a specific search string (For instance, the string Samsung galaxy S7 service Philadelphia). The advanced reporting and logging capabilities provided by Cloud hosting providers can help access such detailed reports.

The data in these reports can then be compared against data related to pages navigated by users who entered off the same search string but from the Bing search engine. Analysis of this data can clearly bring out the differentiation in SEO capability needed to work with these two search engines.

By way of another useful comparison, this data can also be examined against data related to the pages navigated by users from Google but with a different search string (Samsung service Philadelphia). Such a comparison goes to the heart of what SEO strategy is all about – Analysis related to search strings more effective in driving user engagement and user conversion and how this analysis may be leveraged to improve SEO effectiveness. The tools, data and reports provided by cloud hosting help move data driven SEO strategy from the arena of conjecture to actually being possible.

Ability to better serve mobile

The most important trend in internet computing from the last couple of years is the increasing dominance of smartphone driven internet access. With a majority of Google searches already happening from smartphones, this is not a trend to be taken lightly in the context of SEO strategy.

Mobile shopping

Given that smartphones have smaller screens, limited computing capacity and suffer limitations of battery life, a website that is served to a smartphone can be very different in form and function from the same site served to a desktop. When hosting is done in the cloud, a lot of advanced analytics and data are made available from the provider that is specific to servings for smartphones. This kind of data can be extremely valuable to customize SEO strategy for the mobile web.

To quote one instance, providers can take the rigmarole of providing reports related which mobile browser is enabling the maximum number of user conversions for a particular search string when run only from iPhones. That’s the kind of data and analytics capability that can take your mobile SEO strategy to the next level.

While content remains the core of SEO related tuning and strategy, cloud hosting and the features it provides can themselves help improve the effectiveness of your SEO strategy by leaps and bounds.

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The process of trying to salvage precious computer data seemingly lost to damage or deletion is always going to be a tense process. Will it succeed? Are the files lost forever? What happens if everything I’ve saved for the last six years is gone? Rebuilding what’s possible will take months, if not years…

Data recovery

The age of the cloud and other forms of off-site data saving have paved the way for a world where hopefully someday, data recovery is a non issue for individuals and small businesses. However, Secure Data Recovery remains a critical issue so long as households and enterprises utilize local hard drives, flash drives, servers, and RAID for data storage. More than that, the recovery has to be professionally orchestrated, under professional grade conditions, for the maximum chance of successful data retrieval.

Alas, the options for expert data recovery seem far and wide, but by adhering to the following guidelines, it’s possible to find a team which not only helps save the family photo albums or last year’s receipts, they do so without risk of doing more harm than good:

1. Free estimates

A red flag regarding whether a data recovery service is good or not is whether they offer free estimates, not unlike a car repair shop. Top tier companies have the tools and experience to know if a job is possible before starting. This allows folks to make a decision as to whether or not it’s financially worth it to go ahead.

2. Around the clock service

Potential data loss can occur anytime, anywhere. Consequently, data recovery experts have to be at the ready at all times. Companies that shy away from weekend work, holiday time, and other schedule-related issues, question their professionalism. Startups cannot afford to wait until mid-next week to find out whether or not the client email list is gone for good.

3. Vetted reputation

Every city has a long list of alleged data recovery professionals. Most don’t have a leg to stand on, but will do what they can to appear legitimate online. It’s crucial for folks in need of data recovery to find several independently published reviews and ratings regarding a company before going forward. This removes3 practically all doubt as to whether or not the team is up to the task or just playing the part.

4. Certified clean room

For the average hard drive or flash drive recovery operation, a certified clean room may seem a little like certified overkill. Yet it’s a strong indicator that a data recovery team is not going to further compromise the security of the data in question. Taking it to Tom’s Computer Repair Shop, you’re likely to find a dusty and dirty workplace. You want your drive opened up around that?

5. Certified security

As mentioned earlier, security isn’t the only important factor when seeking data recovery, but it’s at the top of the list (even though it’s at the bottom of this one.) We’re talking files, folders, and what not with lots of personal information therein. Do you want the aforementioned Tom, with seemingly good intentions but no known background, having access to social security numbers, family photos, business records, and so forth?

Waiting to find out whether your “lost” data is truly lost for good is a nail-biting experience. The key to making it easier, less stressful, and ultimately more likely to end up good is finding a reputable data recovery service. It’s not a guarantee of success, but if data is to be rescued, they’re the ones who will make it happen.

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Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is a trend that’s catching on quickly with employers and employees alike. Not only does allowing workers to use their own devices on the job create a much more enjoyable experience for them, it also helps to keep costs low for employers making it a win-win situation for everybody involved. However, when it comes to implementing BYOD in the workplace, it’s important to take a number of cloud security factors into consideration.

Own laptop

Mobile devices come in all shapes and sizes from laptops to smartphones, which is why finding security solutions that work with all of them is absolutely crucial when your employees are accessing information from the company cloud on their own devices.

Understanding BYOD Risks

BYOD schemes pose a number of different security risks. With some of these risks widely recognized and others not so easily understood, it’s crucial that you have a good grasp on the type of risks which you’ll be faced with once you allow your employees to work from their own devices.

Lost or stolen devices that employees bring to work is one of the main concerns for many employers, along with the risk of many devices – particularly laptops or Android devices – being vulnerable to viruses and malware. Because you can’t lock down employees’ own devices as you would those that are company provided, it’s vital to have a set of policies in place for any workers who choose to bring their own device to work.

Security Software

Although your employees are providing their own devices, it’s important that you step in to make sure that the data that is going to be stored on these devices is protected.

Secure cloud
photo credit: FutUndBeidl / Flickr

There are many different anti-virus and security software options available for all types of mobile devices, and you should make it company policy that if an employee wishes to bring their own device to work from they must have a security software program of your choosing installed on it. You can get a range of business and retail data security programs which can be used on every type of mobile device to protect any sensitive data stored on them.

Remote Controlling

Since the risk of losing a device or having a device stolen when company data is stored on it poses a huge threat to BYOD employers, it’s crucial that devices which can only be controlled or wiped remotely via the cloud should such an event happen be allowed by employees for work.

Thankfully, most modern mobile devices easily allow for such control in the event of loss or theft, such as iPhones and iPads which can be tracked, blocked, or completely wiped using the Find My iPhone feature from a separate device. Other mobile devices have other security features to protect data in the event of loss or theft, such as restrictions on passcodes – i.e. the device is wiped after ten unsuccessful passcode attempts.

When you understand the risks and how to deal with them, the benefits of BYOD can far outweigh the disadvantages!

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Product development team

Developing products is the heart of keeping a business viable. Simply producing the same old thing for years without acknowledging the changing directions of consumer tastes and innovation by the competition is a sure recipe for the slow, painful death of a business.

Perhaps the most common miscalculation made in businesses that flail as others thrive is being short-sighted in their view of the expenses incurred in the process of developing new products. The days of gathering everyone into a conference room for long hours of brainstorming and evaluating options are over. While this tried-and-true process has resulted in some of the most brilliant ideas on the market today, it is costlier and slower than modern cloud-based options.

Getting new things onto the market is now much easier, faster, and cheaper through the use of cloud technology. Even something as simple as editing a book can happen much faster because a writer in one country can get input from countless colleagues worldwide, all done online without using a single sheet of paper. When that process involves products for health care, aviation, or communications, the complexity grows to levels that only technology can manage.

The investment in flip charts and water pitchers has been replaced with industrial PC board specifications in company computers that expedite the movement of data from one contributor to another. This ability to get input from multiple players without ever physically bringing them together helps in three main ways.

Collaborative Development

While most firms have a core development team assigned to a project, they often seek the input of specialists or other knowledgeable individuals who can help create solutions for specific gaps in the process. By being able to move data quickly from one site to another via the internet, that tidbit of brilliance needed from someone thousands of miles away can be secured quickly and cheaply. The resulting product hits the market faster, performs better, and costs less to create.

With so many concerns about the security of cloud systems, hybrid networks that combine public and internal cloud storage make a helpful final ingredient to this process, permitting the data to be only as widely shared as management wants it to be. The key to the effectiveness of these systems is fast processing for heavy data loads, a component that is easily met with the powerful boards now available.

Security of Intellectual Property

On a broader note, overall project security is stronger with electronic collaboration. When complex diagrams or technical specifications must be physically sent from one user to another, there is always the potential for industrial espionage to intervene and steal or alter the product. The layers of security needed to protect files make them that much more demanding on networks and processors.

But a well-secured network allows these critical products to go around the world quickly and securely, keeping the company’s best ideas internal and away from the prying eyes of competitors and hackers. When a company’s computers can handle these large, rapid transactions, the product develops quickly and more cheaply than with older technology.

Distances Overcome

When those teams are formed, managers are sometimes in a quandary about where to place certain individuals. It can be tough to decide which projects should get the full investment of a particularly important person and the efforts that don’t get that help are viewed by their teams as less important. Damaging morale on top of denying resources can help kill a project faster than almost anything.

By being able to move information quickly from one project member to another through the cloud, teams can include multiple “hired guns” who step in to handle certain parts of the process. In this way, every project gets the benefit of the best minds on the staff, creating better products in every development effort.

There will always be value in getting a company’s best thinkers together in one place, sharing ideas and bouncing them off one another. But once the idea begins to take shape, there’s no need to burn through thousands of dollars in hotels and airline fares. Instead, the detailed work done as the project is farmed out among contributors can be executed independently, shared electronically, and finalized collaboratively in a system that is faster, cheaper, and more streamlined than once was impossible.

Photo credit: Strelka / Flickr

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Since the rise in technology and the new marketing opportunities that has provided for us, you may believe that as a result more traditional offline marketing is dying out. However, that is most definitely not the case.

Today, in order to create a winning marketing strategy you need to combine both traditional offline marketing with the more modern online marketing and use cloud technology as a facilitator.

McDonald's Pick n Play ad campaign

Traditional offline marketing refers to the advertising that has been used by companies for many years, primarily in print such as newsletters, billboards, flyers and newspaper print ads. Digital Marketing refers to those that take place via technology on social media, emails, text messages, websites and so on.

Offline may not have the influence it once had, but it is still very powerful, especially when coupled with digital. Both forms of marketing have the same purpose, to get your service or product in front of the customer. That means going to where the customer is, which primarily is online now due to the rise in smartphones. However, although it may appear they don’t stop scrolling through them 24/7 they do spend much off their time offline as well.

That is why traditional and digital can be combined to complement and strengthen one another, but how do you do this?

Firstly your online marketing can be used to direct customers offline, for example your social media pages could advertise a talk being given by a company or an event you are part of. Likewise offline can be used to direct people online, this can be done by adding your Twitter handle, Facebook page, website etc to leaflets, flyers and business cards. If this seems like a good idea you hadn’t thought of yet then check out Leaflet Printing from Helloprint to get you started!

Not stopping there, cloud technology takes it even further:  The cloud enable marketers to merge online with offline marketing. But how the cloud can combine/merge two seemingly different world?

The cloud as a facilitator

First thing first: What the cloud has got to do with online/offline marketing campaigns?

Here’s the answer: According to the recent forecasts, over a third of digital content in 2016 will be stored and distributed via cloud computing (source). As content is the backbone of today’s marketing campaigns, it’s safe to say that marketers are increasingly use the cloud for delivering their marketing messages.  But it’s not stopping there – tech and marketing continue to evolve: Enter IoT.

The recent rise of IoT (Internet of Things) has push the boundaries of marketing even broader: Not only digital marketing, the cloud has also connected to traditional offline marketing like billboards.  Suddenly all devices can now ‘talk’ to each other via the cloud.  Using IoT, marketers can reach out to people within the proximity of a traditional offline marketing platform, such as the billboards, by sending messages straight to their smartphones. Using your mobile device, you can now interact with billboards.

Example #1: McDonald’s Pick n Play campaign

Here’s one cloud marketing integration example: McDonald’s launched Pick n Play, allowing people to play a digital pong game.  If you last for 30 seconds, you’ll win a free coupon redeemable at a nearby McDonald’s restaurant.

Example #2: Lidl Surprises

Lidl are a good example of how to combine the two. The stores #LidlSurprises was a campaign designed to alter the public’s perception of its products. Previously they had relied solely on door drops and leafleting to get across its price message. But this campaign centered all its activity around the #LidlSuprises with the hashtag appearing on TV, print and in-store promotions.

Example #3: Coca-Cola’s Share a Coke

Offline, such as outdoor poster campaigns and leafleting, can be an effective form of repeating your message to the consumer. Whilst online, such as social media, enables more engagement with the customer. It allows the brand to start a conversation with their customers and share interesting and relevant content with them that will increase their engagement.

Take the ‘Share a Coke’ campaign for example, this was incredibly popular on social media because people were able to share their photo. The result was 235,000 tweets from 111,000 fans using the #ShareaCoke hashtag.

But, despite the obvious success this campaign had on social media it was still advertised offline as well. The original act of purchasing the coke is completed offline, before the countless photos taken of the bottles are shared online. Therefore advertisements appeared on billboards, TV adverts and print.

Takeaway

These campaigns by hugely successful companies show that offline and online both work perfectly separately, but even better together – thanks to the cloud. To ignore either will put you at a huge disadvantage, and as a result you will fall behind as your competitors get way ahead of you.

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Cloud services have revolutionized the way small businesses operate. The cloud makes it possible to perform all sorts of business tasks more efficiently and for less money. Take a look at these four cloud services that are essential for small business and why you should start using them.

Cloud computing

Mobile File Storage

The number one reason to use cloud services in your business is for secure and simple file storage. Your employees can work from any computer and store their files and documents in the cloud. Then, these files can easily be accessed at the office or on the go. The cloud provides a secure location for files so your employees don’t have to worry about losing their files no matter where they work.

When files are stored in the cloud, it provides the perfect opportunity for collaboration in your business. This is because you can give multiple employees access to certain documents so they can work together, even simultaneously, on a project. Mobile file storage is also great for sharing files between employees without the hassle of emailing them or exchanging flash drives.

Online Backup

This is another important cloud service for businesses. With the cloud, your business never has to worry about losing important files and information again because you can use an online backup tool to automatically duplicate your files. Many cloud services are available that allow you to do this for an affordable price.

Losing files was a major business risk in the past, especially when businesses wanted to migrate servers or change their backend software in any way. This risk is virtually eliminated with the cloud. You can even use cloud services to program automatic backups on a continuous basis.

Online backup services are also a good idea for businesses that are going paperless and looking for ways to be environmentally friendly. When your business uses the cloud, your employees don’t have to print as many documents as in the past because they don’t have to worry about losing files and they can collaborate more easily.

Online Meetings and Chat

In addition to file collaboration, cloud services can help your employees have meetings with recordings retained for your files. Employees can hold online meetings face to face without leaving their respective cities. Then, many cloud services store recordings of meetings for employees to watch at later dates. This is a great way to keep all your employees on the same page about projects, even if they miss a day of work, because the recordings can be referenced at any time.

Beyond recordings of meetings, cloud services can be used in your business to facilitate chat, email, and other forms of communication. You no longer have to buy cellphones for your employees or rely on face-to-face interactions. This provides better flexibility in all aspects of your business.

Time Tracking

Time tracking services are another benefit of using the cloud in your business. If you have hourly rate employees, it’s important to have some sort of time tracking service. Cloud-based invoice management with Sage is an easy way to keep track of your employees’ time. Employees can use this cloud service to log their time whenever and wherever they work. Plus, billing becomes a lot simpler with all your employees’ time cards in one place.

Cloud-based services cut down on the costs of business hardware and software, whether you are implementing a time-tracking cloud service or simply using the cloud for file storage. Switching to the cloud is one of the best things you can do to lower your overall business operational costs. Cloud services are becoming more and more prevalent, so you have lots of options to choose from, depending on your needs.

As you can see, there are all sorts of benefits to using cloud services in your business that you should not ignore. If you have not switched to the cloud yet, start here with these four essential services. You’ll see boosted profits and productivity, as well as better business management possibilities.

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Every company is worried about their bottom line. After all, you need to earn a profit at the end of the year, right? One aspect of a business’ expenses which is usually overlooked is the cost of technology. By reviewing and reducing the cost of technology, partly by taking your business operational to the cloud, a business will be able to increase profits in the long run. How is this done?

Save money with the cloud

Here are a few ways you can do it with the help of Frontier Internet:

Find the costs

There are a number of layers that make up the technological infrastructure of a company. If you want to reduce costs, you will first have to get to know each layer. Cutting costs will be impossible if you don’t even know what they are, right? Every business needs to have a budget. Regularly auditing the budget and making the necessary changes is essential for reducing costs.

Search for any redundancies in your systems. Is the same job being done more than once? How many operating systems overlap with each other? Even though most employees today prefer bringing in their own devices to work, they all need to be at the same level when it comes to business applications.

Just because software as a service (SaaS) is proving to be a valuable resource in today’s world doesn’t mean you need to fill up your plate with all the software and applications on offer. Most businesses today use anything between 18 and 25 applications for processing orders, gathering information, and running their business. The average tech cost per employee has been estimated at $700 per year. How much can you lower this cost?

Internet services are usually overlooked by businesses because of their marginal cost. But over a year, the savings from switching to a cost effective service, like Frontier Internet, can be quite high. Don’t overlook it. All business managers and even public sector managers should be looking at ways to reduces costs.

Migrating to the cloud

Moving company data to the cloud is a judicious way of reducing costs while also consolidating information. Just consider the cloud as a 3rd party hosting site of sorts which allows you complete control and frees up the IT systems on your business.

The easiest way to explain how this works is through a metaphor. Imagine renting storage space so that you can free up space at home. You aren’t really getting rid of anything that goes into storage but it isn’t in the way any longer either. This will allow you to use the storage space in your home more effectively.

Similarly, moving data to the cloud can also help increase productivity levels on internal systems and ensure you get the most from a work day. This will help bolster the bottom line for sure.

Proactive maintenance

It doesn’t matter how powerful your IT systems are, they can be fragile at times. It is difficult to imagine any person who uses a computer regularly not dealing with a crashed or frozen hard drive at least once. With personal computers, the solution here is to fix the computer and keep using it until it is beyond repair or until buying a new one just makes financial sense (with the computers falling in prices, spending more than $150 or so to fix a computer does not make that much sense if you buy a new one for $350, for instance).

But this isn’t a practical approach as far as businesses are concerned. This is where a tech support company can really come in handy. They can maintain your computers and ensure you never have to deal with crashes or frozen hard drives. There’s no point in spending exorbitantly on new computers every couple of years when there is such a simple and cost effective solution to avoid any problems altogether and as just stated, new computers are not that expensive anymore.

Tech companies will monitor all the systems and alert you regarding any problems when it comes to malware or capacity issues. It’s just like taking your car in for scheduled maintenance instead of waiting for it to break down while you’re driving.

Consolidation

When you consolidate IT infrastructure and resources, especially in your company’s data center, you will ensure your resources are used efficiently, security and document management improves, and complexity is reduced. Some of the elements worth consolidating are:

  1. Servers: Focusing on virtual machines is a stellar way to reduce physical server numbers and getting rid of redundancies.
  2. File storage: Storage area networks can help centralize data in a single location. They offer better performance as compared to local storage and are quite economical when it comes to large storage requirements.
  3. Directory services: Providing a common directory service is cheaper than distributed systems which only increases costs.
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For many, although they may actually enjoy their chosen career, the work environment does little to motivate. Studies have shown that badly designed offices can have a negative effect on workers’ mental state. Similarly, companies who do nothing to enhance employees’ wellbeing in the workplace find that productivity remains below average and have a higher staff turnover.

Embracing the cloud

A few simple and relatively inexpensive changes should mean greater employee satisfaction, higher motivation and increased productivity – incorporating the cloud along the way.

Visual

What do your employees see around them? Blank walls are hardly exciting, whereas some aesthetically pleasing works of art or panoramic photographs of nature can raise mood levels. Even photos from the last office party can create happy memories and raise a smile. These can be rotated periodically, so that they don’t become ‘white noise’. Avoid posters with memes, as they are clichés and can irritate.

Another important thing that impacts visual is lighting.  The ambiance of the room impacts employees mood, so you need to mix-and-match.  The easiest thing to do this is by using smart lighting that’s controlled via the cloud. By letting your lighting “learns” your desired pattern throughout the day, you can easily setup the ambiance in every room of your office – it saves much energy, too!

If you’re replacing furniture and your budget allows, opt for wooden pieces, rather than metal or laminate, as they add warmth. There are companies on-line that specialise in second-hand office furniture. And don’t be afraid to mix and match, as employees are individuals, so can’t their work stations be different?

Music

While research is somewhat contradictory, the general consensus is that the right music improves productivity. A study on surgeons showed that they were more accurate while operating to music, whether their most or least favourite, rather than when no music was playing. Introducing music may not please everyone, as it does require a level of multi-tasking, so the best option might be to provide ear phones with a limited volume. These could be used with a company music channel on your network, providing a selection deemed appropriate (no death metal, please), streamed via the cloud.

Chill Space

It’s important to provide an area with lounging furniture and refreshment station, so that employees can have some comfortable down time during their breaks. Open-plan offices can make staff feel exposed and vulnerable, so allowing them some quiet time in a cosier space can help counteract the negative aspects. If appropriate to the work environment, you could include some devices for watching TV or browsing the internet.

Thoughts & Goals

Regardless of whether you’re a director or clerk typist, your opinions should count. It can be intimidating approaching a manager to discuss ideas, so it’s important to have a facility where everyone can anonymously suggest improvements. Rather than a private box, put a large notice board in the break room or other secluded area. Staff can write their comments on sticky notes. This way everyone can see the posts, which will encourage discussion and interaction. It makes employees feel more valued and part of the team.

Another idea would be to have a white board mounted in a prominent area and every day one or more members of staff could write one of their work-oriented goals for the day. A final idea would be to email everyone a ‘joke of the day’, to help them start the day with a smile (or groan). Even corny puns can have the desired effect.

If you want to, you can take those digitally through cloud-based collaboration tools like Celoxis and Bitrix24 in which employees can communicate about work and everything else in between, sending messages to one another and posting work-related stuffs or simply funny cat videos – not too much, though!

Creating a pleasant work environment isn’t difficult or costly, yet it can reap dividends in productivity and staff attitudes.

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Cloud computing has ultimately become a major benefit to businesses – particularly to entrepreneurs and small businesses. Though there are plenty of reasons why, one of the most attractive things about cloud technology is that small businesses are able to reap the benefits without the high costs. Not to mention the perks of accessibility which provide room for increased productivity and seamless collaboration.

Cloud services for business

Cloud services essentially provide entrepreneurs, small business owners, and home-based businesses with access to sophisticated technology without the need to hire someone with advanced IT knowledge. With benefits such as these, there’s no wonder cloud technology has surged in popularity over the last few years. Not sure which services might benefit you the most? Here is a look at some forms of cloud technology that any small business can take advantage of:

Phone Services

Are you still utilizing a landline to make and receive business calls? Well between the monthly costs of a phone bill and the equipment needed to manage it, this could be an unnecessary costs.

Cloud phone services such as Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) provide efficient and cost effective means for businesses to communicate. With phone calls being made and received through an online server, you can cut the costs of communications immensely. The system features allow users to make calls from virtually anywhere at a fraction of the cost. More businesses are switching to VoIP as a way to save money and increase productivity.

File Management Systems

Company data is of extreme importance. Whether its consumer information, outgoing correspondence, financial documents, or marketing materials, you need to have an efficient method for storing it. While the old file cabinet method can work, it can be costly and leaves a lot of room for error. Now, cloud technology has made managing filing a lot simpler. Cloud storage accounts are a more efficient way for managing company data.

With the ability to electronically store files in the cloud, businesses can keep track of everything and access it from anywhere. Cloud storage accounts come in varying sizes and can even be shared with other employees or consumers. Password protection and backup features ensure that your files are safe at all times. It’s also beneficial to point out that depending on your storage needs, you can find accounts that are free to use.

Invoicing Systems

As you already know cash flow is essential to the success of your business. If you’re in a business that provides services which are then billed to clients, having a cloud based invoicing system could prove beneficial. Paper invoices can easily get lost. Not to mention that providing a client with a paper invoice also means the cost of paper, envelopes, and postage.

Cloud based invoicing systems allow you to create, store, send, and manage invoices electronically. Depending on the system you invest in, there are also features that allow you to setup payroll and generate financial reports.

Project Management Systems

Depending on your business industry, project collaboration can be pretty common. To generate quality products or services, staff must be able to seamlessly work together. Cloud-based project management systems give way to real time collaboration on varying types of projects. Managers can establish the project guidelines, provide access to necessary parities, set budgets, and manage the progress.

With cloud technologies of course, team members have the ability to access pertinent project information from virtually anywhere they are. So whether they’re in the office or away on business, work can still be carried out to meet the needs of your clients.

Word Processing/Spreadsheets

Word processing and spreadsheet software can cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars for businesses each year. The cost of installing it to each device along with managing the updates can weigh heavily on your budget.

There is also the inconvenience of having the software available on one platform. If you drafted a contract at the office but forgot to bring it with you to a business meeting, you’re pretty much stuck. However, with word processing and spreadsheet cloud computing services, you’re able to access the information you need from virtually anywhere. Business accounts allow access to multiple users for employees and is often a lot cheaper (if not free) than purchasing software for each device.

There are so many cloud computing services that your small business could benefit from financially. Going to the cloud allows you to save on paper, access information from anywhere with an Internet connection, improve productivity, and collaborate in real time. As you look to take advantage of some of the benefits that cloud technology has to offer your business, be sure to evaluate products to discern which will provide the best features for the overall value.

While the ultimate goal is to save money, you must also ensure that the technology you invest in will enhance business practices.

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