Category: Featured

Content marketing is the combination of the content on a website, a blog, and posts on other websites used for backlinking purposes. It’s also often called inbound marketing, and it involves Search Engine Optimization, keywords, and many more technical factors.

Cloud Computing has turned this into a worldwide industry. Many content marketing companies operate with remote workers around the world, and cloud computing helps them do business this way.

Cloud content

Online Tools

There are several online tools that let content marketers analyze sites, manage projects, and keep track of their work for a particular client. These tools include:

  • Domain name search tools, used to find what domain names are available when creating a site from scratch.
  • Tools like MOZ, SEMRush, and Google Analytics that provide deep website analytics about traffic and performance.
  • Project management tools that allow them to track the progress of different projects and the completion of tasks.
  • Chat programs like Slack and Google Hangouts that allow teams to keep in touch at a distance.

Through these tools and others, content marketing teams can collaborate and share work from nearly anywhere.

Document Sharing

Thanks to services like Microsoft OneDrive and Google Docs, two people in different parts of the world can be working on the same document at the same time in real time. This makes the creation of content and the editing of work easy for both writers, editors, web developers, and outreach specialists.

A web developer can let a content writer know through comments in real time whether or not the document they are working on will be the right fit for the space on the site, and the content writer can respond with immediate revisions.

Mobile cloud gadget

Payroll, Human Resources, and Timekeeping Programs

When a company has workers globally, they have to use software to keep track of hours worked, perform human resources tasks, and do payroll in different currencies and complying with different regulations.

There are global payroll solutions offered by several companies that allow them to do all of these things whether within one system or using several tools that communicate well with each other. Managers can:

  • Track where and when employees clock in.
  • See what tasks they are working on at any given time.
  • Allow employees access to benefits and other company information.
  • Issue payroll in a timely manner across many time zones and international borders.

This enables even small businesses and startups to take advantage of remote workers and a global workforce.

Content marketing is a growing global industry, and cloud computing makes using remote workforces and global resources a reality.

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You’re probably had enough of hearing about big data and its relevance to your business. It’s 2017, if you’re not collecting AND analyzing big data, you’re getting left behind. No, the conversation is no longer about whether or not you should be investing in big data analysis, it’s how.

Let’s talk data storage. The biggest quandary with big data handling is storage. It’s possible that you could be dealing with petabytes of information over the next few years, and at that scale, investment in the right kind of storage is a must. The major battle being fought is between investing in your own servers (on-premise, private cloud,) or ‘renting’ cloud storage space (public cloud.)

Big data cloud

To make it crystal clear, here’s a brief for you: Cloud storage is data storage that’s still on servers. The difference is that it’s remote, meaning it’s accessed via the internet, not internally, and you don’t actually have a physical server to store your data. Other than that, it’s the same old storage you’re used to.

So just how is this simple difference an advantage? Here are the top five reasons to go cloud with your big data storage.

1. Storage Space

Imagine you invest in your own servers, you get a location, get a company in to fit it, hire people to maintain it – what happens when you’ve filled your servers? Easy, you have to get more. With the cloud you don’t get that because let’s just say that it’s someone’s else’s problem. You can reach your limit and simply upgrade to double your storage capacity.

That’s assuming you can afford to set up your own servers in the first place.

Enter cloud storage. The cloud offers an easily expandable storage space – at scale – and you only pay for the resources that you use. Meaning, you only pay more if your big data is getting, well, bigger.

2. Cost

The cost of setting up your own servers is phenomenal. It’s only a really viable option if you’re a large business that requires such a huge amount of storage that the set up cost of company servers is dwarfed by storage rental.

While renting out storage space via the cloud may seem like an exorbitant cost, when you look at how it compares to the alternative, could you afford that amount in one hit? Very doubtful. And set up is not the only cost…

3. Security

Did you know how easy it is to breach your business premise’s security? Things are no better for your cyber security, too.

How much do you pour into your cyber security right now? Imagine having to protect a thousand times more data that might be even more sensitive. There really is a never ending supply of costs that add up when running your own servers.

But again, if you use the cloud, you’re paying a company to take care of security for you. Of course you have to choose a plan that suits the level of protection needed for your data, but you’ll still be saving even if you have to pay a premium.

4. Backups

Imagine, if you will, that you are company working on the development of a new medicine, things are looking good and you’re already being clever about the way you record your findings using your biology ELN. You’ve invested in your technology and even have your own servers to store the data on. You go to look at your finding from the past few months to carry out analysis only to find your servers have crashed. Ouch.

If you’d maybe thought ahead, you’d have backed up your important data on the cloud as well as keeping it on your servers. Because even if you have the budget for your own storage, bad things can happen to good businesses.

When it comes to big data, the cloud is an invaluable asset to your business and the most realistic in terms of cost. So, look after your data and it’ll look after you.

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Are you thinking about starting a cloud based business? If your idea is popular and you have the drive, creating a successful and popular cloud based business is not an impossible challenge. However, there are certain factors you need to consider before you take this step. Below are the main things you need to think about before you start a cloud based system.

Cloud-based startup

Your Skills and Experience

Like any business venture, you need to have certain skills and experience before you decide to start a cloud based company. If you believe you need to improve your technical and business skills, it may be worth your while completing an MBA in information technology or a more business focused online MBA degree. After finishing the appropriate course, you will be in a much better position to enter the business world.

Market Research

The best product in the world won’t sell if there isn’t a demand for it. This is why you need to research your market and find out if there’s a need for the product or service you are thinking about developing and selling. If not, you may need to go back to the drawing board and reconsider your position. This may be deflating for a new entrepreneur, but it could save you a lot of money and trouble in the future.

Raising Finances

Every business needs money to get off the ground. You should find out how much money your intended project will cost and how much it will cost to stay in business until you start generating a profit.

If money is tight, you may need external help. If this is the case, you should consider partnering with another company, so look for investors or even consider crowd funding.

Your Business Model

Different cloud based companies have different business models and you need to choose a model that is the most suitable for the product or service you are providing. Some cloud based companies decide to charge a one-time payment for their products and services, while other organizations use a membership style model where customers pay for a product or service on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis.

Business and Legal Requirements

From the beginning, it’s crucial to understand that you will be running a real business. There is business and legal requirements you should be aware of before you start trading and receiving payments online. In most cases, a new entrepreneur won’t have this knowledge and experience, so you should consult with a legal professional and a financial professional before you move forward.

Delegation

When you start a business, you will probably want to get involved in all aspects of your new business. However, if you have the finances, hire professionals to take care of certain aspects that you may not be an expert in. This will allow you to focus on your strengths and the activities you specialize in.

Starting a cloud based business could be one of the best decisions you ever make. However, you should consider each of the tips above first before you decide to start this type of company.

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Applying for most types of loans used to be a time-consuming process. You had to go in to the lender (usually a bank or credit union), talk to a representative, fill out a loan application, and then wait for a response. If you wanted something faster or your credit wasn’t that great, your only real option was a payday or car title loan.

While many of the loan options are still the same, cloud technology has drastically sped up the process of obtaining a loan. No matter what type of loan you need, you can probably get it faster by starting out online.

Cloud lending
photo credit: Doug Kinnison / Dribbble

Online Applications

The main difference the internet has made in the lending industry is online loan applications. Instead of having to visit the lender in person and fill out a paper application, you can submit all your information on the lender’s website and sometimes even receive a response in just seconds.

Another way cloud technology makes the loan process easier for borrowers is by providing easy access to their credit reports. The law entitles everyone to one free credit report per year from each of the three credit reporting agencies, which are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You can now go online to order each of those agencies. There are also a variety of online credit estimate tools that can provide you with an estimate of your credit score. Certain banks even offer this service if you have a credit card account with them. By making it easier for borrowers to access their credit report and credit score, technology has also made it easier for borrowers to understand what their loan options are (since that depends quite a bit on the borrower’s credit score).

Online loan applications are available through most lenders. Considering how many people go on the internet first for everything they need, any lender that doesn’t offer online applications is putting themselves at a disadvantage compared to the competition.

The application process varies for each lender and type of loan. With many online applications, the lender can approve you immediately and then deposit money into your account. Other lenders only offer preapprovals through their applications, and you have to actually visit one of the lender’s locations to complete the application process. This is common with secured loans (loans that have collateral), especially those where the lender need to inspect the collateral first, such as online title loans. The lender can pre approve you based on your application, but you still have to bring your car to them so they can perform a quick inspection.

If the lender only offers preapprovals through its online application, then the application will be shorter and require less information. These pre approval applications often only require a bit of basic personal information, including your name, location, email address, and phone number.

Lenders that allow you to complete the entire loan application process have a much longer application process. You’ll have to enter your personal information and information regarding your financial history, including your current income. The lender will likely run a credit check as part of the application process.

Online lending

Other Online Loan Options

New loan options are also available now thanks to technology, with one of the most prominent and useful being peer to peer lending. These sites have been around since 2005, and they allow you to post an ad requesting a certain amount of money, along with how you plan to use the money. Peer to peer lending sites include your credit score with your ad. Lenders browse through the ads and issue the loans they want as an investment, as they’ll make money when the borrower repays the loan. These sites help streamline the loan process, and if your ad is well-written, you may get a loan from a peer much faster than you would through a financial institution.

There are personal loan websites that don’t require any collateral and can deposit the funds into your bank account the same day that you’re approved. While these websites are among the fastest and most convenient options, make sure you check the interest rate. Often in the lending industry, the loans that are easiest to obtain also have the worst terms and cost you the most in the long run.

Cloud technology has made the loan process faster and more convenient for borrowers. Regardless of the type of loan you need and your financial situation, going online is the best way to start the process.

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Email has continued to be one of the most vital tools we have in our online communications and business interactions. They serve us daily and are most often free to use. There must be thousands of email service providers out there, but of course not all of them are cut of the same cloth, that is to say, quality of service is varied.

Gmail hacked

Gmail email provider is by far one of the most popular and trusted of all the cloud-based email providers out there today. It is used by millions of people, worldwide, and has an excellent safety rating, uptime and high quality of service in general.

But as always scammers and hackers aren’t far behind the latest technology. They quite ingeniously find new ways to bypass the newest barriers set by tech giants such as Gmail.

So what do you know when you realise that your Gmail has been hacked?

Asides from panic, you need to maintain some sort of composure and take control of the situation before things get out of hand.

Your personal information and even reputation may be at stake, depending on what the hackers have in mind with your account. Knowing that you have sent hundreds, maybe even thousands of emails through your now hacked Gmail account, means that you have enough reason to worry.

Step #1: Claim back your account!

First off, if the hackers have changed your password, you must claim back full access to your account. Change your password to something more difficult to access and if need be, keep a note of your password somewhere safe in your desk or better still, in your wallet.

Step #2: Report to Gmail

The next thing you need to do is report the hacking incident to Gmail. Whoever logged probably already deleted the alert notice that your account has been logged in from a new browser/device. So you might not have further proof to offer in your report. However, email providers take hacking attacks very seriously and will aim to resolve the problem as soon as possible. After all, all that they have is their reputation, and they will want to maintain a high level of trust.

Step #3: Check the collateral damage

After you have reported that your Gmail account was hacked, you should check your sent items very carefully, there will likely be emails sent by the hacker to your contact lists. Quickly delete these emails and check your contact lists for new emails that you didn’t add or that look suspicious. Make note of these email addresses and then delete them from your contacts.

Step #4: Clarify what happens

The last step should be the dreaded mass email to all contacts. Here you should BCC (Blind carbon copy) everyone on your contact list and inform them that your Gmail account was hacked. More often than not, there is at least a couple of contacts who click on the links sent by the hackers, and spread the malware even further. They should be warned that they have possibly been sent malware from the hackers, and that they should check their mobile devices and PCS for any threats.

Good news?

Once you have performed these steps to control the damage done to your hacked Gmail account, you should have full control of your account once more. Something worth noting is, that many of us keep personal information in our emails, thinking that our accounts are safe. If you happened to send or save any financial information in your email, such as, credit card numbers, bank accounts, social security, passport numbers etc, you should report this immediately to the authorities.

Call your bank and ask them to freeze your card from any purchases until further notice; or better yet, have it cancelled. This might seem stressful and an unnecessary precaution, but the fact is that if your Gmail has been hacked, then you must take every step to protect yourself from financial loss.

Remember that hackers aren’t just doing this to spread malware, but to absorb as much personal information from each account as possible.

Conclusion

Having your Gmail hacked is scary, so treat your email passwords the way you would your social security numbers, don’t share with anyone and always report the hack to the authorities, to safeguard against identity theft.

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Cloud computing is huge, but it is used a lot more widely within certain industries than in others. Continue reading to learn about just five of the many industries around the world that are influenced by cloud computing most.

Cloud computing in healthcare

1. The Healthcare Industry

When it comes to keeping track of private patient files and preventing their destruction during a natural disaster, fire, flood, theft etc., the cloud is highly valuable. So it is no wonder that healthcare professionals across all sectors are now embracing the use of cloud computing to collect information about their patients and share that information with other professionals whenever necessary. Students who are attending a school like Boston University for a degree in health communication, such as their online masters of science in health communication, will end up learning about how to use the cloud to not only maintain patient records, but also maintain information that can be used to promote a healthcare company.

2. Marketing Companies

Many businesses are taking advantage of cloud computing capabilities because the cloud lets employees share information easily even when they are located in different parts of the world. If you are working on an assignment at your desk but you need to finish it later, you can upload it to the cloud and retrieve it easily while you are on the go and when you get home. But marketing professionals, in particular, are really taking advantage of the cloud in order to lower their costs of doing business with clients. The cloud allows them to benefit from enhanced security of sensitive data, and they also enjoy multi-device support when they work.

3. Education

Education is huge, and it goes beyond your standard k-12 curriculum. Today, people are taking courses online all over the world, thanks to the cloud. Educational demands can be met, whether employees need to be trained or college students need to earn credits. The cloud allows for open discussions and collaborations, as well as easier registration for courses and the sharing of student information like grades. This is why it is now possible to get just about any degree, such as an online communications masters degree, without having to go to class.

Watching video streaming on smartphone

4. Entertainment

The entertainment industry is also taking advantage of cloud technology by now making it easier than ever for people to find the TV shows and movies that they are looking for while they are online. There are many streaming services that are available, and people can watch entertaining programs on their devices while they are on the go as well.

5. Startup Businesses

Cloud computing can be a really affordable option when it comes to getting a startup off the ground and up and running. Again, businesspeople can use the cloud to upload important files and documents to work on wherever they are, and they can also use the cloud for collaboration, which is especially important when a business is just starting off.

So many industries use cloud computing every single day in order to improve the way that they operate and generate higher profits.

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Accounts receivable financing has the potential to be a boon for small business and the most popular cash flow management tool out there in the very near future. In the meantime, most people haven’t heard of invoice financing.  It’s already a go-to solution for bigger companies in industries where operating capital can sometimes get a little tight like in the telecom and transportation industries.

Exciting developments in the financial technology sector are making more of these sophisticated financial instruments available to small businesses owners, freelancers and contractors.  One of the examples is the provision of funding – e.g. invoice financing – via a cloud-based invoicing platform.

Let’s talk about why these options aren’t being used that much by small business owners.

Cloud invoicing platform

Invoice factoring issues: They aren’t about the platform

The problem with invoice financing is actually not in the tech platform that help provisioning the financing easier, but in the inherited financing model.

Invoice financing or the process of getting access to cash that is coming from your invoices early has been conflated with invoice factoring. Invoice factoring doesn’t enjoy a very good reputation. Because factoring traditionally means that the factoring partner collects directly from your client, your business relationships can get a little complicated.

Whether a third party represents themselves as you or as a 3rd party, you might not be exactly on the same page as they are about how they should collect, but as soon as you start taking their money, you lose the ability to control that aspect of the relationship with your client.

Something else to consider about factoring is the headache and worry that you might suffer from when your customer starts asking questions about why you need to use invoice factoring at all. It isn’t any of their business but it can become an optics problem around your business’ long-term viability.

How to apply and qualify?

Which product is best for you depends on how big your company is, how setup you are to withstand financially lean periods and what your own personal risk preference is. Invoice financing  can be used by companies of any size – including startups with a limited sales history.

Qualifying for financing is relatively simple and quick. More importantly, if you hold out for an invoice financing arrangement where the credit provider collects from you directly, your clients really never need know that you got a little help to see your way to the next paid invoice. If you have unencumbered accounts receivable and a company takes a chance on you, you don’t need to worry about the creditworthiness of your clients just your own ability to repay the cash advance.

Unlike with invoice factoring where you can typically borrow up to 85% of the invoice amount, invoice financing lets you can get 100% of the invoice amount upfront (minus a possible origination fee) because accounts receivable financing functions in a similar way to a normal line of credit.

A HELOC would be a line of credit secured by the equity in your home and in the case of invoice financing, you are securing a line of credit against possible future invoices that you might send or against current outstanding invoices that will get paid in the future. This useful options allows your company to draw funds as you invoice clients and pay the line down as customers pay their invoices.

The cloud makes factoring and financing easy

It is hard to speak in definitive terms about how much you will end up paying for a line of credit and access to this kind of borrowing against invoices without getting specific about the offering. ZipBooks’ Invoice Instant Payments™ is one of several lending solutions that can help you better manage your cash flow and your business’ financial health.

One you have applied and received a line of credit, ZipBooks gives you the option to finance an invoice. That means if you have a invoice due in the future, but would like to get paid on it today, you can get it funded with a click of a button inside ZipBooks. They send 100% of the value of the invoice to your bank account (minus an origination fee) within 1-2 business days through a bank-to-bank transfer service called Dwolla. Dwolla helps ZipBooks facilitate repayment over 12 weeks at .5% per week. Unlike with factoring, you can choose to repay the amount in full after the first week without any prepayment penalty.

Next steps

Signing up for ZipBooks is free and they even include a complimentary cloud-based invoicing and accounting software wrapped around their ability to make cash advances. There are many other providers that you can find out there by googling “invoice financing company” but ZipBooks is the only option that throws in a lot of freebie on top of being a finance company.

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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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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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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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It’s always astonishing to find how fast technology is changing our lives. Take Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), for example. This business process management software removes inefficiencies in a business with astonishing speed and efficiency, incorporating cloud tech.

ERP works to integrate applications so that your entire business runs as smoothly as possible. It handles many back office functions associated with human resources, customer services, and IT. ERP software requirements vary across a wide range of industries, which includes retail, manufacturing and distribution, health care, and the financial sector.

Enterprise Resource Planning

7 Common Inefficiencies in Business Operations

How do you know if your organization needs ERP? The quick answer is if it consists of data silos that don’t integrate with each other and that cost time and money to run separately.

Here are 7 ways technological inefficiencies can be slowing your business down:

Inefficiency #1: You have different types of software systems working independently of each other.

Do you need different software to track and process the different information your organization has to process? For example, when salespeople takes a customer’s orders, do separate systems go to work to record, manage, and fulfill that order? Does accounting have its own system of recording that transaction? Does the warehouse have its own system for sending the order to the manufacturer, receiving it, and shipping it out to the customer?

Inefficiency #2: You find it difficult to get the information you need about your business because you have to go through different systems to access it.

If you have to write a report on sales performance for your board of directors, how long would it take to track down information related to time spent selling, the use of marketing collateral, the opportunity win rate, the average deal size, the sales cycle metrics, and the cost of sales to revenue ratio?

Furthermore, imagine if you have to glean this information from spreadsheets that have not been updated and still need to be reconciled. It could take you a long time to write that report.

Inefficiency #3: Your accounting department takes a long time to get accurate numbers because the need to manually key in the entries.

Accounting is a difficult discipline because it is a system of balancing many variables. It can become even more of a burden on employees in the accounting department who have to use paper invoices and sales orders to enter their figures into a variety of accounting or sales software. This is a tremendous amount of drudge work that ERP could do almost instantly.

Inefficiency #4: Your financial division takes ages to do their work.

If you don’t know your numbers, you have no idea how your business is doing. But what if your financial reporting system is slow and clunky?

It takes your staff a long time going over spreadsheets to consolidate their figures and reconcile any discrepancies.

They may even have to use several systems to get the information from several systems before they can create a composite picture of the company’s financial well-being.

With ERP, everything will be in a single database, which will put an end to endless hours rekeying figures, cross-posting information, or reconciling inconsistencies. ERP will allow you to get accurate reports with considerably less effort. You will be able to get the information you need without frustration.

Inefficiency #5: Your sales team does not know what products are available to sell or where the inventory is located.

One of the best ways to close a sale is to tell customers how soon they will receive their product. This can be difficult if salespeople have to wrestle with inventory management systems that have not been updated.

It’s hard to be persuasive when you don’t know how much of a product is still available for sale, in which warehouse it is located, and when it can be shipped out to the customer.

For selling to go smoothly sales has to be aware of inventory, and this can be difficult if records are all maintained separately.

Inefficiency #6: Your customer service ratings are plummeting because you are giving customers inaccurate information about when their orders will be shipped.

After customers order a product, the first thing they want to know is when they will get it. If the sales rep has to guess, chances are that he will create unrealistic expectations. The customer will perceive a delivery past the promised date as a delayed shipment.

Another awkward situation is when a popular product is sold and the sales division has no idea when stocks will be replenished. Meanwhile, customers keep calling the customer service department, who don’t know either because things are moving too fast to keep track of the flow of inventory.

When customers receive a bad experience, a company’s reputation begins to decline.

With ERP, sales, customer data, and inventory systems are all synched to work with each other.

Inefficiency #7: You have too much IT.

It can be difficult to keep up with IT if there are many systems running at the same time. Often these systems need different upgrades or patches, especially those that are non-cloud-based. Too many systems running at the same time can create too much complexity. This costs time, labor, and resources.

Your business is ready for a single instance ERP system if the current system has numerous pain points that prevent the business running efficiently.

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The cloud has become one of the most commonly used phrases in the tech world over the past few years. One day you’ll be hearing about all of the possibilities it offers, while on another you see that a company’s data has been breached because of a problem in the system. Despite all the talk, though, many business owners still don’t properly understand what the cloud really offers.

Embracing cloud computing

Here’s what you need to know and how you can get prepared.

What Is It and How Does It Work?

In its most basic form, cloud computing is the process of using a network of remote servers to store, manage, and process data. This has created new service models for businesses, such as software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and infrastructure as a service (IaaS).

With SaaS models, like Google’s online office suite or Dropbox’s service, consumers typically use a thin client via a web browser to access the service. PaaS, as seen with Heroku or Google App Engine, works to instead provide a platform which creators can use to make their own software. IaaS, the most flexible cloud computing model, makes it possible to create the foundations for which SaaS and PaaS are based upon with tools like Microsoft’s Azure.

What Are the Advantages?

There are many advantages of managing your business from the cloud. Chief among them is that it moves the responsibility of managing technology away from the business owner, allowing them to focus more on core processes. Activities that previously had to be done manually, like installing software updates, can now effectively be taken care of externally and automated in the background.

Accessing your data, applications, and services is also much easier. Not only is this information available anywhere at any time, but even available to a number of different devices. Perhaps most importantly for businesses owners, cloud-based services often turn out to be much cheaper in the long-run. This is because you pay for only what you need, on a flexible, monthly payment contract, rather than being forced to invest in expensive hardware and software that requires regular updates.

How Can I Make Sure I’m Ready?

If you feel that now is the time to embrace the cloud, there are few things you should do before you make the switch.

First of all, you should ask yourself if your current business model matches with the advantages that the cloud offers. For instance, could you make your most popular products or services more cloud-friendly and create new revenue streams?

Secondly, you need to take into account the different kinds of security protocols that cloud-based businesses require. Cloud adoption requires stringent privacy policies to ensure personal data is stored securely, whether it’s in the form of billing preferences, email addresses, or health information. To make sure your business is up-to-code, consider working with a penetration testing team. Specialists can help you to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of your defense by utilizing the same kind of techniques that a malicious attacker would employ.

The overall benefits of embracing the cloud are abundant, and fortunately many of the disadvantages can be properly prepared against with the right security techniques. Start taking the necessary steps today to make sure you don’t let your business get left behind.

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