Archive for the ‘technology’ Tag

Will 2012 Be The Year Of The Cloud?

Friday, January 20th, 2012

By all indications, yes, 2012 may be the year that businesses big and small will more fully embrace cloud computing in larger numbers. As technology continues to advance, there are plenty more reasons to tap into the cloud to help your business stay competitive and successful. Let’s take a look at some trends we’re seeing in the tech world.

Internal Social Networks
Social networking usage by businesses continues to increase because it’s a way of life for many people, including your target markets. But what may be more interesting is internal social networking. And that doesn’t necessarily mean Facebook, Twitter and other such popular public spaces. Internally, companies are using Microsoft SharePoint and wikis for instance, offering employees online collaboration at work in real-time for sharing content. Obviously, micro businesses with employees located in one place may not benefit from this, but other businesses that are spread out with employees on the go could see positive results with internal social networking.

Mobile Matters

With so many portable communication devices out there, companies are conducting business more and more on the go. Tablets and other newer mobile devices and the programs they run on are becoming more like business tools. These mobile gadgets use methods, applications, platforms and data that have to “live” somewhere – namely, in the cloud.

Storage Wars

The cost of storing data isn’t getting any cheaper, for the most part. Couple that with the fact that the amount of data that many companies need to store somewhere is also accelerating. At some point it becomes impossible for some businesses to store information on-site or even using some traditional off-site storage solutions. That’s just one scenario that has many businesses choosing to store their data in the cloud. The cloud becomes more and more appealing for companies who rely on lots of stored data being nearby and easily accessible through the cloud.

Multi-Cloud Solutions

The cloud is becoming more than just one thing. It’s actually becoming a hybrid of solutions for storage, computing platforms and software applications, all accessible to serve your business needs. So it’s less about choosing one service over another or one company over another, and more about engaging an entire lifecycle of cloud-based solutions that are available across multiple companies.

Public v. Private

As far as infrastructure capabilities, some businesses will move away from their private cloud solution to a public-cloud solution. It comes down to whether a company can survive on a hardware-constrained private cloud – a solution that also imposes limitations on being flexible. There are only some many resources that you can own privately and still stay in business profitably. Public clouds on the other hand offer more flexibility and have no restraint n the volume of hardware of software needed.
As with any advancing technology, there could be so downsides, including security issues or complete downtime where you may be unable to retrieve your data for a prolonged period of time, for example. So consider how often and for how long you may have to withstand outages just in case, and how that would affect your business and what alternatives should you have in place.

If you want to find out more about the true value of cloud computing, contact CRS Technology Consultants. We’ll help you figure out which pieces of the puzzle make the most sense for your business model.

Providing Customer Service on Facebook is a Good Thing

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

Sure, many small businesses in Southwest Florida are using social media such as Facebook to keep a presence in hopes of boosting sales, but are they doing more than just trying to sell their wares? The reason we bring this up is that a 2011 study by MarketTools revealed that less than 25 percent of companies surveyed are using Facebook as a way to respond to customers’ comments, whether their feedback is good or not so good. Additionally, as little as 12 percent of responders say they use Twitter as a customer-service response mechanism.

As a customer-service tool, Facebook can provide you with valuable insight into what your consumers are thinking and saying and how they feel. This type of feedback is above and beyond what you may think you know about your customers based on straightforward data (demographics, etc.). Couple that with other feedback methods that you hopefully have place can aid greatly in helping to improve your business model, which in turn can lead to better customer satisfaction. And isn’t that why we’re in business?
While the MarketTool survey was taken by companies with annual revenues of more than $10 million, the results can be put to good use for small businesses as well. Granted, your business likely doesn’t have a social communications division with staffers who tend to social media sites on a full-time basis. Still, the power of interaction in the technologically driven “face to face” channel can go a long way to letting your customers know that you’re there with them, listening, and hopefully responding to make their experiences better.

Having said that, you cannot always appease consumers who attack your business’s actions or reputation online. Take Subway for instance, after the sandwich giant announced professional football player Michael Vick as its sportsman of the year in 2011. This after Vick served jail time for his involvement in illegal dog fighting. The anti-Vick attacks came quick and often. At first Subway responded, but the attacks were relentless. The company eventually just let the issue run its course and nowadays there’s not mention of it. In fact, the entire thread of comments has been removed from Subway’s Facebook account.

But in the long run, people who “like” you on Facebook want more than a sales pitch. They want to know who’s behind the company, they want comments to their feedback or answers to their questions.  They want a customer-friendly experience.  While constant contact may not be possible for you, choosing to ignore comments can be detrimental. Don’t miss your opportunity to interact with people online in an effort to constantly improve on your customer service for the best in customer satisfaction.

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