Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Cleantech Blog Post: Flexible Workforce

A well written article on what companies are doing and should be doing to reduce the carbon footprint... run down topic, but worth reading because of the literary quality of it.

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Work Remotely, without your PC

As I planned for my New Year's trip, I decided that I was not going to take my laptop with me and fully relax. Although, it is nearly impossible to do that, due to job constrains and dependency on it. What if I want to check my emails? or need that contact information? How about if I need to work on a presentation for an important customer? I discovered two excellent tools that will help me carry a USB key instead of a heavy laptop.

The first one is U3 technology from Sandisk. It came with a USB thumb key that I bought during black Friday. The main idea is that you can carry around, not only your synchronized files, but also applications in a USB key. That is, for example, there is a Firefox U3 version that installs the browser in the USB key. There is also Skype, PDF reader, Opera, and OpenOffice (for any Microsoft Office Document) for U3 among others. So, now I am taking my USB key with me. I put my favorite browser (Opera for U3), Skype in case I need to call abroad, the PDF reader and OpenOffice. Of course, I am taking my important files in case I need to work on those too.


The second thing is LogMeIn. It is a free online application that you can use to control any computer in the world. Even behind firewalls. The process is simple: you open an account with logmein.com, pay nothing, and download a thin client for the computer that you want to control. That's it; now the laptop or pc will show up in your list of remote computers and you can control it from any browser. It is an excellent tool for remote control to provide tech support and for gaining access to your full desktop anywhere in the World.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Six online tools to communicate with customers

As most of my readers know me, I work as a Sales Engineer for a large Networking Company. I support sales efforts in my region. That means recommendations on ways to increase productivity, streamline their business, simplify management, and reduce cost, all from a technical perspective. What that means too is that I need to be in constant communication with my customers, in order to be effective. As of this year I have successfully started using innovative ways to stay in touch and be able to offer a better and faster service. So far, I have received great feedback, and my personal productivity has definitely increased. Some of these are:

  • Webex – to deliver rich media online trainings and meetings that can be recorded and played back by attendees whenever they want. No need to travel or spend hours in traffic.
  • Del.icio.us – to have a public source of bookmarks and relevant links for my customers. They can go to my del.icio.us page and get the link for downloading files, whitepapers, and information on a specific product.
  • Confluence (my blog) – Started it a long time ago, and not only publish articles like this one, but also relevant news, interesting findings, and upcoming products and benefits.
  • Yahoo Messenger – sometimes it is better than a phone call; especially for those quick questions. I also use Meebo, sometimes, to access messenger from any computer.
  • Twitter – To communicate my presence information and micro-blog posts on interesting things that I am dealing with. I tend to include links to the stuff I am doing, such as the new router I am playing with in the lab, or that presentation on WAN optimization
  • RSS – to syndicate my blog posts, presence information, and social bookmarks so I don't flood their mailboxes with emails.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Five reasons why you should deploy Unified Communications in your SMB

Here's a simplistic and to-the-point list of indicators and symptoms that tell you that your small business or start-up should have Unified Communications Apps:

  1. No one to maintain the infrastructure. SMB market characterizes for not having many employees and resources; especially for operations and administrative work. Your efforts should focus on product development and sales. Unified Communication is going prime time with small boxes targeted to the SMB setup-once-and-forget-about-it environment
  2. If you don't do it, your competitors will. A key system, or a bunch of Panasonic phones only give you dial-tone and a telephone line for outbound calls and incoming calls from customers and partners. A full blown UC integrated device brings productivity generation features like auto-attendant (for friendly incoming calls and call-routing), voicemail-to-email (for the ability of checking your voicemail from your email), and soft-phones (for having a phone on your laptop wherever you go). It builds competitive advantage.
  3. Paying too much for the phone line. Carriers offer IP telephony lines directly to the customer premise at a lower rate than a regular line. Look at Vonage rates versus a regular AT&T phone line.
  4. You want to look good with your customer. From an image perspective, you want your customers to see that you deploy the latest technology and that you are ahead of everybody.
  5. You want to be available wherever and whenever for your customers. Advanced call routing functionality in a Unified Communications system allows you to do things like single-number reach, call forwarding, retrieve calls on your laptop, or conference people in with the push of a button.

The price of Unified Communication systems has dropped dramatically. It is no longer exclusive for the enterprise. Devices like Cisco's UC500 for the SMB bring wireless, routing, analog and digital phone lines, voicemail and unified communications applications into one single small-form factor platform, at a low cost for the SMB. Also, manufacturers like Linksys have a line of SIP phones for that market too.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

IP Telephony benefits morphing trends

IP Telephony used to be about toll bypass only. That translated into cost savings for the company, as its main benefit. Of course, there were other benefits, as a natural consequence, such as ease of administration due to having to operate one single network, and lower maintenance costs. All that fell on the reduced operational expenses bucket.

Once it became mainstream IP Telephony is no longer a competitive advantage, and it was commoditized. Today, companies need more than just cost savings as a benefit: they need increased productivity, improve company image, and raised barriers of entry against competitors. IP Telephony morphed, and opened itself to the world of applications. That is, APIs have been published for programmers to generate new and unprecedented benefits, and vendors are releasing customized voice services on top of the voice network.

IP Telephony even changed its name into Unified Communications. This reflects the convergence of not only IP Data Network and Voice Network, but also the convergence of user applications such as messaging, mobility and presence. Finally, Unified Communications has more to offer than the reduction of costs. ROIs need to incorporate increased profitability due to the gain in efficiency of employees and the competitive advantage gained by the increased speed of reaction to customer needs and trends.

Read a full article about this on Network World, or read more about how Unified Communications can apply to you here.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Use Social Sharing To Extend Your Message

There is, after all, a business use case for social websites and services. This is a great blog post on how to leverage that. The funniest thing is that I got to it, from following the author on Twitter. Click bellow for the post.

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