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Supersizing Your Small Business

Look around at most tech news lately and you’ll find four consistent trends: Cloud, Mobility, Social Media, and Big Data. Talk to analysts and you find that those four actually break into pairs: Cloud and Mobility; Social Media and Big Data. And what becomes apparent is that each second half of the pairs is responsible for accelerating the combination of the two.

Essentially, mobility has sparked the cloud imperative and the cloud has given mobility greater value. One of the more compelling aspects of this is how cloud actually helps level the playing field for businesses, rendering labels such as SMB or Enterprise irrelevant at times.

Enter social media. Social media has evolved to become a necessary tool for SMBs. Yelp is now the de facto standard of rating businesses; Twitter has become an effective marketing tool to spread news quickly and Facebook lets businesses develop communities. So, while Cloud/mobility is interesting on its own, social media makes cloud/mobility imperative.

At the same time, cloud/mobility has an accelerant effect on social media. It’s what enables happy customers to recommend your place of business while on the go. Similarly, to take advantage of point-of-sale customer enthusiasm—and build on the momentum—the best way to do that is to offer wireless access so your customers can Tweet, Facebook, Yelp and employ any other number of social media to give props to your business.   

But it doesn’t end there. If all you do with all that great data is conclude that your business is popular, you’re missing a big learning opportunity. “Big Data,” which refers to the wealth of information that’s flowing out there, is yet another important way for you to identify the key differentiators that can help your business grow.  It’s no longer enough to simply say that your business has 3.5 stars on Yelp. You need to understand that customers that give your business 4 stars, speak glowingly of your dinner ambiance and wait staff while your 2-star customers complain about long lines and grumpy staff at lunch. It’s this color inside the lines that really helps you see the big picture—with its details.

According to the Cisco Visual Networking Index, last year’s mobile data traffic was eight times the size of the entire global Internet in 2000. Mobility, Cloud, and Social Media are all fueling the data explosion. Remember: Each can push your business to new levels—by helping you operate faster and more cost efficiently with greater reach, while gaining a greater understanding of market segment. Plus, these key elements put greater power in the hands of employees to get their jobs done and in the hands of customers to deepen their relationship with your business. It’s up to you to harness that power.

Time to level that playing field.

Say What? Clear Communication Is Key to Small Business Success

New and updated Cisco voice products simplify communication, improve productivity

Communication: It’s critical to any small business. Your employees need to be able to communicate effectively and clearly with customers and partners as well as with each other. But with employees often away from their desks or working in dynamic office arrangements, communication has gotten more complicated and that can impact their productivity.

Cisco recently expanded and updated its IP voice and UC solutions with features and functionality that simplify small business voice communications and improve employee productivity. New products include SPA512G and SPA514G IP phones, SPA112 and SPA122 Analog Telephone Adapters, and Wireless-N Bridge for Phone Adapters as well as an updated version of the Cisco UC320W unified communications solution.

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Get More Out of Your Internet Connection with the Right Router

The new Cisco RV180 and RV180W VPN Routers provide fast, secure access for local and remote employees

When it comes to fundamental networking components, few devices are as important as your router. The router connects your business to the rest of the world, linking your local network to the vast resources on the Internet. It allows everyone in your office to share a single connection to the Internet, and it may also help protect your business from online threats, as well as give employees remote access to your network. Before you can choose the best router for your small business, you need to know what you want it to do for your network. Now that the Internet has become crucial to most companies’ day-to-day business operations, you need to know how your company uses its Internet connection. Here are some questions to consider: Read More »

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Mythbusters: There’s No Interference at 5 GHz

A wireless network has become almost mandatory for every small business. A wireless network is relatively easy for non-technical people to install, and it’s convenient for users, who can use it to connect to the network and the Internet from anywhere in the building. But Wi-Fi does present a challenge that’s unique to the radio signals it uses to transmit data: interference. In this Mythbusters post, we’ll clear up the misconception that there’s no interference on the 5GHz channel.

A Wi-Fi network can use one of two frequency bands to send and receive radio waves: 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. These frequencies are much higher than those used for other radios, like cell phones and walkie-talkies, so the Wi-Fi signal can carry considerably more data. All Wi-Fi networks use the wireless 802.11 networking standard; the difference is in which band you set your wireless router or access point to transmit on. 802.11b and 802.11g operate at the 2.4 GHz band, while 802.11a transmits at 5 GHz. Unlike the other variations of the standard, 802.11n can operate at both bands.

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Less Downtime, More Productivity with an Advanced Switch

An advanced switch with performance, security, and availability features is the heart of every high-availability network

Most of today’s advanced communications and business applications have been scaled for the small business. Smaller companies are using technologies like cloud computing, mobile computing, and IP voice to grow their business and connect more personally with customers. Unfortunately, these data-hungry applications can quickly slow down small business networks, which aren’t always built for such a demanding environment. To keep these applications—and your business—running continuously at top speed, your network must be built for high availability, performance, and security.

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