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5 Steps to Choosing a Videoconferencing Solution

The right system can connect employees, improve collaboration with partners, and enhance customer service

Videoconferencing, with entire conference rooms dedicated to the latest and greatest in audio and video broadcasting, may seem out of bounds for small businesses. But videoconferencing is useful for more than large-scale lecture-based training sessions or global executive announcements. Small businesses can use this communications technology to enable collaboration with employees and partners around the world, demonstrate products to potential customers at any time, and amp up their online customer service efforts. The bottom line is that videoconferencing offers a cost-effective way to hold face-to-face meetings with anyone, no travel required.

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Cloud Computing: Why Should I Care?

February 7, 2012 at 6:15 am PST

If not pre-empted by a neighbor’s dog, one of the first things I hear each morning is the weather report. This time of year, there’s usually some reference to clouds – partly cloudy, high clouds, low clouds, cloud cover, clouds clearing by mid-morning, clouds arriving in the late afternoon. A world of many clouds indeed.

When it comes to conversations about technology, it’s hard to escape talk of clouds, cloud computing, and cloud this, that, and the other thing. But here’s a question: I’m not an IT person, so why should I care about cloud computing? Read More »

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Collaboration with Scrap Lumber & Bailing Wire

January 30, 2012 at 10:57 am PST

I’ve always worked in creative environments with a lot of interdependent roles and processes – and big, unyielding deadlines. Twenty years ago (did I just type that?!), it was editors, writers, designers, artists, production teams, salespeople, prepress film houses, printers, and all of the rest involved in producing magazines. My role was at the intersection of the creative work and technical production. Sometimes it all happened as a meeting in one room, other aspects involved sneakernet, sending disks and film back and forth via couriers. Missing a print date cost big dollars. You didn’t miss the dates. Ever. 

Where's my sweater?Being a bit of a geek with a logical streak of an engineer’s daughter, I was always looking for ways to add structure and streamline processes. (This is not unlike trying to put a wet cat in a sweater.) I developed a successful, but perhaps unhealthy relationship with spreadsheets that I used to hold information – deadlines, story details, status, page counts, art files, page ratios. I dutifully maintained my trusty grids and could answer any question about any bit or piece along the way. But hand anyone else a printout and their eyes would cross and roll before they simply restated the question. The spreadsheets held data; I was the mechanism for sharing data – the user interface, so to speak.

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2012 Predictions: These I Like

January 23, 2012 at 9:13 am PST

It took me awhile to go through all the random Top 10 of 2011 lists for various topics, so now I’m ready to look ahead to 2012’s preponderance of pundit predictions. Or maybe I’m just fashionably late. I’ve tripped over a few reports here and there – some quite possibly developed by caffeinated squirrels on a treadmill.

Not me, but she looks like she's predicting something...

On the technology front, I found one more interesting than others. Instead of putting a small group of experts in a room and not letting them out until they agree on a list, Baseline Magazine annually surveys business and technology managers at companies with 100+ employees to ask about their organizations’ investments, plans, and strategies. Across several hundred respondents, patterns evolve.

Whoever these people are, coming from the desk I use, I like the way they (and their companies) think. Following – their predictions and my two cents (maybe three or four).

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Social Tools at Work

January 5, 2012 at 12:21 pm PST

Apparently “outside the box” topped a list of the worst offenders in corporate jargon for 2011. I expected that social would make the list until I realized that people are still struggling to apply it to business. It has yet to become a corporate jargon offender, let alone one of the worst.

Still, we have social media, social networks, social business, social advertising, social cats, social dogs, social goldfish. OK, perhaps I exaggerate. A little. It’s like Y2K all over again when we tacked an e- to the front of everything from mail and business on through the rest of the dictionary to say, “Look, it’s online now!”

Working for technology companies, I’ve often had the advantage (or disadvantage) of working with new tools as they came into being. Now, some of the so-called social media tools I started using in my personal time have become valuable business tools: Instant messaging is a good example.

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