How Cloud Computing Is Helping Small Businesses Compete And Thrive
(NAPSI)—In today's economic climate, small businesses need
every advantage they can find to get ahead. New technologies in the form of cloud
computing are helping small businesses level the playing field against bigger
Cloud computing makes it possible for companies to access powerful
software applications via the Internet for a simple monthly fee. Because the
applications are delivered via the Internet, every small business can get
access to the same innovations and tools that bigger competitors have been
using for years. For instance, Microsoft Corp. recently launched Microsoft
Office 365, which brings together the company's familiar Microsoft
Office applications with its enterprise email, videoconferencing and other
collaboration and communication capabilities delivered as a subscription
Using the cloud can help your business do the following:
1. Build a "borderless office." A good cloud service will
connect you with colleagues and customers virtually anywhere via
click-to-chat, videoconference or shared desktops, to work together whether
you're across town or around the globe. Eliminating unnecessary travel
by using these online tools will not only save on costs, it will help you run
a green business.
Chaundra Smith, owner of Naturally Me, makes handcrafted, natural body
care products in
N.C. Using the cloud, she has set up a
virtual team of consultants and staff members who all work together and
collaborate in their "borderless" office.
Tip: Look for a cloud service that lets you make PC-to-PC voice and video
calls and hold online meetings on the fly. You'll want to be able to
share your desktop, online whiteboard and presentations with
colleagues—as if you're in the same room, even when you're
a city or continent away.
2. Work how you want, where you want. The cloud untethers you from your
desk and keeps you connected wherever you are. Web-enabled and offline
access* to your important documents, email, contacts and calendars helps you
stay nimble and responsive.
Team members at high-performance carmaker and parts company Shelby
American, Inc. in Las Vegas travel frequently around the globe and require remote
connectivity** to collaborate on new product development. Cloud-based tools
help everyone stay connected and keep the business moving while out of the
Tip: Look for a cloud service that works on a PC, Mac and smartphone,**
with consistent experience on each device. The best services help you edit
spreadsheets, presentations and other documents with others in real time and
view files from a browser or mobile device.
3. Invest in tomorrow without breaking the bank today. The cloud lets your
small business run on the same technology that powers the Fortune 500,
without hiring an army of IT experts, so you can focus on your core business.
Beyond cost savings, many small businesses realize additional benefits after
they move to the cloud—better collaboration among employees, customers
and partners means quicker sharing of ideas and problem resolution. A
cloud-powered small business is more nimble and prepares you to adapt to
changing business needs—now and in the future.
Imagination Yoga, a small, family-owned business in
teaches a "kindness- based" curriculum, instructing children on
yoga concepts and storytelling to spark their creativity and get them
exercising. The company plans to use cloud-based collaboration to market its
services, connect with more schools and families across the country, and
create online enrollment options for customers, which saves time and money.
The cloud also allows every Imagination Yoga employee to access the
company's Microsoft Outlook calendar, keeping everyone on the same
Tip: Look for an offering that can grow with you but also work well with
the tools you already use. You'll also want to safeguard your data with
business-grade privacy, security and disaster recovery capabilities.
Imagination Yoga uses cloud computing to connect effectively with schools
to reach and teach more students.
Microsoft Office 2007 or 2010 required for offline capabilities.
appropriate device, Internet access and supported browser and/or network
carrier connectivity are required. Data plan charges may apply.
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Building Out Broadband Creates New Jobs
(NAPSI)—The proposed merger between AT&T and T-Mobile means good
news for the economy.
Together, AT&T and T-Mobile will build a network that will provide
high-speed wireless Internet access to more than 97 percent of Americans,
many in rural areas. Besides improving broadband availability and quality of
service, the investment needed to build this network is expected to create as
many as 96,000 new jobs.
"Broadband deployment is a powerful job creator and will
meaningfully improve the quality of life for millions of Americans,"
said former Congressman Rick Boucher, Internet Innovation Alliance (IIA)
honorary chairman. "There are very few steps that can be taken that
would do more to help the American economy today than extending broadband
According to an analysis by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), this
additional infrastructure investment will result in:
• Direct jobs with the carriers;
• Supplier jobs with companies that provide products and services
including network equipment, handset devices and software applications; and
• Induced jobs as a result of the general increase in economic
As a result of the merger, an additional $8 billion will be invested in
building out this network, resulting in 1 million more square miles of
network coverage nationwide, including currently uncovered small towns and
Better broadband access will also provide benefits to economic development—particularly
small businesses, education and health care. Faster data speeds pave the way
for innovation and growth. Small businesses will have the opportunity to grow
their customer base, improve their day-to-day operations, create greater
organizational efficiencies and increase their profits.
Additionally, network expansion will benefit local businesses by enabling
them to link to markets across the country and around the world, competing in
the global marketplace, no matter where they are located.
Increasing access to broadband will also allow students to benefit from
opportunities, including advanced distance-learning applications and unique
educational resources, whether from the library down the street or a
university across the
With a wireless device such as a smartphone or laptop, a student can tap
into a world of online education and better reach his or her full academic
potential, even in settings outside traditional classroom walls.
Finally, increasing the availability of high-speed broadband Internet will
give more Americans access to telemedicine, saving money and saving lives.
Telemedicine helps increase patient access to primary and specialty care, allows
for remote health monitoring and, especially in rural communities, helps
patients cut down on long-distance travel to and from health care facilities.
Broadband expansion means better opportunities related to jobs, education
and health care.
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Copying On The Go
(NAPSI)—You may feel like the star in an espionage movie when you
take out a palm-size device that lets you copy flash drives at the speed of
2GB per minute, but in the future, such compact, portable devices may be
standard equipment for anyone who wants to make copies without a computer.
For example, the Professional 2-copy USB Duplicator, which weighs only 12
ounces, can easily slip into a briefcase, purse or backpack for fast,
Previously, most users required a desktop or laptop computer to duplicate
a USB flash drive. But a portable duplicator can help sales-people copy
PowerPoint presentations, brochures or sales literature; engineers and
technicians to transfer documents in-field; presenters to easily disseminate
material at trade shows or seminars; and teachers to pass out study materials
and homework. Even those in creative fields can employ it to distribute
copies of their product, be it music, video, literature or graphic art. As an
added bonus, the device also verifies the specs of most any USB flash drive.
For more information on EZ Dupe's 2-copy USB Duplicator, go to www.officedepot.com or visit any
Office Depot location.
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Disaster Readiness Means Smart Business
(NAPSI)—Disasters, whether physical (hurricane, flood) or virtual
(network breach), can occur anywhere and can paralyze, even destroy a
business—but there are ways a firm can protect itself. Businesses
located in disaster-prone areas might maintain a plan for disaster readiness
but businesses everywhere should also be prepared, because virtual disasters
can happen anywhere, at any time. In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor
estimates more than 40 percent of businesses never reopen following a
disaster. Of the remaining companies, at least 25 percent will close in two
Having a disaster preparedness plan in place can go a long way toward
ensuring that your business doesn't meet this fate. The following tips
will help you assemble a virtual business "go bag":
• Use cloud-based software
for storage and more—Cloud-based software lets you store
information in a secure, off-site location and access it from anywhere you
have an Internet connection. For small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs),
cloud computing solutions can allow employees to access work files and
simultaneously edit documents from any location—even if they're
unable to physically make it to the office.
• Keep your technology
updated—Maintaining updated technology might prevent a virtual
disaster from ever happening in the first place, since updates usually
provide security patches and new protective features. Install updates
whenever prompted to do so or adjust your PC's setting to install
• Understand your insurance
policies—Many people don't take the time to read through all
the fine print on insurance policies, but you don't want to find
yourself doing so after a disaster strikes. Be sure you completely understand
your insurance plans and policies, including which physical disasters are
covered, what forms or filings need to be completed after a disaster and so
• Get your finances in order—A
disaster might disrupt your business operations but rest assured, your
financial obligations will hum right along. You'll still need to pay
bills, make payroll and pay suppliers, so be certain you know what (or where)
all these accounts are and have contact info for all these parties. Also,
check to see that your financial management system is backed up properly.
For more information on helping your business prepare for and withstand
the impacts of disaster, visit www.MicrosoftBusinessHub.com,
where you'll find "Disasters happen. Is your business ready?"—a
handy e-guide for SMBs.
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Advice On Bringing Your Own Device To Work
(NAPSI)—When employees can have all their personal and work
information at their fingertips, it can be a big help—and a major
headache—to them and their employers.
Increasingly, workers today are bringing their personal devices to the
company IT department to enable access to e-mail and other productivity apps
According to a recent Forrester report, three-quarters of
workers pick the smartphone they want rather than accept IT's choice.
What's more, another recent survey discovered increasing numbers of
enterprises across all industries are supporting a bring-your-own-device
(BYOD) model, and in more than half of those instances, employees shoulder
the cost of their device and service plan.
So now employees can use their favorite devices for work but companies
must support more platforms and deliver business apps including e-mail, chat
and portals on iPads, iPhones, Android and Windows phones. That means that
data and apps will be used from any location over any network—which can
endanger sensitive company information, potentially getting workers or their
employers into trouble.
To keep confidential data stored on personal mobile devices from falling
into the wrong hands, many IT departments turn to third-party solutions to
better secure, monitor, manage and support the variety of mobile devices used
by employees. Using one of these solutions, IT organizations can implement
security controls such as passwords and remote wipe and lock, which lets IT
erase corporate data from a mobile device in the event it's lost or
The challenge is that most employees don't want to enter a complex password
every time they need to make a phone call, send a text message or update
their Facebook status. Plus, when employees use their personal phones for
work, a remote wipe could erase personal apps and data in addition to
corporate data and applications.
Fortunately, companies such as Good Technology take a different approach
to these BYOD security challenges and keep the best interests of employees
and the company in mind. Good helps companies separate and secure corporate
data while leaving employees' private information untouched.
For example, rather than remotely wiping the entire device, IT can wipe
only corporate data, leaving personal data and applications intact. This lets
employees use their personal mobile devices at work without having to worry
about compromising company information.
Keeping Information Secure
1. Don't use cloud programs on your mobile device to share corporate
files and data.
2. Beware of e-mail fraud. Don't send e-mail to anyone you
don't know or respond to e-mails from unknown sources without first
verifying that they are legitimate.
3. Secure your device's settings and have it automatically lock
after five minutes.
4. Don't forward e-mails from your corporate address to private
e-mail accounts, especially e-mails with attachments.
5. Don't use check-in apps everywhere.
6. Turn location setting off when not using apps that require it.
7. Be careful of beta programs/apps—they can be dangerous, as in
many cases the developers haven't sorted out security yet.
To learn more, visit www.good.com or
call (866) 7-BE-GOOD.
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College Degree Required For Sixty Percent Of U.S. Jobs By 2018: Four Factors To Consider When Contemplating An Online Degree
(NAPSI)—As a new year begins, we often evaluate our
lives—where we are and where we'd like to be. It's no
surprise that many Americans are making education a priority as they set
their personal goals for 2012.
"The unemployment rate for people who have never gone to college is
more than double what it is for those who have gone to college," says
Dr. Mary Hawkins, president of
during the next 10 years, nearly eight in 10 new jobs will require workforce
training or a higher education. These statistics make it clear that
completing some form of higher education is the best tool to meet the
challenges of a 21st century economy."
If you're considering going back to school, chances are you've
wondered about online learning. Is it legit? Will I get the same quality
education I would in a classroom? Will my degree be as respected as much as
it would if I attended in person? The answer is, surprisingly, the same as
with a traditional, in-class situation—there are varying levels of
online degrees and you must do your research to find the best one for you.
Here are four factors you should consider if you're contemplating
getting your degree online:
1. Just as with an in-class program, you want to make sure the institution
you attend is regionally accredited. This designation is an indicator that
the institution voluntarily reports on the quality of its programs and
submits to assessment to ensure quality offerings.
2. Determine whether or not you must be online at a particular time each
week; if you can enter the virtual classroom when it is most convenient for
you. Based on your lifestyle, decide which of these formats will best set you
up for success. Maybe you have a hectic, unpredictable schedule and you need
to do the work when you can fit it in. Or perhaps you are the kind of person
who benefits most from a set time each week to attend class.
3. Online learning is still relatively young in higher education. Some
University, have been
offering online degree programs since the mid-'90s. It is important to make
sure the school you choose has had time to optimize its online offerings.
4. Ask if the entire degree program is offered online or if it is just one
component of the larger program. Some universities require both online and
in-class participation within the same program. If you are interested in this
type of blended program, make sure you ask how much content is delivered
online and how much is delivered in class so that you can plan how you are
going to fit the components into your life.
Lastly, please know that when you reach your goal, your degree will not
indicate whether you studied online or in class. You don't need to
worry about perceptions from those who still doubt online learning.
What's most important is determining if earning your degree can get you
to where you want to go and if online learning is the best way to fit getting
a degree into your already busy life.
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Five Ways To Trick Out Your Tablet
(NAPSI)—If you're like many Americans, you—or someone
you love—bought or received a tablet as a gift recently. The tablet
market is booming. Lighter than laptops and more powerful than smartphones,
tablets are now the go-to device for anyone looking to take their music,
entertainment and, begrudgingly, some work with them.
According to a recent study from Infinite Research, Americans adoption of
tablets—such as the iPad or Galaxy Tab—is happening at a faster
pace than any other electronic device in history, including computers, game
consoles and smartphones.
In fact, a recent report from eMarketer projects that by 2014, nearly 90
million Americans will be using tablets monthly. And already, almost half of
the respondents in a Google AdMob survey of tablet users said they use their
tablet more often than their computer or laptop. This popularity is driving
people to find ways to make using tablets easier and more convenient.
To this end, tablet accessories can help take entertainment and content
creation to the next level. Here are five fun ways to trick out your tablet:
Type Up a Best Seller
Tablets can be used for more than surfing the Web and reading books. With
the array of wireless keyboards designed for tablets, heavy-duty typing is
completely doable. Compact and wireless keyboards like the Logitech Keyboard Case for iPad 2 (also for Samsung Galaxy Tab) combine the luxury of typing on a comfortable
surface within a protective case that also holds your tablet upright.
Work and the Web, Smarter
Touch-screen cursor control isn't the best for everything,
especially when working on something that requires more than simple pointing or
clicking. In fact, a mouse is a must-have for any task that requires
formatting text and images, or navigating the Web for any length of time. No
longer just accessories for PCs, there are a few mouse options designed for
tablets. Look for one that brings laser precision to interacting with the
tablet, and Bluetooth wireless pairing will make it easy to use on the go.
Beat Your Highest Score
Strong graphic performance and processing speed make tablets a great tool
for gamers—from the casual to the serious. If you want game-winning
precision not afforded by touch-screen controls, attach the Logitech Joystick for iPad or iPad 2 for the familiar feel and responsiveness of a thumb-stick-style controller.
Get Help in the Kitchen
The kitchen is one place a tablet can be at the center of a domestic
experience. Using an adjustable tablet stand, the chef can pull up and
display an online recipe while being inspired by a favorite playlist, all at
Set the Backyard BBQ to Music
Bringing music to your backyard can be a hassle, often compromising
selection or sound. However, when an iPad (iPhone or iPod touch) can
wirelessly stream music to a speaker, such as the Logitech Wireless Speaker
for iPad (also available for Android devices), you enjoy more control over the
music. Plus, the speaker can blast tunes from your tablet's full
library from up to 50 feet away.
Whether you're looking for more function or more fun, you can trick
out your tablet with accessories designed to make your life easier.
To learn more about Logitech tablet accessories, visit www.Logitech.com.
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New Mobile App Lets Users Call And Text Worldwide For Free
(NAPSI)—There's good news for iPhone® and Android™ users-a new mobile app
provides free calling and texting between users worldwide.
Vonage Mobile® is a free downloadable app that lets users talk and text
worldwide for free with anyone else who uses the app (data rates may apply).
It also provides ultra low-cost calling to friends and family who don't have
the app. It's a combination of the best free and paid communications apps,
all rolled into one.
The new app is the latest offering from Vonage, a provider of
communications services connecting individuals through mobile and broadband
devices worldwide. Users don't have to be a Vonage home phone customer to use
the app—just download it for free from iTunes® or Android™ Market.
Significant Cost Savings
When calling friends and family who don't have the app, users can make
calls globally with per-minute rates that are on average 70 percent less than
major mobile carriers and 30 percent less than Skype. Rates start at .016
cents/min., and calling credit is available in $4.99 and $9.99 increments,
making it one of the most cost-effective solutions for international calling.
A Free Global Network
Users can instantly build a free global calling and texting network using
the app's multi-invite system from their existing contacts. Even more
exciting, Vonage Mobile uses the phone's existing mobile number and contact
list, eliminating the need for unique user names and duplicate identities for
contacts. It's incredibly easy to use, allowing users to take full advantage
of the features without the hassle of having to leave the app.
A Comprehensive Solution
"Vonage Mobile consolidates the best features of our prior applications,
while adding important functionality, better value and improved ease of use,"
said Marc Lefar, CEO of Vonage. "It combines the best of free high-def voice
and messaging along with incredible value for traditional international
calls, all while using the existing mobile number and address book for
unsurpassed ease of use."
Vonage Mobile works over Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G wireless data networks,
worldwide. In addition to iPhone and Android smartphones, the app also works
on iPad®, iPod Touch® and Android™ Tablets.
For more information on Vonage Mobile, please go to iTunes, Android Market
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