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3Pointer:  10 Proven Ways to Grow your Bottom Line Using Technology

December, 2013

On June 30, 1975, BusinessWeek foretold of the paperless office. After a century of tireless toil, traditional typewriters were finally bowing to text-editing models. The future? A “collection of electronic terminals linked.” The magazine dubbed Xerox and IBM as the chief architects (no forbidden fruit until April 1976!). By 1990, the article stated, most record-handling would be electronic with documents, mail and messages accessible “by pressing a button.”

Fast forward to today. While a few multicolored file folders may still accessorize our desk, they certainly are less fat than they used to be. The continuum of swapping paper for electronic ingenuity is undisputable. Technology means growth on every level: streamlining business processes, reaching more people through robust data, improving customer service, reducing travel costs, measuring business goals, boosting efficiency, strengthening customer relationships, reducing security risks, mobilizing people to do more anywhere their feet are planted, and so much more.

Read on for the top 10 proven ways to grow your bottom line using technology …

1. Collaborate Like Never Before: Wikis

A wiki is a text-based site accessible via the web (think Wikipedia) in real time. In English: lots of people may access a common page, become informed, and put in their own two cents. Small businesses use wikis (wiki means “fast” in Hawaiian) to quickly share documented procedures, explore new ways to become more efficient, share knowledge within the organization, discuss and debate. Some options: MediaWiki, TikiWiki, or DokuWiki. Or consider a wiki extension for your website if it’s built on an open source platform like WordPress. 

2. ”Own” the Big Meeting: iPads

The Joseph Abboud suit rocks. The Coach wristlet shouts power. Yep, time for the big meeting. Now all you need are a few iPads. Slide one to each person in the room. Beam up your jaw-dropping presentation, then use the Idea Flight application to share, present, and remotely control the meeting from your iPad. No more easels or bound manuscripts or tedious slideshows. Simply sweep the potential/new/existing client off their feet (even if you wear jeans or use a faux leather purse!). This is an excellent example of how less paper and more technology grow small business one meeting at a time.

3. Turn Leads Into Brand Advocates: CRM Applications

Size of an organization does not dictate the sophistication of technology. Growing the bottom line of small businesses requires implementing a customer relationship management (CRM) solution like SalesForce.com. It helps you manage customer relationships, track client contacts & opportunities, channel leads into the pipeline, and trigger touch points with people who refer business. 

4. Communicate in Cool Ways: Online Meetings

A small publishing firm in Chicago recently vetted applicants for a top editorial position. Resumes flooded human resources. Standouts were narrowed down by phone interviews. Next step? A Google Hangout with each finalist and three executives from the firm (two from the Midwest, one from Colorado). Online meetings automate the obvious, saving time and travel. Like Skype, you hear and see everyone in the group conversation. Other options for videoconferencing, voice or instant messaging: Apple FaceTime, Google Talk, and Microsoft Lync.

5. Never Miss a Call: VoIP Phone System

Time to get your phone system out of the closet and into the cloud. VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) technology connects with CRM applications. Get detailed reports on outbound calls, service, and sales data analysis. Cloud-based phone systems allow small business to do what they do best: be customer-centric. The technology never lets you miss a call as it rings your office line, cell, or even your computer (go ahead, read your voicemails in your inbox…very cool stuff for people who wear a lot of hats).

6. Be a Thought Leader: Webinars

Webinars are live, online presentations, oftentimes featuring a PowerPoint capped off by a question/answer session. Companies hosting webinars are often dubbed thought leaders as they share knowledge on topics vital to their customer or prospect’s work. A few stats from 2012 according to ClickMeeting: The average webinar has 28 participants, 2 presenters, and runs 65 minutes. The most popular day to host a webinar? Tuesday (but don’t ever do it on a Friday or a Monday). Check out Microsoft Office Live Meeting, Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro, Cisco WebEx, or GoToWebinar.

7. Engage Stakeholders: Social Media

Whole books are written on this one. Stats abound on how social media is growing the bottom line. But here’s the one that stood out for us about small business: According to War of Words: Myth-Busting Social Media, SEO & Content Marketing, 82% of buyers say they trust a company more when its CEO and senior leadership team are active in social media. That confirms what we already know: small business owners who take charge of social media impact brand awareness and contribute to turning leads into sales. Social Media makes it easy for companies to connect with stakeholders. So keep your Facebook page fresh (daily postings), your executives on LinkedIn, your tweets interesting, and your Instagram pics and Vine videos shareable. Website traffic analytics and social media monitoring provide great metrics. Common Sense Addendum: make sure everyone follows best practices with automated email follow-ups and consistent email signatures.

8. On-the-Go Communication: Mobile Technology

By the end of 2013, there will be more mobile devices on Earth than people, according to Super Monitoring, a website monitoring consultancy. Being mobile-friendly is mission critical to growing your bottom line. Newsletters, blog posts, and websites should be mobile-readable. Connectivity to your main phone system technology is a must. And if your business is the one handing out the phones to staff members, make sure training is part of the giving.

9. Streamline Costs, Achieve Scalability: Cloud Computing

Moving services to the cloud helps small businesses work smarter. Basically, it means taking technology you used to install onsite and using web-based applications instead. So, rather than purchasing costly accounting software and attempting to keep up with the latest versions, cloud computing brings it to you via the web (some top picks: Salesforce.com, Microsoft Office 365, Google Apps, QuickBooks) along with automatic updates. Another example of cloud computing is data storage. No more space-hogging servers for backing up and storing data. Put it all in the cloud. Cloud storage is cost-efficient because you pay for the space you use, and it’s convenient since it’s accessible from any device.

10. Create On-the-Job Happiness: Technology Tool Assessment

Make sure employees have the tech tools they need to do their jobs. An old, slow laptop means a person gets less work done. Inconsistent Internet access creates problems (or leaves them running to Panera to email photos for the local paper on deadline). By no means does a small business have to have the latest and greatest, but people should be tooled with technology that performs. The number one factor to job satisfaction is “the opportunity to use skills and abilities” according to the 2012 Employee Job Satisfaction & Engagement study by the Society for Human Resource Management (job security was ranked second followed by compensation). Technology empowers workers to reach their greatest potential, a key contributor to the bottom line in any business as well as on-the-job happiness.

YOUR TURN:

Get a Free White Paper, But Help Us Write It First …

In this ever-changing world of technology, collaboration is key. We all learn together. So, how do you use technology? Tell us about your company and how you integrate the 10 points listed. We’re taking all responses and turning them into a white paper outlining proven ways small businesses use technology to grow the bottom line. Email us at sales@3Points.com All contributors get a complimentary copy of the white paper.

 



Product Focus: Introducing PURE Backup

December, 2013

By Mike Magnesen - 3Points Tech Team

 

If you already subscribe to 3Points Pure Online Backup, don’t panic. Service and configuration of our newest Pure solution is free if you currently use both our legacy onsite and offsite backup options and half off if you use one (our way of saying thank you for choosing us as your technology partner and making sure you stay current with our technology standards).

Now, let’s talk turkey (it is that time of year, you know). Pure Backup is a cloud-based platform that marries the best of two worlds: rapid, image-based storage and offsite, data backup. Independently, they are both valid, but have holes. Natural disasters or fire destroy onsite backups, and offsite is exclusively file-level data backups from the previous thirty days. The latter scenario requires a server rebuild before mitigating cloud data back to the server (a.k.a. this road requires time and money).

After months of testing, documenting, and rejecting different applications, the 3Points Tech Team christened Pure Backup worthy of our clients because it performs both image-based backups onsite AND replicates those backups to a securely hosted server in a redundant data center. 

In a nutshell, we wanted more for the small businesses we serve and this new Pure Solution delivers, as in:

  • Better integration with the 3Points Pure Monitoring solution
  • Reduced backup time
  • Server-grade hardware (HP ProLiant servers)
  • Scalability to adapt to real, everyday needs – which differ company to company
  • Zero data loss under any condition (translation: peace of mind)
  • Minimal downtime (translation: continuously grow your business)


We really liked how easy and fast it is to restore servers, too. Basically, it takes a handful of hours and a few clicks – just enough time for us to configure new servers and restore the onsite or cloud backup so a company is up and running. Additionally, if the servers fail onsite but our appliance is still running, we can restore the client servers to the appliance while we fix or replace the failed hardware. It’s an amazing solution that backs up quickly and efficiently onsite and to the cloud while data is stored in a safe, secure environment.

The 3Points Tech Team believes great technology improves the bottom line. Pure Backup replaces expensive legacy backup and disaster recovery software and hardware while reducing data copying costs as much as 80 percent. Think of it as a mirror held up to your business. That mirror, that copy of your business, is in the cloud.

And you’ll love this part. Pure Backup is compliant with a healthy list of industry standards:

  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
  • Gramm-Leach-Bliley Modernization Act (GLBA)
  • Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS)
  • Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX)
  • Red Flags Rule
  • Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)
  • Municipal Security Rulemaking Board (MSRB)

Have questions? Contact me at 708-546-4945 or mmagnesen@3points.com


 

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