Ten or 15 years ago, managing your information technology was simpler in one sense. A company decided on its computing environment -– its designated operating system, devices and software –- and that’s what employees used. Period.
But then along came the BYOD trend. BYOD, which stands for “Bring Your Own (computing) Device” to work, has swept America in the past five years. Employees got used to using technology in their personal lives – so much so that that they didn’t want to give it up when at work.
We all seem to want the flexibility to work from home and while on business travel, using devices we individually feel comfortable with. And of course we all want to use the coolest new mobile devices rather than staid company-issued laptops or desktop computers.
If your business is like ours, you’re now under pressure to allow employees to use their own smartphones, tablets and laptops for work. A study last year found that 95% of large companies surveyed allow employees to use employee-owned devices for work. It’s now become ingrained in the workplace.
The BYOD trend has benefits, to be sure. It makes for happier employees. They can be more productive while working outside the office.
BYOD Trend Challenges for Small Businesses
But the BYOD trend also poses extra challenges for businesses:
Control - One obvious thing is that it is harder to control your IT environment. With companies relying more on technology to conduct business, there’s simply more to manage to make sure everything works as seamlessly as possible. Top that off with employees using a variety of devices and operating systems … and complexity multiples.
Personal vs. Work - Then you have the morphing of personal activities with work activities when people use a single device for both. The question becomes how to partition them. How do you keep personal email separate from work email in a way that employees don’t resent, and that protects both the company and the employee?
Mobility - Your team may work from different locations, such as their homes, or they may simply do more work while out in the field or on business trips. They will be using mobile devices and that brings added challenges. Mobile security is one of them – and that can be as simple an issue as a tablet getting lost. One honeypot study found that when mobile devices where intentionally lost, in almost all cases the data was accessed, either for illicit purposes or simply to discover the owner. If a mobility-related incident resulted in losses, the average was almost $250,000.
Security - Small businesses in general face more IT security challenges than ever before. According to one study, companies with fewer than 250 employees were the focus of 31 percent of all cyber attacks last year. And with so many different devices, and so many of them being mobile devices, security concerns are multiplying.
So, What Can You Do?
A lot, actually. The most important thing is: do not turn a blind eye to BYOD devices.
Recognize that the IT environment is very different today. It calls for new policies, employee education, adoption of up-to-date best practices, and last but not least, implementing device management tools and other technology solutions designed for a BYOD environment.
Here are 5 steps to take to operate in a BYOD environment:
1 . Require Notification
The whole idea behind the BYOD trend is giving greater freedom to employees. However, there are ways to achieve a sense of freedom, without abdicating control altogether. For one thing, make it a policy that all devices have to be “registered with” or brought to the attention of your IT administrator or any outside firm that assists you with IT, so that device management solutions can be enabled. Some employers exert more control by creating a list of ”approved BYOD devices.” While this poses some restrictions on employees, at least it meets them halfway. You have to know who is using what.
2. Adopt Best Practices
For instance, require mobile devices to be secured with a password-protected screen lock when not in use. Also, require employees to notify the company immediately in the event a mobile device is lost or stolen. These and other best practices will help protect your business.
3. Create a Policy
With freedom comes responsibility. Create a written BYOD policy for employees. This could be in the form of a memo, incorporated into the employee handbook, and/or placed on the company intranet. Make employees aware of what is acceptable, and what’s not.
4. Educate Employees
Take the time to educate employees about the challenges and risks. You’ll get more cooperation if they understand the “why” behind rules. A lunch and learn session or simply bringing up the topic in staff meetings can go a long way.
5. Implement a mobile device management solution
This is probably one of the most crucial things you can do. A mobility management solution gives you a way to manage multiple devices and applications, from a central dashboard. It enables you to view the “big IT picture” and treat BYOD devices as integral points in your IT systems – not something separate or unrelated.
Look for one that offers robust security and that protects important company data. Security certainly will be at the top of the list. But you also want the ability to monitor and manage mobile devices.
Beyond that, some mobility management solutions can help you manage expenses, too, through consolidated reporting. You can manage different devices and different plans through a single dashboard.
Advanced security specifically for mobile devices, such as capabilities for remote wipe of data in the event a mobile device is lost, and data encryption, can create peace of mind.
Data archiving solutions can also add to convenience. They help you meet disaster recovery and legal archiving requirements, and further secure your IT assets.
Bottom line: there is a lot you can do to allow employees the freedom and flexibility to use devices they prefer. You don’t have to sacrifice protection of your business assets or create an unwieldy logistical situation in doing it.
Shutterstock: BYOD Message, Mobile, BYOD at Work
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If you’ve been curious about the new Twitter advertising platform, you may have a good reason to try it out soon. But you’ll have to be a small business customer using one of Chase Bank’s financial products first. Twitter announced a partnership with Chase Bank last week aimed at trying to encourage use of its little more than a year-old advertising service.
Twitter advertising was launched on an invitation-only basis to select users in March of 2012 and was opened to all U.S. users in April of this year. The new program would award $1 million worth of free Twitter advertising credits in $100 increments to “eligible” Chase small business customers.
As part of the partnership between Twitter and Chase, the bank’s estimated four million plus small business customers, including those using Chase’s Business Banking, Ink from Chase credit card and Chase Paymentech (a system for merchants to accept credit cards on mobile devices, will get other benefits too. Some of those will include access to research, best practices and workshops about using Twitter to grow a business. No word yet on how many of these customers will be eligible for the free small business advertising credits, but Twitter has promised more details early this fall.
The popular social site will also be sharing customized content through a new @ChaseSmallBiz Twitter account.
On the official Twitter blog, Russ Laraway, head of small business for Twitter, wrote:
Our goal is to help small businesses build better customer engagement, increase sales using direct response techniques, and engage more followers with compelling content. We’ll be posting videos, infographics, white papers and a how-to guide developed by Chase and Twitter to help small businesses learn more about the value of Twitter.
This isn’t the first time that Twitter offered advertising credits underwritten by a sponsor. Another program was rolled out in 2012.
Bottom line: the advertising credits from Chase won’t be available for several months yet. Stay tuned and we will update you when they are rolled out to small businesses.
Twitter Photo via Shutterstock
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Another popular social media network adopts hashtags and Vine surpasses Instagram for Twitter uploads. Those are two news stories that are trending popular in the small business community this week.
Entrepreneurs should also take note of the opportunities presented by a growing app market — via comments made by Apple CEO Tim Cook this week. We also debunk one incorrect meme going around about the status of the Internet Sales Tax in Congress.
As always, the Small Business Trends editorial team puts these small business stories in context for you.
Here come the hashtags. Sometimes rumors turn out to be ture. For a while now, rumors have circulated about plans to introduce hashtags on Facebook .. .just like the ones so popular on rival Twitter. We learned this week the rumors were true. How will hashtags affect conversations on Facebook? Some say they don’t fit Facebook at all – other welcome them. We’ll have to wait and see. Meanwhile, we bring you the basics of Facebook hashtags.
Twitter offers free analytics to users. Now you can get a better understanding of the impact you are having on Twitter. Like Facebook, Twitter now offers a free analytics tool to measure select metrics. It’s not perfect, say marketers, but it’s a move in the right direction.
Vine surpasses Instagram for most Twitter uploads. Small businesses and online marketers use the 6-second Vine video app on Apple devices and now Android to market their brands. We offer tips from those who are already using vine for marketing.
Facebook is changing the look of advertising. The social network announced last week it is consolidating many of its advertising formats. These include “Questions,” “Offers” and “Sponsored Stories.” Thank goodness, because it was unnecessarily confusing!
A $10 billion app market represents an opportunity for small business. We know, of course, that Google recently announced a growing market for apps in its Google Play Store. But Apple CEO Tim Cook put a monetary value to that market this week: $10 billion over the last five years. Do you have an app for your business? Do you develop apps? Maybe you should.
Google Announced it Will Introduces Google Web Designer. The new tool from Google will let users create Web ads using HTML5, instead of Flash, which isn’t easily viewable on mobile devices. But despite its name, this tool is not primarily to be used for Web design — as first reports from many outlets suggested. It’s really a tool for advertisers, and will be available in the DoubleClick platform and also as a stand alone app. So if you needed further proof that mobile devices like tablets and smartphones are an essential part of the advertising mix, you’ve got it.
Ebay is testing 24-hour window shops. The windows are actually 9 feet across and 2 feet high touchscreens allowing customers to buy merchandise. If brick and mortar retailers don’t carry it in their stores or it’s after hours and the shop is closed, or if they just want to expand their space without opening up another full service shop – this could be an answer in some metropolitan areas – like New York. The merchandise is then delivered by courier and paid for with PayPal.
The Internet Sales Tax is still alive. This despite a claim from an activist group this week. The organization calling itself Generation Opportunity claimed it “Facebook bombed” Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and succeeded in getting him to stall the bill in the U.S. House Judiciary Committee. Goodlatte denies this. This just shows how contentious the bill is, and how divided people are on it — including small businesses.
Sony has a 13 inch tablet that slides into a laptop. The Vaio Duo 13 represents part of the tablet hybrid trend. But with a cost of $1,399, it’s on the pricey side. Created for mobile professionals, the device runs Windows 8 and boasts 10+ hours of battery life. For a tablet, the Vaio Duo 13 is a “little bulky,” says Dan Ackerman of CNET. You be the judge.
You could lose that old Yahoo ID. The company is “freeing up” some of those old inactive IDs to make room for new users who might want them. Yahoo Senior Vice President of Platforms Jay Rossiter broke the news on Yahoo’s official Tumblr blog. Yahoo recently announced plans to acquire the wildly popular social blog and may be clearing space for potential new Tumblr users.
IBM acquires SoftLayer raising questions among small business customers. The Dallas, Texas-based hosting company claims to be the largest privately held business of its kind. GI Partners purchased the equity in the firm, together with the company’s management in August 2010. But will it’s focus on smaller customers, including Small Business Trends, remain after being acquired by the tech giant?
RSS Feed: Is it still important? Small Business Trends founder Anita Campbell gives us the low down on one of the most important features of content on the Internet. What is it? What is it used for? And is it still useful in this rapidly changing technological world? The short answer to that last question is yes.
Startup “99testers” explores a new way to test software. Suppose we lived in a world where business was totally collaborative with no managers. Crowdsourcing is certainly a step in this direction. In 2010, Praveen Singh, CEO and Founder of 99tests, brought the concept to software testing. The rest is startup history as Sramana Mitra explains.
Find influencers with “Little Bird” today. TJ McCue gives us an overview of a new search engine to help you find influencers. This is a review of a tool designed to help you find new leaders to follow, create a plan for influencer engagement, discover your “freshest” connections, and more.
Learning content and context in marketing. Mike Volpe, chief marketing officer for HubSpot, talks with Brent Leary, Partner at CRM Essentials and organizer of the Social Business Atlanta conference. The subject is the one thing that may be keeping your marketing from reaching its intended audience.
Present Shock: Taking A Moment to Review the Future. Has technology given you the lifestyle you wanted? Author Douglas Rushkoff asks questions about what technology has given us and what we should expect in return. Analytics expert Pierre Debois reviews the book for us.
Could the IRS scandal be a good thing? Well, it depends what you think of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Many small business owners don’t care for it. Scott Shane, professor of entrepreneurial studies at Case Western Reserve University, says while the IRS is under assault, the agency may be less likely to hassle small businesses on other enforcement issues like healthcare reform. We can only hope.
Checking your risk half-way through. You do annual mid-year checks on progress, meeting revenue and growth goals. So doing a mid-year risk-management assessment is also a good move. Looking at risks to your data, in your workplace and elsewhere in your business is a good way to be prepared, says Ted Devine, CEO of Insureon.
Shutterstock: reading news
The post Small Business News: Stories This Week Not to Miss appeared first on Small Business Trends.
If your business has an app or you are thinking of developing one, it’s time to take note. We’ve reported that Google recently announced immense sales growth at it’s own Google Play app store.
Now, Apple CEO Tim Cook has gone a step further in clarifying the exact size of the market for apps from third party developers including small businesses.
During the opening of the annual Apple Worldwide Developers Conference this week, Cook told attendees that Apple has paid out $10 billion to third party developers over the first five years of its app store’s existence. And $5 billion of that was paid out in the last year, he said.
Nor are downloads limited only to the store’s most popular titles. Of the 900,000 apps the Apple Store currently has available, Cook estimates 93 percent are downloaded monthly.
We don’t know the distribution of the earnings among app developers who offer downloads from Apple’s store. But we can assume there is room in this market for apps offering value to a variety of niche audiences.
Not Just for Game Developers
Potential earnings aren’t limited to just game developers either. Though the biggest money makers in a recent report were gaming apps, at least one non-game download has made it into the top 10 in revenue.
Turbo Tax Snap Tax was one of the top 10 earners in the Apple app store in February, no doubt benefiting from the looming U.S. tax deadline.
There are probably apps you could develop based on your business’s products, service or expertise. A useful app created for your primary customers or audience could generate extra revenue, even if it isn’t among the top income producers.
In App Purchases are the Biggest Sellers
Recent numbers also show most revenue isn’t generated from app downloads themselves. In fact, in the same survey cited above by analysis firm Distimo, 71 percent of revenue was generated from in-app purchases.
Those purchases were all made from apps that were originally downloaded for free. These “freemium” apps then require users to pay for additional features.
Is there an app you could develop for your business with added features available at a premium?
Apple Photo via Shutterstock
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E-commerce is at an all-time high, exceeding one trillion dollars for the first time in history last year. In fact, the industry has grown so quickly, it has left many small business owners scrambling to keep up.
Many of these small businesses, eager to improve their own odds of success, have chosen to outsource e-commerce to those in the industry who know it best. However, choosing the right e-commerce provider can be challenging with so much misinformation floating around. To correct some of these misconceptions, Cleverbridge co-founder and operations VP Craig Vodnik recently tackled seven myths about outsourcing e-commerce.
Myth #1: Outsourcing Will Force Me to Give Up Control
Some businesses are under the impression that outsourcing e-commerce means giving up control of their online store’s look and feel. As Vodnik points out, some template solutions require changing the overall look and feel of a store. If this is a concern, Vodnik recommends choosing an outsourcing provider that allows flexibility and customization. Look at outsourcing as a partnership and search for a provider that allows you to retain control of your store’s look and feel.
Myth #2: Outsourcing is Too Expensive
An in-house solution generally requires a large up-front investment in technology and personnel–an investment that continues as a business realizes technology has to be regularly updated. In addition, businesses usually find that technology must be optimized to work on a more global scale, accepting foreign currencies and translating website text.
“Various financial studies have demonstrated a positive ROI when the costs of a provider are compared to in-house costs,” Vodnik points out. “Outsourced e-commerce has been cited as reducing merchants’ full-time equivalents (FTEs) for development, maintenance, and customer service, while generating additional revenue that’s possible with a comprehensive portfolio of foreign payment options, currencies, checkout languages and other capabilities.”
Myth #3: Outsourcing is All-or-Nothing
Some business owners choose to combine outsourcing with an in-house approach, calling upon an outside provider to handle certain facets of an e-commerce operation. Vodnik recommends choosing to outsource a small part of the process first, then gradually expanding to include other projects as your company continues to grow.
Myth #4: Outsourcing Isn’t Necessary
Some small businesses operate under the misconception that because they offer payment solutions like a simple shopping cart, they have no need to further enhance their site’s e-commerce. However, the Internet reaches all areas of the globe and if a business hopes to be able to provide products to consumers around the world, internationalization is essential. An outsourced e-commerce solution can take a small business beyond PayPal to reach customers everywhere.
Myth #5: Price is the Only Difference
Price isn’t the only differentiating factor between e-commerce solutions providers. Providers usually specialize in different technologies, experience, client base, service level agreements, fraud prevention, customer service, and more. Vodnik recommends analyzing your own business needs for today, while anticipating what you’ll need tomorrow, before making any decisions about a provider.
Myth #6: Nobody Knows My Customers Like I Do
While this may be true, outsourcing providers have built-in automated fraud protections that can benefit your company in ways manual processes can’t. As your business grows, you’ll be processing larger numbers of transactions, making it more difficult to keep up with each individual customer. For this reason, fraud prevention is one of the areas many small businesses choose to outsource.
Myth #7: Outsourcing Will Make Me Lose Touch with My Data
While outsourcing e-commerce may feel like a wall will be erected between you and your data, Vodnik emphasizes it doesn’t have to be that way. Many e-commerce solutions providers give business owners the ability to maintain ownership of customer data, control the flow of sales funds, manage operational tasks, and use advanced store management tools. Vodnik has found that in-house solutions often don’t provide the operational visibility outsourced solutions provide.
When it comes to outsourcing e-commerce, Vodnik believes choosing the right solution for your business’s needs is crucial. For more information on Cleverbridge’s outsourcing options, visit http://www.cleverbridge.com/corporate/.
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