Manufacturing Outsourcing Risks in the Digital Age

Manufacturing Outsourcing Risks

The electronic age has changed production and the way we manufacture goods forever. manufacturing outsourcing But change can be good and the above statement is not as ominous as it may seem.  However, the early stages of this era have taught us that it can be a double-edged sword. The internet has made information and goods readily available and while these advantages have benefited “time-to-market” and logistics, they have adversely affected quality and ethical standards in the manufacturing industry. Continue reading

Is Mobile Payment Technology Relevant for Your Small Business?

If You Have Not Considered Accepting Mobile Payments Maybe You Should Be

The ability to pay for items with mobile payment technology is slowly being adopted by small businesses and big brands alike. Square, a company started by Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, has already begun airing commercials about it’s mobile credit card scanner. However, Square isn’t the only game in town when it comes to mobile payments.

Although Near Field Communication (NFC) Technology may be 2 to 4 years from widespread adoption, it is gaining traction in the mobile industry. NFC technology already has big name investors such as Google, Nokia, RIM, so it is a good idea that, as an entrepreneur, you familiarize yourself with this emerging tech.

NFC is an innovative technology that enable smartphones and other devices to establish a connection with one or more devices when they touch or are merely within close proximity.  This technology can already be seen on the Samsung Galaxy S III smartphones and is widely advertised in product commercials.

Mobile Payment Technology Already in Use

While touch to share tech can be fun and social, the real innovation of NFC technology is in the potential it has for the global payment card industry. Giants such as Visa and MasterCard are already testing this mobile payment application. NFC technology can empower consumers to make payments directly from their smartphone at any retail store or payment kiosk.

NFC and Uses Other Than Mobile Payments

NFC technology is extremely flexible, allowing for more creative deployments and is viable for more than just mobile payments. NFC harnesses radio frequency identification (RFID) technology that is built in to the latest generation of mobile phones.  Smartphones can scan RFID tags, which are small enough to be placed just about anywhere, trigger a variety of actions based on how the individual tag is programmed.

For example, through the addition of a NFC tag, a traditional marketing display can be transformed into a “Smart Poster”. The tag enhances this standard method of advertising by offering the smartphone-carrying customer additional bonus content. By tapping their NFC phone on the “Smart Poster”, the customer can receive a short video preview, directions to the business or even an electronic voucher redeemable at the business. All of this serves to increase customer engagement, thus increasing sales.

For organizations that have field operations, NFC technology can lead to better management, better communication and better customer service. Whenever a field operative scans an NFC tag with their mobile phone, the operational management team can receive an instant and verifiable confirmation of the location of their field staff. Field managers can use the real time data provided by NFC to generate customer reports and measure results faster than ever before.

Near Field Communication and mobile payment technology may still be a few years away from widespread adoption but staying informed about the options and advantages it can provide to your small business is key to staying ahead of the curve. Mobile technology has a huge impact on how we conduct business today, so if you aren’t currently leveraging mobile technology to grow your business and reach your customers, now is the time start. You don’t have to start with emerging tech, like NFC, start with something simple like mobile ads or apps.

Whatever you do, just make sure that you get your business in the mobile game.

Announcing MetroMe – A Personal Concierge in a Mobile App

On October 24th, C-Leveled hosts our October networking event where we premiere two client apps. One of these apps is the mobile concierge service MetroMe.

MetroMe – Your Own Personal Concierge in one App

metrome personal concierge app

MetroMe was developed by a team of people who wanted to streamline the mobile search process. For them, it was important to create something that was geared to the individual and location specific. Rather than installing different apps to find movies, concerts, food, local events, or even hotels, airfare and transportation etc…you can simply use MetroMe for all of your needs. Continue reading

Using Social Media to Your Advantage

http://www.inc.com/maisha-walker/

I found this article by Maisha Walker to be quite insightful. Walker begins: “I have to be careful that the goals I set are not colossal wastes of time,” a relevant statement for all of us who find satisfaction in “completing” a goal, no matter how tiny the task is. Walker started off by setting her goal to be “quintupling” the number of connections she currently had. Now, having nearly 12,000 connections, she can confidently conclude that this goal was not a colossal waste of time. Walker achieved this goal by utilizing several social media forums – Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, etc. – to publicize her words all over the Internet. By doing so, she receives numerous connections each week, adding up to her 12,000 over the past two years.

Walker’s methods are an excellent example of using the World Wide Web to one’s advantage. The more someone puts themselves – and their business – out there, the more people will know about it, and the sooner one builds a reputation. Walker so eloquently states that by “working your email signature,” one can “make sure people know what you’re doing without having to interrupt their day to tell them.” Another valuable tip – blogging. Blogs appeal to a variety of audiences – and you can include links to your other social networking sites at the end of each piece.

With the current technology we have today, consumers expect to be able to research a company, easily, in order to reach an informed decision. The more you put yourself (and/or your business) out there, the more people will know. And it’s always better to know.

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Ana Mungo is a Client Services Associate at C-leveled.
amungo@c-leveled.com

 

The Expenses of a Startup

http://www.fastcompany.com/1841912/true-costs-launching-startup

Near the close of every good meeting, just before the handshake, the customer usually asks, ‘what’s it gonna cost us?’ Before you ask that famous question, check out this article on FastCompany.com. Do, however, keep in mind that we love startups, and they are the reason why we exist.  If there is a reason, a way, and an entrepreneurial spirit leading the cause, we will pull out all the stops to take your napkin concept to launch!

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Paulette Duderstadt is the CMO at C-leveled.
pduderstadt@c-leveled.com

A Solo Business

 

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-05-29/a-solopreneur-makes-sleep-pay

This article was thoroughly enjoyable. Or maybe what I found so interesting was the story in itself about the “solopreneur.” An item so useful – yet so spontaneous – is a commodity in this day and age. Lee Loree became fascinated by the different sleep patterns and the magnitude by which the night’s sleep affect one’s day. He developed the “Sleep Tracker,” which essentially sits on one’s wrist while he or she sleeps, and wakes the person up at an optimum time, as to avoid morning grogginess. Which to me is a god-send, feeling how I do when I wake up at 6:30AM after being in a deep sleep. In fact, I feel less terrible in the morning when my sleep is somewhat restless and when my alarm goes off, I am already half-awake. Also, interestingly, Lee chooses to keep his company a single man business, for reasons of wanting to spend time as a husband and a father, hence the article’s title, “Solopreneur.” An  unique story of thought, innovation, and a man’s choice to stay grounded.

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Ana Mungo is a Client Services Associate at C-leveled.
amungo@c-leveled.com

IT Trends Continued

To play off of our last post titled “Hot IT Trend Sparks Debate in the Business World”, there are a few more movements in the enterprise IT market that are worth taking a deeper look into. Being one of the fastest growing fields with the most room for innovation, the IT realm is becoming more competitive than ever.

Managed Services

Imagine you have one IT person to respond to inquiries from your entire company. For many smaller businesses, this is exactly the case. IT staff are generally overloaded, overworked and stretched too thin with minute day-to-day tasks. They often don’t have time to worry about overall IT strategy for the company or things like cost savings and efficiencies. They just need to answer the next help desk ticket about how to make an indented paragraph in Word.

Enter managed services. More and more IT companies have been capitalizing on this trend for its huge earning potential. They are starting to offer outsourced IT services for businesses to either supplement their current IT staff or replace it all together. The perks of a managed services system are that the help is often offered round the clock by experts and it puts a lot less strain on the company to worry about the overload of problems, questions and troubleshooting that arise in any given work day.

Offshore Outsourcing

What would make managed services even better? If they were outsourced for cheaper, faster and offered the company a better competitive position without jeopardizing quality standards. Solutions providers and software companies are tapping into global IT resources to step up competitiveness by working with good, quality, and in many cases, well-established foreign firms. However, with countries like India being massive players for instance, local companies often can’t compete with the drastically lower cost associated with outsourcing.

Telepresence

Companies no longer want to settle for Skype-quality video. They need something more integrated, more stable… and subsequently more expensive. Telepresence is a video conferencing unit that really feels like you are in the room with someone having a face-to-face meeting. Telepresence is seeing huge growth right now in almost every industry. Healthcare professionals are delivering their services over video. School districts are cutting fewer classes because teachers from schools all over the country can collaborate in distance learning. Businesses are drastically cutting travel costs by offering high quality video communications instead. New uses and efficiencies are created by this technology every single day.

Because of the IT field, global barriers are becoming less and less relevant. The world is becoming a global marketplace instead of a segmented, disjointed one. Business professionals, teachers, and doctors can work in real-time across the globe. A company can outsource their IT work to a remote location thousands of miles away. IT no longer means one guy sitting in a room of servers. It is a crowded market where everyone struggles to design it faster, cheaper and sleeker. Explore how IT can change every facet of your business. What can we think up next?

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Hannah Nilles is with FINTEL and is a guest blogger for C-leveled.

 

Technology in the Outdoor World

 

http://www.swansonpublishing.com/northernconnectionmag/images/July12/Northern-Connection-July2012.pdf

Our guest blogger, Marianne Anderson, wrote a great article in the July 2012 issue of Northern Connection Magazine, titled “Family Fun with Geocaching.” This piece describes the suitable-for-anyone activity that is geocaching. She describes it as a “treasure hunt” in which people of any age from all across the globe set out to locate the water-proof containers that contain “swag,” small items of some significance (keychains, toys, and the like.) All one must do to get started on these adventures is register on geocaching.com and create a name for his or her group of cachers. Anderson explains how geocaching is a great method of incorporating technology into an outdoors activity. An interactive mobile app allows for the cachers to communicate with the website for hints, connecting with fellow cachers, and reporting a lost cache, only while exploring the vast wilderness. A GPS is also necessary for geocaching – including but not limited to a SmartPhone GPS, a typical Megellin or Garmin, which Anderson recommends for the most accuracy, and GeoMate Jr., which is perfect for children with its smaller size and big buttons. Anderson’s article emphasizes just how important technology is to our everyday lives – even in the outdoor terrains!

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Ana Mungo is a Client Services Associate at C-leveled.
amungo@c-leveled.com

Hot IT Trend Sparks Debate in the Business World

BYOD

With worldwide IT services revenue alone approaching $800 million, there are a number of emerging trends in organizations of every size and in every industry. Manufacturing, education, and healthcare in particular are seeing immense improvements in technology solutions, transforming workplaces in every vertical.

BYOD- Bring Your Own Device

One of the hottest IT trends sparking debate in the business world is BYOD. Employees are bringing their own devices (computers, tablets, and smartphones) to work and accessing company infrastructure and data. On one hand, this is a nerve-wracking practice for organization’s leadership and IT department especially in industries where secure data is integral to business. Employees can be careless accessing information from work then often bring it home with them and leave it exposed. On the other side, employees bringing their own devices can be a huge money and time-saver for an IT department because it can severely cut down on licensing costs. Virtualization and cloud services can deliver content in a secure fashion and make all user devices compatible and a lower-cost of ownership for the company.

Cloud Services

Perhaps the biggest buzz in IT- the cloud. With definitions greatly varying and possibilities endless, enterprise cloud computing is expected to grow to $240 billion in the next 8 years according to Forrester. The question is no longer “should we invest in cloud computing” it is how to invest in it and find the right mix of hosted data and applications versus on-site holdings. With many companies moving toward this phenomenon, business processes get easier, faster, and more accessible.

Social Networks

Everyone has seen the shift to social networks coming for years but it has only just begun, especially within enterprises. With Microsoft’s recent purchase of enterprise social media site Yammer, there is a clear movement toward virtual relationships. Not only does it act as a personal connection to other employees, it also offers opportunity for file hosting and sharing and the ability to collaborate on work projects using integrated software from other departments within the company.

These are just three of the recent trends and concepts in the business IT realm, and there are several more to consider. With “big data,” cloud computing, and virtualization on the rise everywhere- the web 2.0 is exploding like never before, and having your options understood is an important endeavor in any case. Subsequent blogs on similar;y emerging trends are forthcoming. Stay tuned!

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Hannah Nilles is with Fintel and is guest blogging for C-leveled.

An Everyday Success Story

http://blog.traysoft.com/2011/04/my_startup_story/

This article is a down-to-earth example of how someone’s big idea led to the development of a more realistic idea. Michael Rakita shares his story of wanting to put his “big” idea into motion, but had to compromise to create another great idea that happened to more useful to consumers at the time. His initial idea was to create a “social news reader,” but living in Canada hindered his ability to incorporate the necessary funding. To attract people, he produced a free desktop application to show caller id, called PhoneTray Free. Rakita details the processes his creation went through in order to fit the needs of the different users.
I enjoyed this piece, for one because of how relatable his experience is. Perhaps he didn’t go to Togo to volunteer, but he was tech-savvy enough to develop an application that people want to use. Rakita had to compromise for his business to thrive: he had to put his “big,” perhaps not-so-realistic idea on hold in order for his smaller, more applicable idea to explode. Ratika also had to alter the creation to accommodate the needs of his users. A realistic happy ending.

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Ana Mungo is a Client Services Associate at C-leveled.
amungo@c-leveled.com