HOW ICT SAVVY IS YOUR ORGANISATION

ict savvy

Companies, Offices, and Organisations are increasingly reliant on information and communication technology (ICT) to perform efficiently. SIG Innovation has decided to integrate and develop an ICT consultancy framework with audits, assessments and action plans to assist organisations to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery. 

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  • Website
  • Blog
  • Facebook Business Page
  • Twitter Account
  • Google Places

To me these are the bare minimum for a reasonable online presence. Please note result depends how well you use these tools. Having online presence only will not generate business for you. It is just like opening a high street shop does not guarantee that you will get business. New business generation depends on how well you market your shop online or offline.
Therefore, customers are getting more and more demanding and want to interact with the businesses using new communication tools before they decide to buy. For this you need a two way communication tools such as website with a blog and social media properties such as Facebook page and twitter account.

Why Small Businesses Need Online Presence
World has changed whether you accept it or not.
Vast majority of customers do not look for phone directories or yellow pages any more when looking for new product and services. Because customers wants to see what other people say about any business they are going to do business with.
This is not possible to find out from phone directory or yellow pages alone.
Therefore, people find businesses online and like to check reviews before deciding to do business with any one.
They are expecting smart phone users reaching to one billion by 2013. Can you ignore this number? I doubt it.
Customers find businesses on the smart phone and if you are not on there you are missing out big time.

How It Will Effect Your Business
Your brick and mortar only business has geographical boundaries, whereas online presence give you the freedom to sell potentially across the globe as long as you can deliver.
Some of the benefits of having a good online presence
1. Power to sell more through another powerful channel
2. Potential to sell all over the world
3. Social Media tools help word of mouth marketing
4. Potential of make a system and sell on auto pilot
5. Low operating expense compare to brick & mortar business
I am sure you can add to the benefits list if you are already leveraging internet to increase your business.

You May Have Different Views
These are my views and you may have different point of view. Please feel free to share your views in the comments section below.
I hope you like these small business tips please enter your e-mail in the box placed in the side bar to receive latest small business tip straight into your inbox.

 

Online Presence and Your Business

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Giving your small business an online presence means more than simply putting up a little website with your company’s address and phone number. It means setting up a virtual version of your business, with a welcoming, informative website, a Facebook page and Twitter account. In this electronic era, more people search online for the products and services they need as opposed to searching through a phone book. Ignoring this important potential marketing platform is akin to saying, “I don’t need any new business.”

The Internet never sleeps, and every portal you offer online gives your business a virtual 24-hour showroom. This allows potential customers to research your product or service after business hours, and in the privacy of their own home. If you sell products, an online store allows for 24-hour order placement to capture a sale as soon as a customer is interested, as opposed to waiting for your brick-and-mortar store to open, by which time the urge to buy may have passed.

Brand Building

At its core, “brand building” actually means building a potential customer’s trust in your company or product. Providing an online presence not only gives a customer access to your product or service, but it also provides a way for the customer to “check out” your company. Online reviews, your interactions with other customers and the frequency and quality of your posts help to form a positive impression of your company in the potential customer’s mind, making a future sale more likely.

Greater Audience

The Internet encompasses a much larger area than the few miles local to your business’ office or store. Your Web presence reaches out to everyone who passes by your virtual doorstep, which could include people from right next door or in another country. Depending on your specific industry and offerings, this could open up a much wider customer base than relying on face-to-face interactions would.

Reviews

Some may consider reviews a double-edged sword of conducting business on the World Wide Web, as there will always be that possibility of a receiving a negative one, fairly or not. But if you run your business honestly and treat your customers well, these should be isolated incidents, outnumbered by the many raving reviews left by your satisfied customers. Potential customers often check for reviews of a company or product before using either, so always encourage happy customers to leave reviews on rating sites such as Yelp or Google Places.

Easier Selling and Marketing

It’s a well-known marketing fact that people like to buy but don’t like to be sold. A well-written piece of copy for your products or services on your website allow buyers to make a more relaxed, informed decision to purchase, as opposed to feeling pressured by a possible pushy salesperson. Marketing your business is also easier and more far reaching, as the electronic format allows for a wider, more cost-effective distribution as opposed to traditional marketing, which usually included printing and mailing costs.

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By sigconsults

Content Management Site (CMS)

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CMS is a system that manages the content of your website. In simple words, a CMS will allow you to update your website contents easily and smartly.

Business owners normally find it difficult to keep their website content as up to date as they would like. Often there are delays getting new content online, the site stagnates and your clients get to see outdated information.

USING CMS YOU CAN MANAGE THE CONTENT OF YOUR WEBSITE EVEN IF YOU DON’T HAVE WEB DESIGNING TECHNICAL KNOWLEDGE.

A CMS web presence allows you to manage your website even if you have no technical knowledge, experience with HTML or web site design.

It also reduces the calls to your web design agency or IT department for changes to the website. 

CMS reduces the time required to publish, allowing you to get your content on-line faster. This is a very important issue for any professional website.

CMS REDUCES THE TIME REQUIRED TO PUBLISH, ALLOWING YOU TO GET YOUR CONTENT ON-LINE FASTER

At the front of a content management system is an easy-to-use authoring environment, designed to work like Word. This provides a non-technical way of creating new pages or updating content, without having to know any HTML.

The CMS also allows you to manage the structure of the site. That is, where the pages go, and how they are linked together and also allow you to upload file and images to your web server while maintaining website security, layout and design intact.

Once a page has been created, it is saved into the CMS database, along with the other supporting details, and once the content is in the repository, it can then be published out on the Internet.

Open Source CMS vs Proprietary

There’s no doubt that an Open Source CMS solution can meet the needs of a range of different size businesses. The low cost (no license fees), freedom of open standards and customization make it a winning option for many that decide to venture down the Open Source route.

However, what’s often left out of the equation is the issue of costs. While an Open Source CMS appears to be free on the surface it is far from it when you consider the time and resources required to customize and support the business.

The real costs of an Open Source CMS solution usually becomes visible only during implementation. When you consider the time it can take to customize an Open SourceCMS, the costs can easily outstrip the costs of a proprietary system that delivers the functionality in one solution.

WE DEVELOPED A PROPRIETARY CMS TO SUITS THE REQUIREMENTS AND SPECIFICATION OF OUR CLIENTS WEBSITE, USING AN INTUITIVE AND USER FRIENDLY INTERFACE TO MANAGE THE WEBSITE CONTENT.

CMS vs. Static Website

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A static website is an HTML base website created by a web designer, the only way to update the web content is to alter the HTML pages and that requires some knowledge in HTML editing and interaction with the web host server (usually via FTP).

While CMS is best for websites that publish new content regularly, other website’s owners with small number of pages that do not update the content frequently will do better if they use a static website instead.

Usually the cost for a static website is significantly lower than that of a CMS based website and since update frequency is low the only ongoing cost will be web hosting and domain name registration.

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Who Needs a Website

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The short answer is; every business need a website, for the simple reason that many clients prefer to find out information that way. 

A website doesn’t replace the telephone, but adds to the reach. If a prospect can find out from your website the services you provide and your contact details, you’re ahead of the game.

EVERY BUSINESS NEED A WEBSITE! IF YOU DON’T HAVE A WEBSITE, GET ONE.

This article will list the various reasons to have a website and also guide the reader to select the the type of website that is most suitable for his / hers business.

Advertise your Company or Product

The Internet is recognised as one of the most cost effective forms of advertising available – soon every business will appear there in some form, and if your competitors get there first, then you could be missing out on potentially valuable custom.

The Internet can be an excellent way to promote your company or a product, but it needs to be used along with traditional ways of advertising.

With so many websites out there and 100’s more being created everyday it becomes harder and harder to promote your site on the Internet.

The best way to promote your product is to use traditional advertising and let potential customers know they can find out more information through your website.

Attract these potential customers into you website by offering specials and prises and give them information on your company or products while they are there.

Extended Business Card for your company

Now this is something that maybe worth considering even for those companies that would otherwise never need or want a website.

This type of site is usually small and quite cheap with just one or two pages just giving a customer or business associate a little bit more information about your company than you can fit on your business card.

It will also gives your business a professional and technologically advanced image.

IF YOUR CLIENTS KNOW WHAT YOU DO BEFORE THEY RING, THE CONVERSATION WILL BE SHORTER AND MORE PRODUCTIVE.

Display information about your services and products

A website can be an excellent way to keep your customers informed about the new products and services and provide information to new and potential clients.

Instead of using the phone or sending information by mail, you can easily direct your clients to your website where you can display all the required information.

You can also use your website as an additional form of contact information for your business and can add an enquiry web form to answer additional queries or more information.

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The Internet and your Business

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I guess this might sound kinda vague, but not to worry as i will do my best to help you make a meaning of this.

the internet is also known as an international network i.e and international means of of connecting to individuals in different works of life, hence it is a network.

in Nigeria, people consider you a scam if you are fond of browising the internet but what they fail to understand is that there is more than meets the eye. The has revolutionized the way the world does business on both a local and global level. From recruiting employees to gathering data on the competition, the ways businesses utilize the Internet are numerous, as are the benefits of the Internet to the business community.

Globalization

While computers have been blamed for decreased activity and interaction in the local community, the Internet has been credited with providing a window into the global world. It allows anyone with a computer to think globally and has allowed the business world to forge international relationships with new vendors (to lower costs) and new customers (to increase sales).

Communication

100 years ago it might have taken over a month to get a letter to a friend in another country. Today, communication is as easy as a mouse click, and much cheaper too. Anyone in the world can communicate with another person through text messages, emails, and even live video. For business, this means higher efficiency and quicker processing of sales.

Cost Effectiveness

Perhaps the most obvious benefit of the Internet is cost savings. Information at faster speeds saves time, which either saves or makes money. Many functions in the business process, i.e. bookkeeper, have been automated, which has helped to streamline processes and reduce the cost of labor.

this and many more benefits are attached to the your business with internet services….

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Business Networking Tips

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Networking is making contacts and giving people the chance to help you in a way that’s mutually beneficial. For your business or idea, networking will help you:
•    Expand your contacts
•    Broaden your outlook by expose your to a wider range of ideas and information
•    Help you find staff or board members: around half of all vacancies are filled through different forms of networking.

Getting started
Your network is already wider than you think. You do not have to know the ‘right people’, but by meeting one new person you add several new layers to your network. Remember the adage about six degrees of separation: your new acquaintance may know the ‘right’ person.
•    Try to attend an event once a month
•    Make at least two new contacts per month
•    Do not go to events with friends: you need to meet new people.

Events
Those who network do so because they want to be there, they want new business, they want to meet new contacts and they understand the initial pressures of joining a group. With this in mind you should approach one of the key organizers and get them to introduce you to possible sources of business.

Recognising the networking types
•    The Newbie Stands alone, smiles inanely, go to the toilet, the bar, the buffet table: anything to avoid talking to someone. The newbie does want to be here and if you are a fellow nervous newbie, is a good person to start talking to.
•    The Amateur Takes unhealthy interest in your business, has a crazy business vision of their own, is unshakeable. Seeks you out at every meeting.
•    The Pro Has been networking forever and knows how to milk their contacts and friends.
•    The Networker Usually has a successful business, and enjoys being at networking events for the buzz and of course, the opportunities. This person will look after the newbie; introductions will follow and will also offer a bit of mentoring (as they probably do all day long in their own business).

Practical tips
•    Get a list of names of who’s going to be at the event so you can target the people you want to meet
•    Do your homework before the event so you have opinions about what is being discussed
•    Get people’s names right
•    Exchange business cards
•    Come armed with a few stock questions
•    Keep abreast of the news and have opinions ready
•    Don’t get drunk
•    If the person you would like to talk to is in the middle of a group, start on the outskirts and work your way in
•    Aim to interest people in who you are and what you can do rather than blatantly trying to sell yourself.

Etiquette
•    Reciprocity is essential. This is a give-and-take situation.
•    Never make promises you cannot keep: it’s easy to try and please in this environment.
•    Links may become broken or obsolete. Check them regularly and repair or renew areas that need attention.
•    Get people’s names right
•    Follow up meetings with a letter of thanks.

10 Essential Tip for Business Networking
1. Elevator speech.    Describe yourself concisely and impressively.
2. Be different.    Differentiate yourself. Aim high. Be best at something.
3. Help others.    Help others and you will be helped.
4. Personal integrity.    Integrity, trust and reputation are vital for networking.
5. Relevant targeting.    Groups and contacts relevant to your aims and capabilities.
6. Plans and aims.    Plan your networking – and know what you want.
7. Follow up.    Following up meetings and referrals makes things happen.
8. Be positive.    Be a positive influence on everyone and everything.
9. Sustained focused effort.    Be focused – and ever-ready.
10. Life balance.    Being balanced and grounded builds assurance.

e-business Concept

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e-Business is not primarily about technology (even if the part technology plays in ICT is anything but trivial), but about optimally managing internal processes, and relationships with suppliers, customers and business partners in a complex and often global competitive environment.

It is part of a company’s business strategy; the way a company uses e-business is essentially part of its business model. For instance, the decision whether or not to offer products online is part of the distribution strategy, and the use of e-procurement systems must be embedded in the overall procurement strategy of a company.

Traditionally, many SMEs adopt the basic ICT model, but EU commissioned research indicates that this approach has little impact on the operations SMEs. ICT is categorized as basic, advanced and transforming they have varying impacts on SME operations.

Basic ICT use – little organizational impact

ICT use has become commonplace in modern business. Nearly all companies use e-mail. Many have a website, and some of them offer basic e-commerce services on their website. These basic ICT applications do not have a significant impact on how the company operates, i.e. on its processes or business model.

Many SMEs in manufacturing sectors, notably in the more traditional industries, use ICT on the basic level. There are low investments in technology at this basic level and consequently gains in process efficiency and cost savings are limited. For the average SME, this use of ICT may be optimal, provided that they are not forced by large buyers to upgrade their e-business capabilities.

Advanced e-business activity – significant impact on business processes

“Advanced” e-business means that companies can exchange data electronically with suppliers or customers based on e-business standards. This is the precondition that allows ICT systems to automatically process data (without having to manually key them into the system).

Taking the step from basic to advanced e-business must, however, be well planned and is not without challenges. For most companies, this innovation has significant organizational and financial implications.

Implementing an advanced e-business system may need new, advanced, ICT systems such as ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) and SCM (Supply Chain Management)systems; implementation of organizational standards and new ways of organizing business data whilst making sure that the new systems are aligned with their actual business processes.

E-Business transformation – new business models and value chains

ICT has affected some business sectors more than others, in particular the ICT services industry, tourism, financial services, publishing and the logistics industry. In these industries, the role of ICT and e-business goes far beyond improving process efficiency.

ICT, and in particular the internet, have had a profound impact on value chains, including the emergence of new players. Many companies have to adapt their business model in order to stay in business.

In tourism, for example, the internet makes it possible for service providers to interact directly with tourism customers, which puts enormous pressure on traditional market intermediaries (travel agencies and tour operators).

At the same time, the internet facilitates market entry, as players can operate exclusively online. In publishing, the advertising and sales revenues of newspaper publishers are decreasing as many young people of the “internet-generation” do not subscribe to a printed newspaper. Convergence of services, multi-channel publishing and the offer of mobile services are some of the catchwords that attempt to give a concrete character to future developments in this sector.

E-business presents opportunities and challenges for all business models. Reducing the threats to your business whilst increasing the opportunities will depend on a myriad of factors within the business and externally, either from competition or the market.

e-business challenges

Lack of ICT and e-business skills

Smaller firms sometimes lack a coherent ICT investment strategy or the related skills – partly because of the relatively high cost of employing ICT practitioners. ICT strategy and implementation critically depends on the respective skills of the management. The speed of developments in this field adds to the challenge.

Complying with different ICT requirements.

Although large companies tend to be supportive of SMEs, they can use their power to impose ICT standards and systems upon small supply companies. In B2B exchanges, small firms may therefore be forced to comply with different systems in parallel.

Rising customer expectations

In the internet era, customers increasingly expect to be offered a wide range of information and services online. It can be a challenge for smaller companies to meet these service levels.

e-business opportunities

Access to international markets.

E-Commerce is an opportunity for many smaller companies to do expand their market area. In order to exploit what can be a very rewarding opportunity; SMEs need to invest in planning, ICT systems, training and implementation of standards.

ICT usage facilitates cooperation.

SMEs need to cooperate, for example by building networks. ICT usage facilitates cooperation in many ways (e.g. through project management tools, or online collaboration tools for design).

Affordable ICT solutions.

ICT vendors and user communities have developed more and better solutions which are targeted to the needs of SMEs in recent years, for example smaller-sized ERP and CRM software packages and free to use or GNU license enterprise software packages. Costs are no longer the main barrier.

Support from large firms.

The economic impact of any communication technology depends critically on the number of users connected. Large companies therefore have a strong incentive to connect with their smaller trading partners in order to reap the full benefits of e-business.

 

 

Online Backup VS Other forms of Storage

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Online Backup vs Tape

Backing up data has become a standard business practice and in most industries it is an operational requirement. With 90 percent of companies going out of business within two years of failing to recover lost data from a major data loss*, backing up important files and information using a secure and reliable method has never been so critical. When instituting a backup strategy, there are several factors to consider before choosing a method. These factors can help businesses determine whether a online backup solution such as IES Computing’s Backup + Recovery would be more secure, cost-effective and reliable than portable media backup, such as tape, for their organization.

Reliability

One major factor to consider when choosing a backup method is reliability. Is the method prone to failure? Will the data be accessible in the event files need to be restored? With portable media such as tapes, CD’s floppy disks, and pen drives, you run several risks. Firstly, tapes and disks are infamously failure-prone and are susceptible to damage by the environment and improper handling. They can also be ruined by electromagnetic fields that are, strangely enough, emitted by electronic devices that create the data. Secondly, when there is a need to recover files, many times portable media fails. Storage Magazine reports that over 34% of companies do not test their backups and of those tested 77% found that tape backups failed to restore. According to Microsoft, 42% of attempted recoveries from tape backups in the past year have failed. In addition, Ben Matheson, group product manager for Microsoft Data Protection Manager, said, “More than 50 percent of customers we’ve surveyed said their current backup solutions do not fill their needs.”

With a online backup service, the data is encrypted and stored on a remote server. The VBUS Backup + Recovery solution protects the data using a 256 bit encryption method and stores everything in military-grade, SAS 70 certified, securefacilities. Thus, there is virtually no risk of files being corrupted or lost while data is in transfer or storage. There is also no threat of losing the data as a result of natural disasters such as fire or floods or malicious acts such as theft. The data is available anytime, anywhere. Moreover, if there is a need to restore files, the recovery rate is far greater than using portable media. VBUS reports a recovery rate of over 99%. With these factors considered, online backup is surely a more reliable method than portable media backup.

Cost

Another factor to consider is the economics of each method. Generally, tape drives cost between $350 up to thousands of dollars. Most tapes range from $25 to $50 each and most businesses will back up to several tapes each week. With traditional tape backups, the tapes have to be physically transferred to a secure vault. The cost of transporting and housing the tapes can escalate the expenses of most IT budgets.

Another cost associated with portable media is employee training and support. Training is typically necessary in order for employees to operate the hardware, software or both depending on the media. If customer support is needed, additional costs may apply. Training and support can be both expensive and time-consuming. online backup eliminates the cost for tapes, disks and drives, employee training, transportation to and from facilities, and customer support. We charge a set price per month for service, depending upon the amount of storage space the organization needs. The service also includes free 24/7 customer support.

Companies must also consider potential financial loss in the event they experience a data loss. Downtime can wreak financial havoc on a business. Since recovery rates for online backup are significantly higher in terms of file restoration success and time spent to restore those files, this method could save an organization a considerable amount of money when disaster strikes. Hurricane Katrina and the flooding that followed afterward is a good example of businesses losing revenue due to the recovery time in rebuilding their data structure. With online backup, a business can recover their data in a matter of a few minutes and have their business operational within a day or two after the disaster.

Ease of Use

Reliability and cost are important, but ease-of-use can also be a deciding factor when choosing a backup solution. With online backup, setting up the solution involves the simple process of signing up online and installing a small client on the computer or server. Within minutes, you can begin backing up files. Portable media backup can be more labor-intensive as hardware and/or software must be manually configured. This setup process can take several hours or even days to complete depending upon the size of the organization.

Backing up to the portable drive can become time-consuming and impractical. The data will have to get uploaded every day manually and then moved offsite to a secure location. With an online backup solution, the backup is performed via an internet connection and no daily maintenance is required. VBUS online Backup + Recovery is completely automated and the service includes the necessary software as well as free technical support. One disadvantage to online backup is the time it will take to upload the first full backup, however, once the software is properly configured, backups will occur automatically on a schedule you set up. Fortunately, with today’s advancement in Internet connection speed and inexpensive bandwith, the time it takes to initially back up has improved. Subsequent to the first full backup it will only upload any new or modified files. With portable media backup, full manual backups are necessary each night if any new files were added or changed during the day. Moreover, as your company grows, your data will grow. You may have to catalog endless CDs or change tapes in the middle of a data backup if you run out of space. With online backup, you can never run out of storage space. Your online storage account can grow with it automatically.

Data Security

How important is your data to your business? Do you worry about others gaining access to this data? The majority of companies want to ensure that their critical business data is protected and not accessible to others. With portable media, the tapes or disks themselves can be secure, however, their security greatly depends on whether or not they are taken off-site. If not, your data will still be susceptible to natural disasters and theft. If the media is moved to a secure facility, there still remains a risk of damage during transport. online backup provides a virtually risk-free method for protecting important business data. VBUS online Backup and Recovery safeguards data by packaging files using an advanced technology.

Next, each data file is encrypted using a unique 256 bit encryption key that you choose to ensure that files cannot be accessed by others. For added security, each encrypted file is sent over the Internet via a secure channel using Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) technology which is the same Internet transmission technology that is used for online banking and credit card applications. The data resides in two military-grade data centers located hundreds of miles apart from each other. Each data center has 24/7 monitoring, advanced security technology such as biometric access controls, backup generators and redundant connections to the Internet.

Assessment

When you compare factors such as reliability, cost, ease-of-use and data security, it becomes clear to see that the benefits of online data backup are far superior to portable media backup. Businesses today can protect themselves by protecting their critical data. VBUS online Backup + Recovery offers an industry-leading online backup solution, which can safeguard organizations of any size.

By sigconsults