Monthly Archives: December 2013

Cloud-Based Jive Helps Businesses Run Better

Jive SoftwareWith emails in one place, documents in another, business cards stuffed into a Rolodex and texts from co-workers dinging into phones, workers spend a lot of time searching for and sorting out communications. Jive Software‘s social business platform has been helping workplaces cut through the clutter and more easily collaborate for some time, but, now that the service is offered through the cloud, it’s getting even better.

Though early releases of the cloud version of Jive were missing some features, InformationWeek reports that the increased functionality and convenience of the cloud version has large clients such as Nuance Communications and Thomson Reuters making or planning to make the switch.

With 60,000 Jive users, Thomson Reuters’ planned switch to the cloud-based version of the service is no small endorsement. Thomson Reuters claims 100% employee participation with the software, and considers Jive’s “The Hub” feature so comprehensive that the company was able to shut down 14 other intranet collaboration systems it had been using (including portals and wikis) because Jive had made them redundant.

Thomson Reuters is particularly excited to gain access to the cloud-based Jive’s new social directory feature, “because allowing employees to find other employees and locate specific expertise within the company is one of the major uses of the social platform,” reports InformationWeek.

Collaboration has always been at the heart of Jive, but as Macmillan Science and Education recently learned, going through the cloud has made it easier to collaborate.

The publisher tried out the cloud-based Jive to help connect 450 employees. The pilot was so successful that the company phased it in more quickly than expected.

“The advantage of it being in the cloud is that bringing users on was just a question of literally telling them what the URL was,” Stephen Devlin, CTO of Macmillan Science and Education, told CBR Online.

Immediate integration of new features is often a benefit of cloud-based software, and Jive is no exception. The company recently announced it will be releasing two betas with its next update–Jive + Producteev integration and Real Time Communication, Both of these features will be available only to cloud customers.

Cloud users will also be the benefactors of new collaborations, such as that between Jive and Okta Cloud Connect, which ZDNet reports will allow Jive customers to connect with Microsoft Active Directory and other corporate LDAP directories.

With better directory services, increased collaboration and access to new features, the cloud-based Jive platform is upping the efficiency and productivity ante for business.

 

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App Gives Users the Benefits of ‘Bump’ without the Bump

Welcome to Mozy’s App Profile, where we introduce new programs seeking to improve the way we live and socialize. This week, Mozy takes a look at Airlike, an app that could change the way you interact with your phone and the files stored on it.

AirLike AppRemember Bump? When the file-sharing app first appeared on the market, the technology that allowed two users to transfer information from one phone to another simply by holding their devices and bumping fists was a great party trick. But did fist-pounding one’s neighbor become a universal way to share information? Did Bumping become the new handshake at networking events and business meetings? Not exactly.

A new app–Airlike–is giving users the opportunity to use the same style of proximity technology to share files in a more practical way. Indeed, wrote reviewer Tucker Cummings on Tapscape, it’s practical and fun, and can be compared to technology seen in the movies. “Whenever I watch a sci-fi or action flick, I find myself wishing that the technology I see on the screen was real,” he said. “Airlike is pretty much the closest thing I’ve found to that kind of ability.”

With Airlike, rather than physically touching, users simply point their phones at one another and “flick” files toward each other with their fingers. Business users may feel more comfortable with this less touchy-feely way to file share, especially when it comes to new connections. Instead of using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, Airlike leverages GPS and the phone’s gyroscope, compass and accelerometer sensors to send the information.

A lack of consumer enthusiasm for touching others wasn’t the only challenge Bump faced and Airlike overcomes.

“Along with trumping Bump’s need for physical contact, [Airlike maker] Displair is also talking up Airlike’s functionality over Apple’s own AirDrop phone-to-phone filesharing offering,” wrote TechCrunch. “That’s because AirDrop requires iOS7, while Airlike works on iOS 6 and up, meaning that it supports a greater number of Apple’s older devices.”

Airlike has the edge now, but could it, like Bump, face similar threats of being overshadowed by a newer, more feature-rich rival? Not yet, but when building a better mousetrap, it’s always wise to keep an eye out for the exterminator. Indeed, with the average lifespan of an app estimated to be 14 months, Airlike could be just as cool as the market needs it to be–and relevant for just as long.

 

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SMBs in the New Year: Focusing on 2014

2014 CalendarIf you’re a small-business owner, you may not be able to think of a recent year that’s been so transformative: 2013 marked a banner 12 months for technology IPOs, and it heralded the introduction of the Affordable Care Act.

So, how does all of this affect SMB professionals’ outlook for 2014? Things are looking positive, according to a new poll of more than 1,000 small-business owners by Rocket Lawyer. Some 80% of SMB pros surveyed say optimism is the watchword for the coming year.

Opportunities: Growth sectors

Owners of small and midsize businesses are looking at a fairly topical slate of growth areas in 2014.

With all the talk in the news about tech companies such as Twitter going public and healthcare systems undergoing unprecedented change, perhaps it’s no wonder that polled owners say technology (36%) and healthcare (27%) are regions of opportunity in the coming year.

Meanwhile, growth in 2013 looks to be a mainly marketing-focused effort.

  • More than 40% of the owners say marketing will lead their 2014 to-do lists.
  • 25% indicate fundraising will be the primary focus.
  • 13% of the polled SMB professionals cite product development as a priority.

Healthcare: The ACA in 2014

In light of the predictions of doom by numbers of politicians, it’s perhaps somewhat surprising to hear what SMBs have to say about the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

  • 75% said that the healthcare act’s implementation will not affect their hiring plans.
  • Less than half (45%) say they’ll not enroll in the ACA in 2014 (or even 2015).

Among those who will not enroll, the reasons given include having fewer than 50 employees (40%) and/or having a healthcare plan they’re already satisfied with (30%).

With all of this in mind, the poll also shows that the outlook is also on the uptick for would-be employees, especially freelancers.

For them, the big picture looks like this: More than one-third (37%) of the SMB owners said they planned to hire on new staff in the first half of 2014, and more than half of those new hires, the owners say, are expected to be independent contractors.

That’s promising news, and a strong way to start a new year–for employers and employees.

 

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The Truth About Online Gifting and Greeting Over the Holidays

Christmas Gift CardsFrom digital gift cards to electronic greeting cards to online invitations, how far can you go when it comes to a digitizing your holidays? Based on research conducted this year, the answer is “far.”

Digital cards and e-cards–once viewed as impersonal, lazy and thoughtless–are now being touted as convenient, customizable and efficient–not to mention eco-friendly and affordable.

Indeed, JibJab Media CEO Gregg Spiridellis sees e-cards as more than just an alternative to paper. “In today’s culture, e-cards are not only accepted but often preferred,” he said. “Much as most people use paperless billing, cards and invites have made a similar shift to reflect the lifestyle of the 21st century.”

JibJab is known for its popular animated electronic cards that feature users’ uploaded photos.

“[They] allow for a much higher entertainment value, complete with singing, dancing, and really fun humor,” he said.

That interactivity is something you just can’t find on paper.

James Hirschfeld, founder of Paperless Post, agrees that the acceptance and use of online cards and invitations is only trending upward.

“Even in a market where retail-based holiday card sales are declining, we’re seeing a 65% increase in online holiday card sending this year,” he said. “Online cards reach recipients where they spend most of their time: the Internet.”

When it comes to digital gift cards, the numbers are also climbing: It’s estimated that $29.8 billion will be sent on the cards this year. According to the National Retail Federation, 81% of holiday shoppers will buy gift cards this season. They’ll spend an average of $163, which is the highest amount recorded in the survey’s history.

Of this year’s holiday online shoppers, an online InComm survey found that 77% will buy digital gift cards as opposed to the plastic counterparts. Forty percent of those surveyed said they’d prefer an emailed gift card as opposed to a paper printout.

Sites like Gift Card Mall, Gift Rocket, and PayPal’s new Digital Gifts make electronic gift card purchases easier than ever. Many digital gift card retailers give purchasers convenient options, including flexible dollar increments plus the ability to immediately print a certificate and present it in person, or schedule it in an email for later–complete with an online redemption code.

If these trends continue, “Cyber Monday” may become “Cyber holiday season.”

“We live in a digital age,” Spiridellis said. “It’s clear that the cultural acceptance is there for electronic cards to be perceived as containing the same thoughtfulness and care as a paper card–just adapted for today’s generation.”

 

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Built to last

Somewhere in an attic or a cellar most of us have a box full of audio cassettes or VHS tapes. You might even have 8-tracks, mini discs, Betamax tapes, and LaserDiscs. They were all leading-edge technology when you bought them. You invested time, effort, and money in these various formats, but over time, they all became obsolete. To a certain extent, that’s natural but, when you have to invest time, effort, and money all over again on a new platform, it can be both frustrating and expensive. How many times do you have to buy the same Beatles album?

Cloud backup is reaching a tipping point, just like the one the home entertainment industry experienced. Established cloud backup providers who aren’t keeping up with changing customer tastes and technologies are seeing customers lured away by competitors and new services.

Mozy is built upon a foundation that enables us to evolve our service as we move into the future. This past summer, we enhanced the underpinnings of our industry-leading cloud backup service to launch a new, more flexible data protection and access platform. This enabled us to launch the next generation of Mozy a few weeks ago, adding new features such as Mozy Sync and tools for greater flexibility for mobile devices. Our goal has been simple: Future-proof our business by building upon a foundation that allows us to bring the newest data protection and access features and services to our partners and customers—and at a faster pace.

Moving from one cloud provider to another can be just as frustrating as—and a lot more expensive than—rebuilding your movie collection again. That’s why it’s key for businesses to take the time to evaluate potential cloud partners carefully. Price and features are important, but no less important are sustainability, longevity, security, scalability, and a host of other criteria that must not be overlooked.

To help businesses whose backup providers have closed their services, Mozy is providing access to a free IDC white paper that offers advice on how to select a replacement.

There’s one reason Mozy is doing all this: We’re your partner in the cloud for the long haul.

The Holiday Office Party: 5 Do’s and Don’ts for SMBs this Season

The office holiday party is a long-held tradition, and it has been the scene for many a faux pas. The office holiday party may be the time to loosen ties and lift spirits, but it’s not the time to throw caution–businesslike behavior–to the wind. In fact, SMBs must be careful to steer clear of common mistakes that could come back to haunt them long after the snow is melted and the punchbowl stored.

Holiday Office Party

Rocket Lawyer offered some advice on keeping holidays happy and complaint-free:

  1. Get a gift from Uncle Sam. Expenses for your holiday party should be tax-deductible, as long the party isn’t overly lavish or wholly unrelated to work activities. Keep receipts. The IRS wants to see the business that’s supposed to come with your holiday celebrations.
  2. Make sure you’re driving the sleigh. When you’re planning your party, make sure you have written contracts with all of your holiday vendors–from the DJ to the caterer–with each clearly stating payment and cancellation policies.
  3. Don’t get caught underneath the mistletoe. Nearly 45%of Americans have seen someone share inappropriate personal details about themselves with a co-worker or supervisor at a work event, according to a 2012 study from Caron Treatment Centers. Especially at events that alcohol is served, make sure you have a game plan in place when it comes to dealing with behavior that could potentially lead to a sexual harassment claim.
  4. Check your list twice. Typically, event spaces will require you to release them from liability at a holiday party. Think about what kinds of situations insurance might have to cover, and, if needed, purchase a short-term policy to cover the event.
  5. Keep an eye on the eggnog. Fifty-seven percent of workers have witnessed a fellow party-goer drive under the influence, and 64% have called in sick due to a hangover the day after an event, according to the Caron survey. If alcohol is served at a company event, you may be liable for accidents that happen because someone has consumed too much. It’s wise to offer cabs and coordinate designated drivers in advance of the party to protect everyone’s safety. It’s always a good idea to serve food, and then to limit the amount of the time the bar is open.

A happy holiday business function comes down to details and a lot of common sense.

 

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6 Best Practices for Storytelling Through Data

Tell Your Story With DataData science is a discipline in which art meets science. Quantitative best practices are only part of your project’s analytical framework. At the end of the day, numbers need to tell stories that appeal to a wide audience.

“When telling stories through the data, you need to be able to place yourself in the shoes of the listener,” said Matti Aksela, vice president of business analytics at Comptel, a company that automates customer interactions. “In many cases, that is someone without your own knowledge of the statics, models and underlying assumptions.”

Keeping a balance among stories, data integrity and results is a mission-critical task for businesses and department groups of all sizes. Whether you’re running a marketing team, small business, or engineering team, you need to make sure that you tell a quantitative story that connects with a range of audiences.

“Think about a really classy restaurant,” said Aksela. “Will they serve their food just thrown onto the plate?”

Indeed, presentation is key. When telling a story through data, it’s important to have an idea of where you’re headed in terms of your messaging, flow and most valuable takeaways, say experts. This can be especially challenging for SMBs, with limited time and staff, but the following best practices will serve as a guide:

1. Jump into your research with a blank slate

As tempting as it is to seek out “shocking findings” in your data, remember that you are, first and foremost, a scientist. Data-driven stories will unfold through objective analysis. If you’re fishing for information, you may miss out on a story that hasn’t yet been told–something that an open mind can help you uncover.

2. “Read” between the data lines

If you’re building a regression model, test the impact of adding one or two additional variables. Come up with a hypothesis that you hadn’t yet considered. Test it. Measure it as part of your analytical framework.

Some of the most engaging stories are ones that aren’t obvious. Keep your eyes peeled for a new spin on an old topic. Instead of telling the same story over and over, seek out nuances in your data.

3. Incorporate multiple storytelling mediums

People process information differently. Some prefer visual tools like infographics. Others thrive on podcasts and lectures. Hands-on demonstrations are also valuable for teaching core concepts. Make sure that your messaging appeals to a range of learning types.

4. Validate your findings

This concept sounds more complicated than it actually is. In a nutshell, “validation” means testing your numbers against common sense. Can you reasonably explain the trends that you’re finding? Can you come up with an alternative explanation? Talk through your logic, trying to anticipate any and all possible counter arguments.

Where oh Where is the World's Data Being Stored

Data is important when telling your story. We’re generating more and more data each day. Do you know where it’s all being stored? Find out in our “Where oh Where Is the World’s Data Being Stored” infographic.

5. Look for confounders

Confounders are “hidden” variables that affect both the causes and effects in your analysis. For example, you may think that a hard drive failure caused a system failure when, in reality, the two were not related at all. There could have been a virus (the confounder) that caused both to fail independently of one another. Don’t assume that correlation is causation, and always look for alternate outcomes in your results.

6. Put faces to the numbers

People are the heart of great storytelling. Include real-life narratives to make your findings as tangible and human-interest-driven as possible. Your job as a storyteller is to make people care.

 

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Technically Speaking: Links of the Week – December 16

Each week we scour the internet to find the best stories on technology, digital living and news of note. This week features a tongue-controlled wheelchair, a bra that affects your appetite and blinking gloves for cyclists. All that and more in the return of Mozy’s Technically Speaking.

Blinkers on your hands: New gloves shed light on bicycle safety

Lighted Bicycle Gloves

A bright new idea on Kickstarter is calling for bicycle safety. The company Zackees has developed turn signal gloves that light up with LED directional arrows so cyclists can let cars in traffic know when and where they’re turning, says Amanda Kooser of CNET. The invention could also be used for skateboarders and runners, among others. The gloves can be powered by either regular or rechargeable coin cell batteries. For $69 you can get a set of gloves in classic black spandex.

The bra that keep you from eating too much

Could your bra stop you from eating too much? According to CBS News, Microsoft is working on a new bra that lets wearers know when their bodies are stressed so they can be warned not to binge-eat. Researchers say the bra monitors wearers’ heart rates, detects emotional stress and alerts wearers via their smartphones when the hunger they’re feeling probably isn’t real. And gentlemen need not worry: While the working version is designed for the female form, the company says it’s developing one for men, too.

Tongue-controlled wheelchair helps people with paralysis

Wheelchair

Thanks to a new wireless device, people with paralysis can control their wheelchairs by moving their tongues, according to Mashable. The device consists of a headset with wireless sensors and a tiny magnet. The headset measures changes in the magnetic field as wearers move their tongues, and then it sends signals to a smartphone to control the wheelchair.

The wheelchair has gone through a clinical trial in which people with paralysis of all four limbs were able to use the chair to successfully maneuver through an obstacle course.

New service blocks mobile location tracking

Is big brother watching? Not if AVG can help it. Parmy Olson of Forbes reports that the security firm AVG is launching the first location-blocking service for mobile devices. The company is adding the feature to its free PrivacyFix app for Android.

“The update to AVG’s free app … is the first of its kind to be offered by an established security company, and lets Android users block location tracking by Wi-Fi networks in retail stores or public venues, says Olson.

 

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Mozy Named One of Utah’s Best Companies to Work For – 2013

Yesterday, Mozy was honored for the 5th straight year as one of the 35 best companies to work for in the state of Utah — by Utah Business Magazine. While our headquarters is in Seattle, Washington, Mozy maintains a large office in Pleasant Grove, Utah, and also has offices in Boston, Massachusetts; Cork, Ireland; London, England; and Shanghai, China.  We’re very proud of the culture and work environment we’ve created that have lead to this award, which was won from the voting of the employees themselves vs. other companies in Utah. Here are the highlights:

Mozy’s Best Companies to Work For Video

Utah Business Magazine’s synopsis:

Mozy was founded as a tech startup in 2005; since that time, the company was acquired by EMC, a global firm with a large footprint, and has grown to nearly 200 employees in its Pleasant Grove location. Even so, the company has maintained its creative, laid-back startup culture.

“Mozy’s culture thrives on creativity and innovation. Everyone is encouraged to contribute to our products,” says an employee.

Everything from the colorful office décor to a relaxing game room to plentiful snacks are geared to keeping the creative juices flowing. Mozy hosts monthly summer activities like bowling, laser tag and private movie screenings, which “have proved to be a big success in generating employee interaction, higher morale and time away from the office to relax and have fun,” says Steve Jensen, senior manager of public relations.

Even though employees routinely show up in shorts and flip flops, they are dedicated to Mozy and their own professional growth. “I love how we have a career path for each employee and how we are encouraged to move up in the company wherever we will excel and enjoy our work the most!” says another employee.

  • Fully stocked break rooms
  • XBox, ping pong, foosball and outdoor basketball
  • Telecommuting options
  • Education reimbursement and free, onsite training opportunities

See the story here.

Battle of the Streaming Bands

If anything could qualify as the end of the debate between whether the future of digital music lies in downloads or streaming, it could be the launch of iTunes Radio. The fact that Apple–the pay-per-download giant–is placing bets on music streaming is very telling, but the September release of iTunes Radio has also opened for debate another question: Which provider will offer the best service?

“An arms race is afoot,” RCA Records President and CEO Tom Corson told Rolling Stone.

And, thus, the battle is on among music streaming companies, from the long-running Pandora to the rumored YouTube streaming service. Though the war is sure to be a lengthy one, some industry experts are weighing in on who is faring best so far and why.

Pandora

Right off the bat, Pandora’s early entrance into the music streaming game gives it 70 million advantages over the new services. With all of those active users, Pandora also has the support of long-time advertisers. Indeed, CNBC reports that Pandora runs advertisements for eight to 10 minutes per hour.

Spotify

Spotify allows users to get more hands on with their playlists than Pandora, with hand-curated collections of songs. The Huffington Post calls Spotify “more robust” than other streaming music services. In addition, it’s integration with Facebook is a unique feature that makes the music listening experience more social, even for lonely office workers.

Backing Up Celebrities

How many GBs would it take to back up some of today’s most popular musicians, performers, and other celebrities? Find out in Mozy’s infographic, “Backing Up Celebrities”.

iTunes Radio

Though comparatively late to the music streaming scene, iTunes Radio already has two big advantages over the longstanding Pandora:, according to CNET: human-curated stations and global music rights. There is also potential, states CNET, in the combination of iTunes Radio, Siri and automobiles. “iTunes Radio is a clear threat,” said BTIG analyst Richard Greenfield in the CNET article. “[Siri is] key to giving iOS an important place in the car and beyond, and making iTunes Radio a true ‘Pandora Killer.’”

YouTube Music

A YouTube music streaming service is still officially a rumor, but there is lots of buzz about it nonetheless. Forbes predicts that such a move would essentially be a rebrand–although a smart rebrand–of Google’s existing service, Google Play Music All Access.

“YouTube … is a brand that everyone knows, and most kids already use it to discover their music,” wrote Bobby Owsinski in the Forbes post. “Adding a streaming music function becomes only just a new YouTube feature, not a new service.”‘

So, music streaming services, get ready to rumble! What all this ramping up means to the consumer is that the future of music has been decided. Notably, the expansion of iTunes’ scope from digital downloads only to streaming seems to be an indication that the industry in changing gears. Almost certainly, the features of each service will evolve as both the technology and competition heats up, and the broad reach of better established brands like iTunes and YouTube will give the original names in streaming–such as Pandora and Spotify–a run for their money.

One thing is for sure: Music lovers who want more songs at their fingertips–at all times–will be sharing the victory with whichever service rises to the top.

 

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