Crowdsourcing a Job Online: 3 Tactics on the Cutting Edge

Crowdsourcing a job onlineThe in-house project has become an online event. Global crowdsourcing has arrived.

If it’s been a while since you’ve checked in on the state of online crowdsourcing, you may remember it as a realm mostly dominated by graphic-design competitions. But these days, the new frontier for the competitive crowdsourced project includes building mobile apps, websites, architecture, and engineering.

What does crowdsourcing promise however? And how can small-business owners best take advantage of the professionals who’ll respond to a job once it’s posted at one of the many online platforms that serve as networks for these projects?

To find some answers, we turn to one expert in the industry, and break out a trio of tips to bring your crowdsourced-project dreams a whole lot closer to coming true.

Resources on the Cutting Edge: Crowdsourcing for SMBs

“More and more businesses are turning to crowdsourcing to build their infrastructure and complete jobs online, removing the often prohibitive barrier of hiring full time,” said Nikki Parker, a regional director at Freelancer.com. “For many, however, the growing world of crowdsourcing is uncharted territory — until you complete your first job, it can appear quite daunting.”

Here are three key steps to keep in mind as you plan your first crowdsourcing project:

1. Have a Solid Plan and a Clear Project Brief: Before you post a job to a freelance community, it’s vital that you have a clear idea about what your project is and what needs to be done. Refining your brief and running it under the eyes of some friendly freelancers, offline at first, will help you to set ensure a solid foundation when you take the posting live. This dramatically increases the chances that your work will be executed to your exact requirements. Your freelancers will, of course, have some suggestions and opinions of their own, so collaborate with them and make the most of hiring an expert.

2. Get to Know the Candidates: Each freelancer has his or her own expertise, skill sets, and work habits. It’s important to establish what those elements entail before working together with any individual or team. Choose your freelancer(s) based on his or her advertised skills, work experience, and customer feedback — don’t rely solely on their hourly rate or bidding price.

3. Be Upfront with Payment Details: Set up a third-party payment process to protect your business (and provide security for the freelancers you hire). Consider milestone payments — which work in a way similar to an escrow service. With milestones in place, money will only be released once the work has been successfully completed, each step along the way. On both ends of the relationship, transparency and security in payment processes is paramount — it goes a long way toward ensuring that you get the most out of crowdsourcing your job online.

 

One thing should become clear as you consider the above tips, Parker said: “Whilst global crowdsourcing is a relatively new tool for doing business, the tips and tactics for making it a success remain in essence the same as how we have always done business.”

That’s an encouraging note. It means that although the way technology is changing project bids, bringing them to the cutting edge, your already proven skills are still crucial to success — identifying strong candidates and bringing in talent that creates a product well representing your business. New tools, longstanding best practices —  for small-business owners the two combine for a more powerful way to get the next job done.

Mozy Wins Gold in Tech Awards Circle Cloud Backup Provider Selected Among Top Technology Products, Individuals for 2013

Tech Awards Circle Gold Logo 2013Mozy, the world’s most trusted provider of cloud backup and access, has been awarded Gold for the 2013 Tech Awards Circle, in the Midrange Software category – for its MozyPro business backup product. Winners were selected by an independent panel of publication reviewers/journalists.

Tech Awards Circle celebrates the products, vendors and individuals making a difference in the industry today. The winners represent a broad range of achievements, from hardware to software to services for small businesses and enterprises alike.

“Mozy was rated among the ‘best of the best’ for true industry excellence and innovation to be a winner of the Tech Awards Circle finalists,” said Kevin Anderson, awards program coordinator. “Our judges were impressed with the level of submissions from all the vendors entering this year’s competition, so for Mozy to be named a winner of this prestigious award is a testament to the quality and innovation shown. We wish them continued success and look forward to them defending their title during the next awards period.”

“Awards like this help remind us how fortunate we are to be part of the amazing Mozy organization, working together to build and improve this world-class backup service that is protecting our millions of customers – from individuals to Fortune 500 companies – and giving them access to their important data wherever and whenever they need it,” said Russ Stockdale, General Manager, Mozy.

Learn more about Tech Awards Circle. Learn more about Mozy.

Technically Speaking: Stories of the Week – June 24

Each week we scour the internet to find the best stories on technology, digital living and news of note. This week features a flying bicycle, the new PS4, and a revamped version of MySpace. All that and more in this edition of Mozy’s Technically Speaking.

E.T. Would Love This Flying Bicycle

Flying Bike

It’s an invention that will surely bring people back to the days they first saw E.T. fly on a bicycle in the classic 1982 film. In a convention in Prague recently a flying electric bicycle was displayed and could be seen taking off and flying with a dummy on board, says Keith Barry of Wired. Known as the “Design Your Dreams Flying Bike,” the invention was created by three Czech engineering firms who have spent the last year making it. The electric bike, which weighs 220 pounds, is lifted into the air by six horizontally mounted propellers. The creators say the finished product could be ready for use by the fall, and it will be as easy to operate as a regular bicycle. It will be able to fly anywhere from three to five minutes using electric power. The bad news? As of now the bike won’t be sold to the public.

Google Buys Popular Traffic App Waze for More Than a Billion Dollars

The mapping service company Waze, whose app is used by more than 50 million people, was purchased by Google last week for more than a billion dollars, reports Parmy Olson of Forbes. Waze’s product development team will remain in Israel and continue to operate separately for now. Google won out in a bidding war that was said to include many high rolling suitors, including Facebook and Apple. No word yet on whether Waze will become part of Google Maps or if it will continue to operate separately. Waze is popular for its community of drivers, who warn one another in real-time of upcoming traffic jams, accidents, and police traps.

MySpace Comes Back as Myspace: Will it Take Off or Crash and Burn?

MySpace is long gone, but say hello to its successor: Myspace. Other than switching from a capital “s” to a lowercase one, the company is also offering a whole new look and all new features, according to Mashable. The recently launched site has been marketed for months now with Justin Timberlake as the face behind the brand. It is now available to users, complete with an iPhone app, and it’s main focus will be on music. The vision of the new myspace, according to one of its new owners, Tim Vanderhook, is “a single place to house a profile, music, videos and fans, and a feedback system.”  Instead of building custom radio stations based on songs and user preferences like Pandora, Myspace is relying on its users— which includes many artists— to create stations.

A Look at the New PlayStation 4

PlayStation 4

Sony has just unveiled it’s new PS4 model, wetting the appetite of gamers worldwide. The console actually has a familiar look to past models but a lot of upgraded features, according to Brian Barrett of Gizmodo. Features of the PS4 include improved graphics, games booting instantly from sleep, games can download in the background, an x86 processor, an 8-core combined CPU/GPU, 8 GB of unified GDDR5 memory (PS3 had 512 megabytes), a local 500GB HDD. There’s also a list of games that will be exclusive to Playstation, including favorites like Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts III. The console will be available sometime this holiday season and will retail for $400.

 

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App Profile: Power People’s Presence Aims to Recycle Old Mobile Apple Products into Home Security Hardware

Welcome to Mozy’s App Profile, where we introduce some of the new programs seeking the way we live and work. This week, a Presence breathes new life into old Apple products.

Presence AppThe public’s decade-plus enrapture with Apple products has left millions of old iPods, iPhones, and even iPads sequestered to dusty drawers and closets everywhere. Yes, these products–in their heyday–were expensive and awesome, but now that they’ve been supplanted by a new generation of the product, they’re more or less useless. Instead of letting them collect dust, or worse, giving them away to someone who would actually use it, Presence by People Power, has an alternative suggestion: turn it into a remote, home security camera.

Turning a seemingly defunct mobile Apple product into a security system might appear to be an odd hack, but Presence’s inspiration actually exposes the commonplace, expensive hurdles involved in securing our homes.

“My mom’s house was burglarized twice last year. The thieves took her jewelry, laptop, and some cash, but even worse, they took away her belief that she was safe in her own home,” said Gene Wang, CEO of Power People. “After the second break-in, I helped my mom buy a security system, which cost us about $1,800 upfront, plus $48 per month.”The installation wasn’t just expensive, it was time consuming. “I watched as the installer took 1.5 days getting the system working and thought: There must be a better, cheaper, simpler way to make people feel safe in their homes.”

With Presence, Wang believes he can offer people an inexpensive (free, in fact) alternative to a usually expensive problem. Unlike most home security systems, Presence can be “installed” with a free download via the iPhone app store.

Some of the key features of Presence includes:
- A camera with two-way audio and video
- Motion detection with notifications
- Seamless dispatching of video clips to your personal email
- Security and privacy controls
- A variety of “if-then” rules
- Home and away mode
- Front or back camera remote control
- Multiple cameras per account
- How-to videos as well as online help

And while the competition is deep, Presence has one substantial advantage: it’s free. On the big brand end, companies like AT&T and Comcast have entered the home security market with Digital Life and Xfinity Home, respectively. But unlike Presence, the services are not free (i.e. setup charges and monthly fees), and involve heavy installation. Wang also mentioned startups like SmartThings and LogMeIn, as well as other small companies like Nest and Dropcam–however, again, their services are not free.

In regards to what to classify Presence as, Wang prefers to call it a “platform”–not an app. The CEO created a developer portal to the site, which offers the platform’s API so that developers can add their own hardware and software creations.

“By making Presence a ‘platform’ instead of just an app, we’re going to do far more to bring the ‘Internet of Everything’ to everyone.”

To download the free Presence platform application, visit the iTunes Store.

 

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The Big Data Business Bookshelf

The Big Data Business BookshelfBig data is everywhere these days, and many of us are trying to come up to speed on the technology. There are several books out now on this topic, and here are some tips for figuring out which ones are worth reading or best for newbies.

A good place to start is Frank Ohlhurst’s Big Data Analytics: Turning Big Data into Big Money. This is a business process and workflow treatment of the topic: you won’t find any code samples or URLs of open source repositories here. Ohlhurst, who worked with me at CMP and still writes numerous product reviews for the IT trade press, talks about ways to secure your data, structure it, and mine it for value and insights. It is a great book to give your boss.

Next is Big Data Analytics: Disruptive Technologies for Changing the Game by Arvind Sathi, a data architect for IBM. This is another great book for beginners, and identifies use cases, goes into more detail on the business processes and shows some of the main architectural elements of Big Data.

If you’re looking for something short and sweet and also free, try What Is Data Science? by Mike Loukides. You get some concrete examples of different kinds of data analysis tools and techniques and practical, real-world examples galore.

Then there is Enterprise Analytics: Optimize Performance, Process, and Decisions Through Big Data by Tom Davenport and several other authors. It covers a wider ground than some of these other books. It addresses topics including Big Data topics and a variety of other analytic techniques.

A more general overview of the major players behind Big Data is The Little Book of Big Data by Noreen Burlingame. It is a short read but a quick way to see who are the vendors making waves with this technology, including Hortonworks, Cloudera, Datameer and Karmasphere.

If you want to get more down and dirty into the technology, then the Hadoop: The Definitive Guide by Tom White is for you. White will take you through building your first Apache Hadoop cluster, the ins and outs of the Hadoop file system, how to set up MapReduce jobs, and using some of the other tools such as Pig, Zookeeper, and Hive. White works for Cloudera, one of the main commercial forces behind Hadoop.

Once you want to get more training, check out Cloudera University and Hortonworks University: both vendors have extensive programs on a multitude of topics relating to Hadoop and its offshoots, some paid and some for free. And Big Data University has dozens of courses all for free too.

 

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Technically Speaking: Stories of the Week – June 17

Each week we scour the internet to find the best stories on technology, digital living and news of note. This week features a Google gets a Siri, a brain surgery is shown online, and Microsoft launches the new Xbox One console. All that and more in this edition of Mozy’s Technically Speaking.

Brain Surgery Procedure Broadcast Over Twitter, Instagram and Vine

Brain surgery streamed online

UCLA Health recently allowed the world to tune in as surgeons implanted a brain pacemaker in a patient. Tweets were sent out explaining what was being done and how the procedure was going. Also, a six-second video was posted on Vine and featured the patient playing guitar and singing during the process (something he was asked to do to keep him engaged). Amanda Kooser of CNET reports that allowing the public to follow along with the procedure it would bring more publicity to the implantable deep brain stimulation devices that can have a profound positive effect on the lives of people with Parkinson’s, chronic headaches, and dystonia. As of this writing, it is unknown if brain pacemakers will have any effect on addictions to Instagram or Vine.

Twitter Ramps Up Security with Two-Step Verification Process

Having seen a fair share of major accounts hacked over the last few months (including the one for the Associated Press, which falsely reported explosions at the White House), Twitter has decided to make it’s platform more secure. NBC News reports that Twitter users will now be asked to register a verified phone number and a confirmed email address. They will then receive a text message with a six-digit code each time they log into Twitter. In short, users will now need two proofs of identity when logging in—their normal password and a temporary code sent to a cellphone or generated by an app. So if a password is hacked it won’t be enough for someone to access the account.

Xbox’s New Console to Offer Much More than Gaming

Microsoft Xbox One

With it’s new console “One,” Microsoft’s Xbox is looking to change the dynamic of the gaming industry. Xbox one plans to not only allow users to play video games, but it will also serve as an intersection between gaming, television, and other entertainment, according to Chelsea Stark of Mashable. The Xbox One will box run on a 8-core AMD processor with x86 architecture, 8 gigs of RAM, a 500 GB hard drive, three USB 3.0 ports, and a Blu-ray drive. It features 802.11 n/g/b wireless with Wi-Fi Direct, as well as Bluetooth. It can hook to cable boxes and recommend programs to users based on interests. There’s also a revamp of the Kinect feature, which will be able to transmit video at 1080p. Users will also be able to control the console with voice activation–for example saying “Xbox on” will turn the device on without having to press any buttons.

Google’s New Search Will Feature Voice Commands and Verbal Answers

Google has introduced a new feature that will allow users to speak questions to its search engine and receive an answer–verbally. According to The Huffington Post, a new mobile application, coming to both smartphones and desktops, will give users the ability to speak directly to a search engine using a huge variety of commands, and Google will understand and respond. While it’s a similar idea to Siri, Apple’s voice-answering technology, Google says it’s main difference is that it can answer questions in full detail. According to the company the new feature will be available “soon” on iOS, Android, and Chrome.

 

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The Business of Your Well Being: 5 Steps to Better Living and Working

The Business of Your Well Being: 5 Steps to Better Living and WorkingOne in four small-business owners would pay $500 for one extra hour in their day.

That’s according to a recent survey conducted by eVoice, looking at how time management and office tasks are changing with the continued ascendancy of the cloud.

Turns out, time is the most valuable asset for small-business owners — 38% said so in the report — outpacing computers, mobile phones, and the company’s office/storefront as well.

With that in mind, what follow are five essential tips for time-management tactics — from learning to “pilot” the cloud to empowering employees your promoting better work habits for better living. Put the best use of time in the spot of MVP!

Time Management: Tips for Working and Living Right

Time management isn’t just about getting work done, the purpose is also to help small-business owners maintain a healthy work-life balance. Leveraging technology can help professionals reach that goal. Here are five ways to approach time-management strategies:

1. Empower your Employees: Learn to let go of the day-to-day tasks that are taking up your time. Instead, focus on the big picture. Not only does this help you to take charge of larger business issues, but your employees will learn and grow by taking on tasks normally assigned to the boss. That’s empowerment. Take a hard look at what you’re spending the most time doing every day. Whatever doesn’t fall into must be done by you category can be reassigned to an employee instead.

2. Learn to Pilot the Cloud: Cloud services can be big time savers for small-business owners. From business communications to document services, applications like Google Docs allow business owners to collaborate in real time with employees; EZ Balances is a simple app for business owners to use when tracking their spending; and Evernote allows business owners to keep track of notes and needs on the fly. And all your cloud-based materials are always accessible. And as any Mozy user knows, in addition to convenience, the cloud also provides security that your files will remain safe.

3. Streamline Communications: A virtual phone number enables small-business owners to work from anywhere without worrying about missing an important call or losing touch with the business. Just designate where you want to get the call — cell phone, office, home, hotel room, wherever. Most allow you to pre-screen incoming calls, cutting out the time consuming but less necessary chats till later. Even better, most virtual phone systems are equipped with voicemail-to-text features. Checking messages just got faster and easier as well!

4. Prioritize the DIY: As a small-business owner it’s tempting to do everything yourself. A whopping 90% of owners told eVoice that they fill the role of at least three different employees at once. As you began to categorize what tasks you could better delegate to your employees, in Tip 1, also work up a list of what you could outsource entirely, hiring a specialist rather than spending hundreds of hours doing it on your own.

5. The Business of Your Well Being. A recent Gallup Daily study found that employees who exercise and eat right are more enthusiastic and engaged in work. No kidding, right? But the same goes for owners at the top. Take the hint and make sure you give yourself a few hours each day to relax and give some attention to things other than business.

The bottom line is to streamline, refresh, and recalibrate. That extra hour in the day doesn’t have to come at such a steep price! Work with the tips above, and you might carve out even more time for making progress — and you’ll feel better about the way you go about it to boot.

 

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HIPAA to Healthcare Professionals: Get On the Cloud

HIPAA to Healthcare Professionals - Get On the CloudAs the healthcare industry goes digital, the mountains of paper documents are becoming weightless records stored in the cloud. This change is beneficial to both doctors and patients alike, helping to save time and money, and making processes much simpler. While many healthcare providers have embraced the digital changeover, some are still lagging behind. Now Congress is making sure they get on board.

Driving the migration of records to the cloud are two laws, HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) omnibus and ARRA (the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act). According to Scott Good of Forbes, “by 2015, all medical professionals with access to patient records must utilize electronic medical and health records (EMR and EHR), or face penalties.”

Moving medical records to the cloud isn’t just about compliance. It’s also opening up new opportunities to care for patients.

Matthew Toohey is a pediatrician for a private practice in Pennsylvania and the co-founder of the website PediatricianNextDoor.com, which provides information on medicine and parenting. Toohey began his career with a practice that did not use digital records and has now moved on to one that does.

“This is a whole new frontier. It’s all new to the industry and it’s evolving so fast,” Toohey said of electronic medical records (EMR) and cloud-based services. “It can change the whole makeup of how people practice medicine. You can have all of your patient records on an iPad and access if from anywhere. Cloud-based services can eliminate a lot of headaches.”

Toohey said another benefit of healthcare going digital is that it’s much easier for doctors to fill prescriptions because they can do it with the click of a button rather than having to call it in. Also, several practices are now able to provide “patient portals” which allow patients to access their records from their home computers.

As far as why some healthcare providers have been reluctant to switch to EMR and cloud computing, Toohey believes it could be due to security concerns or simply a lack of knowledge about the benefits.

HIPAA is taking security concerns into account, however, by creating a 10-point checklist to determine if a cloud provider is is up to its standards. Some of the requirements include specific security procedures, encryption of data, regular monitoring, disaster recovery, and more.

Note: Mozy can help businesses become HIPAA compliant. Get more information here.

 

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Technically Speaking: Stories of the Week – June 10

Each week we scour the internet to find the best stories on technology, digital living and news of note. This week features a massive online food delivery service, Google Maps upgrades, and a phone that gives off scents. All that and more in this edition of Mozy’s Technically Speaking.

The Device that Makes Your Phone Smell Good

ChatPerf device

While smart phones today are pretty good at appealing to most of your senses, they haven’t yet been able to satisfy your sense of smell–until now. Jesse Emspak of Mashable reports that the Japanese company ChatPerf has created a smartphone add-on that releases a scent when the user presses a “puff” button on their screen. Just the size of a USB stick, the device will enable users to send scents to each other, which could go along with photos, videos, and other media.

Brain Dominance Can Be Determined By the Way You Hold Your Phone

Are you left-brain or right-brain dominant? It’s not as easy to answer as it is to tell if you’re left-handed or right-handed, but a new study shows that most people who hold their cell phones to their left ear are right-hemisphere dominant and vice versa, says Elizabeth Armstrong Moore of CNET.  Someone who is “left-brained” is often said to be more logical, analytical and objective, while those who are “right-brained” tend to be more intuitive, thoughtful and subjective. The results of the study, which was conducted by researchers at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, could help understand the language center of the brain and develop a less-invasive, lower-cost option to establish the side of the brain where speech and language occurs.

A Perfect Solution to Late-Night Munchies

A perfect solution to late-night munchies

Two online food delivery startups have merged to create a dream service for people who love late-night food but can’t go out to get it. According to GigaOM, the merger of GrubHub and Seamless creates the biggest take-out and delivery portal on the web, featuring more than 20,000 restaurants in 500 cities. GrubHub has not only allowed customers to order from thousands of menus, it also started a feature to be able to track your delivery–so if your food is taking too long you can find out what’s going on. As GrubHub’s biggest competitor before the merger, Seamless features a similar service to GrubHub and even lets customers browse ratings and reviews of most restaurants.

Google Maps To Be Given Complete Redesign

The site that has helped many people avoid getting lost is receiving some improvements. Google Maps will have a whole new look and will launch some useful new features, including displays of real-time accidents and personalized recommendations, says Heather Kelly of CNN. The new customized maps feature will display more personal information related to the user, as well as suggestions for places to visit based on past searches and Internet activity. The smarter navigation will improve upon finding the fastest routes for users, and will include live information about accidents and road conditions. Finally, the graphics of Google Maps will also be bigger and better.

 

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Mozy Tritanium Contest Winners!

We’re excited to announce the winners of our Tritanium video contest from our May 2013 newsletter. We had hundreds of entries, and we’re grateful to everyone who participated. We asked you to watch the new Mozy Tritanium video and answer three questions:

  1. How many birds hit the Mozy Tritanium cloud?
  2. What three things set the Mozy cloud apart from the rest?
  3. What slogan is written on the closing slide?

And here are the winners:

$50 Gift Card winners

  • Carrie Stavropoulos
  • Jeff Antone

$25 Gift card winners

  • Ron Ablang
  • Larry Rohs
  • Kurt Wallinger
Once again, here’s the video:

Thanks again to all who participated, and stay tuned for our next contest! Winners – please email stories@mozy.com to claim your prize.