Steps Can Unlock Business Insights
Used with permission from the
Microsoft Small Business
About a year ago,
my cousin gave her father a smartphone for his birthday. My
uncle smiled indulgently at his tech-savvy daughter and
uttered the expected words of gratitude. Weeks later, he
quietly confided in me that all he'd really needed was
something to make phone calls "instead of doing everything
short of diapering a baby." I showed my uncle some of the
great things he could do with that phone: surf the Web, do
his email, check his calendar, shop online . . . all tasks that I
knew he did regularly on his PC. Oh, he said, I didn't know
it could do that stuff. Now he wouldn't part with that smartphone for anything.
how many small and midsize businesses are like my uncle, not
taking full advantage of the technology they already own.
They know they have powerful reporting and analytical tools
in Microsoft SQL Server 2008 and the 2007 Microsoft Office
system (especially Excel) – but they aren't sure how to
maximize their value. More's the pity, because the tools
built into SQL and Excel can provide insights that can help
make the difference between profitability and penury.
So, how should a
small or midsize business go about unlocking the business
intelligence (BI) value inherent in SQL Server and Excel? It
all starts with thinking logically about your business and
defining your goals. Don't just think about the data you
currently collect—think long and hard about what you want to
know from your data. What information do you need to drive
your business? Are you collecting that data currently? If
not, how can you get?
Once you know what
you want from your data, it's time to establish your KPIs
(Key Performance Indicators). These are the metrics that
define success; they let you know how your business is
performing. Where do these data reside, and how can they be
analyzed to reveal trends, spot opportunities, and reduce
Do you know
what your employees
are doing on the Internet?
By Brian Renter, President, Universal Information Systems
of the Internet to the daily operation of businesses and
organizations has increased significantly over the past few
years. Most companies have one or more critical business
functions that depend entirely on the speed and availability
of their Internet connection. Ensuring a reliable and fast
Internet connection has become an almost universal priority
many new recreational (or non-business) uses of the Internet
have been developed that compete directly against a
company's desire for a fast Internet connection. Streaming
music or audio, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, on-line banking,
fantasy football, among others, consume the bandwidth
intended to run critical business applications. Recent
studies have shown that even though bandwidth has increased
substantially in recent years, actual Internet speed
experienced by companies today is more comparable to the
Internet speed of five years ago – a time when connections
were smaller and slower.
In response to
the typical problem "my Internet connection gets slow at
certain times of the day," the usual solution is to add more
bandwidth. Expensive lessons are learned, however, when the
larger Internet pipe does not solve the problem. This is due
to the fact that many of these non-business applications
will use all available bandwidth. Business-critical
applications are left with the same Internet connection
speed as before the upgrade, much to the dismay of
Warning! Appreciation May Be
used with permission from HP Small Business Site
When times are
tough, it's tough to stay positive — particularly if you are
surrounded by gloomy people.
But rather than
fall victim to negative attitudes, resolve to take a
different approach. Stay positive and channel your optimism
to create a healthy, more productive environment. One idea
you can start using right away is peer recognition.
appreciation to a co-worker is one of the simplest, most
rewarding efforts you can make. Giving credit where due, or
just telling a co-worker you appreciate their work, can give
an unexpected boost — and it has an additional benefit: it
improves their perception of you.
Say thank you
Think about the last time you received a spontaneous "thank
you" from someone at work — one that made you feel more
connected to your work, that your contribution was valuable.
It can really make someone's day and make them feel more
positive about the work they're doing.
Staying Safe and Mobile: 8
Reasons to Buy a Server
by Christopher Elliott
used with permission from the
Microsoft Small Business
hackers, viruses and malware? Are you concerned that your
employees can't access their data when they're on the road?
These are common
concerns among small-business owners. The average annual
loss reported by United States companies more than doubled
in 2007, to $350,424 from $168,000 the previous year,
according to the CSI Computer Crime and Security Survey.
That ended a five-year run of lower reported losses. Average
losses dropped somewhat in 2008 but remained alarmingly
high, at $289,000 per respondent.
And a recent
survey of 400 small-business owners by Hewlett-Packard found
that small businesses place mobility high on their priority
list, because nearly one-third of their time is spent
outside the office.
Business Continuity Tip
during interruptions, we see businesses take a
wait-and-see approach to executing their established
disaster recovery plan. If your plan calls for you to
"pull the trigger" within the first 12 hours, but
instead you second guess yourself and wait, you put your
business at risk. Delays in executing your recovery plan
can set in motion a cascading series of failures that
are difficult to stop once they've begun. During a
disaster, the domino effect is magnified.
understand that putting your recovery plan in action is
not an easy decision; the manpower, resources and
expense can be intimidating. But that's where the
benefit of planning and testing shines. A detailed plan
will help you make a solid rational decision in a very
plan. It'll save your business.
of the Month
Not what we say about our
blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving.