Information Technology

Technology is constantly changing, so how can you be sure your systems are up-to-date?  We can help you learn how to manage and use the technological tools you need to operate efficiently.  You'll also find easy and affordable ways to outsource your information technology needs, ensuring the security and optimal effectiveness of your systems.  Because let's face it ... unless you are in the IT business, you probably need some help.

Cyber Security Resources

cyber threatsThe threat of a cyber attack on your small business is very real.

SBAM has put together a variety of resources to help you become informed. Click here for details.


Managed IT Services

NUWAVEAre your IT systems operating efficiently?

With the proper technology and implementation team, your company can realize dramatic productivity and profitability gains. NuWave Technology Partners' unique approach provides clients with a single point-of-contact for all their telephone and data needs, and covers the spectrum from servicing existing phone systems to complete new installations.

Related News

Cardiac emergencies can happen anywhere to anyone. Is your workplace prepared?

If someone collapsed from sudden cardiac arrest in your workplace today, would you know what to do? Would your employees know how to increase a co-worker’s chance of survival? With each minute of elapsed time before defibrillation, the chances of survival diminish by approximately 10 percent.

The fact is, employers are required by OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.151 to have a person or persons adequately trained to render first aid for worksites that are not in or near proximity to an infirmary, clinic, or hospital.

Thankfully, The Red Cross has an Alliance with OSHA signed in 2005 to work together to help employers train employees. The Red Cross is the leading provider of Automated External Defibrillator (AED) training and services. For the cost of a laptop computer, a lifesaving AED could be installed at any facility. Businesses with AEDs and people trained to use them save lives when every second counts.

Customizable Training

The American Red Cross suggests that the first-aid program for a particular workplace be designed to reflect the known and anticipated risks of the specific work environment. Consultation with local emergency medical experts and providers of first-aid training is encouraged when developing a first-aid program. It’s also required that the program must comply with all applicable OSHA standards and regulations. In fact, OSHA requires certain employers to have CPR-trained rescuers on site.

Sudden cardiac arrest is a potential risk at all worksites, regardless of the type of work. Serious consideration should be given to establishing a workplace AED program. There are a few important factors to consider:
1. First-aid supplies must be available in adequate quantities and readily accessible.
2. First-aid training courses should include instruction in general and workplace hazard-specific knowledge and skills.
3. CPR training should incorporate AED training.
4. An AED should be available at the worksite.
5. First-aid training should be repeated periodically to maintain and update knowledge and skills.
6. Management commitment and worker involvement is vital in developing a strong workplace safety program.

You can schedule an authorized OSHA instructor to come to your workplace or hold the OSHA 10 or 30 course at your local chapter of the American Red Cross. The Red Cross can customize the OSHA 10 or OSHA 30 courses to meet your occupational needs, while covering all the required topics. The OSHA 10 and OSHA 30 courses have mandatory topics that will be covered in addition to elective course topics as needed or requested by the employer.

Whether you need to train two employees or 1000 employees, the Red Cross can help by providing quality safety training when and where you need it. Flexible service delivery methods will help you meet OSHA Guidelines and prepare your employees to save lives. For more information contact your local American Red Cross Chapter, www.redcross.org/where.

The author, Alison Bono,  is the American Red Cross Mid-Michigan Chapter Regional Director of Communications and Marketing. She can be contacted at abono@midmichiganredcross.org.

How Social Media and GOV 2.0 are Revolutionizing Public/Private Sector Collaboration

By John Westra is Director, NuWave Government Solutions. From SBAM’s member-only Focus on Small Business magazine.

Ask any small business owner about their “relationship” with government and you are likely to get an earful. Listen to small business owners carefully and you will hear one key complaint repeated over and over: “government doesn’t pay attention to us or listen to our needs.”

In fact, if it were not for the well organized advocacy efforts of SBAM, the voices of Michigan’s small businesses would be a whisper in comparison to the deep pocketed lobbying efforts and slick PR and marketing campaigns of national and international corporations. The good news; the explosive growth of Social Media, coupled with a push for government to use the Internet to be more open, responsive and accountable (GOV 2.0) is leveling the playing field and revolutionizing Public/Private Sector collaboration!

Social Networking is a phrase that for many brings to mind an afternoon on the golf course or a cup of coffee at the local diner. But to the more than 142 million Social Media users of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and various blogs, it means spending “an average of six plus hours per month, connecting with and expanding their online community of “friends.”” (Nielsen, June 2010)

Social media can be defined as “The social interaction, creation and distribution of content, including text, photos, audio and video, via highly accessible Internet-based applications.”
The main catalyst for the adoption of social media by government is politics. After the press credited social media for helping President Obama win, the flood gates of social media adoption by politicians opened wide. Although not all of them “get it,” virtually all current and would-be elected officials now have a Facebook page, with many having a presence on all the major social media platforms.

Rick Snyder is a great example of someone who understands the power of social media. Rick, who admittedly bills himself as “One Tough Nerd,” has seen his Facebook following go from a few hundred to over 31,000 followers in a matter of months.

Rick Snyder was quoted as saying “Social media provides new and more effective ways for government to directly communicate with citizens and involve them with the day to day operations of the state, offering opportunities to have their voices and feedback heard…Effectively communicating with citizens is an essential aspect of customer service government.”

So how does this translate into a value proposition for small businesses? The answer to this question can be summed up in three words: Access, Engagement and Influence.
Access to the people we’ve elected to represent us is the holy grail of representative democracy. In years past, campaign communication was one way. Elected officials could simply dismantle their campaign centers and walk away, effectively putting a “Do Not Disturb” sign on their office doors. Social media has made that impossible. Politicians who walk away from their social media network(s) would face an instant negative backlash.
An ongoing commitment to maintaining their connections to citizens and stakeholders (small business), translates into a defacto “open door” policy that benefits everyone. This is the type of access that previously cost thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars in lobbying to maintain.

Engagement is the “secret” ingredient for any effective communication and another reason why social media and Government 2.0 (GOV 2.0) applications are growing so rapidly. Before I talk about the importance of engagement, let’s first define what GOV 2.0 is.
“Government 2.0 or “e-government” is the philosophy of transparent, efficient and accountable governance, facilitated by the use of ubiquitous, easy to access and interactive Internet-enabled applications.”

Four Pillars to Understanding the Internet

There are four pillars for learning how to effectively manage the Internet rapidly and easily.

Pillar 1: Your website and content.

Pillar 2: How to use the best social media (Facebook, Twitter and YouTube).

This article covers the first two pillars. Click here to read about the other two.

It’s important under pillar 1 to maintain your website consistently – not every so often. Your website provides your customers with instant access to information about your business and provides a foundation to build lasting impressions and strong business relationships.

To get the most out of your website, it needs a robust out-reach effort:
  • content that changes from time to time (the easiest way to do this is by having a blog or a “news” area that lists new information)
  • useful information about your business that includes key words
  • a newsletter sign-up (so that you can retain contact information from interested parties)
  • links to your social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, YouTube) to give people a variety of ways to discover and interact with your business

Your social media outreach program is pillar 2. Social media are not complicated at all. They are simply new channels to reach your targets over the Internet. They provide a method of connecting your company to consumers via word of mouth recommendations. Poor or no representation of your company on social media sites can hinder your business.
The most popular social media platforms are Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Facebook is the powerhouse of web marketing and social media with more than 500 million users across the world. Customers can engage with your brand by leaving comments, generating content about your brand such as photos, participating in calls to action and sharing links to your information or products. Facebook also has a built in pay-per-click ad program.

  • Twitter is the fastest growing social media platform. Its primary advantage-brevity. Any “tweet” is limited to 140 characters. Journalists often use Twitter for leads and sources. Many people use Twitter to learn about news instantaneously. Some use it to communicate immediately in a crisis.
  • YouTube is a great way to use video rather than just pictures and words. Videos should be short and succinct, like 2-3 minutes. Easy to do with a smart phone or other video device.
The Internet is your best friend for marketing. It is easy to learn, easy to maintain, free or inexpensive. These two pillars are your guides to demystifying the whole online and new media process. Keep in mind developing content on your website is important because it is an extension of the passion you have for your business. Your Internet presence allows you to gather instant feedback, providing you with the opportunity to quickly access information and ideas, which can be used to generate new business, build brand loyalty and increase customer retention.

As a business owner, you may feel there’s no way you could possibly squeeze blogging and website updates into your daily schedule. If so, hire a web content specialist or someone who has knowledge of new media – the “nerd” component.

Wendy Williams and Ashley Smith are new media specialists at Eiler Communications, Ann Arbor.

The “Smart” (Phone) Money Is on Apps to Win & Tablets to Show! (Part II)

In Part I of “The Smart (Phone) Money Is on Apps to Win & Tablets to Show” talked about trends in technology for 2011. Here we focus on specific trends that will be advantageous to small business this year and beyond.

Note:  The applications mentioned in the rest of this article will be denoted by the platform(s) they are supported on, using the following key: 
  i   iPhone
 A
  Android 
 W   Windows Phone    
 B   Blackberry  
 S   Symbian (Nokia, etc.)  
P  Palm 
 

Email & PIM (Personal Information Manager) Apps / CRM (Customer Relationship Management)

No matter what business you are in, the #1 key to success is the relationships you have with your customers.  Having access to your email and customer data, wherever you go, synchronized with your business email & PIM/CRM CRM solution is invaluable, for those who spend the majority of their time on the road.

This is the application category that started it all.  In the “dark ages” (2002), the Treo 180 became the first true “smart phone.”  Powered by the Palm OS, it pioneered the use of an integrated contact manager, which allowed you to quickly search for and place a call to one of your contacts or pop up the contact’s information when they called.  This was coupled with the ability to easily sync your contacts with Microsoft Outlook.

Previously, businesses that wanted real-time (push) email and contact synchronization looked to either the Blackberry or Windows Mobile platforms for a solution.  Now, many current smart phones come with a basic contact management app that can sync with the user’s Apple or PC desktop client like Microsoft Outlook, as well as web-based email and contact data from Google, Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, etc. 


Google Apps (i,A,W,B,S,P)
Is fast becoming the most widely used, multi-platform suite of apps for mobile email and contact management.  Coming as “standard equipment” on Android-powered phones, it is also available for all of the other major smart phone platforms.  The advantage of using Google Apps for email and contact management is that it’s “free.”  The primary disadvantage is its weak contact management features and lack of advanced integration with back-end business email systems.
 
TouchDown (A)
Is an example of a full-featured mobile email / PIM client.  Like Outlook, it can synchronize email, calendar, task and note* data with one or more of Microsoft’s Exchange email server accounts.  Running exclusively (iPhone rumors are circulating) on the Android platform, it is as close to having Outlook on your mobile device as you can get.  If your company has or is considering having one or more of the estimated three hundred and one million Exchange email boxes in use in 2010, Touchdown is definitely worth checking out.   Note:  When this article was written (December, 2010), Touchdown on Android had significantly greater su

Santa’s Favorite Smart Phones

by John Westra

Your Best Business Smart Phone Choices for Christmas


Many of us are either looking for a new mobile phone or have someone on our list that would like a new smart phone for Christmas.  The challenge is deciding which phone & plan is best.

Good coverage is important to a global traveler like Santa, so let’s start by taking a quick look at the coverage provided by the most popular carriers.  Disclaimer:  “Santa” has been a satisfied Verizon customer for the last four years.

It’s no surprise that the two largest carriers, Verizon and AT&T, who together have 70% of the market, also have the greatest coverage and the widest array of smart phones to choose from.  The next two largest carriers, Sprint and T-Mobile, both offer slightly less coverage and fewer phone choices.  If you live and work in cities of any size and spend most of your time traveling on highways, you should be able to get reliable voice and data coverage from any of the major carriers.

The smaller, often pre-paid carriers/brands like TracFone, US Cellular, Virgin Mobile, Straight Talk (Wal-Mart), MetroPCS, etc. are just starting to offer smart phones.   Most are owned by larger carriers or supplement their own networks with roaming agreements.  This can be a plus, for a company like Virgin Mobile, which uses Sprint’s 3G network or a minus for carriers like MetroPCS, whose limited native coverage and roaming fees make it a poor choice for anyone who travels. 

Although answering yes to “Can you hear me now,” used to be enough, smart phone users are increasingly asking: “Can I YouTube or video chat now?”  Sprint has been a leader in 4G (Fourth Generation) data and T-Mobile is now advertising they have the largest 4G coverage area.  Both Verizon and AT&T have aggressive 2011/2012 4G network upgrades planned.

OK!  Now that you know a little bit more about coverage and carriers, let’s take a look Santa’s Favorite Smart Phones!


HTC Evo 4G (Android) – Sprint


This is a luscious smart phone that offers the latest options including a front and 8 mega-pixel rear facing camera, 4G data speeds, blazing fast processor and a beautiful 4” screen.  If Sprint meets your coverage needs and video conferencing is a feature you want to take advantage of, this is the phone to buy!





Apple iPhone 4 (iOS) – AT&T, Verizon (Q1 2011)

The iPhone 4 is the latest in the iPhone series that truly kick-started today’s, touch screen, application-driven smart phone revolution.  Like the Evo, it has a front-facing camera for video calls.  Santa put this phone on the list, because it has more applications and accessories available for it than any other smart phone currently available.  Note:  With the iPhone slated to come to Verizon in Q1 of next year, you may want to ask Santa for a Gift Certificate!


Droid 2 Global (Android)– Verizon

For those who prefer a slide-out physical keyboard and want the best national and international coverage (220 countries) possible, this is the phone you want.  From the elegant design and solid feel, to the blazing fast 1.2Ghz processor this phone is designed to be a business workhorse.  Motorola has also released well-designed matching car and home docks that make it easy to charge and use your Droid 2 while on the road in the office or on the nightstand.



HTC  HD7 (Windows Phone 7) – T-Mobile
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