Internet Addiction, Business or Pleasure

The internet is one of the most significant things to happen to mankind in the last 100 years. This technology has transformed lives world wide from the individual person to nations in education, research, entertainment, communication and the list goes on. We can all agree without the internet today our lives would be much different. From its humble beginnings which was mainly to communication basic information to what it is today, the internet has grown up alongside all of us.
The Next Stage
The internet has mainly been confined to desktop computers for all these years but is has become so pervasive it has leaped onto other devices. We can now access the internet from our mobile phones, tablet device and next generation devices like smart watches, google glasses and some office and household appliances. In short the internet is everywhere and that’s great, right? Because of this leap we are never off the internet, our mobile phones alert us to emails, instant messages and any other push notification that’s send to our mobile devices.
A Nation of Addicts
The internet is so influential in our lives that it has transformed our behavior. Sending off an email or IM is how most of us choose to communicate these days. We find ourselves sending bits of messages through social media, email, IM apps and if necessary SMS. This is both for business and our pleasure, which is interchanged throughout the day. But for some of us we can’t turn the internet off and are stuck on our mobile devices every minute.
We see people walking and texting, driving and texting, sleeping and texting (well that’s just me). We have been zombified and live in and out of the virtual world. This causes a number of things to go wrong both in business and in life. Texting and driving can lead to lost of life (and even texting and walking),  an employee stuck on their mobile device whole day is an unproductive person and so leads to lost of productivity.

Email, not built for Collaboration

Email is good for communication but bad collaboration
Email, probably one of the best business tool ever. Email has made it easy for us to communicate a world away and to the person in the next office. Certainly a tool for every situation. But is it? Email is good for short pointed conversations with teammates you work with, business partners and customers to alert them on announcements and promotions. But when it comes to back and forth collaboration we quickly fall victim to the cluttered inbox.
The Problem with Email
Email lacks ways to assign tasks and track statuses about various processes within a business environment. Emails that were sent as a large CC are normally dead on arrival with recipients not wanting to reply. Another common thing is emails getting lost. These are but a few of our everyday problems with emails and trying to run a business with it. Business owners and management on a whole need to realize that there are other tools that can make their business processes lest stressful.
Using email for document collaboration is another nightmare employees face on a daily basis. Email attachments are great if something needs to be sent just once, and if the sender need not retain it. But the reality is that there are edits and revisions that need to be made. Changes are sometimes made by a number of people and files need to be changed correctly without losing valuable feedback along the way.
What else is there
Email is a tool, one of many in the business landscape that can be used to manage our daily business processes. What should be important to a business owner or manager is identifying the right set of tools for their business needs. This article isn’t about specific applications but the type of tools that can be used for various task. We will dive into these tools more in another article.
Instant Messaging
Instant chat is a great way to have a virtual meeting with a person or group to quickly dish out ideas. This saves users time in sending emails and awaiting responses on basic stuff.
Video Conferencing
If typing is not your thing then the plethora of video conferencing tools like Skype and even Google Hangouts can be a good way to reach out. With the access of web cams and fast networks conducting a virtual meeting maybe better than assembling for one.
Intranets
The intranet was built for this very reason, to alert staff on what’s going on within the business and soliciting feedback. Sharing documents, schedules and other general announcements on an intranet site is far better than sending everyone an email. The information is always there and can be updated with ease without sending another set of emails.
Social Networks
Enterprise Social Networks are all the craze in the business world today. These networks allow for collaboration in a whole new way for the average office environment. Like its counterpart on the public internet, a social network can be a place to disseminate information, solicit feedback, post documents, schedule company events, chat and share just about anything.
These are just a few tools that can be used for general collaboration within a business. There are more specific tools to handle various processes but that’s for another article. In part two we will dive deeper into some of these tools.

The importance of a business website

One surprising thing in the business landscape in St. Lucia is how many businesses still don’t have a website. You would think that in today’s world one would understand the importance of a website for their business. Clearly that is not the case, any business that does not have a website is missing out on the best marketing tool available today.
Why it is Important
The reason that it is important to have a business website is how people are likely to find you. Increasingly people turn to the internet to research products and services before making the decision to move forward with a purchase. With the advent of mobile, this is all too common and if you are not online to intercept this traffic your business will suffer.
A website is also important because it helps you establish credibility as a business. Like other steps one must take to establish a business in St. Lucia, setting up a website is now a staple. Directing people to your website to confirm or explain your products and services is much easier than walking around with brochures, business cards and catalogs. A website can provide all the information people need to make a decision about your business.
One of the great things about the internet is that it sets a equal playing field for everyone. On the internet a small business can get equal exposure and ranking as a much larger organization. This makes it critical for the small business owner to take this tactical advantage and get online.
The Confusion with Social Networks
With the popularity of Social Networks, not just as communication platforms but also business tools, businesses large and small are flocking to them. Glace Web utilizes these very platforms for marketing purposes and in the process have spoken to small businesses on Facebook and learned a surprising thing about their perception of the web today. Increasingly business owners believe that a website is not needed if you are on Facebook. That on Facebook (one of the most popular websites today) everyone will find you.
Facebook, Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn are all popular websites that serve similar roles in the online marketing landscape. These platforms are very good for interacting with customers and sharing content. But the very structure of these platforms cater only to the recent post, short informal message and occasional photo. Customers (and potential customers) need a concise forum to consume information about your products and services. The composition of a web page that beautifully merges text, photographs, video and much more is a completely different experience on any social network. A social network is designed for simple updates while a website details your entire business. This misconception comes at the peril of small businesses in St. Lucia.
Now is the time
Clearly there are still businesses without websites, and there are other reasons for that as well. There’s the belief that they are expensive to develop, hard to maintain (unlike Facebook) and cost too much to market. In truth a website can be built for very little money and with a Content Management System (CMS), maintained by anyone at your business. Social networks like Facebook can then be utilized to market your website and business on a whole.
With the economical landscape putting pressure on businesses to cut back, do less, in order to ride out the storm. Small businesses must realize the tools that can propel their business under any condition. A website and the internet on a whole is such a tool that when wheeled, can make the difference between shutting down or moving forward.
Glace Web provides businesses with the solution that makes sense for them and fits their budget. We have the expertise in all things web. To find out what we can do for you contact us a solutions@glaceweb.com or call 723-8783.

The Future of Mobile is the Platform

A Rush to Marketplace
The mobile ecosystem has never been so rich with diversity. With a combination of hardware, software and services,  a mobile device in your hands today provides a great deal more than any PC (personal computer) you have ever bought. This is why it is the target of software vendors such as Microsoft, Apple, Google and lots more, each providing their own solution to the mobile environment.  With such a rush to mobile devices, tech leaders around silicon valley and the world has claimed the future to be mobile. To support these new mobile platforms, cloud services/software have been developed with the call to developers world wide to step up to the challenge.
App stores have sprung up from each major provider which supplies users with free and paid for applications for their phones. These apps vary from games to business software and provide entertainment as well as keep businesses moving (literally). Every desktop application and web service from office suits to web services are moving to mobile. With mobile devices surpassing PC’s, more people are being connected with each other and their favorite services.
Software + Services = People
The mobile device as a consumer product has grown throughout the years. In the 90’s, it was all about the network and communication companies who fought over users. Now communication companies are a piece of the pie, which now includes software and web service companies around the world. This was solidified with Facebook’s entry into the mobile phone business with Facebook Home, a tighter integration of Facebook into the android platform and a partnership with mobile producer HTC and Samsung to create new devices.
Facebook’s integration isn’t a new fork of the android platform (although tech pundits thinks it’s a start), but a customization of the android phone itself with a new home screen and an app launcher interface. Facebook Home will put updates from the social network right on the home screen via a feature called Cover Feed.  Facebook says Home will be available only for certain specific phones at launch, and a tablet version will come at a later date.
Facebook entry may not be a big deal as a mobile platform change, but Facebook has over 1 billion users world wide and if the mobile projections are right then it has to be there.
The Platform Wars
With major software vendors competing with each other like never before, Google, Apple and Microsoft are viciously fighting for market share in the mobile space.
Microsoft being the last to enter the space in the three, has not let that slowed them down in getting the numbers up.  Microsoft has modified its Windows Azure cloud service for mobile and tablet devices and has finally moved its office suit (Office 365) to the cloud in the effort to carry over desktop users to web and mobile. Microsoft has tons of money and when they get their sights on something they spend to get it, but consumers are more tech savvy and fancy commercials and marketing blitz won’t sway them. But being the software giant that Microsoft is, you can bet that all their traditional software packages will eventually make it to mobile devices in someway so Microsoft loyals will follow.
Apple the pioneer in the smart phone market can’t seem to do wrong. iPhones have sold out version after version from conception and they are a market leader. It certainly seems that everyone is developing for the iOS platform so Apple has a serious stack (hardware and software). But there’s one thing missing from that stack, services. Apple has tried bundling apps with services to its iPhones but they have not panned out. For each app/service Apple has, there are much better ones out there, Apple just can’t seem to produce a solid package and need help for others.
Introducing Google, the master of cloud services. Starting with search, Google has gone into maps, mail, office and productivity suits and lots more. Google has made them selves a major software vendor with companies like Microsoft looking on. The approach that Google has taking isn’t the traditional PC approach but from the cloud. The cloud connects people to software/services in record numbers that PC’s could never have and with the android platform the have a winning thing. Cloud services in a post PC era means any device can connect and so the traditional PC is down graded back to an office tool. I for one can’t be without my android phone, and most of my cloud services is from Google. This mobile freedom is shared by many and it’s a reason why small businesses are moving at great pace
With so many choices out there and cheaper smart phones being develop every day, who will win. Will there be a clear winner? Well here is my thought, for decades Microsoft, Apple, and the Open Source Movement (Linux) has been fighting an OS (Operating System) war that still exist today. So should there be a winner?

The new shape of mobile

For the last few years we’ve all been jumping on the mobile ban-wagon. The days of the clunky, brick shape mobile phone is gone and thin is in. Our IPhones, Androids and yeah BlackBerry’s are the new face of mobile and come in all shapes and sizes, but mobile technology wont stop there. Designers and engineers are always working on something new and what they have come up with at Google is indeed something new.
 Google Glass, the wearable mobile device of the future. Glass is said to be equivalent to viewing a 25-inch HD display from eight feet with a 5 megapixel camera which takes stills and 720p video, 16GB of flash memory, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth (check out the full specs here). Glass has been in the labs of Google for some time now and is only recently ready to ship to a few lucky people. Google has recently announce that Glass is running a slim down version of android and so (in my books) puts it firmly in the mobile phone market space. Glass as you would imagine is voice activated and augments the world by adding information to what you see. Glass runs one app strait out the box but being an Android device allows for developers to create apps for the platform. Well that’s the idea Google has for it. This is very interesting and the point of this article, developers around the world will be able to augment their environments.
What this means for the Caribbean is that information about our wonderful sights and scenes could one day be made available for Glass. No more brochures, looking at large paper-base maps with cartoonish drawings. Just a seamless and natural experience everywhere you go. Well that’s the thought anyway. Glass has presented us in the region with an opportunity to express and showcase our countries in better way. Experiences can be captured without pulling out the video-cam, landmarks, buildings, can be augmented with our history, and maybe even a language translator for our slang (sorry dialect).
In time we will see how this new technology plays out and how successful it really is, but this is something for you guys to think about. We should always lookout for new ways of showcasing our countries, cultures and lives.

What’s up with WhatsApp

WhatsApp, the  little app that could. When I came across WhatsApp for my android phone over a year ago there were only 3 people in my contact list that I could speak to. Back then BlackBerry was the supreme leader (and to some still is). But now 90% of my contact list is using the service, wow. Even my BlackBerry friends are using it, but in the era of Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc, people are using just about any and every service that is available.
Watching Jan Koum, CEO of WhatsApp on All Things D conference – Dive into mobile, the tech community have learned some interesting stuff about the little company. Jan has pointed out some interesting statistics on users and messaging traffic, 8 billion inbound, 12 billion outbound messages and over 200 million monthly users. To make a comparison to bring this to light, they have more monthly users than Twitter, and more messages on mobile than Facebook. Jan didn’t want to go into more details but with claims like that no wonder there are rumors of Facebook and now Google trying to buy the company.
With this success being reported I feel vindicated for all the claims i’ve made about this app earlier on. I’ve always had the view that no application, service or technology should be locked into any one platform or provider. The famous BBM is one such service that is locked into a platform known as BlackBerry  provided by RIM (now know as simply BlackBerry). By pinning the messaging service to BlackBerry phones people are forced to buy such phones, to some marketing people, that’s grate, but to users on different mobile phones that just won’t cut it, introducing WhatsApp.
The question I have to put to you all. Do you want to be locked into one type of phone to use a service or have the freedom to move around? Companies like Digicel, Lime have capitalized on the BlackBerry craze and have milked users that simply want to chat with their friends. BlackBerry in the smart phone market does not cut it anymore and is left in the dust of competitors like IPhone, Android. The once lure of the popular app has faded and gets competition from other services making headway into the mobile ecosystem.
Needless to say I am very happy that WhatsApp and other communication apps are now providing users with alternative ways of communicating and sharing their lives. Take that BlackBerry.