How does your business meet the constantly changing needs of your customers? If you have a plan in place to respond quickly and change the way you do business to meet new developments in the marketplace, you have what is known as an agile business model. Agile businesses have a leg up on the competition because they can get customers what they want faster, no matter how their needs change. Cloud computing can play a role in this model, and here's how.
Are you getting everything you can out of your company’s website? Many people make the mistake of assuming that if they or their business don’t specialize in marketing or communications, they don’t need to worry about what their website looks like. In truth, your company’s website is not only a powerful communication tool that can connect you to customers, but it is also a way to help employees enhance the utility of the business’s remote network.
What’s on your Website?The first step in analyzing additional uses for your company’s website is to take a look at what you have up right now. Did you go fully interactive, with lots of information for potential customers, or do you just have a single home page with your business hours and relevant contact information? The latter is fairly common with smaller companies, but it’s a good idea to take some time to add a layer of depth to your content, even if it’s only a few blog entries or some advice articles. When it comes to boosting the utility of your business network, it also helps to have a section available to employees. This should be placed in an out of the way area of the website so casual customers don’t stumble upon it.
As strange as it may seem, one of the problems that some companies run into when it comes to creating a remote network is a problem of enthusiasm. Many employees may be intimidated by the idea of networking remotely, especially if they aren’t entirely familiar with mobile devices. Likewise, some supervisors are hesitant to accept the idea of remote work because they can’t monitor an employee’s time. Here are some ways to break down those barriers.
Technological ConcernsLearning a new system can be intimidating, especially as people get older and become more accustomed to the technology that they use on an everyday basis. Because of this, some people may not be willing to make the jump to remote networking because they don’t want to learn more about their mobile devices. Many people purchase mobile devices for one or two tasks, never learning how to use the full array of technology at their fingertips. This barrier can be overcome by connecting with your employees on a personal level when it comes to the technology. By showing them how learning more about a mobile device can benefit them personally, it encourages them to learn more for business.
Whether you are launching a new business or looking to overhaul your existing business plan, it is very useful to take a look at the way your network is laid out. For many companies, your network is your business. As such, just like you would develop a business plan you should consider making a comprehensive network plan. This plan allows you to identify your network contacts, develop a plan for outages, managing the network on a day to day basis, and much more.
Identify your Applications Early OnIf you are starting a new business, you should start by making a list of the applications you need in order to operate on a daily basis. This should include all the software that you use on a regular basis as well as special programs that your specialized employees use. Consider the resources needed to run each of these programs. The amount of resources your software uses will help to determine the hardware you purchase in order to support your operations. It will also help you decide whether or not you should look into setting up a virtual private network, or VPN. It's important to have the software details set before moving forward because that way you don't find yourself scrambling for additional resources.
Where are your most important files located? Most employees in a business know where to find what they use on a regular basis, but what if a key employee is out for the week or has left the company when something major comes up? File management is an often overlooked aspect of managing a business network. The larger your company grows, the more important file management becomes. Consider the tips below as a starting point for examining your file management system.
Emphasize OrganizationIf possible, you should encourage your employees to use a uniform file management system for any files that may be shared on your network. One option you can consider is to create a directory of main folders on your network drive that all other files will go into. These folders would be under the control of management or the IT team, so their names wouldn’t change. This ensures that, for example, all budget information goes into the network folder labeled “Budgets” rather than having one employee putting files into “Budgets,” another into “Budget,” and yet another into “Yearly Accounting.” It’s often very surprising how many seemingly self-evident names people use in their filing systems.
How do you recruit people for your business? If you are like most companies, you usually restrict yourself to a local pool of candidates, with the occasional possibility of somebody else coming in fr om out of town as long as they can relocate. However, those days are rapidly fading. One of the beautiful things about remote networking is that you don’t have to worry about location as much. It’s perfectly possible to use a remote model to change the way you recruit your workers.
Key Questions to AskThe biggest benefit that a remote model has when it comes to recruiting is that you don’t have to worry wh ere a potential employee is. If somebody is the most qualified candidate for the position, you can make the job work even if they can’t come in to the office in person. However, before you start considering candidates you need to look at the job itself. How much face to face interaction does the position need? You also need to look at what infrastructure is available to you. Do you have the proper tools to make sure the candidate can participate in teleconferences, meetings, and other important events without having to jump through hoops to do so?
What do you look for when hiring new people to staff your IT department? Experience is always a good thing to look for, but there are different levels of experience to bear in mind. Figuring out how many years somebody has in the field is a good start, but that hardly tells the whole story. You should look at breadth and diversity of experience, areas of specialty,and more. Consider the items presented here as a starting point when deciding on a new IT candidate.
Experience with Different SoftwareOne important item to keep in mind is that software suites change frequently. At the same time, similar programs often have similar operating methods, regardless of the company developing it. For this reason, it is often a good idea to find somebody who has experience in a range of different software suites. Even if you use a Windows server, for example, having somebody who is also familiar with Linux or Mac OS X is a good idea if you can find them. Not only will that help make the transition easier if you ever change operating systems, but it also gives your personnel a diversity of experience. People who are familiar with multiple systems have a better chance of finding outside-the-box solutions.
Is your business network available on any device? With the increased focus on mobile marketing and business on the go, you should make sure to take the extra steps needed to optimize your network for access on smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices. This can be as simple as revamping your company's website or as complex as overhauling the way you handle your network security. For some tips about moving to a mobile world, read on.
Mobile Access versus Mobile NetworkingFirst of all, it is essential to define the difference between mobile access and mobile networking. Providing mobile access is a matter of making your website mobile-friendly. This means optimizing your business's public site, removing frames that can be cumbersome on mobile devices, and streamlining your overall graphical presentation. By comparison, mobile networking means optimizing your entire business network so your employees, consultants, and other VIPs can easily access their essential files through their mobile devices. This is a much more involved process and requires a comprehensive look at your network. It can cause some security issues, but it can also streamline your business.
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