The digital SHEntrepreneur

The digital SHEntrepreneur

Ever since the beginning of time, technological advancements have been taking place but the pace at which we have experienced this advancement in the last 20 years, we have never seen this pace ever in the entire history.

2011-03-01-ladyThe main credit goes to the invention called “computer”. In fact, we did not start receiving technological gifts so frequently till the big brains started working on reducing the size and increasing the processing speed of this machine. Once this was in hand and in control, a bombardment of useful gadgets started.

Most of us use these multi-purpose gadgets for one single purpose or fun or as a trend, but there are some people who use them much more smartly and have made their life easier than ever before.

Today, I will tell you the story of a SHEntrepreneur.  SHEntrepreneur stands for “She Entrepreneur” or a lady entrepreneur.

This lady runs a small business, has an office but hardly spends any time sitting in it. You know why? Because she uses technology smartly.

The lady runs a small manufacturing concern. The business by size is small, but still the largest of its nature in the country.

2011-03-01-blackberry-laptop-225x300Her weapons include, an ecommerce web site, a laptop which she switches on occasionally and a BlackBerry smart phone which stays with her 24/7.

The web site is very much content rich and search engine optimised. This means, she receives quite a satisfactory number of visitors from search engines. These people visit the web site and send enquiries or place direct orders.

Orders are received by the dispatch department and a copy of them on her BlackBerry. Orders are shipped and another name is added to the list of satisfied customers.

Inquiries too are received on her BlackBerry phone. She replies to queries or sends price quotes from her BlackBerry – instantly.

To send heavier files like product brochures, she has a fit-to-mobile web site module from where she can send documents with just a single click.

Apart from search engines, the company also appears at top in Google Places, which is another source of prospective walk-in customers.

Follow-up in every field of life is very important. Same is in the case of selling.

According to a research conducted by American Sales Management Association;

2% sales are made on 1st contact.
3% on 2nd contact.
5% on 3rd contact.
10% on 4th contact.
And 80% on 5th-12th contact.

She understand this and considers follow-up seriously.

Against every email enquiry received, she places a follow-up reminder flag on her BlackBerry phone. This is BlackBerry’s built-in feature. You can flag an email for follow-up to give you an alert on the specified date and time.

She also uses SMS scheduler for BlackBerry to send automated SMS reminders where suitable.

To avoid writing emails from scratch every time, she has saved several email templates as email drafts. Hence when a common message needs to be sent, she just picks one from the draft.

Existing client-base is a huge asset. If you are not making use of it, you are sitting like a snake on a chest of treasure.

She has an automated newsletter system built in her web site. The system randomly selects a collection of products from the database and emails it in form of a well formatted email newsletter to the existing customers, as well as the subscribers of the mailing list on a weekly basis.

She has not left social media marketing behind and keeps her Twitter account updated with the latest products to offer and related interesting news from the world.

To be honest, perhaps she has hardly every logged in to her Twitter account but still keeps tweeting. How does she do it? Well, the idea is simple. She has an RSS feed of her products on her web site. This feed is automatically fetched by a service called Google Feedburner and regularly sent as a Twitter post.

What she has created is an infinite loop of automated tasks and we can learn a lot from her practices. Luckily, the lady in fact is none other than my own wife – Farnaz.

How much does chat cost?

How much does chat cost?

chatChat has been there for years now. It evolved mainly from IRC like mIRC to today’s better chat options like MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, GoogleTalk, etc.

Most of us chat for personal communication or for fun and now corporate chat clients are also making place in corporate environments but have we ever thought or calculated what does chatting actually cost to a company?

Let me give you taste of what you lose when you allow chat in a corporate environment.

Let us say, you have a company with ten people. You have allowed chat over your corporate network. Usual chat pattern of people is 10 seconds of chat and 10 seconds of work, that is, they chat for 10 seconds and then switch window to work and then switch back. This thing goes on through out the day.
10 seconds chat and 10 seconds work means that the person is just working half the time. So if a routine workday is 8 hours, the person is only working for 4 hours.

Let us go further and do some calculations.

If you pay an average $10 an hour for an 8 hour day, you are paying $80 a day.

Multiply this amount by 20 working days a month, you are paying $1,600 a month.

By allowing to chat in your company, you actually are paying $20 per hour and not $10 because keeping in mind the 10:10 chat pattern, the person is working half day.

In other words, you are paying $800 per month extra for just chatting.

So at $10 per hour, 8 hours a day, 20 days a month and 12 months a year, you are paying $19,200 per year.

Since the person works half day and chats the other half, you actually are paying $9,600 for not doing any company work.

This is not all. Remember, I just mentioned above that your company has 10 people so let us multiply it by 10. This makes $96,000 per year for wasting time.

What if the average salary is $20 and not $10. You are paying $192,000 extra.

Do this calculation with your own company size and average salary, you will understand what you are losing.

Do we really need a tablet?

Do we really need a tablet?

tabletsIf you are even a little techie, the word you will most frequently hear nowadays is “tablet”.

Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple Inc. is perhaps the only person who has the credit of changing the world trends multiple times.

First he did it with the introduction of Apple range of computers. He did it again by unveiling the iMac. Third time it was by introducing the iPhone and finally it is by the launch of iPad.

He sets the trends and others follow. This is what has happened in tablets as well. He launched iPad and since then, market has been invaded by tons of tablets.

But the question is, do we really need a tablet? Well, I spent quite a bit of time on finding it out and here is what I feel.

Tablet is indeed an amazing thing but it neither is a laptop nor a smart phone.

The things an ordinary user uses a laptop for are mainly web browsing, checking emails, word processing, making spreadsheets and designing presentations.

Why we use mobile phones is to make phone calls.

With tablets, we do all the stuff mentioned above but to be honest, it is not that easy.

Let me discuss in detail different scenarios as below.

Making office documents and spreadsheets on a tablet is possible, but the ability to format them is quite limited. Copy/paste is quite a hassle. Making a flat document is easy but I tried to make a few office documents with more advanced features and when it comes to formatting and adding tables, I missed my laptop a lot. So my vote here in this case is for a laptop and not for a tablet.

Using a tablet, you surely can browse the web, though you sometimes have to compromise with the small display by zooming in the screen. This zooming in brings a horizontal scroll on the screen which I hate to see, but even then, in this case, I have no issue using a tablet.

If you are good at virtual keyboards, you can manage to type emails and I think a virtual keyboard on this size of screen is quite acceptable. I have no issue using a tablet in this case as well but would prefer using my BlackBerry with a qwerty keyboard.

Games, this is another thing tablets are good at offering and I am quite OK with playing games on this device.

Now most of the tablets have mobile phone built in them but I do not think anyone of us will be comfortable carrying a 10″ or a 7″ mobile phone. Hence, we have to carry a phone separately in addition to a tablet, so I give a negative mark to tablet when it has to be used as a phone.

Below is a chart showing the ability of each device.

what-can-be-done

Below are my recommendations.

my-recommendation1

Summing it all, these are not ultimate words. Requirements and convenience levels differ from person to person. According to my requirement, I do not need a tablet but according to your requirement, you may need one.

Linux finally gets some respect

Linux finally gets some respect

linux-respectLinux has been there since 1991. Even being so stable and now even easier to install and use than ever before, it has not been able to achieve a reputable position as a consumer product.

Thanks to Google, with the introduction of Android operating system, it has finally gained the long awaited respect.

Now most of the smart phones have Linux operating system running.

HTC, Google Nexus, Samsung Galaxy S and many other smart phones and tablets are using Android operating system – built on Linux.

HP’s webOS (previously Palm’s webOS) also runs on Linux kernel.

iPhone and iPad use iOS built on Unix operating system, an elder brother of Linux.

BlackBerry PlayBook uses QNX which also is a commercial Unix-like operating system.

This is not all, Mac OSX is also based on Unix.

Where will the cloud settle?

Where will the cloud settle?

cloud2After every few years, we see a big change. Sometimes it is in form of computers, sometimes in form of Internet and sometimes it is in form of mobile phones.

The latest buzzword is ‘Cloud’. The cloud basically refers to a central location on the internet where all data lies and is available on demand to the ones who have access to it.

The data is usually accessed using a web browser hence saving hardware, software and maintenance costs to the ones who use it.

Application service providers have tried to provide every service accessible from a web browser, but people do not feel comfortable using web browser for everything. They still feel better using a desktop application but the data still in the cloud.

What I think is that after sometime, application service providers will provide little lightweight front-end apps to access the data that lies in the cloud. Something similar to mobile apps.

In short, all data will stay in the cloud, accessible from anywhere but front-end will be a small native desktop application for better user experience.