Study Shows Data Gives the Edge

Francis Bacon said that knowledge is power.  In today’s world, that saying couldn’t be more true.  Recent findings by the Economist Intelligence Unit has shown that companies that have a data-driven culture rate themselves ahead of their peers financially.

Relying heavily on data is nothing new.  The general tradition is to have data analyst to go over the numbers to make recommendations.  However, there is an emerging culture of having the data integrated into the day-to-day doings of business.

With data is more hands, it allows employees to understand what and why they are doing.  Individuals with the gumption may even make recommendations of their own.  As long as they use the data to present their case, there’s no out right reason to dismiss them.

In the end, having more minds thinking about the data will edge out those who limit the pool.

The Top Trends for Small Business Tech in 2013

As spring approached this year, new tech trends for small businesses are starting to emerge.  Well, maybe not new, but there are some strong indicators that this will be the year for smart devices and big data.

Big Data

Sir Francis Bacon once said that knowledge was power.  It was true then and it’s true now.  Small business now have more access than ever to cloud-based analytical tools that help them dredge up useful knowledge from the sea of data out there. A study released by Intuit showed that access to data will increase 40-fold in the next decade.

This is important because that means consumers have an even more powerful flow of information coming their way.  As our information shifting habits evolve so will the tools to analyze what, when, where we are searching.  That is the trick that the small business must learn: how to best be present yourself on the web.

Smart Devices

The time is now for businesses to make their websites mobile friendly.  On personal note, I walked into DSW shoe store and all the sales representatives had iPad.  They were all able to log onto the store’s website and look up stock information, place orders, and show different styles.  Like the cash register, smart device will help people on the floor increase efficiency.


As the nation slowly recovers from its economic pitfalls, small businesses will need to work ever harder in this slippery world to stay on the curve.  As in the past, technology will lead the way.

Is Cloud Accounting Right For You?

Everything seems to be going up into the cloud.  Is accounting in the cloud for you?  Should your books be accessible from anywhere?  Here are a few things you should know before answering those questions.

So Who Owns What?

Unlike desktop versions of software, cloud based products tend to be subscriptions based.  People still run their old versions of Quickbook and Word that ran on Windows 95.  This won’t be the case with cloud based software.  The advantage of this is that with cloud based software like Office 365, you can pick and chose what features you want.  Desktop software tend to come out in one format or a tiered system.  Now you can pick and chose what you pay for.

Where Is Your Data?

If you’re using a cloud based software, then your data is stored offsite.  It’s not on your local hard drive.  It’s some where out there, in the cloud.  So is it secure?  Well, you paying another company to store your data and give you access to it all the time.  This is the biggest crux that the cloud community has to deal with.  But think about your ATM.  You could have all your money stored locally, like in a shoe box under your bed.  Or you give it to your bank and they give you access to your money via tellers, ATMs, etc.

Who Is It for?

In my opinion, cloud based software is really for the medium guy.  If you’re a tiny business and you can count your daily sales on one hand, then this isn’t for you.  A simple double ledger spreadsheet in Excel would do you better.  If you’re a mega-corporation then you would build or higher your own accounting department and have an in-house system.  However, the medium business that is always on the go and in flux will have use for a cloud based accounting system.  As your business grows and changes the cloud is more apt to scale.  It’s going to be easier than making that tough choice to spend a whole lot of money on a software upgrade.

An Introduction to Google Takeout

There has definitely been a trend of the work world bleeding into the American’s personal lives.  In the last decade, with the rise of cellphones and ever increasing internet connectivity, workers have become more accessible.  Bosses expect more and more of their workers to be on call and productive even during off hours.  Now Google is introducing something that could stop the bleeding or accelerate it.  A team of engineers from the tech giant called the Data Liberation Front has unveiled Google Takeout.  This service is supposed to be able to allow a user to compress all their data from Google products such as their circles and contacts into a zip file that they can take with them anywhere.  That has some interesting applications.

The Data Liberation Front team claims that since you can now move your data easily out of Google services it’ll create an environment in which they’ll have to work that much harder to keep your business.

I don’t really buy that.  What I do see is a service in which you can download, let’s say, all your Google Docs from your personal account and transfer it to a company document cloud hosting service.  Another usage would include backing up all that data.  Ever since Amazon’s EC2 went down, businesses have been on edge about accessibility and security of their data.

One way to look at this is that is keeps your private and work life a little more separate.  You don’t have to invite your boss onto your Google calendar to sync dates.  However, on the other hand, your boss may require you to do more work since it’s easier to share data between cloud systems.

Throttling: For You and America At Large

The word unlimited is uttered and various images come to mind. Some people think of the sky, the stars, or the vast oceans that line the Earth. However, rarely do they think of a river being choked by a dam, allowing only a trickle of water through. AT&T and Verizon, the two largest wireless carriers in the world, seemed to have adopted that definition. The two companies have made it a habit of lowering the available bandwidth to the top five percent users on unlimited plans. This is even after both companies stopped offering unlimited data plans to new customers since 2011. One user has even sued and won, claiming he was defrauded since AT&T cut off his bandwidth when he was paying 85 dollars a month for unlimited data. The whole situation seems rather unsettling for both consumers and America at large.

AT&T made the claim that the top five percent of unlimited plan users were hogging too much of the available bandwidth. According to a new study however, this isn’t true. The study showed that the top five percent of tiered users consume about as much bandwidth as their unlimited plan cousins. The main difference is that tiered users pay for that bandwidth. It’s unsavory to think that AT&T and Verizon are engaging profiteering at the expense of what appears to be a clear cut ethical issue. Regardless of what your politics are about the regulation of business, all sides of the spectrum  agree that you should get what you pay for. Though not all the blame should be placed on the current administrations these telecommunication companies. Some, should be placed on their predecessors.

When Al Gore said that he invented the internet, he was referring to a group of legislative bills that he authored that helped spur the creation of infrastructure that would allow the web to exist. This broadband throttling speaks to a deeper issue. America, as a nation, is falling behind in broadband penetration. Currently, we rank 19th in the world, behind Canada, France and Bermuda. It’s true that bridges and roads are falling apart too, but internet infrastructure needs to be addressed. The United States is entering a post-industrial economic phase where technological services create more jobs such as in tech support and computer engineering. In my view, restoring the glory of the past is nice, but creating a future is realistic.

Throttling is an issue that should concern individual consumers and nation-states alike. It’s wrong for businesses to claim a product is one thing, but then to deliver something else. It’s equally wrong for the United States to put improving our data infrastructure on the back burner. However, as the wise man said, the first step of avoiding a trap is knowing there’s one there.