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ShoreTel Sky
ShoreTel Sky makes phone systems and applications that businesses love.
ShoreTel Sky makes phone systems and applications that businesses love.

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"Google Says That Despite Changes, Marketers Can Still Track Open Rates In Gmail" good read

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I need to go pick up some garlic chili sauce ASAP - Sriracha shipments stopped until mid-January by health department

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"Box Rolls Out New Management Tools, Gives Its 200K Business Users More Control Over Their Files" boxhq is #onaroll

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Top Tech Trends of 2013

From #3Dprinters to personal cloud, this year has been filled with numerous advancements in technology. Bizarre, useful, or terrifying, all these advancements share one thing – they’re changing the way we do business. We’re looking back on the top trends that have shaped the industry in 2013.

1. Wearable Technology

If we weren’t already constantly connected to our computers, this tech trend will ensure your smart devices follow you everywhere – as an accessory. From +Samsung USA +Galaxy Gear Wristwatch, +Qualcomm Smart WatchQ, +Google Glass, and the iWatch, all the major tech companies are rolling out their take on wearable technology.

 2. 3D Printers

Printers that can create three-dimensional solid objects out of digital models have been around for decades, but their popularity has only recently skyrocketed. Companies in various industries are utilizing these printers to create everything from medical supplies, human tissue, and common household objects.

Solid Concepts has been offering this year’s top tech trends since 1991. We’ve got enough lasers in our manufacturing shop to man a small legion of Storm Troopers (not that we would; laser guns are wasted on troops with such poor aim). Witticisms aside, what makes us so modern is the fact that we mix old traditional value and manufacturing ethics with the top manufacturing technology available. Our shop is filled with over 80 3D Printing (additive manufacturing) machines with talented and professional programmers, finishers, painters and artists working right beside them. It’s a unique balance of mass customization and large volume production, of building the housing for the world’s next top technology boom and giving UAVs the answer to longer flight and prototyping a new toy for the next generation of children. Yes, 3D Printing allows geometries and units to be built in economical ways and accomplishes shapes that were once only possible through the extreme evolution of Mother Nature, but the best technology is nothing without the right engineers, software designers, and knowledgeable representatives. – Alyssa Parkinson, Solid Concepts

3. Big Data

One of the biggest challenges of our decade is tackling the massive amount of data we’re faced with. From social statistics to how much money you’re making per employee, the numbers can be overwhelming. Companies such as +Workday, +Oracle, +Platfora, and Kapow are coming up with solutions to improve how we handle our data.

4. Social Video

From Vine to +Instagram, sharing videos on our social networks was one of the most popular activities of the year. Not only individuals, but companies were quick to take advantage of these video platforms for their marketing campaigns. Brands such as +lululemon athletica, Nike, and +Burberry are just a few who are paving the way for social video branding.

It wasn’t long ago that marketing companies needed to spend lots of time packaging and promoting any type of video content from their brand. Social media has changed that somewhat, because it gives company employees (like the CEO) a chance to share content that feels much more natural than packaged, promotional pieces. As the co-founder of Twitter and the co-founder and CEO of a young tech company like Square, Jack Dorsey is probably in a much better place than most CEOs to utilize this new type of social media sharing. When he chose to share Vine videos of the company’s new headquarters, it felt like you were watching a video from a friend, not from the company CEO. Video sharing has become less professional and more personal, and that’s what services like Vine and Instagram encourage. With so many consumers using those platforms, it’s a perfect way for someone like Jack to show off the new headquarters with minimal effort, and maximum impact. – Kurt Wagner, +Mashable 

 5. Electronic Surveillance, NSA, and PRISM

When confidential details about PRISM, the mass electronic data-mining program operated by the National Security Agency, were leaked earlier this year, it caused quite a disturbance among the general public. While unsettling, the surveillance program brought to light an issue many people have thought little about – how the use of electronic data could harm or help us.

6. Password Protection

Arguably one of the hottest topics of the year was that of password protection. Even those of us who consistently alter our passwords and use various combinations of letters, numbers, and symbols, are finding their personal data is no longer safe among hackers. +Google has been tampering with the idea of a Smart Key – a physical key that unlocks your digital assets. Additionally, +Nymi is a device that uses your unique heartbeat to authenticate your identity.

Bionym is doing something entirely original. By bringing identity onto the body through a wearable technology device, the Nymi creates a new system of authentication, replacing not just passwords, but keys and PINs as well. Bionym also seeks to accomplish this system without compromising security or convenience, or neglecting privacy concerns. The excitement from a device like the Nymi has already spread internationally, and Bionym is preparing to make waves come its product release in early 2014. – Kurt Bartlett, Bionym

7. Public + Private Cloud

With the growing desire to safely store and access our digital files from anywhere, options for both public and personal cloud increase. Public cloud services are owned and operated by third-party providers, such as Dropbox, SugarSync, and Box, and are typically larger in scale than private clouds. Individual clients fees are low-cost, pay-as-you-go. However, since they are using a shared infrastructure to store their data, there are security and availability risks. With a private cloud, many of these data security and control risks are minimized. Private clouds, such as LeCei, +CloudBox Communications, Limited, and My Book Live, are built exclusively for individual enterprises, and can be hosted within an organization’s own data center or externally.

8. Business Analytics/ Analytics Software

Running a business is a huge undertaking, let alone trying to understand all the data about it. Analytics algorithms, such as MapReduce, and software such as SAP, are all aimed at tackling this data and shedding light on how it should be interpreted. It’s no longer just about why something happened, it’s about predicting what will happen in the future.

9. Mobile Device Battle

With more than half of all Americans owning a smart phone, the battle over which one ranks superior seems to be constantly changing. Whether you are on Android or iOS (or even Windows Phone), there is plenty to keep up with. We’ve already seen the demise of Nokia as a standalone phone manufacturer and BlackBerry is now up for sale/scrap.

10. Smart Phones Getting Smarter + The Internet of Things

The Internet of Things is an idea that has become popularized this year – huge numbers of digital devices connected to the Internet, creating enormous quantities of data. It’s argued that all this data will invariably change search. Everything from routers, phones, and soon cars and refrigerators, will be connected. Gecko is one such product hypothesis based on constant digital device connectivity, and how we can use that information to better our lives.

So these are the tech stories of this year.  Any guesses on what next year will bring?

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BART Strike Presents a Learning Opportunity for Business
By: Amber Bigler Newman on Jul 2, 2013


SF10/18/2013 – Update: This post was written on July 2, 2013. After a 4 and a half day walkout and a 60 day cooling-off period ordered by California Governor Jerry Brown, the two sides are yet again at an impasse and the trains are shutdown. Frustrated Bay-area commuters are scrambling for options.

The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) strike has entered its second day with no additional negotiations scheduled, causing major headaches for San Francisco area commuters. Bay Area Rapid Transit is a system serving the San Francisco Bay Area. The heavy-rail public transit and subway system connects San Francisco with cities in the East Bay and suburbs in northern San Mateo County. It’s estimated that about 200,000 people take approximately 400,000 trips on BART every day.

Fiscal Impact

Officials from the Amalgamated Transit Union and Service Employees International Union say that the major sticking points continue to be pay increases, health care benefits and pension contributions for mechanics, maintenance workers and professional staff. At this point, officials cannot predict when the labor action will end. A lengthy strike, in addition to being difficult on residents, could be very expensive according to the Bay Area Council, a public policy group. They estimate that the strike could result in $73 million a day in lost productivity as employees sit in traffic or forgo coming to work altogether.

A Good Lesson About Remote Work

I’m reminded of a line from The Karate Kid. At one point, Mr. Miyagi tells Daniel, “Best defense? Don’t be there.” According to Global Workplace Statistics, 64 million U.S. employees have a job that is compatible (at least part time) with telework. That’s 50% of the American workforce. While some employers may prefer to have people work in the office most of the time (Yahoo! springs to mind), the strike is a good reminder that life is unpredictable and businesses that plan ahead are at an advantage. Now is a good time for all businesses to think about how employees can be productive from home when circumstances make it difficult or impossible to get to the office.

Take Your Office Phone System With You

Now that most knowledge workers have reliable, high-speed internet connections at home and many business applications are available online or through a secure connection, there are few barriers to productivity at home. One major obstacle can be the business phone system. Employees who are not at their desk may struggle to be responsive to clients and co-workers. No one wants to spend the day listening to and leaving voicemail messages. Fortunately, cloud-based business phone systems alleviate this problem by making it possible for people to connect from anywhere. Employees can simply plug in an office phone at home and take and make calls using their business phone number. Don’t want to spring for extra handsets, softphones turn any computer into a fully functional office phone.

Working from a home office might not recapture all $73 million of lost productivity, but it’s certainly a better option for most companies that workers stuck on the San Mateo Bridge for hours. Let’s hope that this labor action is resolved quickly and amicably, but let’s also use this as an opportunity to ponder how we can be prepared for the next strike, or hurricane, or blizzard, or ……

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Technology Executives’ Advice for Leaders


It probably shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that the website designed to help Americans purchase insurance through the Affordable Healthcare Act,, has experienced some significant technical difficulties during its debut.   According to reports, people have had difficulty moving through the system, with error screens and unresponsiveness common.  Although the difficulties at first were thought to be due to overwhelming volume, experts now believe that deeper architectural issues may be at fault.

Why shouldn’t it be surprising?  Large scale software launches are hard and this one is enormous.  It is not uncommon for software roll outs to be plagued by delays, budget overruns, user interface issues, scale-ability limits and other unexpected fiascoes.  Just last year, Knight Capital lost $440 million in 45 minutes due to a newly installed software that went a bit berserk.  You may also remember how new software installed last year by the IRS, designed to process electronic returns and presumably expedite refunds did just the opposite, causing multiple week processing delays for many taxpayers.  With as many as 4.7 million unique visitors in the first 24 hours, was bound to have some blips, and it did.  Big ones.  So, now what?  What do you do if you are responsible for a software launch gone awry?  Beg? Cry? Run?  We asked several technology thought leaders what advice they’d give to those responsible for and here’s what they told us.

George Langan, founder of Sales Mentor, a platform for sales team skill building, emphasized the need to quickly identify the cause. “When the product that you released is not working the way it was intended the natural reaction of IT and management is to assume it’s a minor problem. Often it’s not. The best thing to do is apologize publicly and often, make sure that the error pages a user sees explain what’s happening and what they can expect. Engineers may try to minimize the problems, but as a manager you have to question and dig. Get daily updates and set timelines for a resolution.”

“Tell the truth and trust your target market,” said Thad Puckett, Vice President of Technology at The Karis Group.  ”Calling something a glitch when it is a bigger problem only makes it worse!”

Beth Camero, Technology Manger at California Association of Health Facilities, thinks communication is critical.  ”Take responsibility and tell people when you expect it to be fixed. They don’t care what happened, they just want to know when it will be usable. Keep them updated. Communication is the key.”

“Double and triple redundancy,” suggested Shane Hayes Director of Operations at The Mascia Law Firm. “When implementing something as massive as they need to take some lessons from the video game industry and ensure they have adequate servers to handle the expected loads and that those servers and double and triple redundant.  Take queues from major MMO publishers and always alpha test, beta test and stress test before launch. Then make sure you are heavily redundant to get through the initial wave of traffic.”  His colleague, Hemant Panchal added, “I’ve found the best response is usually a good explanation as to what is the source of the problem and what is being done to resolve it. An apology with an explanation and the truth seems to be the best way to approach problems like this.”

Dan Hoffman, technology CEO veteran and chair of the non-profit business building organization, Workshop in Business Opportunities, spoke from personal experience. “Being candid and apologetic never failed me.  But it is more effective when it comes from the top, and is then reiterated consistently from a team that stands together with a consistent story and plan.”

Finally, our own Keith Nealon, President of ShoreTel’s Cloud Division sees it this way, “People always understand that with technology things will go awry, so it’s not that there won’t be a crisis of some sort, it’s about how the company responds to the crisis. It has always been my experience that the more timely and frequent your updates, and the more transparent you are, the more trust is built with your customers. The relationship built with the customer is built over time and hopefully for the long-run. Just like any relationship it won’t survive without an open and honest dialog.”

Time will tell if those responsible for will heed the advice of these leaders and focus on open communication, taking responsibility and quickly developing a plan to solve the problem, but it’s good advice for everyone in technology because no project, no matter how big or small, is immune to woe.

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For anyone who is contemplating making a big purchase, a car or a home, knowledge is key. The folks at AmeriFirst Home Mortgage understand that buyers want useful information, in their case, about buying and owning a home. Their thoughtful and creative blog posts have helped their business grow exponentially. Earlier this year while attending the Inbound Marketing Conference we met Dan Moyle, Marketing & Communications Specialist at AmeriFirst. He was one of the presenters and spoke about ‘Making Boring Industry Content Work for Your Business.’ We were intrigued about how AmeriFirst is taking modern marketing to the next level. We’re both former journalists and had some common ideas about what makes blog posts engaging from a marketing perspective. These are some of the topics we discussed. #moderncompany  

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Technology has greatly changed how we conduct business, especially in telecommunications. In our two part interview with Sheila McGee-Smith, she weighs in on how contact centers are adapting to keep up with our increasingly connected population.

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Social media is making an impact on the way brands are marketed and advertised but it’s also changed the way customers express their feelings about a product or a service. This is a good and a bad thing for businesses. According to a Zendesk survey 95% of customers are likely to share bad experiences and more than half of them will share their horror stories with five or more people.

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+MX3 understands the shift of the market to a more modern living that includes more green materials, quality craftsmanship and the desire to get away from cookie cutter developments and get closer to the heart of the urban core.
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