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SMB Nation has been serving the Bainbridge Island area since 2001, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Sage Advice: Hey George – What Should My 18 Year Old Son Do?

At the recently completed Sage Summit in Atlanta, I enjoyed a 1:1 meeting with George Foreman, boxing legend, following his keynote address to several thousand attendees. My question was simple – it was about advice for my 18 year old son who is an Eagle Scout and will start at CalPoly this fall studying information systems.
“It is important that you must start - you can't dream without making a first step to start. Then in life you will always have to start over. If you do it once, you can certainly do it again.” Foreman offered as advice that applies to anyone of any age.

Specific to a young person, Foreman opined “The most important thing is to get a job. Doesn't matter how many hours it is. Learn and then learn something you love. Even volunteer. Even clean the bathroom. At work, everyone will stop by to tell you something.” Foreman shared. “If you can just get into the door, you can learn what you really want to do. Don't wait to be successful. You got to start the ground work and you have to start from the bottom.” I’d offer that is sage advice from Foreman at the Sage Summit!

Keynote context
Foreman dazed and amazed the Sage Summit audience for a few rounds, literally. Today Foreman works with youth at the George Foreman Youth Center in Houston, Texas. “The youth energized me and really got me back into boxing the second time.” Foreman said. “I had run out of money and I was focused on getting kids off the street. I’m still doing the that."

harryb and george foreman

Foreman told his story of not completing high school to learning boxing and become Olympic gold medalist within two years of starting boxing. He went on to be a twice world champion. That followed with success with selling 100+ million George Foreman Grills.
George Foreman

Bottom line. Foreman went from riches to rags to riches again. His success is well-earned.

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Get Ready for IoT by Taking 3 Essential Steps

by Oliver Schabenberger

To prepare for IoT, companies need to take advantage of big data and advanced analytics, and adapt their culture, so they are ready for the transformation.

In the early 1990s, the general public made its earliest forays into using the Internet. At the time, no one could have imagined where the IOT one photo shutterstock 468787469 A2technology would lead. Social media, e-commerce, mobile apps, cloud computing, software as a service -- the list is endless. Entire classes of applications -- even industries -- were not even a gleam in their creators' eyes. Today these internet-based technologies have transformed the way we live and work.

Fast-forward more than 25 years. We are at a similar stage in the latest iteration of the internet -- the Internet of Things (IoT). Pundits of all stripes predict that the IoT will change everything. Connected cars. Better patient monitoring devices. Industrial machines that track their own maintenance requirements. Intelligent street lights. Everything will be connected.

As with the original internet, we have no idea where the IoT will take us. And before we see the full impact of the predicted and unforeseen advances, we will need to remove significant technical obstacles, notably security and lack of standards.

Still, despite the roadblocks, companies that get ahead of the IoT curve will undoubtedly benefit from a lasting competitive advantage as they forge new markets. So what can your company do today to prepare for the future of IoT? The following are the top three best practices:

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Microsoft Power BI Visualizes Dynamics 365 Business Processes

By: Pedro Hernandez | May 18, 2017

A Power BI content pack allows Dynamics 365 customers to gain new insights into their business processes.

Power BIMicrosoft wants to help demystify the business processes of its Dynamics 365 customers.

Power BI, Microsoft's cloud-based business intelligence (BI) and data visualization platform, is typically used to create interactive visualizations that unearth insights using a wide variety of business data. Now, joint Power BI and Dynamics 365 users have tool that can help them get a better grasp of what makes their businesses tick.

The software giant announced the release of a new Power BI Process Analyzer Content Pack for customers using Dynamics 365 (version 8.2 and up), a cloud-enabled business application platform that integrates Microsoft's customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) software along with a bevy of intelligent applications. The pack is available in the AppSource marketplace from Microsoft.

The Power BI content pack, authored by Microsoft staffers Christian Abeln, a senior program manager, and Karl Maybach, a senior content developer at the software maker, links directly to the Dynamics 365 database and generates interactive charts and other visualizations that represent business process flows. According to the company, users can then track and explore several of their organizations' performance indicators.

A step-by-step guide on setting up the content pack and creating custom business process reports is available in this blog post.

Also this week, Microsoft released a preview of Power BI Report Server, which enables customers of the new Power BI Premium licensing option to store and manage reports on-premises. "With this first release, you connect directly to an Analysis Services data model, which in turn can connect to a variety of other data sources, including SQL Server, Oracle, Teradata, and more," stated Riccardo Muti, a group program manager at Microsoft Power BI in a separate post. "We aim to extend direct connectivity to the other Power BI Desktop data sources, targeting later this year."

Power BI Report Server will be generally available alongside Power BI Premium later this quarter, added Muti.

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Now Sales Is Buying Bright Shiny Objects, Too

 

 

Maas Companies ImagePublished on May 18, 2017

Jill Rowley

I’ve seen this movie before, over in MarTech. I spent a decade at Eloqua building the marketing automation space from 2002-2012. Scott Brinker coined the term Chief Marketing Technologist in 2010 and has documented the “category” growth from ~ 150 applications to over 5,000 in 2017. Anything that could be automated was automated - at least at some companies - often without much thought as to the strategic plan underlying these sparkly new toys.

Marketing Technology Landscape 1

 

 

Now, the same thing is happening in SalesTech. Here’s one glimpse at this expanding universe from Nancy Nardin at Smart Selling Tools:

Smart Technology landscape 1

And here’s a more analytical look at the landscape, minus all the players:

 

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5 Virtual Phone Service Features Your Small Business Needs

business meeting

 

Alicia Sandino

Entrepreneurs and small businesses are getting on board with a virtual phone service. Its mobile-friendly capabilities and business-focused features are just a few of the alluring aspects of this business communication service. Not too long ago, if you were an entrepreneur you had to rely on your personal cell phone plan and phone number to stay in touch with prospects and clients, keeping you from establishing a professional image. As a result, you most likely had to shell out a pretty penny to get on a business phone service plan with major providers just to seem like a credible business.

Today, a virtual phone service can give you the professional image you need with some of the best VoIP features available. The best part? You can see significant savings if you’re switching from a major phone service provider.

Call Continuity

As a new business, you want to maintain a reputation of reliability. If you’re looking for maximum uptime, call continuity is your go-to feature. It’s easy to set up and keeps your calls coming in so your small business can reliably service customers.

Voicemail to Email

As a small business, you want to make sure you interact with every client that comes your way. Voicemail to email keeps your messages handy and ready to view from your email so you don’t miss out on new revenue opportunities; doesn’t that sound like something every business owner would want? Don’t let this seemingly simple feature fool you- there are several ways to make this feature really work for you.

Automated Attendant

Are you still thinking about hiring a receptionist for that professional feel? Look no further than an automated attendant. With this indispensable virtual phone service feature, you can professionally greet callers, direct them to the right person, and inform them of new products or upcoming promotions.

Customized Prompt Menus

Prompt menus work hand in hand with your auto attendant to give callers a chance to make their experience better. Customize your menu to your own services to help callers get the assistance they need.

Call Logging

Keep track of your calls and conversations for more accurate follow ups and add a personal touch to your interactions. Although this is a tool that call centers typically enjoy, call logging can give entrepreneurs and their teams the data they need to increase customer satisfaction and ultimately, customer retention.

Is a Virtual Phone System Right for Your Business?

A virtual phone system isn’t for everyone but if using your personal cell phone number to take care of business is getting in the way of establishing yourself as a professional and credible business person, then maybe it’s time to explore how a virtual phone system can help grow your business. FastPBX offers a Nomad Plan which includes the services mentioned above along with 24/7 U.S. based support and no contracts. Run your business on a mobile device without sacrificing quality or your budget!

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