SMB Nation Blog

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.

Microsoft PowerPoint vs. Google Slides: Which works better for business?

PowerPoint has long been the tool of choice for creating business presentations, but Google Slides is worth a second look. We compare their strengths and weaknesses.

By Preston Gralla

Contributing Editor, Computerworld | MAR 27, 2018 3:00 AM PT

If you’re going to give business presentations, odds are you’ll be choosing between Microsoft PowerPoint and Google Slides, the two best-known MS vs Googlepresentation applications. They’re both solid, useful tools — and both have changed a great deal over the years. Given all their changes, you may want to reconsider what you’re using today.If you’re going to give business presentations, odds are you’ll be choosing between Microsoft PowerPoint and Google Slides, the two best-known presentation applications. They’re both solid, useful tools — and both have changed a great deal over the years. Given all their changes, you may want to reconsider what you’re using today.

To help you choose, I put them through their paces by building a presentation that many business professionals might create: announcing a new product or service line. In each program I started by looking for suitable templates, then created a new presentation; added slides; juiced them up with graphics, video and animations; collaborated with others on it; and finally, gave presentation itself.

It’s a multiplatform world, so I worked on it using a Windows PC, a Mac, an iPad, an Android tablet and an iPhone. I used the local clients and the online version of Microsoft PowerPoint, as well as the mobile versions. Google Slides is web-based but also has client versions for Android and iOS, so I tested those as well.

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How Big Data is Revolutionizing Employee Training

Companies of all types must handle problems on a constant basis, but these challenges are more difficult for a small business. Having limited resources makes it difficult to compete with larger enterprises. Companies of all types must handle problems on a constant basis, but these challenges are more difficult for a small business. Having limited resources makes it difficult to compete with larger enterprises. 

In the past, access to something as powerful as Big Data was limited due to the costs and skills required. In recent years, however, cloud vendors have begun providing data solutions that are simpler and more affordable. For SMBs, this usually requires no more than a subscription fee to begin leveraging the benefits of big data. One report forecasts that big data use by small businesses has increased by 42 percent over the past year.

Even if you run a small proprietorship, you can still utilize big data – for example, to discover patterns and trends in your internal operations or supply chain, identifying new prospects, developing new products, improvements to efficiency, and otherwise making informed decisions to drive faster growth. 

One area where big data is proving highly effective is in employee training. In this article you'll discover how data analysis will improve your workforce and your bottom line.














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Meeting the Expectations of Your Employees

Big data will help you to pinpoint the skills your workers need to perform better, whether on an individual, team, or departmental basis. You can then prioritize and implement a training program that targets the skills and knowledge your employees need most. 

You can establish training courses in a variety of formats according to your needs and resources. These might involve mentor programs with veteran employees, online courses, demonstrations and lectures, or traditional classroom settings. You'll be able to determine which combination of training situations works best and how to schedule them around employee work hours.

You will need to identify which information and materials are required for your training sessions, such as instructors, video, printed handbooks, and smartphone or computer apps. If you can find the right materials and environments to suit your workforce, employees can actually become excited about attending training sessions.

Using big data to track your training programs, you can focus on the most effective training aids, developing better lesson plans, and designing new content and exercises. This way, you'll be able to provide the training that your employees will find the most engaging.

Assessing the Effectiveness of Training

Tracking the effectiveness of your training program will provide the data you need to keep making improvements for greater results. You can identify employee preferences in comparison to the rate of progress. This will help you establish more interesting and even personalized learning activities.

Big data can help you adapt your training to each employee's specific needs. Advanced e-learning technologies can improve the learning experience for everyone to provide optimal returns on your time and investment.
Immediate correlation of test results with demographic data can help you easily chart overall development as well as where individuals may be struggling. People learn at different rates and in different ways, so that some may need special attention or fresh approaches. You'll be able to determine which learning modules are most productive for which employees.

Big data analysis of training activity can also help you to spot employees who demonstrate special talents or capabilities. It would be in your company's best interests to develop these talents as much and as quickly as possible, or prepare gifted individuals for leadership roles. 

Learning through a cloud-based big data solution will provide real-time feedback for employees, instructors, and management. You can take corrective actions to improve the process as training continues. 

The cloud provides a highly responsive and flexible platform for a mobile, connected workforce. The easy accessibility of cloud computing technology has made the perk of working from home possible for an increasing number of people, so now it’s easy for remote employees to get all the benefits of education without having to leave the comfort of their home.

Minimize Employee Turnover

In the U.S., corporate spending on employee training amounted to $70 billion in 2014 and continues to grow. Your small company may not be able to commit a huge sum, but the benefits of developing a better workforce are clear. 

Employees who receive ongoing training are happier in their jobs and more committed to their employer. More capable workers are more confident, more comfortable, and more likely to remain with your company long-term. 

Zoe Weintraub of Guild Education maintains that employees who receive job training are up to 40 percent more likely to stay with their employer than those who don't receive extra training.

A business culture that involves employee skills training benefits both the company and the individual worker, which makes it well worth the investment. Your employees will understand that their efforts are important to the business and its mission. They'll have a greater sense of job satisfaction knowing that you are prepared to invest in their future.

One of the rewards of incorporating big data into your small business comes from its applications in employee training. Cloud-based systems allow you to improve and adapt training programs in real time to get the best from your workforce. At the same time, it creates a sense of involvement and loyalty in your employees. This double benefit of ongoing training makes it a shrewd investment for companies of all sizes. 

Author Bio:Jasmine Williams covers the good and the bad of today's business and marketing. When she’s not being all serious and busy, she’s usually hunched over a book or dancing in the kitchen, trying hard to maintain rhythm, and delivering some fine cooking (her family says so). Tweet her @JazzyWilliams88

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On Blockchain and the Internet of Things

Calvin Price

Strengths, Weaknesses, and the Likely Road Ahead

The Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the most exciting paradigms in emerging technology. The principle of connecting billions of devices to automate networks is absolutely thrilling and has considerable applications in agriculture, manufacturing, consumer tech, and virtually all mechanically intensive industries. It also has a big problem: at its current stage, IoT is objectively infeasible and dangerous.

IoT connects a web of devices that typically operate with minimal computational power and are embedded with chips for the purpose of connectivity and little else. This is a major security flaw. Thus far, researchers have demonstrated horrifying capability and creativity in breaching IoT devices. Hackers have thus far managed to control implanted cardiac devices, entirely disable cars remotely, and launch the world’s largest DDoS attack.



The Case for Blockchain in IoT

IoT security flaws typically revolve around three areas: authentication, connection, and transaction. Devices improperly verifying, improperly connecting, or improperly spending with other devices are all major security concerns. (These are all software/protocol issues. Although is not the focus of this article, it is worth noting that IoT suffers from physical and hardware security flaws, too). A blockchain can alleviate all of these areas. Distributed ledgers seem like such a minor change to IoT networks considering how physically distributed the systems are, but the blockchain brings several killer apps with it.

Trustless: Fully operational IoT devices interact with known and (ideally) unknown devices. For example, autonomous machine repair is a big goal for the autonomous industry: when a mechanical failure or signs of deterioration is detected, the network responds by ordering new parts. In a trusted environment, such issues do not pose as a problem; in the real world, this is a major attack vector against the IoT network. But this otherwise thorny problem is solved by the trustless, consensus protocols of the blockchain, protecting from all but the most extreme malicious actors.

Auditable: Tracking the actions of network components and provably verifying that record is another big goal for IoT. Such auditability improves analytics, network performance, legal compliance, and safety. The blockchain’s immutable record is ideal for creating reliable networks histories.


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Dropbox wants to raise $648 million in its IPO



Dropbox wants to raise as much as $648 million when it debuts on the stock market.

The cloud storage company is selling 36 million shares for between $16 and $18, according to a regulatory filing released Monday.

Based on the number of shares of eligible for sale, Dropbox would have a valuation of about $7.4 billion. That's lower than the $10 billion Dropbox was reportedly valued at on the private market.

If there's more investor demand for the stock, Dropbox could sell another five million shares to bring the total to $745 million. Salesforce's (CRM) venture arm has agreed to buy $100 million in shares.

Dropbox will list on the Nasdaq under the stock ticker DBX.

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Annual Look at IBM – Part One

I’ve just returned from IBM PartnerWorld (inside of the Think conference) and over the next several blogs, I’ll share my experiences. Long story short – I got hand it to IBM for inventing itself continuously and having crossed a decade+ in the analytics field. It declared that, in the IBM partner ecosystem, 2018 is the year of simplicity. I hear that three times: simple is hard! 

Concerning channel partners, there were four pillars messages to launch the PartnerWorld conferenceand it's 2,000+ attendees. 

Enabling ecosystem transformation. 
The basic premise that IBM is marking it easier for Business Partners who ibm john teltsch keynotecurrently resell IBM technology to shift between engagement models and move up the client value chain with flexible benefits and support through PartnerWorld, its premiere partner program. Simplification means IBM has consolidated the number of competencies offered and believes it’s added to relevancy to product authorization so that partners can get higher recognition. For those carrying the bag, here is how it works. To help partners get greater insights into their partner journey, IBM has added features to the Program Console and PartnerWorld Advisor. Additionally, IBM touted adding enhancements for partners that want to embed IBM technology into their solutions, including new bundled partner benefits and expanded SaaS trials, sandboxes, IBM Cloud credits and development assistance for those who want to build new solutions on IBM technology. Finally, IBM asserted it will continue to expand our marketing development funds, further aligning them to partners that are building new skills in areas like digital marketing so they can reach new clients across new routes and drive demand when they are ready to go to market. 

On the surface, this is all good but an interesting piece from well-known SMB Nation fan Jay McBain, now a analyst at Forrester, shared deep insights into the speed of partner transformation here.   He is well qualified to do so having spent 17-years inside IBM/Lenovo and the basic premise of Mcbain’s piece is that IBM is frustrated at the partner’s transformation pace. 

Another well-known analyst, Joe Panettieri (ChanelE2E), asserted that IBM is a humble bumble here. Panettieri correctly captures that “work in progress” spirit of the executive comments in his reporting. 

Three more pillars
As promised – here are the other three messaging pillars for your consumption. In Part II of my installment, I’ll share interviews with IBM executives Carola Cazenave (VP, IBM Global Business Partner – Ecosystem Strategy & Programs), John Teltsch Jr. (General Manager – Global Business Partners) and global build winner Paola Mazza (referenced below). In Part III of my coverage, I’ll share insights from IBM Business Partner QueBit and its success with analytics. 

  • Introducing Watson Build 2.0, the AI challenge to build new IP. The second iteration of our Watson Build challenge will help even more partners develop AI skills, build working prototypes of Watson-based solutions on the IBM Cloud in less than 10 months and incubate their ability to embed IBM technology faster. Last year, the first Watson Build challenge drew more than 1,300 firms to IBM design thinking workshops, spurred 400 AI-based business plans and enabled more than 100 partners to advance and develop new embedded AI solutions. Our 2017 global winner, Italian partner Blueit Group, took home the grand prize for its precision farming solution, which is designed to disrupt the agrifood industry. In phase 2, we expect even more partners to join the movement by dreaming up the next big prototype for their industry and make it a reality. 
  • Launching a new, digital self-service platform. Designed for partners who are building and selling solutions with integrated IBM technology, the platform provides access to leading-edge technologies and offers technical support, pre-built code patterns and skill-building courses. Partners can also take advantage of several promotional offers to help them get started building quickly with IBM Cloud, AI and data, including 10 TB of IBM Cloud Object storage, 100,000 conversations using IBM Watson Assistant and USD 50,000 in migration services for partners migrating over USD 20,000 per month in workloads from a competitor’s cloud. Once partners are ready to take their embedded solutions to market, they can list them on the IBM Marketplace and extend their reach to new clients globally. Businesses can further extend their access to resources by joining IBM developerWorks or by becoming a member of IBM PartnerWorld.
  • Expanding IBM's digital footprint with third-party cloud marketplaces. Over the past year, we have doubled down on IBM’s presence with third-party marketplaces and cloud aggregators. In 2018, we signed new deals with AppDirect and ALSO Deutschland GmbH, which means that partners and clients can now find IBM offerings in a total of 10 different cloud platforms and reach more than 60 million new customers worldwide. New and existing partners can reap the benefits of these new routes to market as new customers bundle IBM technologies with other complementary catalog offerings and partner services. This provides a new integrated route for partners to serve their clients digitally.

These new initiatives build on IBM’s next-generation ecosystem framework, which will go into effect April 10, 2018. As part of IBM’s increased commitment to its partners’ growth, IBM will launch a restructured engagement model designed to improve the end-to-end partner experience and reward partners for shifting to higher value solutions that are aligned to strategic growth areas like AI, cloud, security and as a service offerings. In the new model, partners have an opportunity to experience greater profitability by contributing value through intellectual property, focusing on new clients and building new solutions.

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