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2015

Mobile_accessibility_and_engagement_body.jpgBy Cathie Ericson.

Small business employees might feel like they’re always working, but that doesn’t mean they want to always be at work. With today’s workforce both more connected and more mobile than ever before, the lines between work and leisure continue to blur, especially in small businesses where employees often wear multiple hats.

But a new study finds that despite these realities, many businesses struggle to address the needs of on-the-go employees. The 2015 Mobile Trends in the Workplace survey from theEMPLOYEEapp, found that there is a direct correlation between employee engagement and efficiency and the ability to easily access company information via a mobile platform.

 

Sixty-two percent of employees said that easy access to company information directly affects job satisfaction, and 51 percent said they are more productive when they can work via a mobile device. However, 41 percent indicated they are unable to access company documents and information that way.

 

The disconnect stems from the failure of many companies to keep up with new mobile standards. According to Jeff Corbin, founder and CEO of theEMPLOYEEapp, there are two main reasons companies are failing to meet their employees’ needs:

 

  • Mobile_accessibility_and_engagement_PQ.jpgHesitancy to replace legacy systems: Many businesses have invested so much in building and populating a corporate intranet that, even though it is less useful today, it’s challenging for companies to consider abandoning the infrastructure. Corbin recommends that companies assess the reality that today’s mobile workplace will likely surpass the old PC environment, especially for small businesses. While many businesses are trying to avoid the investment of an overhaul by optimizing legacy systems, he compares it to the mid-90s when email was new and prompted a sea change in computing norms. “Companies have to realize the mobile working environment will continue to grow, and they need to invest in it,” he says.

 

  • Security concerns: Corbin believes that most companies’ first inclination is to lock down everything to prevent employees fromFor example if there’s a proprietary manual that employees need to reference while working remotely, consider disabling certain functionality, like note taking and sharing. his doesn’t stop an employee from taking their tablet and photocopying something, in reality, of course, it’s no different than someone doing the same at their workplace,” Corbin says.

 

When employees are engaged, their job satisfaction translates into harder work and better outcomes. “I suspect many small business owners probably underestimate the importance of engagement to revenue generation in their business,” says Corbin. “Employees are the most important constituency of any business, but particularly small businesses. Improving morale and engagement by making it easier for them to work when and where they want can pay dividends that will translate into real profit.”

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Touchpoint Media Inc. to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Touchpoint Media Inc. is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Touchpoint Media Inc. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.

 

©2015 Bank of America Corporation

Technology_Costs_body.jpgBy Jennifer Shaheen.


Nearly 40 percent of all business owners struggle to contain technology costs, according to the 2014 SMB Group’s Route to Market Study. Smaller companies feel this burden more than their larger competitors since they spend a greater percentage of their revenues on IT. Alinean Inc., a consulting firm based in Winter Park, Florida, reports that small firms spend 6.9 percent of revenue on technology, while midsized firms spend 4.1 percent, and large firms shell out just 3.2 percent. Of course, spending more money on tech in no way guarantees greater performance. The true measure of return on technology expenditures is whether they, in fact, help you to run your business better and more efficiently. Here are some strategies to keep IT costs down while boosting performance:


Virtualized servers: If you manage a significant amount of data, from client records to inventory control, you’re using a server. For years, the best practice has been for companies to maintain their own server in-house, but this is very expensive. Switching to a secure cloud-based server eliminates many of the associated costs of server ownership while still enabling a business to accomplish needed tasks. Bonus: Because virtual servers are off site they’re less vulnerable to location- based security risks, including natural disasters.


Technology_Costs_PQ.jpg

Try before you buy: Many cloud-based business services offer extended free trial periods. Take advantage of these free trials and thoroughly test the program to be sure it works for you. Involve key team members in this evaluation process. This way you won’t spend money on tech that doesn’t meet your needs and you get the buy-in from your team. This approach can sometimes show that the functionality available at the lower tier or free levels may be all you really need right now.


Upgrade conservatively: New tech becomes available every single year, but don’t feel obligated to supply your team with every new device that comes to market. Base your decision to upgrade around current hardware performance and customer requests. If your tech is struggling to keep up with ever-changing Internet, mobile, and client demands, it’s time to upgrade. You can do this strategically by opting to upgrade the tech of the employees in roles most impacted first, or start with tools that directly impact customer service relationships.


Prioritize security: Data breeches are extremely expensive, both financially and in terms of damage done to your customer relationships. Investing in security tools, such as remote wipe capabilities that allow IT managers to remove sensitive data from a lost or stolen mobile device may seem like an added expense, but it’s actually a strategic purchase that can save significant money and stress in the long term.


Bank of America, N.A. engages with Touchpoint Media Inc. to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Touchpoint Media Inc. is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Touchpoint Media Inc. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.

 

©2015 Bank of America Corporation

 

 

EMV.jpgSwiping a credit card—and potentially its information—will soon become more difficult. Come October 2015, there will be a shift in which party will be held liable for credit card fraud. After that date, merchants who have not upgraded their systems to so-called “chip and signature” technology will be on the hook for any credit or debit card fraud that occurs in their stores, transferring the risk to the business owner from the banks, which currently hold the liability. Read on to discover the next steps all small businesses should take.


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