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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Biz Bits: Tips to help small businesses stay competitive with larger companies

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  • Tip of the Week
    Just a few years ago, unified communications systems were commonly found in large enterprises, and now with the growth and widespread availability of the Internet, this technology is becoming a competitive edge for small- and medium-size businesses. When employees can interconnect anywhere at any time, it helps to increase productivity, collaboration and customer service.
    Plantronics identified the following five features as necessary parts of a unified communications system:
    * Unified messaging - All messages from email, voicemail, video, text and all other forms of communication will be gathered in one inbox, making it easy for employees to check and review all messaging in one glance. The phone messages can be accessed with a mobile Bluetooth headset, transcribed for reading or even forwarded to a colleague.
    * Presence - With many workers now on the road or working remotely, it will be easy for employees and management to see if someone is available.
    * Integrated conferencing - A blend of Web and audio conferencing, integrated conferencing allows all employees to participate in meetings, training activities and lectures without having to come into the office.
    * Instant messaging or chat - All employees can quickly connect and hold a discussion about the latest company news with IM or chat capability.
    * One-number reach - This system gives clients direct access to employees, improving customer relations. One number is provided to clients. When called, this number is routed to all the telecommunications devices selected by the employee, such as their office number, mobile number and home phone, for example. The employee can set it to call all numbers at the same time or sequentially, and if the call is not answered, the system will deliver the caller to the employee’s voicemail.
    — Brandpoint
    BBB Watch
    A new scam is targeting people looking for jobs on the Internet and listing the employer as the Better Business Bureau. Here is how the scam works: You see an ad that the Better Business Bureau is hiring for 10 “Customer Service Representatives” for a new branch office. The ads says you need to respond immediately to secure one of the limited interview slots.
    To protect yourself:
    - Use extra caution when looking at ads for jobs with generic titles, such as administration assistant or customer service representative.
    - Watch out for these phrases: “Immediate Start” and “No Experience Needed.”
    - If a job looks suspicious, search for it in Google.
    - Be cautious of any job that asks you to share personal information or hand over money.
    — Better Business Bureau
    The List
    For the first time, China is home to three of the world’s biggest and most powerful public companies. It is also home to five of the top 10 on the list:
    Page 2 of 2 - 1. Industrial & Commercial Bank of China
    2. China Construction Bank
    3. Agricultural Bank of China
    4. JPMorgan Chase
    5. Berkshire Hathaway
    6. Exxon Mobil
    7. General Electric
    8. Wells Fargo
    9. Bank of China
    10. PetroChina
    — Forbes.com
    Number to Know
    54 percent: Since 2012, the actual and planned use of unified communications systems has risen 54 percent, according to a November 2013 poll commissioned by Plantronics.
    - Brandpoint
    Tech Talk
    Mobile commerce is expected to surpass $100 billion by the end of 2014, but are retailers really ready to serve customers who are increasingly using their smartphones and tablets to make purchases? According to a report by Forrester Research, 29 percent of all online retail sales in the U.S. will be transacted on smartphones and tablets by the end of 2014 with sales from the devices expected to reach $114 billion this year and $293 billion by 2018. Sales of media products (video, music and books), clothing and consumer electronics, account for $86 billion of mobile sales, with the other 25 percent being driven by categories such as travel and food service/restaurants ordering, which is not a part of Forrester’s definition of online retail.
    - The Street
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