Windows Phone Finally Becomes Enterprise-Ready

 

Windows Phone 8

At today’s Windows Phone Summit, Microsoft gave a sneak peek at the next version of their phone operating system, Windows Phone 8 (WP8). Microsoft officials made it clear that this event was a platform preview more than a rundown of all new features (especially consumer-facing features) of WP8. The biggest reveal of the event was that the WP8 OS shares the core with its big brother, Windows 8. In this way, a lot of the lower level features and capabilities of Windows 8 are automatically translated over to WP8.

What I was most interested in seeing was how WP8 would improve its enterprise feature set. I have written before how some basic features required by corporate IT are missing from Windows Phone 7.5. I am happy to report that most of the issues I had, are going to be addressed in WP8. Here’s a high-level list of business-related features being added to Windows Phone:

  • Device encryption: Perhaps the single-most important feature required by IT is that the device data is encrypted. Windows Phone 7.5 has isolated storage and sandboxed apps but it is not the same or as secure as full device encryption. WP8 adds Bitlocker encryption to secure the entire device, including operating system and data files. Not only that, this will extend to removable microSD cards as well.
  • Secure boot: WP8 will support UEFI-based secure boot and add better app sandboxing, thereby protecting the device from increasing mobile malware threats.
  • Remote administration: Corporate IT will now be able to manage Windows Phones (including apps) just like they manage Windows PCs. Again, this could happen easily because of the shared core between WP8 and Windows 8.
  • Company hub: Windows Phone 7.5 offers no way to side load apps, and all apps have to go through the Marketplace to be deployed on devices. With WP8, Microsoft makes it possible for IT to be able to deploy apps via a Company Hub. The Company Hub can of course be used to disseminate other info, since it acts like just another app on the phone. Microsoft will provide templates and development guidance so IT departments can build such a hub for their employees.

 

WP8 Company Hub

Company Hub in Windows Phone 8

There are probably more features that relate to business use of Windows Phones which were not discussed today, like VPN support. However, the features discussed are big enough to give corporate IT and idea of how compliant WP8 will be with their stringent requirements.

Do you think these are good enough for your company’s IT department to start planning full support for Windows Phones? Let me know!

Mastering Business Success on Facebook

Facebook knows that eventually, most businesses worldwide will turn to Facebook to carry out some of their marketing operations. Facebook Marketing Solutions has published a whitepaper  to facilitate business users to turn around their business in merely three weeks. How does that sound?

Business Success on Facebook

Facebook’s approach has been simple. It has plotted weekly tasks for businesses to perform. If you have a new business, here’s the way to go:

Week 1: “Connect People to Your Page”

  • Gain Connections: It is crucial to realize who the connections of the business are. Connect with them!
  • If the business has a physical location, claim it!
  • Create a page and add as much information as possible. Adding photos is a must.
  • Make posts at least twice a week. Critical to have a schedule for this purpose.
  • Invite advocates to “LIKE” the page.
  • Once you have topped 25 fans, get a personalized link to the page by visiting facebook.com/username.
  • Put this personalized link on all marketing channels (business cards, receipts, email etc.) and promote to visiting customers.

Week 2: “Reach People & Their Friends”

  • Engage fans by posting pictures & videos once or twice a week. Ask questions and respond. Communicate!
  • Experiment with promotions & discounts available to fans only. Check out facebook.com/sprinkles to get an idea.
  • Create a Page Post Ad. Will increase the chance of reaching out to fans by 3-5 times.
  • Create a Facebook Ad for your page to incentivize people.
  • Experiment with different images and ad copy with the Facebook Ads. Check out which one works best.
  • Create a first Sponsor Story.
  • If People regularly check-in on your business, create a check-in Sponsor Story.
  • Create a Welcome tab on your landing page to maximize “LIKES”.

Week 3: “Insights & Optimization”

  • Review Page Insight data to get an idea of how popular your business is, what type of content is most engaging, demographics and location of fans.
  • Review Ads Manager regularly at facebook.com/ads/manage.
  • Be sure to have different campaign for different products and regions.
  • Refresh image for ads that are working well to help maintain performance. Shift budget to ads that work well.
  • Put a Facebook “LIKE” button on your webpage to create further awareness.
  • Turn fans into page leads by posting an incentive and directing them to existing lead generation forms or promotions.

Your business should be ready to make some extra dollars!

Apptivo: Business Management At Zero Cost

apptivo-logoBusiness of all volumes has a necessity in common. A platform to better relate, collaborate and to manage the workflow. Be it employee monitoring or working on a task at hand, the job is to unite all the efforts to develop a more systematic and productive environment. Big enterprises have their custom build software to meet their specific demands. However budding entrepreneurs since being on a limited budget needs to rely on free tools available. Well in case you are looking for one, here is Apptivo, a web-based app, that can take care of almost all the business needs you can possibly think of.

apptivo-signature-image

After filing up the sign up form get started with the application. You will get to choose from the category of apps you want to have included. You can select them later on too. Here is a review of the app categories you can have within the service.

Collaboration:

This part is dedicated to sharing documents, storing contacts, putting up events and you also get a fax service (paid).

Sales:

The sales category lists tools to deal with customers, leads, probable options to create sale and orders.

Project Management:

This part is all about managing projects and maintaining a scheduled timeframe.

Employees:

Manage your employees in a better way. Keep records such as designation, department, pay scale, legal info and lots more related to a specific employee.

Product Management:

Listing items and customer requirements are dealt with using the apps included in this section.

Website Management:

If you want to market your business online, these tools will definitely help you manage your domains and blogs. If you do not have any domains as of now, you can create them here as well. You can even configure your online payment gateway with this tool. Listed services include Paypal, Google Checkout and many others too.

Invoices:

Apptivo comes with a standalone invoicing service which you can use to request payments from your customers.

Customer Services:

This being one of the key factors for any trusted business, Apptivo provides two basic tool to deal with it. One is designed to handle cases raised by customer complaints and suggestions. Another deals with RMA (Return Material Authorization) specifically.

Fund Raising:

If you are looking for tools that let you handle investors (present and probable) as well as funding rounds there are three tools that can let you do that efficiently.

Marketing:

This is perhaps the most important element for a growing business. Hence, you get a complete array of 5 tools included in this section. These take care of campaigns, loyalty management, message templates, pricing, promotions and targets.

Supply-Chain and Sourcing:

Finally these two sections handle the supply chain of your business. Managing relations with manufacturers and suppliers to logistics, all are being taken care of with the tools listed under these two sections.

These comprises the only free tools offered by Apptivo. You get to buy more apps if isn’t included among the free apps.

With the quick overview of the online tool or rather collection of tools it can be inferred that this definitely promises to be a powerful business companion to anyone who is looking for a free alternative. Provided the benefits of a web based alternative in many cases such as platform independence, installation overhead, portability etc this tool deserves to a worthy try. However, take a good look at them yourselves and let us know, if you liked it or not.

TIP: We have previously covered OpenPetra, an open source project that lets you achieve a part of the tasks mentioned above.

OpenPetra: Administer Your Organization With Open Source Advantage

open-petra-logoOften non-profit organizations or small scale businesses have to buy costly administrative software packages to run their organization. It is a heavy cost burden for such organizations with low budgets. Selected as the “Project of the Month” for the month of May by SourceForge, OpenPetra is an outcome of an effort keeping in mind such organizations.

OM International, a Christian mission agency, wrote a software called PETRA. Developed during the nineties, the package was used in 80 offices of the organization located worldwide. To take the advantage of the open source community and to use the tool for the benefit of others who needed it, OM decided to change it to Open Source development process, which motivated the existing developers and also increased the potential for the software. OpenPetra is the outcome of the newly adopted development process.

open-petra-main-window

The OpenPetra project offers a free and easy to use administrative software package for non profit-organizations. It has multi-user, multi-site, multi-currency, multi-language support and much more. It has six modules integrated into it . The following is a brief description of the modules:

1. Partner Module: The main functions of this module are to manage subscriptions, contacts and bulk mailing as well.

2. Finance Module: This module maintains general ledger, payable accounts, double-entry book keeping, budgeting and donation processing . It has the support for almost all currencies.

3. Personnel Module: This module manages personnel information for both short-term and long-term employees as well as process new job applications.

4. Conference Management: This module manages group assignments, accommodation and allocation, arrangement of arrivals and departures as well as attendance tracking.

5. Financial Development: This module manages project funding.

6. System Manager: This module is used by system administrator(s) to manage user accounts.

From 2004 to 2009, the code was developed code on .NET platform. In June 2009 OpenPetra was published under the GPLv3. Now OpenPetra has standard tools and open source databases for better development and implementation. OpenPetraSetup requires Windows XP (or later) or Linux, and uses about 24 MB of disk space. The backend must be a Relational Database Management System. Currently supported are PostgreSQL, MySQL and SQLite.

An important fact is that the software is modeled after an application that has been in use for an extended period of time in a sizable, global non-profit organization.

Though this promising project has areas of improvement, it has great potential for easing the administration of various kinds of organizations.

[via SourceForge Blog]

Google Brings Enterprise Control To Android

With Android being one of the leading smartphone operating systems and very rapidly climbing the charts in deployment, it’s well received news that Google is aligning their mobile offerings to include enterprise-level controls to compete in the business market.Google has updated their Device Policyapplication to include the ability for users to control their Android devices by way of tracking it via GPS, activating the ringer or resetting the PIN or password on the device. In the event that an employee or regular Apps user loses their device, they can use the online remote functionality to retrieve or secure their phone. Administrators and users can set up multiple devices in a new page that provides detailed information about each synchronized device (a tablet or smartphone) and plots the last known location. Devices must be running Android 2.2 or higher in order to use this feature.

Continuing along with the ability to remotely secure a device, Google Apps administrators now also have the option to force encryption for data stored on the device (supporting Android 3.0/Honeycomb tablets with encrypted storage). This will greatly reduce some of the risks that organizations take when employees wish to bring personal devices to work, it will allow security provisioning for any data exfiltration to ensure it is stored properly. Presumably, this can be done on a device-by-device basis allowing administrators to specifically select which devices have this set.

The last minor, yet very welcomed addition is Google Apps Lookup, which provides a much easier way for users to search their corporate address book for a contact. Similar to Microsoft’s Exchange Global Address List (GAL), mobile users can enter the name of a contact (by speech or text input) and the app will automatically search the online Apps directory for the contact and provide all the available information for the user to interact with as a regular contact in their device address book. This feature is available to Android devices running 2.1 or higher and must be enabled by the Apps administrator.

With personal devices making their way into the corporate environment, many organizations are feeling the weight of providing support for numerous devices yet retaining control and security over sensitive information. Google is taking steps in the right direction to take Blackberry head-on with some competition in the enterprise market.

Via Google Enterprise Blog

Zynga’s [Probable] Worth: $10 Billion?

Speculative reports put up social gaming giant Zynga’s worth in the $7-10 billion range. The makers of Farmville, Mafia Wars and other Facebook games are minting money for their games in the fundraiser market. For a company that makes all its money from social games on Facebook, it’s pretty incredible and makes us all wait for its next big hit. No… wait, we aren’t waiting for any game from Zynga.

zYga

Wall Street Journal reported that Zynga was close to raising $500 million in a fundraising round with investors:-

San Francisco-based Zynga is in talks with a group of new investors, including T. Rowe Price Group Inc., Fidelity Investments and Morgan Stanley for the fundraising round, these people said. An existing investor, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, is also likely to participate with a small investment, one of these people said.

Earlier, Zynga was in a position to get $250 million invested and have a valuation of $7-9 billion, according to the report. The social gaming giant is quite the pet of investors even though some of its profits are shared with Facebook. The explosive growth, per se, of Zynga contributed to much of the love given to it by the investors. However, though the company has tried to de-link itself from Facebook with some games, the success of Zynga is still largely due to Facebook.

Nevertheless, while this round of investments clearly helps the casual Facebook game lover, the core gaming value of the games are pretty much zero. These are not realvideo games, whatever they may claim.

LinkedIn Launches “Company Pages” For All Indian Companies

LinkedIn is a special networking website that helps over millions of professionals around the world connect with each other. Recently LinkedIn introduced a feature called “Company Pages” to help companies attract new customers by displaying their products, services and recommendations in a trusted environment. However, this feature was currently available to only 3 companies in India – Volkswagen India, Spear Logistics and Indus Net Technologies.

But now this feature – “Company Pages” has been made available to all Indian Companies irrespective of the company size and it’s business. This is a welcome move from LinkedIn as in today’s digital world, online showcasing and advertising surely helps companies to market their products better.

Hari V Krishnan, country manager for LinkedIn India said that LinkedIn has more plans about engaging with Indian Businesses in real time. He also said that LinkedIn will continue to invest in understanding the Indian consumer’s demands and concluded by saying that LinkedIn has seen almost 100 per cent growth in India this year.

Dell To Close Up Shop On Mobile Business Division

It was only recently that Dell threw their might behind Windows Phone 7 and introduced a host of devices including the fabled Venue Pro, a 4.1capacitive touch sliding portrait QWERTY keyboard and the Streak, an Android OS tablet featuring a 5touch screen, full GPS capabilities and 3G connectivity.

Despite the launch of new smartphones running Windows Phone 7, Dell is said to be closing down their Mobile Division, coinciding with the resignation of Ron Garriques. Garriques, who has been with Dell since 2007 and is currently the Communication Solutions President, will continue with the company as a consultantin the interim as Dell sorts out their future plans for the mobile market.

Hopefully Dell will continue to support their existing handsets, and move towards consolidating their departments to offer consumers more devices.

Freepdfcard: Make Business Cards Online

If you are planning to get a business card for yourself, and you have no idea how to design it, here is a quick and easy way. Free PDF Card is an online service that can create a free business card for you.

free pdf card website

Go to the Free PDF Card website and you will see a form. Each of the form fields represents a line in the preview business card (to the left) in a vertical order. Beside every text field of the form there are basic formatting options like bold, italics and font size. If you wish to show your company logo, upload it using the “Upload Logo” button. You can also show your image if it’s for a personal purpose.

Start filling the form with the info you wish to show on your business card. Do the necessary formatting until you are satisfied with its look. Every time you wish to preview the changes you have made, press the Preview button below. Following is a demo PDF card that I created for myself using Free PDF Card.

free pdf card example

Once you have completed editing your free business card, press the Download button just below the card preview section. The card will be downloaded as a PDF file which you can print.

Bharti Enters Mobile Handset Business – Launches 8 Handsets

Bharti is already India’s biggest mobile services provider having over 140 million active subscribers on it’s list with Airtel and now Bharti aims at becoming the number one in the mobile handsets market too. This will make Bharti a direct competitor for mobile handset majors like Nokia and Samsung in India. Bharti has announced its entry into the fast-growing mobile handset business with Group firm Beetel launching eight handsets in the price range of Rs 1,750-7,000.

However Beetel has no specific plans of bundling its handsets only with Airtel mobile services but they will be talking their new handsets to all the GSM players for bundling them with their respective talk-plans and it will not be restricted to only the group’s flagship mobile services company – Airtel.

Beetel would have an in-house design facility in India and operate on a business model under which manufacturing would be done in and outside, but with innovation done locally.  Beetel phones has features like dual SIMs, FM and cameras just like handsets from other manufacturers.  Beetel mobile phones will be initially available via a nationwide  distribution network  of over 4,000 outlets across Delhi, Haryana, UP, Uttaranchal, Rajasthan, Punjab and the seven North Eastern States.