BaxterStorey one of the more popular companies people search for

OK not quite gadget news we admit, but a very interesting insight into the way people search, in particular search for jobs online. Job boards have been around for 16 years at least (I got my 2nd proper job via a rather primitive Jobserve.com back in 1997!) and now any job hunter will go online as the first port of call. One of the larger sites that has a big UK presence in Indeed.co.uk. Their own rankings in Google are so strong, that they rank first page for big brand terms, with a link to a list of jobs at the brands company. For example BaxterStorey or Baxter Storey (never sure which is right) often have lots of open opportunities and can be seen high up on Google for the brand term alone. This makes it very easy for potential candidates to find positions at a company they know and love, and often Indeed as well as few others (such as niche specific job boards like the Caterer – same example: Baxter Storey) rank highly, sometimes even higher than the companies own site – certainly outranking the companies own jobs page is common.

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Try it out, think of a company you’d love to work for, and Google them, with out the word jobs – chances are if the company you want to work for is large enough, you’ll see all those handy job listing links after a single company name search. Simply, but effective.

Let us know if you see anything different or surprising in your searches in the comments!

Best of the Best – Online Business Management tools

It started with a basic paper inbox and outbox, Then card filing systems such as the classic rolodex (still available and used by an astonishingly large number of businesses today)
Then came the trusty CRM - Customer Relationship Management system. These systems have evolved over the years and the market continues to grow strongly. The big players such as Oracle, SAP Salesforce and Microsoft have evolved their offerings to be more broad reaching in terms of functionality and flexibility. But they are far from perfect. As a small business owner myself, I recognise that time is money, and systems should be there to help you in the day to day running of the business, and to be so easy to use it becomes second nature.

But what so often happen is that multiple systems come into play as a business grows and its needs change. Email whether we like it or not is still an essential core component used daily to communicate with clients and customers. Invoicing and accounting again – pretty important if you want to get money in the bank. And then there is managing your and your teams tasks, forming tasks together into formal projects, providing quotes to new prospects, managing contact information, producing performance reports, tracking where time goes and on which task project and by who. People by the very nature will come up with their own ways of doing some of these activities, either involving spreadsheets, or one of many different free services found across the web.

You see the problem? Sooner of later these disparate systems start to become out of sync, and no one systems holds the same version of data as another. Reporting becomes a nightmare, admin time increases, mistakes happen. All at a time when focus should be on business growth, not trying to become organised.

The Solution

This is where a new breed of CRM comes in, to be honest CRM is probably not the best word as these all in one management tools do so much more than the traditional CRM. And the costs are not prohibitive for small businesses either. We’re talking about online business management software – systems based in the cloud so all you need to access them is a web browsers. Systems that cost as little as £10 per month per user – a fraction of the equivalent money saved in lost time each month, not to mention the boost in productivity!

One such solution that I stumbled across (literally – thanks Stumble Upon!) is designed and built in the United Kingdom, and looks very promising. Its called “item” but I think that should be spelt iTEM, It truly is an all in one ‘suite’ that covers all bases, online business management software that helps you get the job done, rather than causing you headaches. iTEM business management software Owner, James Guymer has put a huge amounts of effort into getting the system to integrate with email seamlessly, and is now focused on further usability improvements. They offer a free trial and I for one am seriously considering switching to iTEM – the mix of spreadsheets, freshbook and RTM is getting a bit much now, the appeal of everything in one place talking to each other is huge. Check it out and let me know what you think in the comments! http://www.itemise.net

How Cloud Computing Will Change the World

Ok, thats quite  bold statement, but to be honest it has already. If you know what the cloud is all about, you’ll know that is kind of like “software as a service” (SaS) that has been around for much longer. Sales Force for example is a cloud based CRM that is used for online business management for small business all the way up to large Enterprises. But they have been around since, I don’t know 2001? No, upon checking it was 1999. Wow – they were seriously ahead of their time!

But the key difference with cloud computing as we know it today, is the sheer power and total flexibility of utilising virtual servers to do anything you want, all without the need for anything other than a basic thin client. Want 10,000 servers to do some crazy deep number crunching to predict the likely outcome of making some mega stock market investments? A few grand will get you that, for the 30 minutes or so you’ll need them. You will still need to consider your IT Support Company requirements, but it doesn’t matter where you are, just make sure you have a decent internet connection and you’re set.

We all 99% of us use cloud computing daily, often without even realising it. Most modern smart phones will back up your photos to the cloud for safe keeping, and you gmail/yahoo/hotmail is all stored securely (we hope!) Apple, Google, Dropbox, Microsoft and a tonne of other newer smaller companies will give you cloud storage for free – anywhere up to 15Gb, plus more for telling all your friends and family (you should try Copy). But for serious use to store your tens of thousands of high res photos, HD videos etc. you’ll need to pay. And then there is the upload time problem – Got 200Gb of files you want to backup to the cloud? Set it going, go on holiday for a week and hope your connection doesn’t crap out – and you may get half way there!

And what about the true cost to business? Well yes it has been dropping at an amazing rate compared to the cost of everyday living. I have even seen a quote that in 2049 (36 years time… I’ll be 75! <gulp> ) a $1000 computer will have more computational power than the ENTIRE human race. Thats some serious power! Scary to think about it too much, kids will be carrying some kind of smart device (or more likely wearing it). The investment in data centres by the global players is enormous… but the maths make sense – get just half a million people of a plan that costs $4.99 a month and thats $30 million annual sales… and the total cost of ownership of a small data centre to service those users – probably about $20 million over 5 years. Take off marketing and other costs and you’re still left nice 8 figure annual profit!

As for how cloud computing changing the world, just look at media – kids today access books, magazines, newspapers, music, video, and photos on a phone or tablet. If you can tear yourself away from the physical, you can free yourself from the downsides of ownership (such as shelf storage!) and benefit from a huge ever growing choice, that you can browse through for the post office queue or on the train to work. There will always be a market fro physical media and in some circles its reversed a downward trend and is growing, but the world is a very different place today than just 10 years ago. And in another 10 years? Who knows, but I for one am excited!

Feature Photo: Google/Connie Zhou

An inside view of the amazing Google Data Centres