Technology Powers Small Businesses Through Time Savings By

By BrianMoran|Mar 23, 2015|

Ask any small business owner what they wish for most (besides more money) and many would ask for more hours in the day. Time is indeed one of an entrepreneur’s most precious commodities, and we’re always looking for tips, tricks and products that stretch our workday to push our productivity and business objectives.

Technology has been a great gift for small business owners, bringing efficiency solutions and productivity shortcuts. In general, technology enables us to do more with less – in less time.

Wireless technology, for instance, means small business owners (and employees) can work from (practically) anywhere on (practically) anything. This alone has revolutionized the way business is conducted, allowing us to work without wires and walls.

One of the companies helping small businesses do this is Xerox. They just introduced new products and services that are sure to save entrepreneurs both time and money.

Devices Takes the Headache Out of IT

Take a look at two of the high-quality color-laser printers from Xerox. Both the Phaser 6022 and the WorkCentre 6027 are affordable and ideally designed for small, growing businesses. The Phaser 6022 printer is a single-function machine with a small footprint (it fits on a desk), so it’s perfect for businesses owners who run virtual businesses or have home offices for after-hours use. The printer is only $279 and is so plug-and-play, you can set it up yourself—no IT help required.

If you need more function, the WorkCentre 6027, which retails for $429, is a multi-function device (print, fax, copy and scan). One of the most exciting elements of these printers is they are mobile-enabled, so it’s easy to print from tablets and smartphones. This is especially important since more and more people are relying on their mobile devices to get work done.

You may be thinking to yourself, but is it secure? Yes, both printers have built-in security. Using your Wi-Fi network, you can print from mobile devices using Wi-Fi Direct, Apple AirPrint or Google Cloud Print. And there’s no need to download or install apps or print drivers.

Here’s another benefit – both printers are built to save you time. They’re easy to install and come with a Paper Setup Navigator, which takes the guesswork out of using custom-paper sizes and stocks for printing envelopes, cardstock, labels and recycled paper. And to get things done faster and more efficiently, the printers print 18 pages per minute—even in color. Plus, the tray holds up to 150 sheets of paper, meaning fewer trips to fill up the paper tray.

Printers can be purchased online at www.dbsxrx.com

Technology Beyond the Box

Aligning your IT needs with a trusted partner that offers more than a “box” is important. For example, when buying either of these printers you are eligible for the Xerox eConcierge service, a cloud-based supplies replenishment program for networked printers and multifunction printers. Easy-to-use and install, Xerox eConcierge is downloaded as a desktop application onto one or more PCs or Macs. The program automatically discovers compatible devices, checking the toner, ink, waste cartridges and fusers. Users are informed when supplies are needed and an online order is generated, capturing the correct part numbers for the manufacturer’s supplies.

So What’s Next?

Business today is changing and SMBs owners and IT professionals are charged with helping employees become more productive. We are in a digital era and it is critical for SMBs to find technology solutions that are easy-to-use, adaptable and fit into the company’s workflow. I know what SMBs deal with on a daily basis, so here are three key things to consider when it comes to IT and your business:

Invest in a technology partner who sees the bigger picture: Look for a vendor that offers programs with cost savings and productivity gains with you in mind. For example, the Xerox Small Office Savings Plan is an innovative way for service providers to differentiate themselves and grow their base. The plan is simple: Xerox resellers offer their customers a free Xerox color printer and in turn, customers agree to pay a predictable monthly amount used exclusively for supplies. The plan gives providers an innovative way to improve margin (versus a traditional sale on the hardware), a guaranteed supplies annuity stream and requires minimal training.

Make wise technology investments: High-quality printed materials are a direct reflection of your company’s image – so invest wisely in printer technology. With enhanced image quality (1200 x 2400 dpi) that’s available on Xerox’s devices, you can create professional-looking promotional materials with ease.

Align with a vendor who makes simplicity a priority: SMB owners have a lot on their minds and technology shouldn’t be one of them. Look for solutions that are easy to install – with user interfaces that are intuitive and simple to navigate.

 

Note: This article was first published on Small Business Edge and Brian Moran filed this content as a paid contributor to Xerox.


Why Introverts Have an Advantage

In today’s digital age, introverts may actually hold an edge over extroverts when it comes to connecting with customers. Do you agree?

By Sachin Shenolikar

We’ve all encountered “typical” salespeople. They’re smooth talkers. They’re extremely outgoing, even a little pushy. That’s just what it takes to do the job well, right?

Wrong.

The most successful salespeople have certain qualities in common: They’re great listeners, pick up cues from customers, ask smart questions, and know when and how to advance a sale. “None of those capabilities rule out the introvert,” says Nikolaus Kimla, an author and managing partner of Pipelinersales, Inc.

“Anyone committed to selling can be a successful salesperson,” he adds. “There’s no reason an introvert can’t be persistent and persuasive.”

In fact, in today’s digital age, introverts may actually hold an edge over extroverts when it comes to connecting with customers and working out a deal. Here’s how:

1. Introverts Won’t Bore Clients. We live in an age where attention spans are miniscule and time is extremely precious. The last thing customers want is a salesperson who yammers on and on. What they do want is someone who is interested in helping them.

“Introverts seem to intuitively understand that human beings have one mouth and two ears for a good reason,” says Kimla. “They can hone listening skills, and they can frontload a sales meeting with careful research so that they have something worthwhile to contribute.”

2. Introverts Are Low Drama. A brash personality can be a turnoff for customers. The best thing salespeople can do is put their egos aside and use the insights they’ve learned from customers to come up with a solution. “What will resonate with any prospect is a thoughtful, intelligent discussion that shows a salesperson is able to understand the customer’s true strategic needs,” says Kimla.

This style is called challenger sales — it hinges on sales reps being able to synthesize information on the spot and demonstrate their company’s value within that context.

“They listen actively and ask the right questions,” says Kimla. “They understand the difference between consulting and making a sales pitch, and they’re able to correlate information in the moment, and contribute in a way that builds confidence.”

3. Introverts are Perfect for the Digital Age. Mastering social media has become a must in sales, and there’s a subtlety to being great at it. Being overly aggressive, forcing your way into Twitter conversations, and overtly hawking your products just won’t work.

Add in the fact that being long-winded just doesn’t cut it in social media.Introverts may feel more comfortable becoming acquainted with prospects in 140-character “soundbites,” or are perhaps able to share advice with their contacts more easily in writing than they can in person,” says Kimla.

The bottom line is that being a great salesperson isn’t about just making one deal. It’s about creating and nurturing strong, lasting relationships. “Studies have shown that introverts excel at long-term relationship building,” says Kimla.

“There will always be shining stars in sales, as in every profession,” he adds. “But it’s possible that introverts may actually have an edge in creating the right environment for a mutually beneficial sale — simply by being themselves.”

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Protect Your Online Privacy

The more free apps you install, the more personal information you’ll give up.More tips to keep your privacy: http://xerox.bz/1D9oZne

By Megan Anderle

We carry our phones everywhere we go, using them for shopping, texting, social media, and navigation. All those apps — many of which are downloaded for free — make our lives simpler and more fun. But they do come with a hidden cost: Many companies use the apps to collect personal data, which is later sold to partner companies.

“There’s an enormously profitable industry that makes a lot of money off tracking your behavior,” says Joseph Lorenzo Hall, chief technologist at the Center for Democracy & Technology.

In part 1 of our report on digital footprints, we examined how and why businesses track customers. The conclusion: While much of the collected data is used for harmless means, complete online privacy is nearly impossible.

Real Business asked Hall for tips on how to protect yourself:

1. Be Extra Careful on Phones and Tablets.  While it’s possible to install add-ons to limit Web tracking on laptop and desktop browsers, mobile devices are a different story, Hall says. Making use of  privacy settings of apps and a mobile device’s OS certainly doesn’t hurt, though.

2. Delete Apps You Don’t Use. The more free apps you install, the more personal information you’ll give up. To limit further data collection, delete the apps you don’t need, because they continue tracking even when they’re not in use.

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3. Use a Password Manager. “[A CTO] once told me, keep your passwords like your [underwear],” Hall says. “Keep them exotic, secret, and change them often. That always stuck with me.”

A password manager can keep track of all your confidential phrases and generate new, unique ones each time you log in. Hall says he has more than 1,200 passwords for all his accounts, and he only remembers two of them. One of them, arguably the most important, is the password for his password manager account.

4. Keep Your Private Stuff Private. Last month, hackers accessed dozens of celebrities’ private photos and leaked them into the public domain.  It’s possible that they deleted those pics from their devices and thought they were gone forever. But of course, they were still accessible.

The only foolproof protection: If you don’t want an image or sensitive information floating around the Web, don’t take the photo or send the message. “And if you want where you’re going to be truly secret, leave your phone home altogether,” Hall says.


Algorithms Reveal Forecasting Power of Tweets

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. —

Sang Won Yoon had a good Chinese meal recently — not always easy in America. It’s on his mind.
Imagine, he says, that you and your co-workers plan via social media to head for lunch about 12:30 p.m. most Thursdays. Usually that Italian place downtown. Frequently tweet about traffic on the way.
Now imagine that at 10 a.m., you’re tweeted a coupon from the Chinese place near the Italian joint — and directions around a traffic jam that will start in about 90 minutes. Score one Sichuan hot pot.
Yoon can make that happen. He and fellow Binghamton University systems scientist Sarah Lam have been working with Binghamton alumnus Nathan Gnanasambandam, a senior researcher at the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), a division of Xerox Research. They used 500 million tweets to develop algorithms that not only paint a picture of everyday human dynamics, but can predict an individual’s behavior hours in advance. The team, which also included graduate students Keith Thompson and Bichen Zheng, recently published their findings in Industrial Engineer.
Think about what your typical social media post says about you: when you posted, where you were. Your networking relationships can be learned — and with context-based algorithms like those PARC and Binghamton University have developed — what you plan. They use what is called an artificial neural network.
How sure are they? Better than 90 percent for a typical social media user in a three-hour horizon. “If you look at the picture, it’s very static. But the individuals are all over the place,” Yoon says.
Some people are very careful about what data they give out, but the algorithms can work pretty well with anonymized data. Usable predictions can be made more than 60 percent of the time, if the right data are aggregated. And that data isn’t just coming from social media: Think about sources such as credit card transactions, monitored telephone calls, e-mail, GPS data.
Creepy, perhaps, but this type of analysis also has benefits. Xerox, which has funded and participated in the team’s ongoing research, can apply the tools to traffic. (It helps run the New York State Thruway’s EZ-Pass system and parking services in several cities across the country.) Imagine getting directions during an emergency that not only get you out of harm’s way, but get you to someplace personal where you’re safe, reducing the burden on emergency shelters. Or imagine directions that prevent a traffic jam, rather than simply route you around one.
Now apply that research tool to call and contact centers, which Xerox also runs. These methods can fuse data from call centers, online chat and e-mail help desks. “We give it structure — not all feeds have structure,” says Gnanasambandam, who is also a visiting professor in Binghamton’s department of systems science and industrial engineering.
“What if you call a company…” Yoon says, and Lam completes: “… And they know why you’re calling before you call?”
Help desk associates can be cross-trained in topics so they face less downtime, or calls could be routed faster to the best specialist. Data about problems can be analyzed in near-real time, perhaps allowing fixes to be made before the customer realizes there’s a problem. “That’s not too far away from what’s happening,” Gnanasambandam says.
Now direct this approach toward healthcare — which provides about $2 billion of Xerox’s annual business — and researchers can build tools to help patients, doctors, hospitals, insurers and pharmaceutical companies better understand the complexities of public health or ferret out prescription or Medicaid fraud.
“There’s a lot of different directions you can go,” Lam says.
Including to Yoon’s next Chinese meal.

Computer Password Security

Practical Guide to Computer Password Security

With recent news surrounding various high profile computer hacking scandals, here is a quick, practical guide on how to better protect yourself against various threats in our rapidly-evolving technology space.

Why Computer Protection is Critical

How various attacks are executed is discussed below. Let’s first talk about consequences of these attacks.

Once an account password is compromised, the attacker has limitless access to that account until you update your password. In a more serious attack on your computer, a back door, otherwise known as trojan virus, gives an attacker remote visibility and control of your entire compromised machine and data that resides, even temporarily, on that machine.

If the compromised account is your main email address, the attacker obtains full access to every single other account you have tied to that email by resetting passwords through the “forgot password” feature that utilizes the now-compromised email address as a verification step. This scenario is what you want to avoid.

Realistically, the consequences of an attack depend on the original intent of the attacker. If the attacker is spying on you, for trade secrets, communication, inside information, personal information or anything else you can think of, they will be careful about raising awareness of a successful attack, using the same back door or password over time to get an edge. If the attacker is in for a quick smash and grab, you will know instantly that you were compromised because your accounts will either be depleted or your personal information will be shared with the rest of the online world. Either of those scenarios are not favourable.

 

Defense Strategies:

I think everyone agrees that being proactive in protecting yourself is much less stressful than finding out you have been compromised and your identity stolen, having to rebuild your life or your reputation, and wasting time and money on something that could have been potentially avoided.

However, if you are under an organized attack, it is very hard to defend yourself, especially if you are a high-profile individual such as an executive or a celebrity. The key is to be able to fend off 99.9 per cent of the threat, because the reality is that anything can be broken into, especially if there is any human element involved in the defense mechanism.

 

There are multiple ways of preventing your online accounts from being compromised. These are some of the first key steps:

Step 1) Making passwords unique.

A recently popularized method of increasing your password complexity while still making it easy to remember is using an internet language called “Leet.” Defined by Oxford as “an informal language or code used on the Internet, in which standard letters are often replaced by numerals or special characters,” Leet has become a requirement in many situations where security is balanced with usability. Key to using Leet is to make passwords unique to you as illustrated below.

Referencing an attached list, the word “password” becomes “P4$$w0rd.” Notice that capitalization mixed with special characters adds to the strength factor of the password. Do still be careful in using common phrases or words because someone would have already thought of it, and the password would already be included in the attacker’s dictionary. Instead substitute whole sentences like “this article is so awesome” turning it into “7#is Art1cl3 15 s0 AWESOM3.” The complexity is up to you, but vary it.

Step 2) Pillar your passwords.

A second level of protection is to use separate passwords for different groups of online systems, so that even if you are compromised, the attacker only obtains access to one set of your passwords. For example, use separate passwords for items for your work life versus your personal. So if your personal email gets compromised, your work email does not, and vice versa.

 

Here is a good balance of security and usability:

Category – High Complexity – All Unique: Banking

Category – High Complexity – All Unique: Email (Google, Yahoo, Outlook…)

Category – Medium Complexity – All the Same: Social Networking, Shopping, Streaming, Cloud

Category – Low Complexity – All the Same: Forums

 

You can customize this based around usability and what you stand to lose in each compromise scenario. This type of system prevents hackers from cascading your compromised information across other accounts you have. As an example, if your forum account password is broken, the attacker does not gain access to your cloud pictures or work emails.

Step 3) Two-step verification (TSV) or multi-factor authentication.

There are ways to enable two-step verification on multiple online services. This system ensures there are two checks performed every time you log in. The first check is typically your login and password and the second check is either a physical authentication stick, a phone authentication application or an SMS message sent to your phone.

Step 4) Strengthen Secret Answers

Apply the same Leet strengthening technique to your secret answers, or straight up lie on them to avoid social engineering. For example if your favorite colour is “green,” and you hate pink, use “pink” instead under your secret question answer. Alternatively, use “P1n[<”.

Step 5) Use protection

There are hundreds of tools in the online market that minimize your risk of being a target and a potential victim. Use them. Allocate a budget for security and pick an antivirus, password organizer and malware protector with online, offline and mobile versions that work for you. These tools are invaluable when it comes to preventing a good chunk of attack methods existing today.

Compromising Methods

Let’s look at what methods are typically employed in compromising account security and what can be lost from various types of attacks.

There are direct and indirect methods of compromising account security. Direct attacks target an individual, whereas indirect attacks target the business with which the individual has a relationship. Indirect attacks are much larger in scope – such as the department store chain attack – so I will not discuss that scenario in this article.

As for direct attacks, there are five major group types: 1) brute force/dictionary, 2) phishing/vishing/swishing, 3) social engineering, 4) trojan/malware/virus/key logger, and 5) password list attacks.

Brute Force, Dictionary Attack:

Brute force or dictionary attack is extremely common. It involves targeting an email address and using an automated tool to hammer a specific account login with a large number of passwords that are cycled through a massive list. This list is based on common passwords many people use, dictionary words and a combination of stolen passwords from larger indirect compromises. Essentially, this is an automated program that tries to log into your account repeatedly, with various passwords thousands of times until it finds a password match to your login.

Phishing, Vishing, Swishing:

Phishing is another very common attack type. This attack revolves around re-directing you to an exact replica of a website through an email you receive asking you to do something urgent. You see these emails all the time in your spam folder as companies have really ramped up automated protection against this type of an attack. However the odd ones still get through to your inbox.

Vishing is the exact same type of an attack but using the telephone. A person will call directly to your phone and pretend to be a representative of an institution, then asks you to confirm your personal information with them. Finally, swishing sends a text to your cell phone, with a link to a phony replica of a real website, asking you to enter your personal information or log-in information just as in a phishing scenario.

Social Engineering:

While this attack has been around for ages, it received the most notoriety with the recent iCloud scandal and various other Apple scandals. Social engineering uses charisma skills to fool the human element in any security system. The human element is usually the weak link due to weak security processes in place or weak training. This weak link, like a new employee, can be exploited at the lowest level of the security system, like a retail store, as a first step in the attack. Alternatively, targets themselves can be subjected to seemingly-random questions that target specific security measures they have put in place. One example of this might be meeting someone on the street who says “My goodness, you are so pretty, where do beautiful girls like you come from, what city were you born in?” Seems innocent enough at first but what just happened is you compromised one of three security questions you have listed on your password retrieval form.

Trojan, Malware, Virus, Key Logger:

Viruses, Trojans, Malware and Key Loggers are types of dangerous computer programs that hackers will try to plant on your computer as a tool to record your passwords or take control of your computer. Installing an Anti-virus software is your first line of defense against this type of an attack, but Anti-Viruses will not detect or protect you against custom attacks. A recent security conference conducted an experiment in which USB sticks with custom viruses were randomly dropped in a parking lot. Within hours that same day, the sticks were picked up by unsuspecting people and the creator was able to access numerous computers for his conference presentation. Now think; if you are an executive and you walk into your office and see a USB stick on the floor, will you plug it into your laptop?

Password List:

Online environments do not all share the same security measures. A community forum is much easier to hack than a bank or an email provider like Google. A problem arises when victims share the same password between their forum accounts and their bank, email etc. This gives an attacker the ability to break into other online accounts with minimal effort. Password list attacks exploit the use of identical passwords across multiple online environments. Hackers share logins and passwords that were compromised at some point in time, then they pick a website, and hammer away at it with a list much like in a dictionary brute force attack. Just recently, a huge 50 million entry list caught media attention when it was released on Russian hacker forums.