Agile Computing Authors: Elizabeth White, Carmen Gonzalez, John Mertic, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan

Blog Feed Post

8 Tips for Going Paperless In Your Small Business

8 Tips for Going Paperless In Your Small Business

Ray Coleman is a small business owner who writes about money management, green living, and sustainability.


One of the great benefits of the modern age is the ability of small businesses to conduct a majority of their operations in the digital realm. Eliminating the need for bulky file cabinets, storage facilities, photocopiers, printers, and scanners can reduce overhead dramatically. Replacing costly courier services with emails, and swapping out newsletters and solicitations for social media and web-based marketing programs means serious cost savings, as well.

Essentially, all of this comes down to replacing paper with pixels. By taking your business green, you're not only helping the environment, you're freeing up a ton of working capital for your venture – and often creating a better and preferred experience for your customers, partners, suppliers, and employees. For some very effective strategies to help take your small business paperless, read on.


1. Use Google Apps For Business
The suite of apps offered by Google can help small businesses cut down on the amount of paper documents they need. Use Google Mail and Chat to communicate online with your staff and clients. Collaborate electronically on projects via Google Docs - its word processing and spreadsheet functions can be contributed to and saved by multiple members of a group. For non-Google Docs files, share them through Google Drive. Insist that your staff work solely off their devices and you can cut back significantly on the wasteful use of paper.


2. Switch to Electronic Payroll and Accounting
Reduce the number of paper invoices and checks your business sends out by taking your payroll and accounting needs online with the FreshBooks website. It's a cloud-based accounting solution designed specifically for small business owners that allows you to create invoices and track expenses and hours worked all with an intuitive software interface and solid customer support. Freshbooks offers mobile apps as well, so you can handle all of your accounting responsibilities on your tablet or smartphone if you happen to be on the go.


3. Cut Down on Faxed Documents
If clients or other businesses you work with still fax documents, sign up for a service that converts incoming faxes to email messages. Two companies to consider are MetroFax and MyFax. If you have to fax a document to another party, convert it into PDF form and send it through one of these services so that your recipient receives it in fax form on the other end.


4. Choose the Right Cloud Platform
When you go paperless you're going to need a cloud-based platform to store your documents, and when deciding on the right one always keep security in mind. There have been several notable security breaches involving cloud-based storage platforms, including an incident with one of the market leaders, Dropbox. Two additional and advantageous document storage websites with high security ratings are JustCloud and SugarSync


5. Move Your Marketing Strategy Online
Marketing via email is a lot less expensive than a direct mail campaign, a lot less time-consuming, and more cost effective. In an article in the Harvard Business Review it was found that the response rate for direct mail marketing and email marketing was about equal, which means it can be of great advantage to your small business to adopt a digital marketing strategy. Send out email newsletters and offers, and stay on top of all your social media pages, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram using a tool like HootSuite, which streamlines all feeds and keeps you in sync with your social communities. According to an IDC research report sponsored by Facebook, 18 to 44-year-olds who own an iPhone or Android check Facebook an average of 14 times per day. That pales in comparison to the one time per day most of us check the post box.


6. Mobilize Your Paperless Strategy
When searching for ways to maximize your paperless activity, put your smartphone to use. To keep track of your expenses, use the Shoeboxed or Exepnsify apps to snap pictures of receipts and track business-related spending. You can also use the DocuSign app for signing and sending important documents for signature, instead of going through the process of printing, signing, scanning, faxing and emailing. Its high, enterprise-level security protocols make it the most attractive candidate in the eSignature industry.


7. Get Electronic Receipts For Office Supply Purchases
The next time you head out to Office Depot or Office Max to pick up miscellaneous supplies or larger purchases, ask to have your receipt emailed to you - it's one less piece of paper to keep track of. Establish folders in your email account to store these receipts as they arrive, so when the time comes to sort through your expenses you can have an easy job of it.


8. Reduce Junk Mail
The website DirectMail allows you to sign up for its National Do Not Mail List. Fill out the form, including your small business's address, and you can significantly reduce the amount of junk mail you receive. This cuts down on waste and frees up more time for you to take care of what's really important.


Final Thoughts
Going paperless may make you feel a bit more vulnerable, knowing there are no hard-copy backups of what you've stored in the cloud. If that's the case, get an external hard drive and transfer all of your documents onto it. Also consider signing up for a second cloud-based service, simply for backup purposes. This way you've got multiple means of protection should you suffer a computer crash or one of your cloud servers go down.

Fortunately, vulnerability is becoming a thing of the past for many individuals and small business with the strength and rapid evolution of cloud based businesses.

What tips do you know of for a small business wanting to go paperless?

Read the original blog entry...

@ThingsExpo Stories
More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smar...
Virgil consists of an open-source encryption library, which implements Cryptographic Message Syntax (CMS) and Elliptic Curve Integrated Encryption Scheme (ECIES) (including RSA schema), a Key Management API, and a cloud-based Key Management Service (Virgil Keys). The Virgil Keys Service consists of a public key service and a private key escrow service. 

The Internet of Things (IoT), in all its myriad manifestations, has great potential. Much of that potential comes from the evolving data management and analytic (DMA) technologies and processes that allow us to gain insight from all of the IoT data that can be generated and gathered. This potential may never be met as those data sets are tied to specific industry verticals and single markets, with no clear way to use IoT data and sensor analytics to fulfill the hype being given the IoT today.
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, will discuss the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
What happens when the different parts of a vehicle become smarter than the vehicle itself? As we move toward the era of smart everything, hundreds of entities in a vehicle that communicate with each other, the vehicle and external systems create a need for identity orchestration so that all entities work as a conglomerate. Much like an orchestra without a conductor, without the ability to secure, control, and connect the link between a vehicle’s head unit, devices, and systems and to manage the ...
The best way to leverage your Cloud Expo presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at Cloud Expo. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audiences.
Machine Learning helps make complex systems more efficient. By applying advanced Machine Learning techniques such as Cognitive Fingerprinting, wind project operators can utilize these tools to learn from collected data, detect regular patterns, and optimize their own operations. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stuart Gillen, Director of Business Development at SparkCognition, discussed how research has demonstrated the value of Machine Learning in delivering next generation analytics to impr...
@ThingsExpo has been named the Top 5 Most Influential Internet of Things Brand by Onalytica in the ‘The Internet of Things Landscape 2015: Top 100 Individuals and Brands.' Onalytica analyzed Twitter conversations around the #IoT debate to uncover the most influential brands and individuals driving the conversation. Onalytica captured data from 56,224 users. The PageRank based methodology they use to extract influencers on a particular topic (tweets mentioning #InternetofThings or #IoT in this ...
For basic one-to-one voice or video calling solutions, WebRTC has proven to be a very powerful technology. Although WebRTC’s core functionality is to provide secure, real-time p2p media streaming, leveraging native platform features and server-side components brings up new communication capabilities for web and native mobile applications, allowing for advanced multi-user use cases such as video broadcasting, conferencing, and media recording.
Amazon has gradually rolled out parts of its IoT offerings, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to optimizing their backend AWS offerings, Amazon is laying the ground work to be a major force in IoT - especially in the connected home and office. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Kocher, founder and managing director of Grey Heron, explained how Amazon is extending its reach to become a major force in IoT by building on its dominant cloud IoT platform, its Dash Button strat...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftNet Solutions will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SoftNet Solutions specializes in Enterprise Solutions for Hadoop and Big Data. It offers customers the most open, robust, and value-conscious portfolio of solutions, services, and tools for the shortest route to success with Big Data. The unique differentiator is the ability to architect and ...
A critical component of any IoT project is what to do with all the data being generated. This data needs to be captured, processed, structured, and stored in a way to facilitate different kinds of queries. Traditional data warehouse and analytical systems are mature technologies that can be used to handle certain kinds of queries, but they are not always well suited to many problems, particularly when there is a need for real-time insights.
DevOps is being widely accepted (if not fully adopted) as essential in enterprise IT. But as Enterprise DevOps gains maturity, expands scope, and increases velocity, the need for data-driven decisions across teams becomes more acute. DevOps teams in any modern business must wrangle the ‘digital exhaust’ from the delivery toolchain, "pervasive" and "cognitive" computing, APIs and services, mobile devices and applications, the Internet of Things, and now even blockchain. In this power panel at @...
One of biggest questions about Big Data is “How do we harness all that information for business use quickly and effectively?” Geographic Information Systems (GIS) or spatial technology is about more than making maps, but adding critical context and meaning to data of all types, coming from all different channels – even sensors. In his session at @ThingsExpo, William (Bill) Meehan, director of utility solutions for Esri, will take a closer look at the current state of spatial technology and ar...
Everyone knows that truly innovative companies learn as they go along, pushing boundaries in response to market changes and demands. What's more of a mystery is how to balance innovation on a fresh platform built from scratch with the legacy tech stack, product suite and customers that continue to serve as the business' foundation. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, will discuss why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue an...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Streamlyzer will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Streamlyzer is a powerful analytics for video streaming service that enables video streaming providers to monitor and analyze QoE (Quality-of-Experience) from end-user devices in real time.
You have great SaaS business app ideas. You want to turn your idea quickly into a functional and engaging proof of concept. You need to be able to modify it to meet customers' needs, and you need to deliver a complete and secure SaaS application. How could you achieve all the above and yet avoid unforeseen IT requirements that add unnecessary cost and complexity? You also want your app to be responsive in any device at any time. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Allen, General Manager of...
SYS-CON Media announced today that @WebRTCSummit Blog, the largest WebRTC resource in the world, has been launched. @WebRTCSummit Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. @WebRTCSummit Blog can be bookmarked ▸ Here @WebRTCSummit conference site can be bookmarked ▸ Here
In past @ThingsExpo presentations, Joseph di Paolantonio has explored how various Internet of Things (IoT) and data management and analytics (DMA) solution spaces will come together as sensor analytics ecosystems. This year, in his session at @ThingsExpo, Joseph di Paolantonio from DataArchon, will be adding the numerous Transportation areas, from autonomous vehicles to “Uber for containers.” While IoT data in any one area of Transportation will have a huge impact in that area, combining sensor...
Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity.