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With the increasing need for faster collaboration and better access to data, cloud computing has become an integral part of business today. Across different industries, the requirements also vary. Some businesses would only require productivity and collaboration suites, such as those offered by Microsoft’s Office 365 and Google Apps for Business. Some enterprises, however, would require a virtualized layer for running their applications within a cloud environment. Yet for some, services like AWS and Microsoft Azure are integral in offering services to their customers.
The key thing here, however, is the speed through which enterprises can access their clouds. Some companies would opt for private clouds or a mix of public and private clouds through a hybrid model. This ensures fast access to their data and applications right where it is needed. But what if access is necessary from different parts of the world? Here is where redundancies and content distribution networks will play an important part. This makes it feasible for businesses that transfer huge amounts of data to access their content without difficulty. While it’s not necessarily a deal breaker for most businesses that deal with the cloud, for companies with mission critical apps, being faster by a few seconds might just make the difference between success and failure.]]>
The startup culture is making its way to the forefront of the current job market, and entrepreneurs across the globe are taking a creative approach to the way they work. For instance, as the digital workforce grows, both employeers and employees are looking into new ways to build their business. The economic climate is not only it is not only attractive for investors but also for those who are involved in the startup scene looking to make an impact locally and globally.
A recent feature on The Atlantic, for example, highlights how cities in the Philippines are now being shaped by the outsourcing boom. Townships built around BPO companies are on the rise, with BPO workers and their families in need of better work-life balance.
BPO workers need to live close to their offices because they are usually operating on the time of another country, probably one halfway across the world.
Recently, Lamudi, one of the Philippines’ most comprehensive online property finders, featured an article in its journal, highlighting successful emerging markets in Asia, and making note that the Philippines is at the top of the list.
The Philippines, Indonesia, Nigeria and Ethiopia are now the four most desirable emerging markets, according to the magazine. Nicknamed the PINEs, these four countries are giving the world’s economic powerhouses a run for their money. The Lamudi platform is already available in all four of these booming markets.
With the country in a boom in both the outsourcing and startup communities, we’re in for an exciting ride.]]>
The future of the cell phone is unknown territory. Whether the next generation of smart phones comes in the form of a Jetsons watch (as in Android Wear) or a device worn like eyeglasses (like Google Glass), it’s intriguing to estimate how technology will turn out. But there hasn’t been a lot of thought put into the future of your cell phone plan. The way we communicate has changed dramatically in even the past five years, so it stands to reason that the way you pay for that communication is sure to need some updating as well. We’ve compiled a list of what we think the future of cell plans look like; how does it stack up to yours.
Data Only SIM Cards – Let’s face it. If you’re a millennial (or really anyone with a smartphone) you probably don’t do a whole lot of calling on your cell. Instead, you probably text, email and Facebook to keep in touch with your family and friends. With WhatsApp being purchased by Facebook, it’s nearly impossible to deny the future of cell phones lies more in data plans than it does in minutes. Mobi-data has been offering free SIM cards with their data broadband plans, indicating that the future of your cell phone plan may have more to do with smaller companies with more coverage than the cell phone giants leading the game right now. But really, why pay for a voice plan if it’s not something you use? More and more people are likely to start asking themselves this very question.
Voice Plan Premiums – Voice messaging has really taken a nose-dive as of lately. Many of the major cell phone companies are reconsidering their current structures (like AT&T did when it revised it’s minutes structure). The future of cell phones is likely to see customers opting into voice plans instead of it being the standard offered. What does that mean for your cell phone bill? It could wind up costing you more to make a phone call. Data plans are likely to increase in price as well as they take up more and more connection. Luckily for the public, there seems to be a surplus of apps that will allow you to communicate for little or nothing.
Prepaid Plans – This may seem like a stretch but customers are getting more and more fed up with the monopoly that cell phone providers hold over them. Whether it’s being coerced into a costly contract with no end in sight in order to get an affordable phone or having to shrug your shoulders in defeat when it’s announced that a price increase is on its way, prepaid phones are looking like a more viable option. You probably won’t see prepaid plans the way they have been in the past but in short-term contracts. Some of the cell phone giants have already started leaning this way, forgoing the hefty cancellation fees to ensure business stays afloat.
Regardless of what the future actually holds, there’s sure to be some changes on the horizon. Let’s just hope they all come as an improvement.]]>
Are you a busy entrepreneur hunting for capital to turn your big business idea into a profitable reality? It’s not easy to source finance to get a start-up under way these days, particularly through conventional sources like bank loans. In fact, according to UK government data, net lending to businesses fell by a whopping £2 billion in December 2013. All of this means that increasing numbers of start-ups and entrepreneurs are turning to alternative and more innovative sources to find funding for their new enterprise. Here we’re taking a closer look at 5 places you can find funding for your start-up online.
First things first
Remember, no funding solution is perfect for everyone. All of these financial products and services are different can carry different implications and regulations. Before you select your preferred source of finance, take the time to research the alternatives and really get to grips with the product you intend to use.
1. Alternative Lenders
Online lending is a fast and relatively painless way for businesses of all shapes and sizes to find finance. Business loans can be awarded in just a few hours, with flexible repayment schedules and variable amounts of interest. If you can comfortably meet your repayment schedule, this is a very flexible form of finance, which is available the moment you need it.
Do exercise caution though, if you feel unsure about your ability to meet your repayments, this may not be the right option for you. Missed repayments can negatively affect your credit score and may influence your ability to seek finance in the future. However, used responsibly, these loans can give you the boost you need to get up and running, quickly.
The premise is simple: you present your business opportunity to a huge online audience of investors, if they see potential, they invest. This system is based on many investors buying lots of little shares in your business. There are a huge number of crowdfunding websites out there – and they all work slightly differently. Some offer funding for equity and shares, others work on a charitable basis. Many cater for specific industries, others have very strict rules and regulations in place, while some feel like more of a free-for-all.
A couple of things to keep your eyes peeled for: The fee each site charges for successfully funded projects can be around 5% of your overall funding (though this varies from platform to platform). If you fail to meet your funding target you may not get a penny of your funding and still get hit by a fee – though this isn’t the case with all platforms. Here are a few of the most popular sites worth exploring to get you started:
3. Online Angel Investors
If you feel more comfortable with a less anonymous form of online funding, online angel investment is becoming increasingly popular. Instead of linking you up with hundreds (or even thousands) of investors, angel investment platforms are all about bringing a few key investors (or business angels) into the frame. This allows you to pick up contacts and business insight at the same time as much-needed start-up capital.
To win this kind of investment you’ll need to be at your absolute best, with a watertight business plan – think of this as Dragon’s Den, but even fussier. Again, these sites are just brokers so remember that they’ll be looking to take a cut. Also remember that these processes can take time and there’s no guarantee of finding funding. Some sites to look into include:
4. Government Grants
Governments offer entrepreneurs grants and support to help you get started – provided you fulfil specific criteria. You can find a full list of initiatives (which include one-off grants, financial incentives, mentoring and assistance with loan seeking).
5. Peer-to-peer lending
This is one of those really modern ideas which have sprung up as a result of the credit crunch. With conventional bank’s interest rates on savings accounts so abysmally low, and with lending at such a low ebb, many are looking for alternative saving and borrowing options and this is where P2P lending comes in.
Peer-to-peer lending schemes promise to offer low-cost loans and high interest savings for those on either side of the equation. P2P lenders like Zopa offer APRs of around 4.7% on loans which can be granted online within 24 hours. There will be set conditions, however. For instance, Zopa ask that you are:
Loans can be spread over a span of 2-5 years. Every peer-to-peer lender is different – so make sure you take a very close look at the regulations and conditions involved.
Are you a start-up looking for funding online? What route to capital are you considering? We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences so drop up a comment below.]]>
Messenger services are so popular that even BlackBerry decided to launch the company’s BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) app and service outside of their own BlackBerry operating system. BBM launched as a cross-platform app, available for iOS and Android as of October this year. This brings the total number of BBM users to about 80 million across 60 million BlackBerry smartphones and 20 million Android and iOS devices.
Still, this is not as big as the user-base of apps like LINE and WhatsApp, which both exceed 200 million as of third quarter of 2013. The popularity of these apps has been bolstered by their launch of free and premium stickers. In fact, LINE is reportedly earning $10 million per month from premium stickers and $27 million monthly from in-game purchases. The benefit of these applications is that they’re not only chat apps, but platforms for delivering content. Case in point: LINE runs its own social network, where users can also post status updates, photos and other multimedia.
But apart from the cross-platform nature of these apps, another benefit is their being cross-device. For instance, LINE and Viber run on both mobile and desktop platforms. Viber, for one, offers a seamless way of switching from PC to phone, in which your call does not get dropped even switching across devices. Both LINE and Viber also offer video-calling on their desktop platforms, rivaling the likes of Skype.
Let’s not forget Facebook and Google, which run their own Facebook Messenger and Google Hangouts, respectively. These applications also run across different devices, be they desktop or mobile. What is left to apps like WhatsApp and BBM, then, which are limited for use on mobile devices? Well, for one, a piece of software called BlueStacks enables users to run Android apps on their Windows or OS X machines, and it even comes with its own app repository. It’s not an elegant solution, but it’s one good option for running WhatsApp on PC.
Does this make apps that run on both desktop and mobile better than those that run only on smartphones and tablets?
Hardly. That’s because a chat app is only as good as your friends who use it. Take for example a new app called Telegram, built by the creators of Russian social network VKontakte. Telegram offers privacy through peer-to-peer encryption, and the app also provides a self-destruct mechanism for messages, ensuring they don’t fall into the wrong hands. It’s like Snampchat, but for more serious users. To date, the app only has about 100,000 users. If you try installing it on Android or iPhone, good luck with finding friends.
This means the value of chat apps is more complicated than simple user count, features and security. It’s a dynamic that involves these factors, but in the end, it’s who you’re talking to that will matter. If your friends are mostly on one chat app, that’s where you will likely gravitate to. Which means you most likely have more than one chat app on your device or desktop computer.]]>
This report comes from social analytics company Sociaholic, which took into account the top browsers used on desktop and mobile platforms, including Windows, OS X, iOS and Android, among others. According to the research, Google Chrome has a market share of 34.68 percent, which “blows away the competition”, and actually has a bigger market share than its competitors combined. For instance, Firefox has 16.60 percent, Internet Explorer 15.62 percent, and Opera 2.66 percent.
Data from the Sociaholic report gives us a few takeaways.
Reports are mixed as to the actual advantages that each browser offers, however. For example, research from FixYa says that Safari is actually a more usable browser on mobile devices, and has about 58.12 market share in the mobile browser market. Additionally, Safari scored 1.31 points on the mobile usability score, which is 50 percent higher than the stock Android browser.
Even as Opera Mini for PC and mobile devices got the lowest market share in the browser market overall, however, the FixYa study cites Opera to be in the third place among mobile devices. Opera, after all, comes pre-installed on some feature-phones and entry-level smartphones, on account of its low memory footprint and ability to optimize web content for slow bandwidth and low device memory.
One thing to note with the Sociaholic data, however, is that browser share data was analyzed based on usage instead of actual install base. This means data encompassed how many pages were viewed by each browser, not taking into account the unique desktop and mobile identities of each platform. This means that based on engagement and actual use, Chrome leads. It helps that Google is heavily pushing for the use of Chrome on desktop devices, particularly with regard to the integration of services and apps through its Chrome app store.]]>
Financial startup Lenddo is hoping to improve access to financing for the middle classes in Philippines, and has taken an innovative approach to credit checks. Analogous to how brick-and-mortar financing institutions would rely on community references when making credit checks, Lenddo users one’s online social connections as a gauge for determining a borrower’s reliability and credit-worthiness.
Lenddo recently closed a new round of investment valued at US$ 6 million from existing and new investors. These include Golden Gate Ventures, Kickstart Ventures and Skype co-founder Toivo Annus. The additional funding will be used to accelerate the company’s global roll-out, and also develop new features that will improve the user experience for customers on platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and Android.
Read on at e27.]]>
Users can currently follow brands and companies through official accounts, and the lack of unsolicited ads has been an attractive feature for many users. However, the company says it will initially focus on a “small number” of relevant advertisements from a few brands, which will focus on “high-quality photos and videos.”
According to the developers, the move is to make Instagram a “sustainable business”, and will initially offer the high-quality content from brands that are already active members of the Instagram community. In the blog post, the company says users can still have control over what appears on their app, and would prefer the user experience to be similar to browsing a high-quality glossy magazine, where the ads are enjoyable and creative.
Instagram has employed a mobile-first approach in development. In fact, it is one of the few companies that have done a mobile-only approach, so far, which enabled it to focus on a high-quality user experience for its 150 million user base. Instagram is officially released on iOS and Android. There are available applications for using Instagram on computer and other platforms, although these efforts have been unofficial, so far. Additionally, Instagram photos are viewable on computers through the web interface and through social networks like Facebook and Twitter. However, the main official photo-taking and filter-featured interface is limited to mobile.
Seeing the benefit of a mobile-first approach to social networking and rich content, Facebook acquired Instagram for US$ 1 billion in 2012, and the company has since focused on building a “new experience” that the two companies can “build together”. With Facebook being able to target marketing ads through user preferences, demographics and other data, it would seem that Instagram’s push to monetize through ads is part of this business strategy.]]>
Telecommute is fast becoming a buzzword nowadays. The routine 8-5 office jobs are fast becoming a thing of the past as the work environment, job descriptions, and methods of doing work are evolving. People who work these days are no longer confined to physical offices because technological innovations have enabled the phenomenon that we now call telecommuting — which means, in the simplest terms, working remotely.
Of course, there are certain things we have now that make telecommuting possible, and if it weren’t for these innovations, we would all still be stuck in the caveman days of work. Here are some of the technological innovations of recent history that makes collaboration possible.
These are just some of the innovations that have revolutionized the way we view work. These technologies have certainly brought people together and made collaboration not just possible, but now a normal way of life. Because of these technological innovations, working together has become so much easier, and work has certainly taken on a brand new perspective.
One prime example of these innovations is 8Force — a cloud-based software that facilitates collaboration and working together. 8Force CRM and 8Force Workspace come equipped with all the necessary applications any business needs in order to go about the daily grind. From lead generation to sales conversions and even customer service needs, 8Force CRM gives you the tools you need to help you run your business smoothly. 8Force Workspace, on the other hand, provides you and your team with the necessary “office space” you need to work, without all the overhead costs of maintaining a physical location.
Gerald Corteza is the Sales & Marketing Director of 8force.com — a suite of cloud-based business apps designed for the small business owner. He has more than 15 years of solid B2B sales experience servicing small businesses mostly in the Philippines and Singapore. Get in touch with him at (email@example.com), Facebook (8ForcePH), or mobile (+639055715932).
Featured image credit: Cloud computing / Shutterstock]]>
The Samsung Galaxy S3 was the best selling phone of all time easily outselling the iPhone. Apple had hoped that the iPhone 5 would challenge the dominance of the Galaxy S3, and claimed at launch that it was the best gaming phone that money could buy. That wasn’t an empty claim, as the iPhone 5 did raise the bar in many respects. But even with its bigger screen, thinner build and faster processor, it has now been surpassed — and even eclipsed — by the Galaxy S4, which is now considered the best mobile device for gaming.
One of its features that lends to this is its Super AMOLED display. The size has been increased to five inches which is just right; any larger and it would be a little too cumbersome to hold comfortably in your hand. It has full HD resolution and the brightness and contrast levels are higher than on the S3; gone too have those strange colour distortions which have been reported on the S3 (though you would have needed perfect vision to have noticed them).
Early speculations suggested that the S4 would have an eight core processor, but while there are 8 core processor versions of the phone around, in the UK Samsung has released just a quad core version. However, while the S3 also had a quad core processor that in the S4 has been significantly tuned up and runs at a much higher clock rate. In terms of gaming capabilities the quad core S4 is more than adequate for providing an excellent gaming experience especially when playing online games, which include popular Android titles today, like Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour, Final Fantasy 6 and even gaming titles that can be downloaded from Jackpot City. Even playing multiplayer console games is quite possible, and there is not the kind of hesitation or jumps that you can get on slower phones.
While Android device manufacturers have come up with interesting ideas that will essentially run Android on console-type devices, like the US$99.99 OUYA, nothing can beat a general-purpose device that can also give you console-like performance in mobile gaming. While the Galaxy S4 is the best smartphone for gaming today, there is no doubt, though, that Samsung and other manufacturers are already working on the next generation device that will surely blow the socks off the current-generation smartphones and tablets. We will surely be watching out for upcoming products.]]>