Category Archives: Cloud Computing

Mobile computing will dominate your future — are you ready for it?

Remember all the years I’ve said every small business MUST have a website? It’s still true, except now that’s not enough. Today you also have to be ready for the mobile customer.

Once only wizards and fairies had magic wands. But in The Age of the Customer, hundreds of millions of Earthlings now have one in the palm of their hands. Here are the U.S. numbers:

According to Statista, this year over 180 million Americans will own a smartphone, and that number will grow by 10% to almost 200 million in 2016. That’s just about every American between the ages of 16 and 80. Here’s another way to say that: Essentially all of your prospects and customers.

In a recent online poll we took of our audience, slightly more than half either had a mobile site or were acquiring one. Good for them. But that means almost half didn’t and had no plans.

technology-512210_1280Tough love alert: If your business isn’t ready for mobile primetime, it’s a dinosaur waiting to become extinct. Any questions? But there’s good news: You can avoid death-by-mobile in less than a month. Stay with me.

Where we once converted our analog lives to the online digital world with a personal computer, the shift is now to the small screen of the smartphone. And we’re integrating these new light sabers into our lives and businesses even more than the PC including, but by all means not limited to:

  • Download and use productive and fun apps
  • Read newspapers – even books
  • Navigate on foot and wheels
  • Record and share our lives with photos and video
  • Connect to others on social media
  • Shop for, buy and pay for stuff

You can get ready for mobile customers with these two steps:

1.  Hire someone to help you get your online information optimized for local search. This is important for a comprehensive online strategy, but mandatory for mobile primetime. Mobile users are often literally trying to find your business.

2.  Hire someone to build a mobile site (might not be the same person as #1). When your URL is requested from a smartphone, the mobile site presents automatically with your regular website offerings netted out and with fewer graphics for the smaller screen – form follows function. Mobile sites cost less than mobile apps to create, update and maintain, and a mobile site icon looks just like a mobile app. Most small businesses don’t need a mobile app.

Here’s that good news I promised: You can complete these two tasks in a month. How much will it cost? Not as much as you think, but that’s not the question. How much will it cost if you don’t get ready for mobile primetime?

Write this on a rock … Mobile computing wasn’t any part of your past, but it will dominate your future.

Jim Blasingame is the author of the award-winning book, “The Age of the Customer: Prepare for the Moment of Relevance.”

There is no handshake in “the cloud”

“In the clouds” is an aviation term pilots use to describe flight conditions. Or you might have heard this term in a parent’s lament about where their teenager’s head is. Recently, it has found a place in the marketplace vernacular.

“Cloud computing” is the availability of incremental processing power that resides on an application provider’s servers, instead of your hard drive. For example, community-building technology resides “in the cloud,” like the social media platforms that have taken popular culture and the marketplace by storm—no pun intended.

But while cloud computing is another example of technology increasing business efficiencies and leverage, like all other high-tech tools, it still has not replicated one of the most elemental components of humanity—the handshake. There is no handshake in the cloud.

Successful businesses have learned how to profit from the speed and efficiencies of e-tools, including cloud computing. And those who initially discounted the notion of successful virtual relationships over the World Wide Web have been proven wrong. By now, most of us have met a prospect, delivered a proposal, closed a deal, delivered as promised, and maintained that relationship—perhaps for years—using nothing more than the virtual connection resources at our fingertips. But sometimes, there just is no substitute for face-to-face. Consider this story:

After a successful four-year relationship between a small business and a Fortune 100 business where all contact had been virtual, the small business owner wanted to deliver a proposal with a new idea for their relationship. The customer said, “Sure, I’ll take a look; just email it like the last one.”

But having never met the customer in-person, plus knowing the importance of this proposal to his business this entrepreneur asked for a meeting. “If you think it’s worth your time and expense, sure,” the customer agreed. The meeting was set, conducted, and the new sale was made, after which the customer said “I’m glad you came to see me. I probably wouldn’t have made this commitment without your presentation.”

This story is true—that was my customer and my sale.

As you leverage and profit from all of the efficient high-tech customer connection tools at the speed of light, don’t forget that the best choice might not always be found in the cloud. In the Age of the Customer it’s still a best practice to invest the time and resources to meet customers face-to-face, shake their hand, look them in the eye, ask them for their business, and especially to thank them.

There is no handshake in the cloud.

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Be sure to check out my latest segment from The Small Business Advocate Show below. I talk about how to balance using the power and productivity of cloud computing with getting in face-to-face with customers when the time is right.

Why there is no handshake in “the cloud”