Tech Products Aid Teleworking



Software, backup services, other tools for small firms

Crain’s | By Karen J. Bannan

The number of transistors on a computer chip doubles about every two years, spurring exponential growth in computational speed, according to Moore’s famous law.

The number of telecommuters is growing almost as fast.

“Two years ago, only three or four people in a 100-person office were connecting for an hour or two a day,” says Cameron Niles, a principal with Syzygy 3 Inc., a Manhattan-based IT consultancy that focuses on the under-500-user market. “Now you might have 20 or 30 people connecting for a full, 10-hour workday.”

The shift means many small businesses are looking for the technology to take connectivity to the next level. Crain’s asked Mr. Niles and Lior Blik—chief executive of Manhattan-based Network Infrastructure Technologies—about which tools small businesses might find most valuable.

Software that’s a click away

Software as a service, or SaaS, is software hosted remotely that can be accessed via a browser. In recent years, applications once limited to the large market are now available to even the smallest firms. Customer relationship management, enterprise resource planning, human resources applications and payroll software can be used as needed, so expensive hardware and software don’t have to be purchased. Applications are accessible to anyone with an Internet connection and a Web browser—or a BlackBerry. Examples: Microsoft CRM, Salesforce.com, Oracle E-Business Suite on Demand, NetSuite. Pricing starts at $65 per user per month.

More accessible backup plans

If getting people to back up their PCs in the office is difficult, then getting them to do the same when working from home is practically impossible. Remote back-up services—which automatically back up, compress, encrypt and transfer files and data to a remote location or server—aren’t new, but traditional in-house backup software and hardware now include remote online components as well. Examples: Symantec Online Storage for Backup Exec ($47.50 per month), EMC Corp.’s MozyPro ($6.95 per server, plus 50 cents per GB of storage per month, $3.95 per desktop, plus 50 cents per GB of storage per month), Carbonite ($49.95 per year).

Printing gets a new stamp

Print-on-demand services eliminate the need for printers in employees’ homes. The only technology that needs to be installed is print drivers, so employees can select either the office printer or the print-on-demand service. When they print a document, presentation or flier, it is sent to the service, printed at the location closest to the home office and delivered. Examples: Mimeo.com, Fed-Ex Office Print Online, Staples Digital Copy Services. Prices start at 10 cents per page.

Enabling interaction

Remote workers still need to interact with other employees, customers and partners, which is why applications that, for example, automatically turn voice mails into e-mail text or attachments are extremely popular. Other productivity tools include whiteboarding, online chat, shared document review and Web conferencing. Examples: Google Apps Premier Edition ($50 per user account), Microsoft Office Communications server, IBM Lotus Symphony, Cisco WebEx.

About Mimeo
Mimeo is the innovator of online, on-demand cloud printing services. Over 4,000 companies rely on Mimeo’s award winning document management tools and print on demand solutions to lower document related costs while improving employee productivity. The company was founded in 1998 and operates digital print facilities in both the U.S. and the U.K. Investors include Draper Fisher Jurvetson, DFJ Gotham, Goldman Sachs (GS) Harbourvest and Hewlett Packard (HP). For additional information on Mimeo, visit https://www.mimeo.com or call 1.800.466.4636.