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Small Business Marketing's Greatest Hits

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Marketing is a hot topic for small business owners, which is why we spend a lot of time thinking and writing about it over at Small Business Computing. While marketing comes easily to some small business owners, others show more enthusiasm for scheduling a root canal.

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Taking Ownership through Digital Governance

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Ownership can take on many forms.

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Have We Become a World of Addicts?

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I recently called a plumber to my home, but he arrived two hours late because the previous customer had a complicated and unusual problem. When I asked what the problem was, he told me that she had dropped her iPhone in the toilet and it got stuck. The plumber told the customer that the only way to get the phone out was to break the toilet and install a new one. She agreed, and he spent a couple of hours dealing with that mess. She, in turn, spent a lot of money—without even knowing if the phone would work again!

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Cloud Computing Market Leaders, 2015

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When Gartner speaks, the cloud computing market listens. In the fractured, still immature cloud market, the research firm's annual Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure is widely considered the authoritative report on trends and vendor ranking.  The moment it's released, vendors trumpet it or spin it, and pundits tweet and pontificate about it voluminously. One of the report's three authors, Lydia Leong, is arguably the cloud's leading authority. The report is a hefty tome whose complexity reflects the cloud market's many technologies, with a handful of vendors combining/developing a variety of emerging technologies. Amid the report's dense verbiage, here's a summary of the two market giants that are most shaping the market.

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OpenStack Brings Liberty to the Cloud

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When it comes to the public cloud, Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the clear winner today. Outside of the public cloud, the winner on the private side is also clear and it's the open-source OpenStack cloud platform. Simply put, no other cloud technology platform is as widely supported or deployed as OpenStack. OpenStack got its start in 2010 as a joint effort of NASA and Rackspace and in the last five years has grown well beyond its origins. The biggest names in technology now all support OpenStack. HP, IBM, Intel, Cisco, Dell, EMC, VMware, Symantec, Huawei and Yahoo are among its members.

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Interesting Times: Transformation in the IT Channel

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The old saying "may you live in interesting times" is a blessing or a curse, depending on how you look at it. These times are indeed interesting. "Transition" and "transformation" are pervasive themes in the channel and elsewhere in IT. Business Transformation is the Buzzword to Know A recent report from CompTIA outlines those themes: "Business transformation will remain the buzzword of the moment as channel firms of all stripes continue to assess the direction of their companies in the age of cloud computing, mobility, managed services, big data, social media and other market and technology forces. Navigating new routes to market and evolving customer buying habits will challenge channel firms to focus just as much on their own branding and marketing as they will on elevating their tech skills."

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It's Happening Now: Perceptual Computing is Real

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It is no longer just a matter of simply using touch, voice, and keyboards to provide your computer with information. Going forward, how you interact with your computer is going to change. More importantly, your computer will be able to perceive what is happening around it and take that into consideration as well. Perceptual computing is not new. It has been in the mainstream consumer market for half a decade, thanks to Microsoft and the Microsoft Kinect. Perceptual computing, however, is not just a toy for gaming consoles; it is quickly about to become a part of computing systems across the ecosystem.

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Guarding your Data against Cyber Attacks

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"If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle." - Sun Tzu, The Art of War There was a time not so long ago when the word "hacking" conjured up the image of fifteen-year-old writing viruses that presented a message like "You've been hacked by badboy45". If the individual was particularly malicious, they might go so far as to reformat your C drive. While extremely inconvenient, acts such as this merely enforced the case for performing regularly-scheduled backups.  It is only in the recent past that organizations have taken to the systematic targeting of business and governmental agencies in order to carry out highly nefarious deeds – with devastating success.

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Omni-channel Strategies Require Better Analytics, Integration

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My 14-year-old son spends a lot of time shopping for stuff online. His least favorite part of online shopping is waiting for his purchases to arrive at our door. Because of this, he often uses functions that allow him to see if the merchandise he wants is available in a local store, then nags me to take him there. (Thanks, retailers!) A growing number of companies are offering these kinds of interactions between online and offline channels as part of an omni-channel strategy, one that is designed to give consumers a consistently good shopping experience, no matter which channels they opt to use (Web, in-store, call center or mobile). Other examples of this include getting receipts via email instead of at the point of purchase and ordering merchandise online and having it shipped to a store for pick-up.

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Docker No Longer the Only Container Game in Town

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Things move with incredible speed in container space. As recently as October everyone, it seemed, loved them some Docker. You could also have been forgiven for thinking Docker was the only container game in town.

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