A very handy feature I’ve started using this week is finding related messages. This is extremely handy if you have a long thread of emails and want to go back to check something. You can find related messages (based on subject), or related messages based on the sender. In Outlook 2010 this is as simple as:
Another feature I’ve been missing out on is categorisation. This lets you simply assign a colour to an email, task, contact or calendar appointment. You can also assign labels to each colour. This makes it really easy to find contacts, tasks and appointments relating to one project as you can give different projects different colours and see at a glance what's related. Again in Outlook 2010, it's as simple as:
Getting hold of Microsoft Outlook
You can buy Outlook 2010 from these retailers:
Who poses the biggest threat to your company data? You've probably thought about external security threats, but have you stopped to consider the damage your employees could do?
Information risk management specialist Ascentor reckons nearly 15.9m people are ready to damage their employer's business, and says over two million already have. These statistics and more are summarised in this infographic, and you can see the full version over on the Ascentor website.
Do you use your mobile when you're on the couch? (Image: the dailyenglishshow on Flickr.)
Mobile commerce is becoming big business. Recent research suggests that by 2017, the total value of mobile transactions will exceed $730bn. That's about £465bn - or enough to pay for the Olympics around 50 times over.
Unless you've been walking around with your eyes shut lately, that probably doesn't come as much of a surprise. Mobile internet access has gone through the roof, with people using their smart phones everywhere. And where potential customers go, companies tend to follow.
There's a big convenience factor at work here. Done well, mobile commerce can be seductively straightforward. Take online commerce trailblazers Amazon. Finished your book but still have two hours of a train journey to get through? Just buy another book to read on your Kindle, there and then.
Businesses of all sorts are tapping into that convenience factor - not least the supermarket giants. Tesco is trailing a rather-contrived 'virtual supermarket' at Gatwick Airport, where you can use your smart phone to scan items on a screen for delivery when you get back from your holidays. And Sainsbury's reckons its new mobile optimised website has helped increase its online sales by 20%.
Sure, what's right for the supermarkets isn't always right for smaller companies. But in this case, if you're thinking it's probably is time for you to shape up your mobile commerce experience, you're probably right.
Even if your business doesn't sell online, you need to be mindful that a growing proportion of your website visitors will be using mobile devices. Do you want to exclude them from learning about your company?
Before you get started, there's one other thing to bear in mind: it doesn't always follow that mobile internet users are out and about.
Actually, a significant proportion of people use mobile internet when they're at home, because it's usually easier to reach for a smart phone than start up a PC.
Dubbed 'couch commerce', this phenomenon means that the typical image of a mobile internet user as someone with only a few moments to spare at a bus stop or on a train could be inaccurate. And that might influence the information you show them.
Introducing a new CRM system to your business is a significant project. To make sure you spend your time and money wisely, there are some key questions to ask right at the start.
You’ll also need everyone’s expertise to find an application with the right features. For instance, it will be difficult for one person to decide what automation is needed within the sales department if he or she is doesn’t work in that department.
As with any significant IT investment, do as much background research as you can into CRM as a process and CRM as a software application.
GetApp – the company I work for – has worked with industry professionals to create a free, informative eBook: Powerful Customer Relationship Management For Small Business.
Image of bad customer service from Flickr user antwerpenR under Creative Commons.
Every Friday afternoon we bring you a useful IT tip. This week, how one little box in Windows can save you heaps of time.
It's easy to forget where you saved an important file, or where in your start menu the program you need is. The most common response is to start trawling through different folders in the hope you'll be able to track it down.
Well, there's an easier way. It's staring you in the face, yet there's a good chance you didn't think to use it.
Windows has a comprehensive, built-in search function. Just click the start button and you'll notice a search box at the bottom of the menu. Whatever you're looking for, just type it in here.
As you start typing, Windows will start searching everything on your computer: files, programs, folders, emails and more. If you can remember what you called your file then this is almost certainly the quickest way to find it.
There's more information about Windows Search on the Microsoft website.
Previous Friday Donut tips:
As Chief Technical Officer for FreeAgent – an online accounting system – it’s probably no surprise that I believe virtually all IT tools are moving online, to ‘the cloud’. The days of rolling out shrink-wrapped software to a business are long over.
In fact, at FreeAgent we’ve already gone a long way down that road. Everyone in our company uses a whole plethora of online services, every day. Here are six that have become essential to our business:
There’s no guarantee, of course, that what’s right for us will be right for your company too. But I can safely say we’ve tried and tested all those tools, so they’re good places to start!
Olly Headey is Chief Technical Officer and co-founder of FreeAgent.
One of the internet’s fundamental technologies is changing. David Barker, founder and technical director of 4D Data Centres explains IPv6 and why your business should be deploying it.
IP stands for internet protocol. It’s a key part of the technology that enables most internet-connected computers to communicate.
An IP address is the unique label given to every device connected to a network (or to the internet). In the same way that your home address enables letters to reach you, an IP address enables devices on a network to send data to each other. An IP address looks something like this: 192.168.12.4.
IPv4 is (unsurprisingly) the fourth revision of the internet protocol and the most widely used today. However, it is also fairly old - it was originally ratified in 1981.
In total IPv4 has capacity for 4,200,000,000 unique IP addresses. Back in 1981 they assumed that would be enough to cover any possible eventuality. It’s lasted three decades, but there are now so many devices in the world that need to connect to the internet (each requiring its own, unique address) that we’re running out of room.
Step forward IPv6 (IPv5 was an experiment). It provides a massive increase in the number of addresses available. This means an IPv6 address looks very different to an IPv4 address – usually something like: 2001:cdba:0000:0000:0000:0000:3257:9652. Sometimes all zeros are omitted to save space, leaving a colon marking the gap: 2001:cdba::3257:9652.
IPv6 was designed from the ground-up to allow for an enormous number of IP addresses. There are enough for computers and mobile phones and household appliances and cars.
In total it provides roughly 340,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 unique addresses. To put it into perspective, that’s 480,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 addresses for each of the seven billion people on the planet.
It’s vital your business starts thinking about IPv6 sooner rather than later. If you don’t introduce it to your network then over the next few years there will be parts of the internet that you simply won’t be able to access.
Once we’ve completely run out of IPv4 addresses, companies will be forced to deploy new services as IPv6-only. This is already starting to happen in Asia. For instance, operators in countries such as China are running on IPv6-only as they don’t have enough IPv4 addresses to support the number of people going online.
What’s more, if you introduce IPv6 early, you’ll have more time to learn how to make use of new features that IPv6 includes. A lot of these are technical features to improve data routing and security but there may also be ways to make money from IPv6. Perhaps you can take advantage of new services, or drive your own markets by showing your customers that you are an early adopter.
After reading this article you should know that IPv6 exists and it’s important you adopt it sooner rather than later – that’s a good start!
Now, here are four more steps to help your business get ready:
Has your IT supplier mentioned IPv6? Is this the first you’ve heard of it? Leave a comment to let us know.
A bulging Microsoft Outlook inbox can be a fact of life. The more emails you send, the more you receive - and that makes it all-too-easy to forget to follow up important messages. So, to help you keep track of what's in your inbox, here are three key Microsoft Outlook tips:
All recent versions of Microsoft Outlook (since Outlook 2002) allow you to flag messages as they come in. There are lots of different coloured flags available (so you can use them to indicated different things) and flagging a message turns it into a task, which then appears on your task list.
Just click the grey flag by each message to set a flag. What's more, when you right-click a flag you've set, you can add a deadline, helping you prioritise tasks.
Folders are a great way to group emails about a particular project or subject, or from a particular person. For example, I have an IT folder, with a Projects subfolder, and then subfolders within that for individual projects.
Getting into the habit of filing emails in the correct folder makes life a lot easier when you need to find an email quickly. And if you're feeling confident, you can also use rules to automatically move emails to folders based on who they were sent from, the text in their subject, or a number of other factors.
The search option in Outlook has improved considerably with recent versions, and it's often now the fastest way to find a message. In the latest version (Outlook 2010), the search happens as you start typing.
Just enter someone's name, a keyword, or another word you know will help identify the email. Results should start appearing as you type. If you are having trouble finding what you need, try some of the more advanced search options.
Getting hold of Microsoft Outlook
You can buy Outlook 2010 from these retailers:
Previous Friday Donut tips:
A network server allows your company to run centralised applications, provides a safe place to store files and makes it easier to control how your IT system is used.
But buying and setting up a server isn’t a small investment. So here are six signs that it might be time to take the plunge:
Is it time your business had a server? Leave a comment and let us know where your company stands.
Not even emptying your computer's recycle bin guarantees your files are gone for good.
Although you can't see or open them on your desktop, the information is still there on your computer's hard drive, which makes it relatively easy to recover if you know what you're doing.
Obviously, that's good if you delete something by accident. But it's very bad if you're trying to delete sensitive information, like financial details or personal information. If your computer falls into the wrong hands, so could your data.
Thankfully, it's easy enough to scrub data off your hard disk for good. Here are three options for you to consider:
Of course, if you can't be bothered with all that and you don't need to keep your computer in working order, there's an option that's much more fun. Unplug your computer, rip out the hard drive and drill some holes in it. Satisfying.
Stuck for something to do this morning in that brief period between the end of breakfast and the start of the athletics? We've just stumbled across this jaw-dropping, fascinating internet map.
It shows 350,000 websites, each represented as a dot. The size of each dot is determined by the amount of traffic that website receives, and dots are grouped together in a way that mirrors how closely sites are linked. The map uses figures from the end of last year - at the highest level, you can see how sites like Google, Facebook and YouTube dominate.
But as you zoom in, extra levels of detail become visible, revealing corners of the internet and sites you'd forgotten all about. You can even search for websites to see where they sit in the map and how big they are in comparison to websites around them.
Visit the internet map at www.internet-map.net.
Small retailers have long known that if you want to be able to accept credit cards, you need to be good at jumping through hoops. Applying for and getting set up with a merchant account can be a lengthy process.
Things could be changing though, if a company called iZettle has its way. This Swedish firm is currently trialling a UK service that enables you to process credit card payments through your mobile phone.
When you sign up to iZettle, you get a card reader that attaches to your iPhone or iPad (see image - it's not available for other types of mobile at the moment) and an app that runs on your phone. Together, these turn your phone into a credit card terminal.
You open the app, tap in the amount to be paid, push your customer's card into the card reader, then pass the handset to them to sign on the screen. iZettle claims to work wherever you are, as long as there's an internet connection over which it can authorise the card.
The costs look reasonable too - there's a commission of about 3% on each payment, there aren't any subscription fees, and even the card reader is free.
You could use iZettle wherever you want. It would be useful for retailers, restaurants and bars, but because it runs on your mobile phone it also appears to be good for people who work on the move - like taxi drivers - or for use at events like trade shows.
Before you get too excited, iZettle has some disadvantages. It currently works only with MasterCard, American Express and Diners Club cards, leaving a pretty big Visa shaped hole in things.
It also seems to rely on a customer signature rather than using chip and PIN to process payments. Given the publicity-heavy switch to chip and PIN in 2005, it might unnerve your customers to find themselves having to sign again.
Despite these limitations, iZettle could be an early warning of what's on the horizon.
Our sister site Marketing Donut mentioned US company Square back in 2009. Since then, this similar service has grown to process $4bn worth of payments a year. PayPal is also introducing a mobile card payment service in the US.
Even if you already have a merchant account, these new players could shake up the market, potentially driving down costs and forcing established competitors to up their games. Good news, surely?