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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Will the iPad Wow Business Owners?

I like Scott's viewpoints a lot and the iPad but a revisit 3 months after this article would be interesting

Apple's new tablet could soon prove both a vital launch pad and productivity tool for entrepreneurs.
By Scott Steinberg | January 29, 2010


Call it the Apple iPad, "Jesus tablet" as some media insiders have, or just Steve Jobs's latest high-tech obsession. Either way, there's no getting around the seismic cultural impact of the consumer electronics industry's latest high-profile launch. However, as many tech experts have been quick to note, hype aside, there's little compelling reason for everyday shoppers or business owners to make the upgrade. Or rather, there isn't quite yet--a fact it may take months to remedy, and that leaves a gaping void just waiting to be filled by legions of budding entrepreneurs.

At surface value, the iPad--a 9.7-inch LED touchscreen-equipped computer that offers multi-touch input, Wi-Fi/wireless broadband access and user-friendly multimedia storage, shopping and playback--promises power on par with a mid-range notebook PC. Debuting in late March in multiple configurations starting at $499 and up and ranging in size from 16GB to 64GB (3G high-speed cellular connectivity optional), Apple sees it spearheading a new category of mobile computing device. It sits somewhere between a smartphone and laptop in power and cost, and offering a 1Ghz Apple A4 chip that promises more advanced processing and graphics power than the iPhone. Consider, though: There's no telling yet whether this potential vertical exists.

Still, measuring up at just 0.5 inches thin and 1.5lbs in weight, yet offering a full range of productivity functions, respectable horsepower and support for "nearly all" 140,000 current iPhone apps, it's a curious experiment. Resembling nothing so much as an overgrown iPod Touch, a comparison some critics have made with derision, the big question mark is whether it can address small-business owners' needs. Blame a range of intriguing, but not necessarily must-have built-in features, and current lack of killer apps--two major issues that could ultimately torpedo the tablet PC's sales and market adoption rates.

Not that the iPad isn't doing its best to swing for the fences. Going straight for e-readers' throats with its iBooks virtual bookstore, bookshelf and reading application, it's hard to see how pricier, single-function models such as the QUE proReader will compete. Not only should the iPad make browsing, purchasing and skimming business books and publications easier, it may also make the process much richer and more informative, thanks to digital literature's integrated support for multimedia audio and video content. The device further promises to offer an array of functions from word processing and spreadsheet composition to options for screening music, movies and TV shows--all for a fraction of the price of traditional e-book players.

In many ways, it's anticipated to do for aspiring business and non-fiction authors what the App Store did for legions of bedroom coders. Providing a ready means to connect with an audience, build a following and establish yourself or your brand as a subject-matter expert, potential marketing and advertising applications are boundless. Moreover, the iPad could grow the e-book audience to the point where small presses actually have the opportunity to readily experiment with new formats, packaging strategies and prices. Or, for that matter, shift copies of their latest works, compelling case studies and innovative methodologies in respectable numbers, or at least profitable ones, given the relative cost savings of digital versus physical content delivery.

Steve Jobs and company have also taken great care to demonstrate marked support for the professional user, as illustrated at the gadget's recent unveiling. Out of the box, the iPad doesn't just spare you the headache of having to purchase software programs you own on the iPhone again, many of which can also be "pixel doubled" to fit the device's display and take advantage of its enhanced visibility, brightness and larger screen real estate. It also has the capacity to run more advanced productivity apps (downloadable, bite-sized software applications) that offer better, more ergonomic touch controls, a greater range of complex features and expanded online connectivity options. Whereas current office suites for the iPhone provide limited functionality and a smaller feature set as compared with desktop alternatives, make no bones about it: The iPad is a true portable computer, not simply an enhanced smartphone (although the iPhone and iPad do share an underlying operating system), and software utilities for the iPad will better approximate full-fledged desktop cousins.

Among its main benefits to business users is enhanced Web surfing, with sites readily visible in either portrait or landscape mode, and user input facilitated via intuitive gestures and an on-screen virtual keyboard. The experience benefits from greater room to scroll by swiping a finger, zoom in just by pinching, and, at odds with smartphones' cramped screens, more closely resembles what you'd resemble from the traditional internet browsing process. Alas, support for the Flash software platform still isn't included, limiting access to certain videos, sites and online games. Nor can users multitask (switch between simultaneously running programs), which seriously calls into question its ability to serve working professionals.

Downloading and viewing standard or high-def online video through YouTube or iTunes is a much more enjoyable experience though, and may open a wider audience for digital footage, making it a ready platform for entrepreneurs to serve taped testimonials, webinars and commercial spots on. Extensive e-mail support is also offered (as is sideways or vertical message viewing) through a cleaner user interface than that found on the iPhone, whose split-screen views, drop-down menus and pop-ups make scanning your inbox and responding to queries a snap. Extensive support for multiple calendars and notes is also featured, and it's easy to quickly add and browse contacts, pull up important phone numbers or access full-color maps as needed as well. Far-reaching search options allow you to quickly skim the entire device for names, details and addresses.

Given the not inconsiderable price, which swells further when you consider the pressing need for a monthly data plan, more storage space and accessories such as a physical QWERTY keyboard and carrying case, let's be frank: The iPad is destined to directly compete with standard laptops. The most pressing issue is whether you'll consider it a worthy replacement for your current portable PC workhorse, especially if features like a dedicated 3-D video card, Web camera, high-end CPU, multitasking performance and Windows compatibility are potential sticking points.

On a positive note, Apple's put on a convincing show of demonstrating how its Microsoft Office-like iWork application suite--which consists of Keynote (slides/presentations), Numbers (spreadsheets) and Pages (word processing) programs--empowers small-business owners. At just $9.99 each for the motion-sensing applications, which support standard desktop documents and PDFs, it's a relatively simple matter to create and edit charts, graphs, functions, formulas, slides and documents. Multi-touch input further makes all intuitive to browse by tapping or dragging a finger. But as much as we appreciate the ability to access slideshow templates with a poke, shuffle pictures and text layouts just by swiping or scroll through marketing plans with a flick of the wrist, let's be honest: Gesture-tracking commands are nice, as is compatibility with Mac-built and Microsoft Office documents. Still, we find it hard to believe road warriors would be well served without owning a dedicated, real-world keyboard; options for easily swapping between multiple programs; or having the option to easily expand internal memory or processing hardware.

Because it's primarily a digital lifestyle device, we don't see legions of entrepreneurs making the switch in 2010. But once enterprising entrepreneurs begin to crank out productivity apps and other programs (social media clients, cloud computing tools, voice-over IP services, etc.) en masse, the device could quickly come into its own as an entrepreneur's best friend in the next 18 to 24 months. The iPad isn't the be-all, end-all portable computing device that tech experts envisioned. But as it's done with the MacBook, iPod and iPhone, Apple will surely continue to innovate on the hardware, while competitors such as HP, Lenovo and Microsoft toy with the possibility of introducing competitors of their own.

All of this could add up to a potential renaissance for the entire tablet PC category. In terms of features, convenience, value, price and performance, that's a potentially huge win for entrepreneurs and everyday consumers seeking a more portable, flexible and lifestyle- and value-minded solution for accessing treasured digital content.

Tecnology expert Scott Steinberg is the publisher of tech product reviews site, and a celebrated gadget guru and video game expert who frequently appears as a technology analyst on ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and CNN, and has contributed to 400+ outlets from The New York Times to Playboy and Rolling Stone.

iPad for Business - NO! there is no USB port

without the USB port then this makes no sense

Your in a hotel room, need to print an updated presentation that you are giving the next day and need to print......

With a USB memory stick you can drop into the business center or a Kinko's and print it out easily

iPad in Business

Featuring built-in support for Microsoft Exchange, secure access to corporate data, and a powerful platform for apps, iPad is ready for work, right out of the box. Yes agreed Steve but you forgot the USB port

Sample ACD and CTI RFP

Sample RFP for ACD and CTI
Objectives of RFP
The purpose of this request is to invite prospective vendors to submit a proposal to supply an automated (ACD or CTI) system. This Request for Proposal (RFP) provides potential vendors with the relevant operational, performance, application, and architectural requirements of the system. This information enables vendors to respond in a format that makes for a fair comparison and ensures that the proposed solution meets the requirements.
Overview of Add Company name:
Complete the following:
ADD: Name of company, description of business, location. Objective of call center group, number of call center agents, number of call centers, growth expectations, why a solution is required, what these solutions should achieve.
Background Information:
ADD: How is (ACD or CTI) currently being performed.
Call Center Environment:
ADD: Number of customer service agents , hours of operation of call center, number of call center agents, number of call centers, talk time, number of calls, growth expectations. Describe how the automated (ACD or CTI) system is expected to improve the call center environment.
Existing Technology Environment:
Call Center
PBX Hardware & ACD software, CTI Servers Add
Trunking Add: Number dedicated to the call center
LAN type, agent & reviewer desktop computers Add Non Call Center Environment
PBX Hardware & ACD software, CTI Servers Add
Trunking Add: Number dedicated to the call center
LAN type, agent & reviewer desktop computers Add
Instructions To Vendors
Project Schedule Add Company name plans to select a vendor by “Add Date”.
Add Date RFP sent to all potential bidders
Add Date Written responses are due
Add Date Presentation
Add Date Vendor selected
Closing Time and Date
The response to the RFP should be submitted to Add Name of main contact no later than Add Date.
Responses must be sent to: Name of Contact
Address to send information
Phone number and fax number
Email address
Clarification regarding this RFP can be done by contacting:
IT contact & call center contact
Phone number.
Number of Copies
X number of printed copies of your response are required.
Right to Reject
Add Company name reserves the right to reject any or all responses to this RFP even if all the stated requirements are met. In addition, Add Company name may enter into negotiations with more than one vendor simultaneously and award the transaction to any vendor in negotiations without prior notification to any other vendor.
Responding to Questions:
Vendor Profile
Please ensure that you answer the following questions:
1. State the number of years your firm has been in business.
2. Where are your head office, sales, and customer service offices located?
3. Number of employees in your company?
4. Number of employees in customer service?
5. Number of employees in product development?
6. Are your hardware and software dependent on third party vendors for manufacturing?
7. Provide a list of 5 references list including contact names that we may contact. For each reference provide names and phone numbers of the primary contact person.
8. Provide your income statement and balance sheet for each of the two most recently completed fiscal years certified by a certified public accountant (CPA).
Future Offerings:
1. What new technology does your company plan to utilize in the near future that would be an advantage to Add Your Company Name.
2. What is the history of new releases over the last 3 years?
Market Differentiation
1. Provide a brief summary of your company's history in the marketplace. Limit response to 2 pages.
2. Please describe any features, services, or practices you provide in relation to the products requested which set you apart from your competition.
Business Responses
(a) (ACD or CTI) Process
For each of the following items, please provide a detailed response as it applies to the (ACD or CTI) software:
a. Delayed announcements
b. Multiple ACD queues or splits
c. Queued call announcements
d. Skills matching
e. System interflow and intraflow
f. Night service recordings
g. Prioritization of trunks and trunk groups
h. Transaction codes
i. Supervisor position and console
j. Emergency alert capability
k. Call force handling
l. Advanced call routing
m. Service observation
n. Call work codes
o. Exception reports
p. Agent trace activity
q. Maximum number of ACD groups
r. Maximum announcements
s. Agent call intervention or barge in
t. Remote diagnostics
u. Memory protection

1. Does your system have an automated attendant?
2. Describe your system’s ability to route calls by any combination of the call origination number (ANI), the call destination number (DNIS) and the PBX line.
3. What ACD statistics are available for a specific agent throughout the day?
4. Does your system allow remote access for users and/or system administrators?
5. Will your system allow management to remove ACD queues from service during off-peak hours and return them as needed?
6. Will your system permit the moving of agents between queues?
7. Can your system make agents active or inactive as important statistics are gathered on agents’ performance?
8. Describe your system’s ability to provide agent reporting that tracks activities by agent group.
9. Can your system provide DNIS reporting by period, by queue, by DNIS number, by day of the week, and by day of the month?
10. Does your system have an alarm feature to help call center supervisors define performance thresholds to keep tabs on workload, workflow, queue wait time and so forth?
11. Explain your system’s ability to use GUI to take a call, transfer it, send it to voice mail, etc.
12. Does your system support the ability to perform screen pops of virtually any application, including help desk and customer service products from Software Artistry, Remedy, Vantive, Clarify and others?
(b) Reporting:
1. Does your system provide wizards to automatically generate custom reports?
2. Can report criteria be saved for later use to maximize database storage? Does the reporting function store the entire report or just the report criteria?
3. Does your reporting function offer both text and graphical reports?
4. Can the format of the graphical reports be modified?
5. Does the system provide the capability of exporting the data from all reports to a Text file to allow for the manipulation of the data as desired by the users?
6. Does the system provide a report with a visual graph based upon a custom field? Provide a copy of the report, as it would look printed out.
7. Does the system provide a report with a visual graph that shows the (ACD or CTI) process by day, week, or month? Provide a copy of the report, as it would look printed out.
(c) System Administration
1. Does your system provide multiple levels of security access?
2. Does your system allow for the definition of Groups, if so can users belong to multiple groups?
3. Can privileges be customized on a per user basis?
4. Can your system administration function upload user data from current databases?
5. Does your system support the custom definition of user fields in the System Administration function?
(d) Training
1. What is the background of the people responsible for training the call center on the application? Detail their experience working in a call center environment.
2. What type of user training is available and can it be customized to meet the specific needs of our call center group?
3. Do you provide hands-on on-site training?
4. How many trainers do you have dedicated just to training?
5. How much training time (hours/days) is customary?
6. Describe a typical training program?
7. Is future training or customized training available? What type is available?
8. Where is your help desk located and do you have field offices that are available to assist in the event of a problem? Where are the field offices?
(e) Installation & Customer Support For each of the following items, please provide a detailed response as it applies to the (ACD or CTI) software:
a. Delivery, installation & cutover
b. General procedures
c. Completion date
d. Database loading
e. Subcontractors
f. Project manager/installation crew
g. User training
h. Cutover plans
i. Acceptance

1. How long does a typical installation require for your solution?
2. What kinds of resources are required of our company?
3. How many people are dedicated to your customer support organization? Describe the customer support capabilities.
4. What are the escalation procedures?
5. What is your Software maintenance & support policy? Please provide a copy of the agreement.
6. Is remote diagnostic support available? Describe how it occurs.
7. Do you have a user group for your product? How often do they meet and where was the last meeting?
8. Do customers and users groups influence release of the product? Describe.
9. Is telephone support provided? If yes, is this a toll-free service?
10. What is your guaranteed response time for user support?
11. What support is available for implementation?
(f) Technical Requirements
For each of the following items, please provide a detailed response as it applies to the (ACD or CTI) software:
a. General overview of system specifications
b. Technology
c. Equipment specifications
d. Cable plan and wiring
e. Equipment room
f. Environment
g. Electrical requirements
h. Battery backup
i. Back-up processor and critical redundancy
j. Measure of reliability

1. Describe the archive capabilities and back-up/recovery capabilities.
2. Describe the various levels of security for this solution.
3. Is your system scaleable? Describe how for the various components.
4. What are the work station requirements?
5. What are the server requirements?
6. Describe the requirements to interface the system to other call center systems.
7. Does a third party vendor manufacture your hardware and software?
(g) Pricing for the Proposed System
Please answer the following questions:
1. Does this pricing include any of the following:
o Incremental costs for upgrades and expansions?
o Recurring and annual costs?
o Maintenance costs?
o Training materials?
o Documentation (number of copies)?
o On-line help desk?
2. Identify any other products that must be licensed/purchased for use with the package or any of its components.
3. Describe any ancillary equipment required, but not included, in the solution pricing.
4. Describe any Desktop/LAN equipment required, but not included, in the solution pricing (i.e. local disk space, memory, operating system, network connectivity standards/protocols supported, dial-up modem for support, dedicated server, storage, etc.).