Mobile Computing: The HR Benefits

Mobile Computing: `Colocation’ Is Key

Board Match

Corrections or additions?

These articles by Kathleen McGinn Spring and Michael Schumacher

were prepared for the February 28, 2001 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper.

All rights reserved.

Self-Promotion on the Net

Back in 1988 Ilise Benun was fired by the Kenyan

safari company where she was director of operations. "I was so

mad that I decided I’d never work for anyone else again," she

says. And she hasn’t. Starting off in business for herself by

organizing

paperwork for the overwhelmed, Benun quickly discerned a pattern.

"At the bottom of everyone’s pile was a note about

self-promotion,"

Benun says. The tendency to neglect this chore, she says, "is

a bigger problem than clutter."

Benun decided to change direction, working with businesses not on

organization, but on self-promotion. This task is difficult for most

people, she finds. "There are so many negative ideas surrounding

self-promotion," she says. "People think of it as

bragging."

Besides, entrepreneurs "have to do work, and market it. And no

one pays for the marketing." Given that it does not directly pay

the bills — and is unpleasant to boot — self promotion can

be put off indefinitely.

"I’m working with a client now," Benun says. "He’s about

to lose a major client, and is desperate. He really needs to

market."

It’s a tough case, though, because the client has done no marketing

at all in 10 years. "He has no relationships to build on,"

she says, and self-promotion takes a long time. "You can’t just

send out a mass mailing and think you’re done. It’s an ongoing

process."

The Internet creates new ways to develop and deepen relationships,

says Benun, a Hoboken-based consultant who is the author of Self

Promotion

Online. "There’s never before been anything that allows you to

reach people in their moment of need. You don’t have to send

anything."

She speaks on using the Internet for self promotion on Tuesday, March

6, at 6:30 p.m. at the Princeton Public Library. Call 609-924-9529.

The rules on creating an ongoing self promotion plan that apply in

the real world are in force on the Internet, Benun says. "You

can’t just put up a website and expect that people will come,"

she says. Some of Benun’s thoughts on Internet self-marketing are:

If they ask, you still have time. Some industries are

behind in using the Internet, while others already consider a full

Internet presence a given. "If people ask for your web address,

you need a website," Benun says. "If people ask whether you

have a website, you still have time." In general, she says, anyone

doing anything technical — or seeking technical clients —

needs a website. Writers need websites, but professionals in the

fashion

industry probably don’t — not yet. Businesses selling "things

you have to see and touch" may not benefit much from a website.

Businesses selling information probably do need a website.

Be careful about sending cold E-mail. Just a couple of

years ago, gleeful entrepreneurs were crowing about reaching famously

inaccessible decision makers via E-mail. No more, says Benun. E-mail

from anyone not known by the recipient probably will be seen as spam,

she says. "People I’m calling are reluctant to give out their

E-mail addresses," she says. "I’m even reluctant to ask for

it. People feel it’s part of their personal space."

Use the Internet in combination with the phone. Benun

says one of the best ways to begin a relationship with a new business

contact is to leave a couple of voice mail messages and then follow

up with an E-mail. "They recognize my name. They feel they know

me," she says. She also finds it effective to reverse the process.

"There’s some kind of unwritten rule, if someone sends you E-mail,

you have to respond in the same way," she says. But rather than

return every E-mail with an E-mail, Benun says she sometimes picks

up the phone and calls. This surprises people, she says, and generally

in a good way. "They’re happy to hear from me." And that,

of course, is all anyone can ask from a self-promotion campaign.

Top Of Page
Mobile Computing: The HR Benefits

A friend of mine has an odd-looking piece of furniture

in her house, so unique and antiquated that it would make an ideal

candidate for the popular television program "The Antiques Road

Show." It’s a telephone desk, a combination chair and table that’s

almost child-size in proportion, with its low back and narrow surface

area.

While the side table still holds a telephone, the seat serves as a

drop place for items needing temporary storage, such as laundry on

the way to the basement washer. That’s because, with cordless phones

or stationary ones installed in nearly every room of the house, the

need for a fixed phone station has long become a thing of the past,

having joined the ranks of rolltop desks and leather-bound diaries.

Besides, with multi-tasking the norm, who has time to sit down and

just talk on the phone?

Many of us have become experts at conducting business — both

personal

and job related — from nearly any location. Who today hasn’t sat

through a concert or worship service and not heard the ring of a pager

or cell phone? Who hasn’t driven behind a driver chatting on the phone

oblivious to those around him? There’s no doubt that the PC, the

Internet,

and now wireless mobility have not only transformed ordinary lives

but in many cases turned them upside down.

"We are facing the ultimate good news/bad news situation,"

says telecommuting consultant and Monmouth Junction resident Gil

E. Gordon. "The good news about the explosive growth of mobile

technology is that people can work just about anytime, anywhere —

and the bad news is the same thing."

Gordon expounds upon the practice of telecommuting and managing work

and play life in his forthcoming book, Turn It Off: How to Unplug

from the Anytime-Anywhere Office Without Disconnecting Your Career.

It is being published by the Three Rivers Press unit of Random House

and will be available in brick and mortar and online bookstores later

this month. Preview copies will be given out as door prizes at

GetContactX’s

full-day seminar, "Colocation, Web-hosting & Mobile Computing:

E-Business Everywhere," on Thursday, March 8, at 8 a.m. at the

Sheraton Newark Airport Hotel. Cost: $39. Call 610-844-9880 or visit

the organization’s website at www.getcontactx.com

As people are getting more used to this mobility, they are also

demanding

it from their employers. And those businesses that resist, says

Gordon,

will be left in the dust. Businesses that are reluctant at first,

he says, will change their attitudes if either the cost benefits are

made clear to them, or if they are in enough pain in finding talented

workers. Some of the benefits businesses gain by allowing

telecommuting

are:

Cost savings on office space. Without the need for each

employee to have his or her own workspace, businesses can save on

expensive overhead. When people do come in to the office on occasion,

they can utilize a shared space since everyone probably wouldn’t be

there at the same time.

Easier recruiting and retention. Having the option of

working in a traditional setting or out of one’s home can attract

top talent. "People are tired of commuting, and they are making

greater demands of employers," says Gordon. "Working from

home, even a few days a week, can be your best dream or your worst

nightmare. I’ve seen telecommuters whose lives have literally been

changed simply by being able to work at home a day or two a week —

and I’ve seen others who tried it and ended it as soon as they

could."

Greater productivity. Workers are often frustrated with

the distractions of a traditional office setting. "I like to use

the analogy," says Gordon, "that just like a hospital is a

terrible place to get well, an office can be a terrible place to get

work done."

— Michael Schumacher

Top Of Page
Mobile Computing: `Colocation’ Is Key

The emergence of wireless connections, Internet access,

and companion computing devices "will dramatically alter the way

companies empower their employees and engage their customers,"

says Steve Sroczynski, president of GetContactX, the organizer

of the March 8 meeting. "This new level of mobility will require

organizations to re-think the way they deliver applications and

information."

GetContactX is short for Global Electronic Technology ContactX

Association,

a professional organization representing technology companies and

individuals. Participation in GetContactX, says Sroczynski, provides

executives with access to a broad network of businesses and

individuals,

as well as valuable programs and services. Monthly meetings,

educational

seminars, and conferences such as the March 8 event, provide

information

about leading issues and developments in technology and E-Business.

According to GetContactX, over 600 million people will have mobile

or cellular phones by 2004, with the majority having mobile computing

or Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) access as well. WAP can be

defined as a suite of standards designed to support wireless access

to the Internet.

It is the enormous progress of the less visible technological

advances,

such as remote servers, that has made telecommuting possible. That’s

why the GetContactX conference juxtaposes two of the hottest topics

facing the E-world today — mobile computing and colocation. The

latter is the practice of housing computer servers in a location away

from the office where the computers they connect reside.

The event’s keynote speakers are Sonny Hunt, co-founder of

FASTNET,

a business Internet services, web hosting and colocation provider

based in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and David Angier Sr., product

manager at Data Center & Colocation in San Ramon, California.

"Millions of small to medium-sized businesses are using the

Internet

today," says Hunt. "And globally more businesses are starting

to understand the power of the Internet and the effect it can have

on their businesses." Hunt estimates that E-commerce will grow

at more than 200 percent over the next several years.

Hunt majored in economics at George Mason University before completing

a computer studies program at the Computer Learning Center in

Springfield,

Virginia, in 1983. Prior to co-founding FASTNET in 1994, he formed

and managed HS&T, a provider of hardware, software and training

services.

He was also a programmer for Nexus Inc., a company he acquired in

1991.

"Businesses have a need for high-speed Internet access, and they

are looking for alternatives to traditional T1 service. For these

businesses, collocation has become the ultimate answer," he says.

As an example of colocation, Hunt says "let’s say you are a

newspaper

publisher, and you want to publish your paper electronically. You

would have to have a server connected to the Internet in order for

people to read it. If you keep the server at your location, you could

pay $500 or more to have the phone company put in a line to your

business

to get you out to the Internet. Then you would need to invest at least

$2,000 for a router and CSU/DSU (a big modem). You then need to be

concerned that a power failure doesn’t bring down the server. If you

don’t have a generator, you will spend $30,000 or more on that."

For a fraction of the cost, he says, "you can find a colocation

provider that will allow you to put your server at their

location."

For telecommuters, colocation can play a big role in accessing a

company’s

database off site, or simply retrieving E-mails. "Rather than

keeping your mail server at your location," says Hunt, "you

could use colocation and access your server remotely."

"Security is an issue," says Hunt, whether servers are

colocated

or kept in-house. While colocation may prevent direct access to

internal

networks, that server is still open to the world and all of the bad

things that can happen. External protection is available through

hardware

and software firewalls. Steps must also be taken to protect servers

and networks from the inside, says Hunt, because many system breeches

are caused by employees or others with access to a company’s

computers.

"Have you ever walked into an office and walked past cubicles

with computer passwords taped onto the sides of PC monitors?"

asks Hunt. "And who is responsible for the tape backups, and are

they properly secured?" Too often, according to Hunt, a business’s

IT security is minimized by careless or naive employees who use

simplistic

passwords such as 1234 or share passwords with other employees. And

when employees become angry with their employers, there’s no telling

what data they could steal or transmit elsewhere. "It is very

important," says Hunt, "that a business develop and adhere

to strict security policies not only from the outside but from the

inside as well." Collocation can take some of that worry away

since the data is stored remotely from a company’s hub of business.

Another use for colocation is disaster recovery. "Many

companies,"

says Hunt, "are now seeking ways to ensure communications for

both voice and data if their local facilities are interrupted for

any reason. Colocation allows a company to maintain off-site backups,

servers, websites and even telephone service."

"The start of the millennium took its toll on the Internet and

the telecommunications industry," says Hunt. But even though

investment

flowing into these sectors is down, he says, the need for collation

remains strong. "If industry analysts are correct," says Hunt,

current demand is only "the tip of the iceberg."

— Michael Schumacher

Top Of Page
Board Match

The boards of nonprofit organizations are having

difficulty

recruiting individuals with the skills and perspectives needed to

confront complex responsibilities. To meet the need, the Mercer County

Bar Association is hosting a "Board Match" program to identify

lawyers with the skills, perspectives, and interests needed to serve

effectively on the boards of nonprofits.

Serving on a board, the Mercer County Bar points out, is also

beneficial

to lawyers, providing them with experience. However, the organization

says the match does not suggest that lawyers will handle litigation

for any nonprofit with which they are matched.

On Tuesday, April 10, at 6 p.m. a Board Match event takes place at

the New Jersey Hospital Association on Alexander Road. Representatives

of nonprofits will display information on their organizations and

answer questions about their programs. Attorneys will talk about their

experiences serving on the boards of nonprofits. Cost: $25. Call

609-585-6200.

The deadline for registration is March 15.


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