Corrections or additions?
This article by Bart Jackson was prepared for the January 8, 2003 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Tech: What’s Hot and What’s Not
And what miracles shall come to pass this year? Will
offices truly go paperless? Computer screens grow readable? Or are
we just due for another year of updated software labels and empty
promises? And even if technology does deliver unto us these long awaited
business tools, what sort of disaster protections will support us
as we climb ever more precariously into the electronic stratosphere?
The newest and best tools available are discussed at "Technology
Trends, Development and Issues" on Tuesday, January 14, at 8 a.m.
at the Merrill Lynch Conference Center on Scudders Mill Road. Cost:
$40. Register online at www.NJSCPA.org.
This breakfast meeting, sponsored by the New Jersey Society of Certified
Public Accountants, features
Possibilities, a Hamilton-based management and technology consulting
company. Fisher’s two-pronged talk disaster recovery and the latest
technological aids for the small and mid-size firm. While this seminar
speaks primarily to those in the accounting field, it is broadly designed
to benefit sales people, technical executives, and business owners.
"I love bringing new technology to CPAs and hardheaded business
people," says Fisher. "They have this `show me the dollars
and show me the payback’ attitude. They’re the hardest in the world
to convince." Yet if any Prometheus can bring the light of technology
to this grudging group, it is CPA and CFO Fisher — one of their
own. She grew up in Hamilton Township, and credits her common sense
approach to her immigrant Yugoslav mother. She attended Rider University,
where she obtained her accounting degree. Through the years she has
undertaken the CFO challenge for such firms as Think Centric and Pyramid
Consultants, yet has always kept her teaching ties with Rider’s Continuing
There will be some substantial innovations in 2003, Fisher predicts.
If some are not truly revolutionary, all should make much of daily
business infinitely more convenient:
a new town hall with a startling number of innovations. Not the least
of these was vastly diminished storage space, despite a greatly expanding
town government. The building’s designers looked to the computer with
the same hope — and the same ignorance — that 1849 gold seekers
looked for in California. With the introduction of electronic storage
they thought file rooms were passe. Scarcely alone in this mistaken
vision, East Windsor administrators soon faced computers generating
more paper than ever, and no place to cram it all.
But now after 22 years, Fisher feels we have a much better shot at
saving our trees from the axe and our offices from clutter. Increasingly,
knowledge workers are burning permanent records onto CDs for the sake
of convenience and of durability. CDs have proven themselves dependable
despite both time and abuse. Further, as laptops become ever more
portable and indexing more complex, the CDs’ browsability vastly exceeds
that of a briefcase full of paper.
In addition, business and government are rapidly shifting formats
online. "Previously," notes Fisher, "an employer would
bring in all his W-2 forms, his 1099s etc. with backup copies to be
filed in the accountant’s office. Now, the forms are scanned in, burned
to CD, and the entire tax form is filed online."
screens that can tuck under your arm and offer up the wealth of a
whole library. Trouble is, that while you can summon the entire compendium
of Elizabethan literature, you will be blind before you squint through
Shakespeare’s first sonnet. But on November 7, 2002, Microsoft unveiled
Tablet PC. This portfolio-size, amazingly clear, unflickering screen,
says Fisher, "just seems to do better — even for those in
the bifocal stage." It is easy to hold, easy to look at, and quickly
indexes vast amounts of data and swiftly indexes. So does this mean
we can look forward to doing business by the swimming pool? "Heck,"
says Fisher, "that’s what I do."
to direct E-mail, set schedules, and provide Internet connections,
a smart phone for calling in to the office, a pager for urgent messages,
and a laptop loaded with Excel spreadsheets. When are they finally
going to get around to putting all this into one single gizmo? According
to Fisher, soon. Within two years, a mass-market, de-bugged version
of an all-in-one-tech-dream-machine will be for sale. It will allow
the salesperson or accountant to enter a client’s office with that
firm’s data, and also with research links to competitors’ data, home
office resources, and data update capabilities — all on a single
Of course, none of this marvelous electronic esoterica means much
when you are staring tearfully into a black, crashed screen. For this
reason, Fisher grounds all her talk of future technological hope in
the reality of disaster recovery. Interestingly, her disaster counseling
provides more procedural than technical solutions.
you must first decide exactly what losses would cause a business-halting
disaster. Past sales data, for example is helpful, but not vital.
Current bank transactions are vital. Tax information can be refigured
system of computer firewalls, surprisingly few look at the building
that houses them. While you cannot predict earthquakes, electronic
overloads and fires can often be prevented with an expert inspection
and a few precautions.
essentials for continuing your business, make up a redundant backup
of those files and place them in one or more portable fireproof boxes.
Such boxes allow you to transfer your entire operation to a new, temporary
quarters, and still keep soldiering on instead of waiting two days
or a week to sift through the rubble for necessities.
of individual transactions going on continuously around the state,
the cost of a full backup generator and computer system may not seem
too high in the face of three hours downtime. If you are library,
training your staff members to substitute hand recording may prove
a cheaper, more cost-efficient fallback method. Whatever it is, balance
your backup insurances against not only the probability of disaster,
but the havoc it would wreak.
and most likely, new problems. Yet the world of business has never
been for sissies. The quill-pen era was not free of problems either.
Prizes will go to the folks with the best information and the gumption
to act on it using the best tools available.
— Bart Jackson
Before an as-yet-unidentified terrorist used a central
New Jersey post office to send anthrax-laced messages to media outlets
and politicians, most of us took the mail pretty much for granted.
Toss a letter in the office mailbox and it would go out.
In the ensuing months, as we looked at the route the contaminated
mail might have taken, we learned of the incredible complexity involved
in sorting and routing mail. How letters, mass mailings, and packages
are prepared in the office can make a difference to a company’s
bottom line because the post office has an enormous range of rates
based on dozens of factors.
Barton and Cooney, a company with headquarters on Lower Ferry Road
in Trenton, handles mailing chores for corporations. In a recent newsletter,
it offers tips on keeping mailing costs down.
access to a consultant who is thoroughly familiar with the latest
USPS regulations and the changes taking place this year.
Make sure it falls within the USPS dimensions, aspect ratio, and weight
limits. Unusual pieces with non-standard dimensions may be disqualified
from earning USPS incentive discounts.
piece dimensions to bring the mailing into a lower postal bracket.
(facing identification mark) for proper wording and permit data. If
the USPS detects an expired or wrong permit number, this may be ground
for exacting considerable extra fees by the post office.
using CASS-certified software. This will verify ZIP information and
insert ZIP + codes so that Delivery Point Barcodes can automatically
be printed on the outgoing mailer during the address imaging process.
Change of Address) file on a regular basis, and monitor it for the
percentage of moves and non-matches.
By using a postal sortation program, you can choose the sortation
level that will qualify your mark for optimum discount — whether
to sort to the Bulk Mail Center or Sectional Center Facility level,
for instance. This software can also produce the necessary financial
information for USPS reporting and auditing requirements.
printed with Zip + 4, delivery point barcode, and the FIM next to
the stamp area.
Mail, consider participating in the Postal Services’ Business Reply
Mail Accounting System, which requires an annual accounting fee of
$185 and testing of mail piece samples in order to reduce the handling
fee by two cents per piece. The break-even for the system is about
600 pieces a year.
changes. For instance, changes to palletization regulations would
increase the cost of production, and routing changes to BMC and SCFs
for destination drop shipments would affect the cost of freight.
The Trenton Public Library is set to screen a series
of movies about the business world. Part of its Winter 2003 Film Series,
"Movies About the Business World" begins on Thursday, January
9, at 6:30 p.m. with a screening of the "Hudsucker Proxy,"
a 1994 movie set in 1958, which tells the story of a gullible country
boy who becomes president of a vast corporation. Tim Robbins, Paul
Newman, and Jennifer Jason Leigh star in this Coen Brothers creation
of big business gone berserk.
The second film in the series, being screened on Thursday, January
23, at 6:30 p.m., is "Other People’s Money," in which Danny
DeVito plays a ruthless Wall Street corporate raider who sets his
sights on acquiring and destroying a longtime family wire and cable
business in New England. In the process, he falls in love with the
president’s daughter, who is also the company’s legal adviser.
Moving from rusty, industrial New England to the just-vanished hipness
of the New Economy, the library rounds out its business film series
with the "Startup.com," which it is showing on Thursday, January
30, at 6:30 p.m. This documentary follows two boyhood friends who
start an online service, combining their strengths in computer and
business know-how. The film makers followed the young dot-com entrepreneurs
for more than a year, depicting the ups and downs of their business
All films screen at the Trenton Public Library’s main location at
120 Academy Street. Call 609-392-7188.
The woman sitting next to me at a holiday party answered
the "So where do you work?" question by saying she had just
been sent packing by the New York City financial services company
for which she had been laboring for the past two and a half decades.
Well before I could summon an appropriately sympathetic comment, the
beaming ex-exec declared herself to be thrilled by this turn of events.
She probably wouldn’t have given up the paycheck had she not been
shed in a downsizing, she said, but she sure was glad to be cut free
from a job and a commute she had grown to dislike — a lot.
The next move for my new acquaintance may be self-employment, a route
many newly-downsized executives consider. The life of an entrepreneur,
however, is quite different from that of a corporate employee. Northwestern
Mutual, a financial services company, has come up with an online evaluation
to help those considering an entrepreneurial enterprise determine
whether flying solo is for them.
Find the four-page self-assessment at www.nmfn.com/savinofinancial,
where a click on "Take Self-Employment Screen Now" brings
up the worksheet. The self-assessment analzyes and describes some
key inherent characteristics and attitudes that influence entrepreneurial
success. It takes 20 to 30 minutes to complete, and indicates not
only whether one is suited for life as a business owner, but also
what type of venture might be the best fit. Self employment business
environments are broken into four areas — agent/representative,
consulting/contract, franchises, and small business.
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