In case you didn’t already know, mobile is without a doubt ‘the next big thing’ when it comes to marketing and advertising. As smart phones like the iPhone and Nexus One become more and more popular among consumers, the potential for marketers is also growing rapidly.
The smart phone is like all of the other advertising mediums rolled into one pocket sized device. It’s a television, a web browser, a radio, a newspaper, a magazine, a yellow pages, a catalog and of course a telephone, and it goes wherever the consumer goes.
No matter which way you look at it, the mobile phone simply can’t be beat from a marketer’s stand point so I’ve put together this comprehensive list of mobile marketing tools that won’t break the bank.
1. SMS Text Messaging
The oldest and most widespread from of mobile marketing is the humble text message. By collecting the mobile phone numbers of your customers using surveys or competitions, you can build your own SMS mailing list and send your customers text based coupons, offers and incentives to visit your business again and again.
Star Mobile offer a Free Trial or alternatively you can download bulk SMS software such as Mobile Marketing Pro and manage the whole thing yourself.
2. Social Networking
These days, Social Networking is a huge component of most business’s online marketing strategy, and as the internet becomes more and more accessible to mobile devices, so too do the popular social networks. By creating profiles, networking and connecting with your customers you can stay in constant communication with them and build rewarding relationships.
Update your Facebook page regularly with offers, info, fun facts, videos and event information to keep your customers entertained and in the loop.
Use Twitter to send out tweets to your followers with promo codes, discounts and links to good reviews or articles about your business. You can also search particular key words relating to your business and respond to anyone tweeting about those topics. E.G. If you sell car tires, search for keyphrases like “flat tire” then respond to those tweets with a special offer.
The following social networks may also be worth building a presence with: Meebo, Fring, Nimbuzz and Ebuddy.
3. Mobile Directories
There are hundreds of mobile directories out there, most catering to a particular niche. The most popular of these niches are restaurant guides. If you are promoting a bar or restaurant, make sure you list your business with the following directories. For other types of businesses there is bound to be a directory to suit you, but there are way too many to list here.
4. Check-in Apps
The latest fad in location-based apps are check-in apps like Foursquare, Gowalla and Whrrl. These applications for GPS enabled phones like iPhones, Blackberries and Android-based handsets enable users to check in at certain locations such as businesses and landmarks to earn virtual badges and honors. These apps also allow users to network with one another and share their locations. Businesses can include their own offers to users as incentives for checking in.
5. GPS Treasure Hunts
A close cousin to the check-in apps, GPS treasure hunt apps such as DreamWalk also allow businesses to reward users for visiting certain locations. DreamWalk enables brands and businesses to create their own branded treasure hunts and place them on the DreamWalk prize map for consumers to participate in. The ‘treasures’ are real free products which can be collected by users and redeemed in store or via email. You can use DreamWalk to give away samples of your products or bigger prizes, entice consumers to specific physical locations and advertise your brand in the process. Branded treasure hunts are also highly interactive and entertaining and can be set up free of charge via the DreamWalk website.
While more and more people are beginning to use mobile devices for web browsing, mobile emailing is far more common and has been popular ever since the advent of the Blackberry. By collecting customer’s email addresses you can build your own email mailing list, then send out mobile friendly emails and incentives. Use software such as Constant Contact to produce weekly newsletters or promotions and manage your mailing lists.
Run competitions whereby people must text certain words or codes to a particular number to enter a draw or claim a coupon. You can advertise these contests using posters, flyers or even drink coasters in your stores or promote them in emails or even in your print advertising.
8. Blue Tooth Proximity Marketing
Broadcast SMS messages to passers by, using a bluetooth broadcasting device. When someone enters the vicinity of your business they are sent a predefined text massage which can contain a time sensitive offer or discount to attract them inside. Bluetooth broadcasters can be bought relatively cheaply from suppliers such as Blueblitz.
Please keep in mind, the messages you send may be deemed SPAM by some mobile users, so make sure you weigh up the pros and cons before using this technology.
Many mobile devices available today have the ability to play and even record live action video. Just as viral videos are great internet marketing tools, they are also just as powerful when delivered on mobile screens. In fact, devices like the iPhone come pre-installed with the YouTube app on the home screen, allowing instant access to YouTube content. Producing a video can be a dirt cheap way to entertain an audience while promoting your business or product at the same time. Generally, funny or weird videos tend to fair the best and make sure you keep the mobile screen size in mind when producing videos intended for mobile display. Sites like TinyTube gather videos from all over the net and display them in a mobile friendly format.
10. Mobile Optimized Websites
By now you almost certainly have a website for your business, but how will it look when viewed in a mobile web browser such as Safari or Opera? Well, unless you have optimized it for mobile, chances are it’ll either look really small or really bad. Use a tool like Instant Mobilizer to convert your existing website into a mobile-friendly one free of charge.
Well, that's my top 10 list of cheap or free mobile marketing tools. I hope you can utilize these techniques to promote your business. Please feel free to add your own suggestions or experiences in the comments section.
Jim T Brown
Mobile Marketing Consultant.
QeH2 can help your company implement these technologies, to come up with a plan that works for your business contact us today.
Friday, December 31
It's easier than ever to make sure copies of your most important records, documents, photos, videos, and other personal data will be readable/viewable/playable long after the hardware and software used to create the files have bitten the dust.
The four keys to safe data archiving are to choose file formats that won't become obsolete, use storage media that won't deteriorate or become inaccessible, make multiple copies stored apart, and check your archived data regularly to ensure it's still readable.
Don't get stuck with outdated data formats
Most of the files you want to archive are likely in proprietary formats, such as Microsoft Office's .doc, .xls, and .ppt for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, respectively. Despite the ubiquity of software and services that let you read and edit Office files without the Office app used to create them, these formats will become obsolete one day--perhaps sooner than you may think.
Find a storage medium with legs
If you're wondering how long the data on your CDs and DVDs will last, you're not alone. Even the experts can't agree on the expected longevity of optical media--and the same is true for magnetic tapes and disks. (The X Lab offers a detailed discussion of optical media longevity, including a brief description of the ISO standards for testing optical media.)
More than one archive, more than one place
Storing your data archive online violates two rules of safe storage: you don't have physical access to the hardware the files are stored on, and you're susceptible to the financial health of the service you're using. If the service goes under, there's no guarantee you'll be able to retrieve your data, and you have to trust in the service's ability to maintain and back up its storage servers.
Schedule regular archive checkups
For the last couple of years I've been spending a good chunk of my spare time using the free Audacity audio software to convert several thousand songs on several hundred audio cassettes to MP3s. Some of the tapes were made as far back as the mid-1970s, but most date from the 1980s and early 1990s
Generally, it is very hard to keep up with each one of these tasks. QeH2 partners with many small-to-medium businesses to eliminate these pain points and helps to make you feel safe and secure. QeH2 has the proven track record and data recovery team in place to partner with your organization, protect your data from disaster and take your business to the next level this coming year.
To read the full article, click here.
Monday, December 13
by Eric Pratt
With the Wiki Leaks drama of the past week it seems there is a lot of speculation circulating as regard to who's at risk, what can be done, and who to turn to for support. That's where QeH2 Business Solutions and IT Support comes in! With a host of Disaster Recovery, Internet Security, Network Security and protection for the small business.
With fear comes rash decisions however (exactly what hackers want). Look to avoid some of the many scares that are crippling businesses and causing them to over spend. For example, see this recent email I received from our tenant regarding just this issue, and QeH2 Partner Ian Holt's thoughts following...
WARNING: Internet usage and DoS attacks
With the arrest of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange the largest hacker group in the world right now (Known as "Anonymous") is doing major attacks on many financial institutions like Paypal and Mastercard and internet providers like Amazon. These attacks also known as DoS (Denial of Service) attacks are usually performed by sending out massive amounts of malware which hijacks people's machines and disseminates the attack from unknowing victims machines. Occasionally these malware include Trojans and worms which will damage your machine.
As an added precaution beyond normal virus and malware protection we want all of our customers to know about this and would ask that you limit internet usage over the next three days to curtail any hijacking of your equipment. By all means, do not stop using the internet altogether but please limit your usage as much as possible for the next three days. The government is fighting back against these hackers and the major companies are working on patches to block the malware dissemination but it will take time.
I sent this to my Partner and friend Ian, he replied with the following....
"This sounds like a hoax. It's not like there is a limited amount of internet to go around. If you try to access one of the websites they attack it will be slower, but your internet usage will not affect nor increase your ability to be attacked or hijacked.
The government does fight back against hackers, the FBI has 1 (that's ONE) cybercrime expert in the state of Colorado and he's woefully behind the times. Private companies being attacked will update their security policies and block offending traffic and may experience a few hours of downtime until they control their own sites.
Erroneous parts of this email include - The Paypal BLOG site was down, not paypal. Amazon is NOT an internet provider, they are an online retailer.
This whole thing reeks of cyberhoax."
Hopefully this proves as an example that you never know what to believe, especially given the various sources. Someone played a simple hoax here but the results can and will be lost productivity, etc. When a question comes up just contact your QeH2 IT Support Technician, that's what we're here for!
Monday, November 22
With nearly every retailer from Costco to Amazon advertising Cyber Monday, when do you suppose busy employees will get their online shopping done? In 2002 a survey of 2000 US companies nationwide found that half of all employees with online access planned to do holiday shopping from their company computer. We suspect that number has grown over the years as one third of those employees volunteered that they would knowingly violate their company’s Internet use policy prohibiting shopping at work. Another 20 percent of online employees had no idea if their company had a policy or not. And this was before the term "Cyber Monday" was even advertised!
Since the enterprise reaches into the employees personal time, the employee may feel justified in extending his or her personal life into the enterprise. Activities like online shopping, vacation planning, gaming, personal e-mail and social media are considered quid pro quo by the employee.
Your company's Internet Use Policy must be flexible enough to coincide with actual behavior and the flexibility needed to manage your workforce. Something with configurable time controls would allow you to easily restrict the days and hours during which users can access the Internet. You can also allow free access with or without monitoring during specified time periods so shoppers can shop away on Cyber Monday at lunch or after work.
QeH2 can help your company create a company Internet Usage Policy that fits your actual internet usage.
Monday, November 8
1. Wasted energy
The electric bill is still a large cost for companies and the IT department is a big user of energy. By adopting some energy-saving policies, you may be able to save some money. Members of your office stay may leave their computers on when they leave for the day or substituting the use of a screen saver as opposed to turning off the monitor (you should do both). With the advanced technology we have, using power settings available may pay off. Turing off lights in the server room and around the office when you leave for the day as well as using Energy Star rated equipment will help to save over the long run.
2. Spending too much on mobile technology
Mobile phones and devices are great toys, but company-provided equipment may be costing more than necessary. Using policies regarding mobile device use may help to determine what the right levels of minutes are appropriate for your organization.
3. Not allowing employees to telecommute
Management sometimes fails to recognize the cost savings for both the employee and employer associated with telecommuting on a regular base or part-time. One of the biggest issues companies have with telecommuting employees is the security threat it presents. With the advancement of technology, software allows IT departments to ensure remote systems connecting to the company are properly configured and protected and that connections are secure. Allowing employees to work from home can save on areas like office/parking space, heating/air conditioning, etc. It even saves employees on clothes, lunches, and transportation. They even tend to enjoy work more, putting in extra hours and raising the level of productivity.
4. Hiring full-time employees when an outside company could be more cost effective
Bringing on full-time employees to handle a workload that's meant to be temporary leaves employers with idle workers, costing more money due to no economy of scales. When you don't have the expertise for a specific project, it is more cost effective hire the expert. This keeps you from having to pay benefits such as insurance, vacation time, and sick time. Another plus is not dealing with all the paperwork and overhead that's associated with regular employees.
5. Make unnecessary upgrades
It's great to have the latest and greatest technology but can really take a hit to your bank account. Focusing on hardware and/or software upgrades that allow users to do their jobs more efficiently makes sense. Purchasing new hardware/software every couple of years or upgrading to the newest software so many months after it comes out may not be the best use of resources. Evaluating your current infrastructure and how users interact with their equipment allows the company to only replace or upgrade in areas that absolutely need it.
6. Failure to upgrade old, inefficient hardware
On the flip side, some companies are trying to squeeze every last drop out of their current systems. If you continuously repairing old, outdated equipment, putting 'Band-Aids' on your network every time it crashes because of energy inefficiencies, or putting your data at risk with ancient software, it's time to stop. It makes sense to invest some capital to lower operating costs and save money over the long run.
These are only some of the ways to conserve your IT budget. With the economy still trying to bounce back, conserving in areas and investing in other areas will allow you to move your business forward.
Thursday, October 28
I have noticed the past few months a lot of clients getting viruses on their machines.There hasn’t been the usual scare of “OH NO! Look out, there’s a worm virus attack happening!!” and everyone freaks out, it’s just a normal day in the virus world. As it affects me and the amount of work that I do, I wanted to find out how they were getting these viruses and then come up with a few easy ways to prevent them. I decided to look at their emails, all these steps I have implemented at at least 1 company, with most of them scattered throughout other clients.
Attachments – Of course everyone should be wary of opening attachments in emails. If it’s a video or pictures, it may be infected with malware or a virus.
Forwards – The funny jokes and touching stories that people share online. You can tell that you’re getting these by the “fwd fwd fwd fwd…..” in the subject line. I personally don’t read forwards. It’s that easy of a choice to make. For the 30 seconds that I may chuckle or feel good about reading what the story was, it’s not worth the 3 hours worth of work that I must do to clean my computer of infections
Fake Emails – Is your brother the kind of guy that would write you an email that says “Hello. Check this out! www.infectmypcbecausethisisafakeemailwithafakelink.com”? Or would your brother be more like mine and say “Hey punk. I saw this video and thought of you and that time when that basketball hit you in the face (note: that totally never happened in our childhood, I was a way better ball player than he was) and I laughed until I couldn’t breathe. www.realvideobutIwasnotthebrotherwhogothitintheface.com. Which one of those links would you click on? Figure out what is real and what isn’t. Spammers will try and trick you into opening their emails by sounding legit. Subject lines will say things “Good seeing you the other day” “Want to do lunch tomorrow?” “Check out this website that I found!”. Some will go as far as to enter in your name to try and personalize it even more, thus getting you to click on it.
With all the social networking sites out there, you are bound to be one of the millions using them informing the world of your thoughts in up the minute broadcasts. These sites have a system where notification emails can be sent to you. Spammers will try and mimick these also. Facebook will send you a notification using the email address firstname.lastname@example.org. Spammers will use the address email@example.com. The trick is to know which of these are real and which aren’t.
Outlook Reading Pane – Outlook has a function where it will automatically open your individual emails when highlighted. This can pose a risk in the sense that highlighting an infected email will automatically open it thus infecting the computer. My advice is to turn it off. That way if you need to read an email, you must double click on it.
Setup an alternate email address – Don’t ever sign up for anything using your business email. There are plenty of free email sites out there to use. Some of the more popular ones: www.hotmail.com, www.yahoo.com and my personal favourite www.gmail.com. Tell your friends to send forwards (if you’re one of those who absolutely needs to read them) to it. That way if your email account starts to spam, it won’t be from your company email (your system administrator will thank you for that).
When signing up for other things (such as Facebook, fantasy football, software trials) use this email address, if you’re added to a spam list, you don’t see all of the messages about getting Viagra that are gonna come to you, because you’ll get enough of those already from that sales guy you upset that one time who uses your email address to sign up for every credit card and magazine offer he gets.
Notification emails – In regards to the Facebook notifications, it’s simple enough. If you get an email from Facebook saying how Aunt Peggy just commented on a photo of you (hopefully not the photo of the last party you went to…) delete the notification email, open a new browser window and log into your Facebook account through it’s main page. Sure, that email has a link in it, but what if you were too late to see that it was from a fake email address?
Now these aren’t going to prevent any user from ever getting a virus or malware on their machine. However, these are just a few of the little things that I have seen from my years in the IT business. In the end it boils down to common sense about what you do online and what you open in your email
Monday, October 18
Review Your past IT budgets and compare what you planed verses what you spent. This will help you get a good idea of what to expect, and where you can plan better for the years to come. If you are in the first year of business and do not have any data to review, you’re not out of luck but you might need some help with this step. Not to plug QeH2 but you can talk to us about this and we can help you know what to expect.
2: Know the Company Plan.
Know what growth plan the company has projected over the next 1 to 5 years. Are they looking at adding 5, or 10 new employees a month or are they planning on keeping head count the same. Are they planning on moving to more of a remote work from home model or move jobs overseas? All of this can have effect on your planning. Estimate how much each person on your staff will cost to give them the needed computer and set up of applications. This also might include having multiple positions costing models. Production workers normally do not cost as much as an executive position will.
3: You are here--->
Know where you are and where you want to be. If you have 25 computers that are all 7 years old and they are running windows 2000 and you want to be running Windows 7 with office 2010 then find out what it will take to get there and make that a part of your plan. Make an inventory of each computer and the software licensing you have and make a plan for when it needs to be upgraded. Look at your servers and ask yourself the question. Will this server work for my company in 12 months? Most computers have a life span is 3 to 5 years. Servers are any ware from 4 to 7 years depending on who you talk to. Most important is can you get parts? If you cannot get parts or it is no longer covered under a warrantee then maybe you should consider the risks and what you are running on that server.
4: Did that Expire?
Know your expiration dates. This is simple make an excel document that has some basic information on it. Track What, When, Cost, and what is affected. This is more than just your simple antivirus and support contracts. This is a warning list of any and all items that will need to be renewed over the next 1 to 5 years. Then I like to set up outlook appointments to remind me when I need to get a quote or fill out the purchase request for that item. This is a simple way to make you look like the hero.
5: RFP’s are your friend.
Scope out any new projects over the next 12 months, and list out all the details of your projects. This will help you understand what cost they might have on your budget. It will also help you understand how long those projects will take. Remember you are not only budgeting your money but also your IT resources, and time. You only have so many hours in a day. Will you need to bring in any assistance to meet your goals? Is this something that someone else can do for less or complete faster than your recourses can? Building all of your RFP’s will help even if you are going to keep this as an internal project.
Wednesday, October 13
Monday, October 11
Outlook 2007 and 2010 have made it very easy to share your calendar via E-mail. Embedding your schedule right into an email message allows you to show your availability to others in your organization and clients. Follow the steps below and eliminate the hassle of coordinating and arranging meetings over the phone or through multiple E-mails.
1. Create a new message and address it appropriately.
2. Click the insert tab.
3. Click Calendar in the Include group. The Send A Calendar Via E-Mail dialog offers a number of ways to customize just how much (or little) the recipients see in the embedded calendar.
4. From the Date Range control, choose a specific date, a predefined range, or specified specific dates. That way, you send only the days relevant to the event you're trying to schedule.
5. From the Detail section, you'll probably want to retain the default, Available Only. You can send more information, when warranted.
6. Depending on the situation, you might want to check the Show Time Within My Working Hours Only option. You might not want to share non-work related activities. Outlook's default working hours are 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Click the Set Working Hours link to customize your work hours if necessary.
7. Click the Show Advanced button for more customization (it toggles between Show and Hide).
8. Click OK when you're done and Outlook will embed your calendar, notify events and other information (as required by your settings).
9. Finish the message and click send.
Recipients can quickly discern times when you are both free and suggest a reasonable time for your meetings. This makes setting a meeting so easy, even a caveman can do it!
Friday, October 1
What business owners everywhere aren't realizing is that putting a band aid on a machine that you rely on to assist in running your business is a horrible idea. We all know what happens after a few days, the band aid falls off and we are stuck searching for another band aid that sticks better or we say screw it, I'll work through the pain. This is no way to run a business, and eventually it will hurt your organization.
QeH2 has taken a century of IT support and business experience and built a model completely different than anything in the greater-Denver area. Designed from the business owners perspective, QeH2 has created a very different way of doing business. By leveraging and implementing best-of-breed technologies within every department, QeH2 has set the standard by taking a proactive approach to IT support in Colorado. Being on-site, working right along side the business owner and the employees, QeH2 is able to address issues and concerns before it effects business. Instead of putting out fires, we are preventing fires. This is where the majority of IT support companies fail to deliver. Stepping outside of basic maintenance and preventing technical issues from hindering day-to-day business transactions is how QeH2 does business.
Stop shoving money into old and outdated technologies. Let QeH2 come in, no obligation, to assess areas they can work with you to improve on your business processes and really, let you do what you do best. QeH2 has the proven track record within the IT support industry to truly grow your organization.
For more information, visit us at QeH2.com.
Friday, September 17
Anymore, business owners are watching the way they spend money; that's obvious. When we decide to make a purchase or enlist someones service, our experience is what may make all the difference. Bad experience may mean a complaint call, a bad online review... or two, maybe even lose a customer. A good experience results in much more desirable results. Ongoing business transactions, long-lasting relationships, and word-of-mouth referrals are all be tied to customer satisfaction.
We all like to think that customers only remember the good experiences they have with us and share those with their friends and family, but that is no always the case. Far too often, consumers remember the times you forgot to hold the mushrooms, correct that billing error, or respond in to an emergency later than expected.
Instilling a revolutionary customer service model and using it day-in and day-out, sets the tone for all customer transactions. Part of why the QeH2 "formula" is so successful has to do with our continuous focus on customer service. The QeH2 model was created by looking at everything that was wrong and negatively associated to the IT support industry. After four years of business, we have joined the ranks as one of the top, smallest businesses in the Denver-metro area.
By continuously evolving our model to fit changing technology trends and more importantly, budgets, QeH2's service is hard to match. Our guaranteed response time, free break/fix, and exceptional customer service is what's setting us a part in the IT support industry.
With no contracts, stop paying for crappy IT support and allow us to partner with your organization and get business done.
Wednesday, September 8
I recently went through the process of planning a wedding, something that is very special and will be remembered by many as one the most important and pivotal times you will ever experience in your lifetime. The dress, the location, the weather, the flowers, the food, the music, and don't forget the cake; weddings are remembered for different reasons by each person.
Leading up to the wedding, something that was very hard to ignore was the level of follow-through and communication by some of my vendors. You would think that within the wedding industry there is extra attention put on every little detail and if something changed it would be communicated, not true. I can think of a handful of things before the wedding that could have gone a lot smoother had the vendor or individual simply communicated with me. Even if the issue could not be avoided, had the vendor communicated with me about it and options for moving forward, the outcome would have been much different. This is the opposite of Say-Do.
In the service industry, specifically the IT support industry, communication between the IT company and the business owner is close to non-existent. Follow-through can be seen in the same light, easier said then done.
When it comes to IT support here in Colorado, specifically along the Front Range, QeH2 is setting the standard. We are setting the standard because so many other companies in the area are dropping the ball, and business owners think that is normal. Lack of communication and any sort of ownership when dealing with an outsourced IT company is unacceptable. Before the conception of QeH2, the four owners saw an opportunity to provide CIO level Denver IT support to small-to-medium businesses in a way that no other Denver based IT support company was. The model was built on two words; Say-Do. If we say we are going to do something, we actually do it. We are not afraid to communicate with the client and we leave that line of communication wide open, all the time. QeH2's level of detail and ability to follow-through is no match for your current Denver IT support company. We do things better, faster, more efficiently, and continuously raise the bar.
If you are tired of paying for crappy IT support, give us a trial run. We have a proven track record of success with all types of companies and we want to add you to the list of companies who are no longer struggling with all that's wrong with IT.
Wednesday, August 25
I doubt that you think you are crippling your employees but I’m here to tell you that many of the clients I meet with are doing exactly that. Not purposely of course, in most cases not even knowingly. How? Horrible, outdated, poorly constructed technology. The best way to limit your team’s productivity is to limit them from the many great tools out there in today’s completely mobile and technologically advanced world.
The best thing you can do is invest in your employees and their success and I believe the best way to do that is through tools and business information technology that make them better, faster, more productive, and possibly most importantly more satisfied. Technology, if used properly, can be a weapon for your team to wield in its pursuit of competitive advantage and superior production. If you aren’t giving your people the tools then you aren’t enabling them to succeed. You aren’t empowering them to compete on a higher level.
How much effect can the right tools have on production? I could argue up to 50% productivity increase but for example’s sake let’s use 10%. So by providing your people with newer, faster computers, a better intranet in the office, mobile tools for the sales force, you should be able to compete at least 10% more effectively then without. That’s a no-brainer.
How many employees do you have? How much do you pay them? Let’s take another example, say 10 employees with an average yearly salary of $50,000. Again, these are conservative numbers by all accounts, most of you probably have more people with higher averages. So take those 10 employees at $50 grr apiece and make them 10% more productive by giving them some better tools to work with. The result? $50,000, the amount you are currently spending on an average employee.
My point? Simple, the next time your staff is getting overloaded and you are about to throw another employee blindly at the problem…. DON’T. Take a better approach, invest in what you have. Free up some time. Free up their minds. Give your best people the best business information technology tools on the market and watch their productivity go through the roof. Spend a little money investing in your most valuable resource instead of hiring another resource. Don’t think it will work? Think again. It’s probably working for your biggest competitor and that’s why they are kicking your butt.
If you're not changing with the environmnet and challenging the way "you've always done things" then you are moving as fast as others and you will get passed by. What are you waiting for?
Tuesday, August 24
Sometimes a writer is obviously coming from another planet or such an opposite point of view that I have a really hard time connecting. Not Seth Godin, he says what I would say if I had more experience, more knowledge, and more talent. At least I’d like to think so....
While reading my third Godin work Tribes (I’ve completed Big Red Fez and Purple Cow with The Dip on my to do list). I read a passage today on a plane from Denver to Boston that I thought I would share.
In my career I’ve been blessed with several great opportunities (such as QeH2) and of course a couple not so great. I have taken pride in my ability to capitalize on the good ones (like Revenue River) and move on from the others. More importantly I’ve had the courage to take the risk in leaving the wrong opportunity for the next, whether that be better or worse. Call it faith, call it my temper and ego, call it what you will I’ve left a few organizations before most of my peers after concluding that there was no carrot for me there.
Not that I’m proud of leaving but I’m proud of where I’m at now and know that if I’d accepted mediocrity or stayed where there was no real future I’d still be there.
Seth Godin hit on what I would agree is the reason many of my peers stayed and why they may still be on a dead end career road working for people who just don’t get it. People who manage instead of lead. People who set their employees up for failure every day and blame them when less then the best is achieved.
Here is an excerpt from Tribes by Seth Godin:
The F Word
"So if tribes reward innovation…
….and initiators are happier….
….then why doesn’t everyone do it?
Because of fear.
I’ve encountered thousands (it might be tens of thousands) of people walking around with great ideas. Some of the ideas really are great; some are mearly pretty good. There doesn’t seem to be a shortage of ideas. Ordinary folks can dream up remarkable stuff fairly easily.
What’s missing is the will to make the ideas happen.
In a battle between two ideas, the one doesn’t necessarily win. No, the idea that wins is the one with the most fearless heretic behind it.
A lot of us would like to believe that there’s a Bureau of Idea Approval, or the BIA if you like acronyms. The BIA sites in judgemnet of ideas and blesses the best ones. Go ahead and hone your remarkable concept, submit to the BIA, and let them do the rest.
Alas, its not going to happen like that any time soon.
Thinking Your Way Out of the Fear
Fear’s an emotion, no doubt about it. One of the strongest, oldest, and most hardwired.
Mr. Godin goes on with some really powerful stuff from here, if you haven’t read this or his other works you really should.
What I take away from this is that you have to take a chance. You have to be willing to take the leap. Leave what’s comfortable for the unknown. Go for it without worrying about what will happen if you fail… you can always go back to another company that will let you fly under the radar. Jobs like that are everywhere."
Maybe I’m a gambler and like the volatility but I’ve always had a go-for-it approach. There is a slim line between "confident risk taker" and reckless I suppose but I’ve always thought that the line was a little further off then most of my colleagues and competitors.
Moral of the story? I don’t know for sure, probably just my rambling and inspiration from Mr. Godin. I guess it’s either go buy all of Mr. Godin’s books or don’t be afraid to take a chance. Either way I don’t think you can lose.
Sunday, August 22
Digeus System Optimizer is a waste of money from an IT support standpoint. All these functions and capabilities are covered by free software from Microsoft (Windows Sysinternals). Granted, Digeus simplifies the interface, but in some cases either doesn't warn of the sever implications of changes being made or over-inflates the value of their software with impressive numbers of "bad" files/entries that really have little to no impact on machine performance. A couple of examples, the registry cleaner looks impressive when it found hundreds of "bad" entries, but running this program did NOT make my computer any faster (the registry is made of millions of lines of code, what impact, statistically, can even a few hundred entries make?). Process Manager classifies some VITAL Microsoft processes as superfluous because even Microsoft doesn't use the signature process correctly - use at your own peril! An over-simplified bubblegum interface hides some dangerous applications that the average user should NOT play with.
Tuesday, August 17
by Alex Repola
I recently went through the process of selecting tires for my '05 Outback but caught myself shopping the tire company itself instead of for the cheapest tires. Of course, I hopped online to find local tire shops here in Castle Rock for a set of inexpensive tires. I had a budget and I wanted to sick to, a very tight schedule to work around, and a level of service I expected. I gathered a few online quotes as well as some in-store estimates. focusing on my budget. I was in the neighborhood of the Goodyear tire center Coloradoland Tire & Service on the north side of Castle Rock and stopped in to get one last quote. These guys were friendly, competitive, quick, and trustworthy. They were able to work with my budget but made sure to bring to light the fact that tires are an investment and cutting corners could end up costing more down the road. I had them put tires on my car and walked out of that shop this afternoon knowing I paid for great service and a great product.
For small-to-medium businesses, investing in things that will elevate your company's production capabilities is not something you think twice about. Implementing best business practices and solutions that move your organization forward can really set you apart from your competition. QeH2 has been providing business IT solutions along the Front Range for the past four years. With a very similar customer service experiences as Coloradoland Tire & Service, QeH2 provides friendly, honest, and revolutionary IT support with your entire buiness in mind. Looking at how technology can help, and hinder productivity and efficiency around the office, is a daily routine for the QeH2 team. Our Say-Do philosophy keeps our focus on performance and reliability, a defining characteristic of QeH2. We have the rack record to prove it.
How do you chose who your going to pay for service, whether it's IT support or tires?
Monday, July 12
Up until just a few years ago, very few people knew what Search Engine Optimization (SEO) was. Up until even a year ago, people that had heard of SEO didn’t even know what it meant. Seogon Technologies, a Denver based SEO and Internet marketing company, has spent the last year changing the way businesses reach out to prospective clients through the World Wide Web. With nearly a decade of Internet marketing experience in various industries, co-owner Stephen Christopher prides himself on ethical business practices and customer service when designing marketing campaigns for organizations. I have worked with Stephen on many occasions and have learned there are right ways of doing SEO and there are wrong ways; Seogon Technologies takes those extra steps to ensure complete customer satisfactions through ethical business practices.
Q: Tell me a little about yourself, Stephen.
A: I grew up right on the water in Pensacola, FL; went to school at the University of Florida, home of the Gators; excited that the Denver Broncos picked up Tim Tebow. I fished a lot growing up and enjoy being outdoors camping and sitting by the pool since its summer.
Q: What past experiences and knowledge led you to Seogon Technologies?
A: In 2003-2004, when SEO really started to hit the market, I co-owned a mortgage company for real estate investors. We had a really great website and a ton of clients but couldn’t figure out how to get people to find the site, specifically, new customers. We started to do some research and found this thing called SEO. We Google-ed it and saw how cool this tool really was. People find you; there are ways to move up pages on Google for specific terms. It’s great. At this point in time, in 2004, a lot of people didn’t know much about SEO. Even today, a lot of people really don’t know what SEO is or that it even exists. If they have heard the term before, they generally attribute it to the Internet. Rarely do they know what it actually does. We realized we needed to be found for these specific terms that we were marketing for within the mortgage industry. We ended up hiring this one guy that worked out of his basement and he did a few things to our site in regards to optimization. I watched him for a month or two and started to pick up on it; I noticed how many things this guy was missing. I started to learn more and more about SEO and we shot up to the first page of Google for terms like ‘investment property mortgage’ and ‘income property mortgage’ after some time. We were beating out companies like Wells Fargo, Countrywide, and other big-name organizations. We did great for a couple years then the whole mortgage industry bottomed out.
That’s where I gained the majority of my SEO training. I then went into the data recovery industry and did SEO; I knew what I was doing, which was more than most people in the SEO industry. Studying new SEO trends, testing it, implementing it, and figuring out which word should be bold or italicized and how that impacts results. A number of my colleagues started to ask me to optimize their sites on the side, I began to see a niche for SEO and no one was doing it correctly.
Q: What is the premise of Search Engine Optimization?
A: It can be defined as being able to manipulate the rankings in an honest way, promoting your business or a client’s business online. That’s it in a nutshell; it’s not a difficult concept to grasp. Raising your organic ratings for certain key words or key phrases is all it is.
Q: Can you elaborate on why it’s so important to perform SEO in an ethical manor?
A: There are a lot of unethical SEO companies out there; we happily take business away from these companies every chance we get. They are doing the industry a disservice by overpromising and under delivering. These types of companies will get you blacklisted on all the search engines, Google being the first that picks up on unethical practices. Once you are blacklisted, you have to manually submit request to Google to be removed from this list. Generally, we’re able to submit a letter saying we’re a new company handling SEO, hand them the revised code, and hope we can get things back on track. There is a correct way to do things, a right way to do things, and if it’s not followed, there are repercussions.
Q: What search engines are seeing the majority of internet traffic these days?
A: Google, Yahoo, and Bing (formerly MSN) are really the top three search engines that get the most traffic.
Q: If you aren’t ranking well on these sites, what does that mean?
A: It can mean one of two things; one, your site is not built correctly and/or being optimized incorrectly. Two, you did something unethical and you’re not showing up because you’ve been blacklisted.
Q: What is the correlation between keywords and content?
A: Search engines are looking for relevancy. For example, if QeH2 wants to come up for ‘I.T. Support Denver,’ that would be your keyword. QeH2 wants to make sure the search engines can read through their site site, find plenty of relevant content that helps them get found for ‘I.T. Support Denver.’ QeH2 doesn’t have to have massive amounts of text, but the site does need to have a decent amount of content so search engines can see how relevant the site is for those key words.
Q: Is all the SEO done on your client’s, site or do you use other outside resources to help optimize?
A: There are two broad areas for SEO; onsite optimization, where everything is done to a customer’s physical website; things like Meta tags, making sure content is spread properly throughout the site and ties to the keyword strategy.
Onsite optimization accounts for about 20-30% of SEO rankings with search engines. Onsite optimization helps, but it may take 6-8 months to show up for certain keywords, and that’s only if they are non-competitive keywords. The other 70-80% of SEO is offsite optimization. These are things done out on the internet, or on other sites. You may have heard the term ‘link building’, which can be described as a popularity contest.
The more popular your website is, the higher you are going to show up on search results; links, referrals, anything that has a description about your site on someone else’s site is very helpful. Go do that a couple hundred times and that’s great for optimization. This is where the meat of SEO takes place. With link building, it makes a difference as to what site you’re linked to. If you have a link on Amazon.com, one of the largest websites out there, it’s going to hold a lot more value than 100 links on 100 no names sites. If you are linking to a blacklisted site, it’s only going to hurt your rankings.
Q: What are the benefits of Seogon Technologies SEO services?
A: We separate ourselves from our competition with our customer service and level of communication. A lot of companies say they focus on these aspects of business, but they really don’t. We have the referrals from clients that stand by the work we’ve performed. When we bring on a new client for SEO, we give weekly updates for the first 60-90 days. We are constantly communicating with the client what we are doing, what the next steps are, and even things we need from the client. Professional SEO is a very interactive process; we need participation from our clients. Outside of that reporting, we do a monthly tracking report update which includes a detailed written explanation of each aspect of Seogon Technologies' work. Too many times SEO and marketing companies will just hand you these large reports and expect you to decipher what it means. This is integral in assisting our clients with seeing the areas there has been movement and growth.
Q: With a lot of small to medium sized businesses turning to the internet to drum up business, are you seeing more business owners shifting towards helpful tools like search engine optimization?
A: There is a huge increase in the number of people that are learning about SEO, learning more about how it can help business, and starting to realize that it’s more beneficial to spend $2000 on professional SEO a month than $4000 in Yellow Pages pay-per-clicks. A couple of years ago, and even up to a few months ago, it wasn’t that uncommon for businesses to spend four sometimes five thousand dollars on Yellow Pages; that’s just not where online advertising is anymore. SEO lets the consumer find you for the specific product they are looking for. Lots of companies are starting to realize that they desperately need it. We are getting more calls now than this time last year of people asking questions and educating themselves on how professional SEO can help them.
Q: Where did you first hear of QeH2?
A: I heard about QeH2 through two different sources right around the same time. A close friend of mine mentioned Seogon Technologies and QeH2 as having very similar business models in the same industry. Not a week later, I was in a friend’s office and QeH2 was onsite providing I.T. support in Denver. I asked my friend about QeH2 and he had only great things to say. I called Eric Pratt, Director of Sales & Marketing, right after and we got together and talked. It’s all history from there.
Q: What is something that really sticks out about QeH2’s model and how they conduct business?
A: QeH2’s level of customer service really stands out to me. The ability to live and work in a technology-based industry and communicate with people outside the information technology industry is a skill that so few people and so few companies can do. Your entire staff can communicate on different levels depending on who they are talking to. I.T. support and providing solutions is no different than SEO. There are a lot of people that are good at it, but there are also a lot of pieces that need to be in place to be a successful company. I have heard only good things from your clients.
Q:What do you see the future partnership between Seogon Technologies and QeH2 looking like?
A: I see you guys getting a lot more leads through the QeH2 website. Our services perfectly complement each other. It will be a long-lasting partnership where we can continue to grow businesses within I.T. and SEO.
Tuesday, June 29
Wednesday, June 23
According to Computerworld, Internet Monitoring has become a bigger part of IT support professional's job responsibilities. The magazine reports of a typical company spending one full day per week reviewing web logs to see if there's any activity that needs to be exposed or discussed.
A comprehensive reporting module is a must-have with any employee Internet management solution. The reporting modules purpose is to synthesize raw data and turn it into information that can be easily understood and used by managers to manage their employees. The amount of time and labor cost a user spends at sports related Web sites is an example of an informative report.
The number of violations to your organizations Internet Acceptable Use Policy is another. Reports should provide information graphically and numerically and should be able to be scheduled to be run and distributed automatically. Advanced features like report customization and distributed reporting can also be beneficial.
The last thing you want is for your IT support staff to babysit an employee Internet control system and become the Internet police. Your employee Internet monitoring solution should be easy to configure, automatically maintain its list of Web Filters, update itself with new program patches and automatically generate and distribute reports to managers and key stakeholders.
Thursday, June 3
According to a report release yesterday, June 2nd, California based Cisco Systems Inc. is predicting growth to be fourfold by the year 2014.
How much growth is fourfold? Well, they are expecting 64 exabytes of IP traffic, equivalent to 16 billion DVDs, 21 trillion MP3's, or 399 quadrillion text messages.
Improvements to Internet bandwidth capabilities and Internet speeds , along with the popularity of HDTV and 3DTV, are key factors in the prediction of massive growth of the Internet by 2014.
Interested in learning what regions are expected to see the most growth or why videos are playing such a big role in Internet growth? click here.
Wednesday, May 19
WordPress, which first started in 2003 with a single bit of code and fewer users than I have fingers and toes, has grown to become the largest self-hosted blogging tool in the world, used on millions of sites and seen by tens of millions of people everyday (WordPress.org). From the documentation to the code, WordPress was created by the community for the community. It is an Open Source project, meaning there are literally hundreds of people working on it all over the word.
WordPress started as a simple blogging tool but has evolved into a full content management system and much more through the thousands of plugins, widgets, and themes; WordPress is only limited by your imagination.
If you would like to learn more about this revolutionary tool that is completely free, click here.
QeH2 has been implementing WordPress as a blogging tool and as complete content management systems for our Denver web development clients for a quite some time now (and by quite some time I mean the last 6-8 months). This has given our clients a number of helpful tools and capabilities to manage their site effectively and reach their target audience much more efficiently.
Friday, May 14
by Mitch Bryant
It’s critical that your business continually leverages IT solutions to provide as sound of an ROI as advanced technology allows. New tech advances not only affect the way you do business but they will shape the way you’ll do business in the future.
At the same time, new IT support investments must be leveraged to ensure your company maintains the edge to stay competitive. The IT department needs to weigh all purchases to ensure that the proper usage of any new technology falls within pre-established guidelines and or polices.
Each purchase should provide as many of the following basic elements as possible:
Reduced operational overhead cost
Improved IT infrastructure
Alignment of business practices and strategies
Higher customer satisfaction (both internally and externally)
Of course, new introductions of technology into a system come with a degree of risk. That’s why one IT leader shies away from what’s considered cutting-edge technology.
Kathy J. Markham, VP of IS planning & architecture at Kindred Healthcare, explains that while her department doesn’t employ cutting-edge technology in a production mode, it does stay current with new hardware technology.
“Pursuing cutting-edge technology would mean that we are willing to risk the usual instability and interoperability problems…. Frankly, we can’t afford to jeopardize our production environment, which is critical to business performance, nor do we have the resources to exhaustively test such scenarios,” she said. She added that she relies on industry experience to overcome the early difficulties of cutting-edge solutions.
Staying current but avoiding risks
When it comes to bringing new technologies in-house, CIOs first need to examine several project-related questions and technology issues:
What are the pros and cons of purchasing a new application vs. modifying a current tool?
Will it be a standalone or integrated technology, and what are the implications of this status?
Should it be implemented in-house or with external support, and what does that mean for cost and staffing?
In addition, issues such as programming requirements, integration hurdles, and benefits in the short and long term must be evaluated. The key to avoiding risks is looking before you leap into a new technology.
“New technology should be routinely investigated and tested as it becomes generally available. It should not be employed in production environments until such time as the marketplace has ‘blessed’ its stability and interoperability,” said Markham. A product vendor’s stability also requires examination, she noted.
“New technology may be innovating and exciting; that is not sufficient reason to embrace it. Equally important, if not more, is determining whether the company is standing behind the product. If the company is poorly positioned to introduce and support the new technology, it is not worth the risk,” she said.
New technology, she said, must also be considered in the context of finding necessary skills to support the products. “If products are too ‘niche,’ then the best technology can falter due to lack of trained resources.”
Nothing worthwhile comes easy
The introduction of new technology brings with it new stress factors not only on the IT department but the end users, customers, and business managers. As well as identifying all the issues related to the introduction of a new technology into your current system, it is very important to identify the stress factors that can make or break the project. This aspect must be factored into the overall potential success of any project, because the most successfully integrated new technology must ultimately work for the end user that will use it every day.
Saturday, May 8
by Eric Pratt
Does your company do projections? QeH2 does, and I hate it.
Don't get me wrong, I completely understand the value and necessity of accurately projecting sales, expenses, and profits. If your company isn't doing projections you should, it's the only way I've been taught to uncover and address issues before they get out of hand. Plus when you're growing they're fun to look at and dream right?
What I don't understand is how anyone can reasonably expect me to forecast how many new clients our sales department will bring on this month or next week.
Long term forecasting is much more realistic in my opinion as you can use trends and history to forecast your average number of new clients, dollar volume average, routed hour average, etc. It's no different than gambling odds, over the long term the law of averages plays out but in the short term huge variance is possible. Probable actually.
What drives me nuts is figuring out how to answer..."How many clients can you sign in May?" I usually don't give the answer being sought because I kinda have a smart mouth. Here's a short recollection of a recent conversation we had in our weekly executive meeting while going through our financial.
"How many hours are you going to sign in May?"
My Mind: "What a ridiculous question"
My Mouth: "Why do you keep asking me that?"
"We need to know for the projections
Mind: "If I knew who was going to sign the line and when my life would be easy"
Mouth: "I can guess if you'd like, but that's all it would be"
"Well, what did you sell last month?"
Mind: "What the hell does that have to do with this month?"
Mouth: "More than you thought I would sucker"
With a hint of frustration....."Help me out here Eric"
Mind: "Oops, I did it again"
Mouth: "How many hours do you need?"
"Well we have some open route to fill, I think 12 hours is a good number"
Mind: "Piece of cake, they should of asked for more"
Mouth: "That would be great, I'll get it done"
Another Partner: "Don't you two think we could be more accurate with these projections?"
After some research at this point we determined that our average was nearly 9 hours per month over a reasonable period, projection adjusted from 12 to 9 moving forward...
Other Partner: "So 9 is the projection but we should try 12"
Mind: "Why stop at 12 if you're dreaming?"
Mouth: "My goal is 30, while we're setting goals let's aim high"
What was really accomplished here? Actually something good came out of it for the sales department (monthly projections at 9 instead of 12) but the point remains I have no idea which clients in my sales pipeline are ready to come on, which will drag it out a few weeks, and which will never sign. I think I know, I'm actually pretty sure about a couple.
Bottom line is you never know until they take the cap off their pen. Some months we will blow those numbers away and some months we'll miss badly. Over time the numbers will average out and my guess is we will actually average 12 or more moving forward as factors have changed vs the period we built that average over. From that perspective something bad came out of the discussion, our projections could actually be less accurate. Best part of that meeting for me, expectations went down and our ability to exceed expectations went up. If you're in sales you know well that exceeding expectation is what it's all about.
Friday, May 7
This past week, the Economic Development Council of Colorado awarded the Town of Castle Rock an annual award presented to a "community with more than 20,000 people in population in population demonstrating the best support for economic development through an organized economic development program and strong leadership."
Organizations that played key roles in attaining this honor include the Castle Rock Economic Development Council (Castle Rock EDC), the Town of Castle Rock, the Castle Rock Chamber of Commerce, and the Castle Rock Downtown Development Authority (DDA). These organizations together form the Castle Rock Economic Partnership.
When I sat down with Frank Gray, CEO of the Castle Rock EDC, a month or so ago, he spoke a little about the importance of not only being a point of contact for new businesses, but also sustaining relationships with current businesses in the local market. One of many unique things about the Castle Rock Economic Partnership is the developer round table concept, allowing dialogue to take place between key Town of Castle Rock officials and the partnership between the development community.
Read more about the partnership that the Castle Rock EDC and Denver's leading IT support provider - QeH2 have created to continue to bring new and innovative ideas the the workplace, helping in growing the local economy.
Friday, April 30
When they chose us to build their Cycling Team website we were determined to provide them with a great product they could use not only to promote their team and recent events but to provide a resource for team members to communicate.
The site went live yesterday and finishing touches are still being applied, the Rocky Mountain Spine & Sport cycling team finally has a home!
As one of 13 great team sponsors including Giant Cycling World, Skullcandy, Jumex, Power Bar, Max Muscle, Harvest Group, BioFit Cyclist, Practical Coaching, Giro, Spinal Solutions, Aveda Institute of Denver, and of course Rocky Mountain Spine & Sport we are honored to be included in such a prestigious lineup.
As an added bonus we were selected to be featured in the first Monthly Sponsor Spotlight, please check us out there, on Facebook, LinkedIn, or at our website.
Thanks again to Vint and the Rocky Mountain Spine & Sport Team, we appreciate our relationship and thank him for this great opportunity.
Wednesday, April 28
This is a question we always enjoy answering. It’s an acronym for the four owners of the company (Quentin Jaksch, Darrin Eisele, Ian Holt and Jim Holt), that’s how we got our name.
As for what we do, we are an IT company in Colorado. We provide a level of service that small-to-medium businesses here locally have never experienced. We use technology to help companies create a better product or service, at lower costs, higher efficiency, and with better overall results. We follow through on what we say we are going to do and standing behind our work to ensure your company runs at an optimal level, all day, every day. . By Focusing on solutions instead of symptoms, implementing Intelligent solutions that produce extraordinary results, operating within a Revolutionary business model, and Empowering our clients to make critical decisions that provides a positive return on investments we become much more than your IT contact when something breaks, we become your partner and information source. That’s Revolutionary, that’s QeH2, and that’s our F.I.R.E approach to help you Ignite Business.
Are we a fit for your Organization?
Ever wish your IT support provider was there when you needed him? Feel like you don't have control of your environment and data? Worried you have gaps in network security, putting your systems and data at risk? Tired of paying by the hour for service that never solves the issue? Are your IT costs an inconvenient expense to your business, growing every year?
If you answered yes to any of these questions then QeH2 is the answer. There is a better way to do business.
It was almost five years ago that Q, Darrin, Ian, and Jim sat down and came up with a business plan, combining over a century of true business knowledge and real word experience as business owners and technology specialists. With Q, Ian, and Jim’s IT experience ranging from help desk support and system administration to large company CIO, network engineering and consulting services coupled with Darrin’s entrepreneurial expertise in building multiple successful companies they built the foundation of putting technology at the forefront of your organization. The result is a company that can leverage your technology to bring extraordinary value and return on investment.
Our revolutionary business model and the realization that people are one of our biggest assets keeps ownership’s focus on providing training and insight with real life experience. Prescribing to best practice methodologies to ensure that we outperform our competition in addition to allowing time to build and nurture our people, helps to balance QeH2 team’s lives in and out of the workplace with on the job performance. We work with each individual in the organization, focusing on the things that they wish to pursue and the initiatives that drive business forward.
Through an innovative approach to IT support, we considers ourselves geeks with social skills. Having experienced real life business pains in a rapidly growing company we understand the necessity of information technology in the workplace. If your business needs IT solutions instead of excuses, call us today for a no obligation analysis of our systems.
Wednesday, April 21
The Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) certification suffered a bad reputation several years back when numerous people were memorizing the answers to exam questions from “brain dumps” posted by test-takers on the Internet and obtaining the certification without any real understanding of the technology.
Microsoft responded by replacing the knowledge-based multiple-choice questions with a variety of performance-related scenario questions that make it much more difficult to cheat. The difficulty level of the questions was escalated, and the number of exams required to obtain the certification was increased to seven.
The MCSE has consequently regained respect in many corners of the IT support community and is a useful certification for demonstrating your expertise with Microsoft server products.
In addition to making the MCSE exams more difficult, Microsoft has created many new certifications. The Microsoft Certified Architect (MCA) is the premiere Microsoft certification, designed to identify top experts in the industry. To obtain the MCA, you must have at least three years of advanced IT architecture experience, and you have to pass a rigorous review board conducted by a panel of experts.
There are a number of MCA programs. The infrastructure and solutions MCA certifications cover broad architecture skills, but there are also more technology-specific programs for messaging and database skills. There are currently fewer than 100 MCAs in the world, making this an elite certification.
The Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) is widely recognized as one of the most difficult to obtain (and expensive) IT certifications. Like the MCSE/MCA, it’s a vendor-sponsored certification, focusing on Cisco’s products.
The CCIE requires that you pass both a written exam and a hands-on lab. To sit for the written exam, you must pay $300 and choose from one of several tracks: Routing and Switching, Security, Storage Networking, Voice, and Service Provider.
You must pass the written exam before you’re eligible to take the lab exam. This is an eight-hour hands-on test of your ability to configure and troubleshoot Cisco networking equipment and software. The lab exams cost $1,250 each. This does not, of course, include travel expenses that may be necessary since the labs are conducted only in certain locations.
As if all that weren’t enough, you don’t get to rest on your laurels after obtaining the certification. CCIEs must recertify every two years or the certification is suspended.
Another Cisco exam that’s popular with employers in today’s security-conscious business world is the Cisco Certified Security Professional (CCSP). It focuses on skills related to securing networks that run Cisco routers and other equipment.
You’re required to pass five written exams and must recertify every three years by passing one current exam. Before you can take the CCSP exams, you must meet the prerequisites by obtaining one of Cisco’s lower-level certifications, either the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) or the Cisco Certified Internetwork Specialist (CCIP).
Tuesday, April 20
April 19, 2010
In case you didn’t already know, mobile is without a doubt ‘the next big thing’ when it comes to marketing and advertising. As smart phones like the iPhone and Nexus One become more and more popular among consumers, the potential for marketers is also growing rapidly.
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