Coffeehouse Culture: Freshly brewing within Companies

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Two weeks ago, my colleague posted an infographic on , “Work & Coffee: The Unbreakable bond”. It is true and I second that.  Now, I’d like to draw an analogy between “coffeehouse culture” and “social media” within an organization.

From the late 15th century, coffee-shops were the common meeting places for artists, musicians, writers and the like to share ideas and build their community. Coffee is considered to have aided the age of enlightenment and revolution in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Earlier, coffeehouses were social places where people met and debated on various topics of interest within the social circles. Modern coffeehouses are not so much about “coffee” but mostly about the “culture” that it brings along with it. “Coffeehouse culture” is all about allowing ideas to flow in from different social groups to meet and mingle.

A social network within a company functions more like “coffeehouses” facilitating workforce to be more interactive. The employees can be more out-going with their ideas leading to innovations. As much as each coffee shop has its own social climate and culture, each organization has its own culture too. Organizations can support an opportunity for collaboration among colleagues using a social network.

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Learning brings vitality to an organization. Businesses that value and promote learning in all its forms, can reap benefits of its workforce in an environment that is alive and engaging. A social network inside the organization keeps workforce productively engaged, while transacting information that is relevant to them.

Imagine, a crowded space with individual tables for each group which is very typical of a coffee shop. A social network is also that “crowded space” with all its employees in it. Groups within social networks are those “individual tables” that allow teams to collaborate individually and effectively in small numbers. Each social circle may have its share of information and noise on the coffee table, so much so Groups will have their own share of information within the network.

Having shared this analogy, social media for companies is increasingly changing the way organization communicate and the way businesses function. The demand of staying updated at all times has become part of modern digital era.

As coffee refuels your senses, so does the social network for your company. Sip in this new business culture !

 

Celebrating Small Businesses, All Year Around!

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At Zoho, we’re committed to helping small businesses, all year around.

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But this week is special, because it marks the 50th Anniversary of the National Small Business Week, and we’d like to take a moment to thank all our small business users.

Thank you, not just for being our customers, but for having the passion and conviction that it takes to build and run a small business. Thank you, each one of you, for being part of a major force that fuels the economy. And most of all, thank you for pushing us to do even better at what we do best – building apps that help you focus on your business.

More power to you!

Security breaches and password reuse

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How many times in the recent past did you receive advisories asking you to reset the passwords of your online accounts? 

  • Just a couple of weeks ago, MOZ.com, the popular internet marketing software advised all its customers to reset their MOZ account passwords, because the encrypted portion of some of the member passwords were made public for a brief time.
  • About a month back, online daily deal company LivingSocial Inc. alerted its 50 million users to reset their account passwords following a cyber-attack on their computer systems that resulted in unauthorized access to some customer data from their servers.
  • On March 2, 2013, Evernote revealed that hackers had gained access to their network and been able to access user information, including usernames, email addresses, and hashed passwords. About 50 million users of Evernote were asked to reset their passwords.
  • Nearly a year ago, over 6.46 million hashed passwords were reportedly stolen from LinkedIn. Following that, LinkedIn asked the affected users to reset their passwords.
  • During the beginning of 2012, cyber-criminals had apparently gained access to the internal network and systems of the popular online shoe and apparel shop Zappos through one of their servers in Kentucky. Zappos suspected unauthorized access to its customer information and asked customers to reset their passwords.

These are just a few prominent samples. The list will actually fill volumes.

Resetting the password in the affected site alone may not be sufficient!

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When you receive advisories like the ones mentioned above, you would promptly change the password in that site and feel secure. But, the harsh truth is that passwords and other sensitive data exposed in a single site could potentially affect your entire online life. This is because of the simple fact that most of us tend to use the same password on all sites and applications. So, the hacker who succeeds in cracking your password, actually gets the ‘master key’ to access all your accounts.

Just consider these scenarios:

  • An employee has used the same password for his social media accounts as well as work email and VPN. Data expose at just one site could invite hackers to your organization’s doorstep!
  • You are using the same password for your social media account and for online financial accounts. Password expose at one place could potentially drain your account..

So, when security incidents happen at one of the places, you should essentially reset the passwords of all other online accounts too. But, before you could do that, you should have the list of all online applications in which you own an account!

There is no magic wand: Use a unique password for every site

It is always prudent to have unique passwords for every website and application and supply it ONLY on that site/application. When there is news of password expose or hacks, you can just change the password for that site/app alone. Frequently changing passwords as a habit is also highly recommended.

But, here comes the problem: You will have to remember multiple passwords – sometimes in the order of tens or even hundreds. It is quite likely that you will forget passwords and at the most needed occasion, you will struggle logging in, resulting in password fatigue.

The way out: Use a password manager

Just like you have an email account, consider using a password manager too. In order to combat cyber-threats, proper password management should ideally become a ‘way of life’. Password Managers help securely store all your logins and passwords. In addition, you will get an option to launch a direct connection to the websites / applications from the password vault’s GUI itself. Saving you even the ‘Copy & Paste’ task, logging in is just a click away. Once you deploy a Password Manager, you can say goodbye to password fatigue and security lapses.

And, Zoho offers Zoho Vault, an online password manager, which solves all your password management problems. Try Zoho Vault!

Zoho Invoice – Android app gets a makeover this summer!

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Zoho Invoice android app has a slew of exciting updates this season. The first thing you are bound to notice is the clean, crisp UI and the slide drawer/ navigation. A slight swipe from the left to the right brings the app menu list at your service. Navigating to different modules is much more easier with the latest update.

android-invoice-appThere is more! We’ve added a simple and handy widget, which will now be a reason for iPhone users to be jealous of the android app. The cool widget allows you to quickly create an invoice, add an expense or log time for projects.

How do you bring it live on your home screen? On your home screen, drag and drop Zoho Invoice widget from the widget list available in your phone.

Finally, the much awaited ‘Print‘ option for invoices is now available on your android app through Google Cloud Print. You don’t have to run to your laptop every time to print invoices or estimates. Just click print on the invoice and the printer connected to your Google account will print it right away.

So that’s a lot of awesomeness coming your way. Head over to Google Play and update to the latest 1.7 version of our android app. Like always we’d love to listen to what you have to say. Drop us a line in the comments right below.

Dashboard Spotlight: Apple Inc. Earnings Analysis

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dashboard-spotlightApple is one company that has had a significant impact on the technology industry – and the public consciousness – for a long time. With its portfolio of innovative and cutting-edge products, it has managed to garner a vast customer base, and is a dominant player in many markets. In this post, we’ll be taking up various aspects of this company for analysis, and try to correlate specific points of interest with trends prevailing in the general industry, and among competing companies and products. Read more

Turning Ideas into Profits

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This is a guest post by Shabana Shiliwala, who owns The Financial Sort, a financial planning company based in Austin, Texas.

Venture capitalists hear lots of good ideas. The challenge is turning those ideas into businesses that generate profits. Building a successful business requires a combination of creativity and implementation.iStock_000022382917XSmall

If you’ve ever had any sales or management training, you know that one of the key strategies taught is understanding personality types. As a business owner, you need to be able to recognize two personalities in order to be effective at turning ideas into profits: the creative visionary type, who is always brimming with ideas but never seems to be able to take them any further, and the realization type, who may lack the ability to think creatively but knows how to make things happen. These personalities can complement each other perfectly when given the right environment and opportunity to work together. If you can find both personalities among your company’s leadership or staff, you’ve got that magic combination of innovation and execution that every business needs to succeed.

Cultivate strengths. By supporting the talents of each of these personality types, you can harness ideas and processes that will help your business stay competitive and fresh in the marketplace. For example, many creative types come up with their best ideas when they’re alone and free from distractions, so assigning them to work as part of a group may actually lower their productivity.

Harvest ideas. You know how all those brilliant ideas that only seem to happen during your morning shower are lost forever unless you write them down right away? Creative personality types are notorious for having so many ideas that most of them never see the light of day because there wasn’t an opportunity to communicate them. Capture your staff’s ideas by providing an outlet where the ideas can be recorded–an idea board. If you think it will increase participation, allow them the option to post ideas anonymously.

Stimulate ideas to develop. When choosing the area to place the idea board, pick one that’s frequently visited, promotes open discourse, and has an atmosphere where staff feel relaxed (since pressure stifles creativity), such as the break room. A large dry erase board, chalkboard or flip chart will not only provide plenty of space and ease for the creative personality types to record concepts, but the realization types are now able to see those ideas. Bringing them together could generate spontaneous discussions about feasibility, pros/cons and implementation issues, which help the ideas evolve into tangible actions.

Offer a forum to communicate ideas to management. How many great ideas don’t get implemented because they have to fight their way through a web of bureaucracy in order to get heard by the people who have the power to put them into practice? Unless management has the opportunity to hear them, all those ideas will never leave the break room. Whatever the size of your business, you probably already have regular meetings with your staff, the leadership team or your board of directors. Add a segment to the agenda where your staff can present their ideas.

Collaborate online. Implementing software that allows employees to openly communicate their thoughts and discuss ideas with even the highest level of management, is an effective way of collaborating in real-time. Brilliant ideas won’t get lost and the amount of sharing is unlimited. Try a company-focused social network or similar application to bring life to your workplace.

You probably already know the people in your business who can help you turn ideas into profits, you just need to make it easier for them to do it.

Get More Done While On the Go With the Free Zoho Projects Mobile App

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Do you love the new design for Apple’s iPhone iOS? Do you hate it? Everyone seems to have an opinion about it – and a very strong one! That highlights the important role that mobile phones play in our daily lives.

And that’s exactly why we decided to make our Zoho Projects Mobile Apps free – both our iPhone and Android Mobile App are now free for all users.

Free Projects Mobile AppHere’s a typical request from one of our customers:

The (Free) Mobile app only gives me limited options, Feeds and Settings. I’m not able to update timesheet or anything. Doesn’t even show those options for me. Why?

When we launched Zoho Projects 4.0 the Free Mobile edition did have limited options to use while the rest of the features like tasks, documents and timesheet were available only as part of the paid edition.

You asked; we listened. Today the Zoho Projects Mobile App is free – even the more advanced version that was previously only for paying customers. We want you to start using the Zoho Projects Mobile App to the fullest extent possible for your work even while on the go.

What are you waiting for ? Just go to iTunes or Google Play store install the Zoho Projects Mobile App right on your mobile device.