Cloud Computing: The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread

It’s Monday evening and I’m packing my bags for the annual SXSW Conference (sxsw.com) in Austin, Texas. By the time you read this column, I will deep inside the Austin Convention Center, listening to lectures, participating in panel discussions, and socializing with some 20,000 software geeks from all over the world.

And thanks to the kindness and goodwill of Pacific Business News, I will be sporting a press pass! That means I will have unfettered access to some pretty cool people. It also means you can enjoy daily blog updates from the field. Just go to bizjournals.com/pacific/ and search for me. I promise to keep the coverage moderately tame…

This will be my 3rd year at SXSW. The first year (2011) was super focused on long term potential for gamification (wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamification). Last year’s mantra (2012) was: social, mobile, local. This year? Well, the bloggers are predicting digital health, space, 3D printing and robots/AI. But I think the real boom is social ecommerce. Note: I have a neat idea for a related startup. Look for my next column for details.

For now, I want to encourage you to follow my SXSW blog entries on bizjournals.com/pacific/. One idea from SXSW could generate hundreds of thousands of dollars for you and your firm.

I also want to use this column to underscore some of the key points from last Friday’s tech seminar, hosted by PBN. The event was sold out. Some 150 people attended. Daniel Leuck (CEO of Ikaizo.com), Fred Camit (CIO of Polynesian Cultural Center) and I were on the panel. Discussions ranged from social media and cloud computing to data analytics and mobile apps.

Here are some takeaways that event:
● Social media should play an integral role in your business.
● People are more likely to purchase your product or service if a friend has.
● Use fans to evangelize your products and services.
● Focus on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest. Go where your customers are.
● Use YouTube to boost sales conversions by 30%. See Zappos.com.
● One Facebook like can drive 20 unique visitors to your website per year.
● LinkedIn is perfect for finding new hires.
● You must have a social media policy for employees.
● Zappos’ simple social media policy: Use common sense. Use common courtesy. If you’re not sure, seek permission. Be appropriate, polite, and diplomatic. Respect confidentiality.
● Cloud computing is a no brainer. Time to toss your servers and look at Google Apps for Business and Microsoft Office 365.
● Benefits of cloud computing include: reduced fixed costs, scale flexibility, extended collaboration and faster innovation to market. See supergeeks.net/cloudcomputing.
● Cloud computing tends to offer stronger security than inhouse solutions since cloud vendors can afford teams of real security experts.
● Analytics are key to understanding what’s really going on in your business. For example, you can look at call metrics to see when your firm experiences highest call volumes and then staff accordingly.
● Install Google Analytics on your website. It’s free. Contact me if you need help.
● Be sure your workforhire agreements for websites and apps include stipulations that your firm retains ownership of all materials and code.

As the event wrapped up, one attendee asked how to stay informed of market trends and best practices. In addition to reading PBN as a resource, the panel recommended following Mashable.com, ReadWrite.com, TechCrunch.com and my favorite, Robert Scoble.

Need help? Feel free to call my secret cell: (808) 7787117. Or email me at kerr@supergeeks.net.
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