Small and medium businesses’ (SMBs) needs in terms of information and knowledge management have changed tremendously in the last couple of decades. The generalization of email at first, and then the advent of Web 2.0 with huge uptake in online social interactions, has increased demands in back-office processes to keep up with the speed of making business online. This has put focus on Information Technology (IT) as response to the challenges being faced by businesses, both internally, with demand for more effective collaboration solutions, and externally, with increased needs to manage interactions with customers and suppliers. These factors have placed significant challenges to IT experts trying to control the total costs of ownership (TCO) of information systems while sustaining the growth of the business.

In the last few years, two trends have provided important relief for IT costs in SMBs. First, the increase in solid, credible open source solutions capable of providing the same functionality as full-fledged commercial packages at a lower TCO; more recently, the decrease in price of broadband connections and widespread availability of cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings has enabled solutions with negligible costs for very small organizations and flexible scalability.

This article briefly explores the merits and tradeoffs involved in adopting either of these trends as a solution for a start-up SMB, presents some of the options available in the market to cover the basic needs of an SMB, and suggests the software suite representing the lowest TCO for a start-up business.

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The use of mobile phones to make (and eventually receive) monetary transactions, commonly referred to as “mobile payments”, has been an area of focus for the mobile telecom industry players in the last few years as having strong potential for value generation.

Despite the predictions of significant growth over the next 5 years (the market is forecasted to grow to $633.4 billion by 2014, up from $68.7 billion in 2009, according to a report by Generator Research), implementation of successful revenue models in this area has so far been asymmetric across markets, with most of the success stories occurring in underdeveloped countries in Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America, and few solutions gaining significant traction in developed countries, with the exception of Japan.

In this article, written in November 2010, I identify distinct mobile payment models, look at players entering the market and try to identify key success factors and trends in the implementation of mobile payment solutions. Recently however, several rumours surfaced about the iPhone 5 implementing a new payment service based on near-field communications. It will be interesting to see how Apple’s implementation will affect this analysis.

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This article has been updated on November 19, 2010, with secure alternatives to initiate an email or Skype call from your LinkedIn profile.

I am an enthusiastic LinkedIn user. Throughout my MBA I have used it almost daily as a tool for networking, and more recently in my job search as I prepare my post-MBA career. LinkedIn is a great career management tool; there are plenty of articles across the internet, and on LinkedIn itself, providing strategies for job-seekers to leverage social platforms, so I will not delve into that subject. Instead, I’d like to focus on a very simple resource that LinkedIn makes available to all users, and that most users do not take full advantage of: the website links on profile pages.

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I am back after an intense few weeks on the Lisbon MBA. Financial Accounting, Financial Investments, Business Strategy and Organizational Behaviour provided for an interesting and very, very busy term that just ended.

I am now enjoying some free time before next term starts, and had the opportunity to watch a movie that I strongly recommend to anyone interested in the topic of leadership: Invictus is not only another great movie by Clint Eastwood, but also a fantastic lesson in how leadership can make a difference. Don’t miss it.


Seen at Dilbert.com.


Seen at Marca.com.

Innovate or die!

The Joy of Tech Comic

Originally published at The Joy of Tech.