SMB Nation VoIPSpeak Newsletter
Over 18,000 Global Readers and Growing! April 17, 2012 - Issue 3-3 VoiceSpeak

Hello again!

Talkin’ telecom is so much more than yakking over the phone. I truly believe that we’re underestimating the “convergence” of voice+data. It’s here. Right here. Right now. My lead article on the trend for technology conferences to stream live so virtual attendees can enjoy the same content is my case in point.

I did wanna give ITT Technical Institute a shout-out. I’ve been appointed to its Program Advisory Committee (an honor) and you can read about it here.

So – I gotta run out and get a SIM card for my 13-year-old son’s BlackBerry Torch phone. It’s a long story!

Minutes ago, we released the SMB 150 List on our site here! All 400 candidates are appreciated for their work in the channel! Join us at Thursday’s webinar to learn more about the winners.

PS- Catch our webinar on Thursday, April 19, 2012 from 10-11am Pacific for the SMB 150 Results!

PPS – Be sure to register for the SMB 150 Awards Gala Dinner on May 16th, held at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles, CA!

Cheers,

Harrybbb

Harry Brelsford | Founder | SMB Nation, Inc. | www.smbnation.com

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Streaming Conferences du jour

I’d encourage you to take your head out of the sand, and take a fresh look at the events market. More and more events are streaming live so you can watch the content speakers from the comfort of your office, home office or living room. It’s really arrived, and it translates into no travel, airfare and hotel expenses, and the news gets better. Conference organizers are still *discounting* these virtual seats vs. the in-person admission ticket. On average, the online virtual seat is <50% the in-person listed price. I predict this is the wave of the future for events, and I make my case below with a few examples.

MVP Nation, March 2012

We enjoyed a robust audience of 200 virtual attendees attending from every major continent except Antarctica. With the beloved assistance of Zenith Infotech, we were able to stream our content sessions to this coveted worldwide audience. You can see a valuable example of this here as we’ve made the Windows 8 Expert Panel session available for free (video at right)!

Better yet – you can attend the entire early March 2012 MVP Nation conference, focused on Windows 8, in arrears, for $99. That includes 12+ content sessions in our OVERTIME format to watch what you want, when you want! Sign up here.

Super Hero Robin Robins “Big Seminar” April 2012

I need my annual dose of Vitamin RR, and in the past, I’ve attended Robin’s annual spring boot camp live in Nashville, TN. For a number of reasons, including busily raising my two teenage boyz, it wasn’t possible to attend live this year. So instead, I attended the four-day boot camp virtually and loved it to death. I was able to get up early on the West Coast (PDT) and catch much of the relevant content before my “day” really started (RR’s boot camp was streaming from the CDT time zone starting each day at 8AM locally in Nashville).

The RR virtual experience even allowed me to view the presentations of the seven finalists from Robin’s Producers’ Club that competed for a shiny new Audi and designation as Robin’s official spokesperson for the next year. While I am sure it was a tough call for all of the judges to decide, Robin made the announcement on the afternoon of Friday, April 13 (following a presentation by Lou “The Incredible Hulk” Ferrigno) that she had chosen a runner-up and winner. This year’s runner-up, (who also received a pretty cool Rolex watch) was Fred Reck, President, InnoTek Computer Consulting, and the winner of the Grand Prize Audi was John Motazedi, CEO, SNC Squared. Congrats to both John and Fred from all of us at SMB Nation!

A serious bravo to “Team Robin” for the amazing conference, and flawless virtual conference execution. I loved it, and I’ll likely do it again next year (no offense to the in-person crowd).

Also, make sure you view the following four vid blog reports from my experience, one each day starting with the Champion Chant on Wednesday night.





The Small Business Tour (April 12, Bellevue, WA)

Frank Coker, a serial entrepreneur from CoreConnex, held his first “The Small Business Tour” in Seattle this past week. His intention with this kick-off (to be followed by an additional 10 cities over the next few months; details at www.thesmallbusinesstour.com) was to explore the areas confronted by small business owners each and every day: money, growth, customers and people.

Never one to miss a free lunch, I attended this event for the second half of the day. Why? Because there was an unfortunate technology event collision between Robin Robin’s boot camp and this event. But have no fear – harrybbb was “here” at both events. While in-person at Frank’s event, I double-dipped and watched Robin’s event stream to my netbook laptop. Conversely, I tweeted like a bird and FBed my peeps to watch “The Small Business Tour” being streamed at http://thesmallbusinesstour.com/live. I encourage you to sync your schedule for its future dates and watch virtually if you can’t attend live.

Analysis

I’m in the events business, and my 12+ years of experience, I believe, allow me to make the following observations about the new-new conferencing approach. I like it a lot, and you can expect SMB Nation to embrace this attendee content delivery model at all events moving forward.

  • Hybrid. I truly believe you have to have a hybrid setting. I’m not convinced you can have a virtual-only show. I’ve seen many virtual tradeshows, (including ours in June 2008), fall flat with cartoon characters lecturing via audio and more cartoon characters trying to roam an empty tradeshow hall. You need the gestures, visual affirmation and participation of a live audience to create some “there there” for the virtual attendees who can’t be “here here.” That was our single biggest takeaway from the recent MVP Nation conference (mvp.smbnation.com) -- you needed BOTH live and virtual to make virtual a warm and fuzzy experience.
  • Virtual audience questions. At MVP Nation, I made an extra special effort to ask the “virtual questions” from the remote worldwide audience to the live speakers. It was actually a cool buzz builder. I’d remark that Leen in the Netherlands wants to know more about the SMB protocol in NAS 2.x in Windows 8. Granted, I looked like an old man squinting at Hootsuite on my iPhone to see the questions up on Twitter using the #mvpnation tag. Next time I’ll use my BlackBerry PlayBook so I can read in larger text (folks – I got old!). With all due respect, both Robin and Frank need to improve this one area to make the virtual conference experience more complete. I didn’t hear one virtual question asked to the live speakers at either conference (but to be fair, it might have happened when I wasn’t lookin’ and listenin’).
  • Chatting and Partying. Our own MVP Nation and Robin’s boot camp created an online virtual community with the chat feature associated with the live content stream. The conversations ranging from “Good Morning” to bona fide business conversations to off-color jokes. That’s the Internet in the “Wild West,” folks. Not to be outdone by the in-person attendees, in the case of Robin’s conference, I know that more than one “remotie” tipped a bottle back when the live attendees where partying in-person. :)

KarlP’s SMB Online Conference

Karl Palachuk, himself a notable entrepreneur, is hosting “the first all-online conference for computer consultants, managed service providers, and I.T. Professionals of all kinds.” This will be a three-day online ONLY format using a podcast approach (no video) June 26-28, 2012. My intention is to attend this and write up a summary for you at a future date. Learn more at the site here.

ChannelEyes | Reduce Information Overload

ChannelEyes is the first free and secure social network for the IT channel to use every day. It’s kind of like Facebook, but instead of friends – it’s a filtered group of Vendor feeds on a Social Wall. (See a 2-minute introductory video at right.)

Channel Partners will have a single place to see a snapshot of new channel information every day. You’ll cut through the noise and clutter because you control who you follow, filter the relevant information and build social conversations around it.

Vendors, manufacturers and distributors of all types will have a single place to engage with their entire channel, targeting the right person with the right information at the right time. The net result is better engagement, sell-through, and access to potential new partners.

The ChannelEyes team has talked to hundreds of Channel Partners and most of them agree it’s virtually impossible to continually read and disseminate industry information. In fact, only 5% regularly use vendor portals and less than 17% open vendor emails.

The patent-pending ChannelEyes platform is ridiculously simple to use and differentiates itself from consumer tools such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn in areas such as security, relevance of people and content, filtering, and managing important information that is time sensitive.

Sign up today for free: http://www.channeleyes.com

Cisco Expands SMB Tech Portfolio to Boost Productivity via Smartphones, Tablets

By Regina Ciardiello, Editor for SMB Nation, Inc.

Cisco has expanded its small business product portfolio with new wireless access points, routers, switches, unified communications and partner-managed service offerings. These new solutions are designed to help drive customer productivity and growth by allowing small businesses to get the most out of smartphones, tablets, and cloud applications and services.

Cisco is also announcing new offerings today that help its VARs offer new remote network management services. By extending the cloud-based partner managed service offerings of the Cisco OnPlus Service with new wireless network management tools and capabilities, Cisco will enable its partners to capture the growing demand for outsourced IT services that are being driven by the surge in smartphones and tablets that require secure Wi-Fi connectivity.

These new products are being introduced at a time when mobile-connected devices are expected to exceed the world’s population in 2012, and the adoption of cloud services by small and SMBs is expected to hit 98 percent by 2015. Furthermore, during the next two years, SMBs in the U.S. alone are expected to spend $50 billion on cloud services.

Last year, driven by cost and performance, 33 percent of handset and tablet traffic was offloaded from 3G/4G mobile networks onto fixed networks. Cisco’s new WAP121 and WAP321 wireless access points provide customers with fast, robust coverage to support increased productivity from devices while protecting sensitive data.

As 71 percent of SMBs consider themselves a mobile, work-from-anywhere business, it’s imperative that they have high-speed, highly secure connectivity to main office networks. To address increasing connectivity needs, Cisco has added the easy-to-use, high-performance RV180 and RV180W Wireless-N to its line of routers that are purpose-built for small businesses.

In addition data traffic from smartphones has more than doubled every year for the past four consecutive years, driving the need for increased network bandwidth to accommodate additional devices and higher traffic per device.

Voice and unified communications technologies are also part of Cisco’s aim to provide a valuable productivity boost to any business, especially small businesses. In fact, workers using unified communication technologies are estimated to gain 32 minutes per day of time in productivity.

Another item that has been discussed frequently since its introduction by Cisco is its Cisco OnPlus Service. This enables solution providers to expand their managed services offerings with valuable network advisory services. The cloud-based service provides solution providers with a simple and affordable way to deliver assessment, management and proactively advise their small business customers from anywhere and anytime. The real-time alerts and remote management capabilities of OnPlus enable solution providers to detect and resolve problems quickly to elevate customer satisfaction and efficiently to preserve their own profitability.


Vocalocity Offers Partner Certification Series to Strengthen Cloud VoIP VARs

By Regina Ciardiello, Editor of SMB Nation, Inc.

Vocalocity today launched its Vocalocity University Partner Training Certification. This online training series was developed to serve Vocalocity’s resellers by standardizing knowledge about the cloud PBX provider’s products, features, and service offerings.

In addition to information about new features and recently released apps like Vocalocity Mobile for iPhone and Android, partners will learn answers to business VoIP customers’ frequently asked questions and have access to an overview of the new Vocalocity Quote Tool.

Effective immediately, Vocalocity’s business VoIP resellers can log in to a secure portal to access a series of short but informative training lessons and course exams. Resellers have thirty days to complete the thirteen self-paced modules.

Upon completion of the Vocalocity University Partner Training Certification, resellers will receive a unique certificate and email signature logo to show their customers that they are committed to customer service and knowledgeable about Vocalocity’s product and features.


BBW= BlackBerry World!

Online registration for BlackBerry World™ 2012 closes on April 29. Register today so you don’t miss this opportunity to be part of the largest annual gathering for the BlackBerry® ecosystem.

Join business leaders and executives, IT administrators and IT decision makers, mobile application developers, partners and many more to get valuable content, unparalleled networking opportunities, and to hear Research In Motion’s vision for the future of mobile computing, which is based on the upcoming BlackBerry® 10 platform.

Register today for BlackBerry World, May 1-3 in Orlando, Florida, so you don’t miss out on this tremendous opportunity for your organization.


Cloud Intelligence conference – Seattle

Coming at you live from the Cloud Intelligence Conference in (liquid) sunshine-y Seattle, WA! Join me here for a day full of all things Cloud. Register here! Sessions run until 4:30pm today!


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