Archive for April, 2009

How VA Providers can help SMEs in Speeding up Technology Adoption

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

The world of Virtual Assistance has evolved from providing basic administrative and clerical support to handling increasingly complex tasks for clients. Today’s virtual assistants are increasingly becoming a gateway and a liaison between the client and the other specialized resources within their company. One area where this model can really gain traction is in addressing the growing technology pains for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

An SME can have myriad of technology needs, which are sometimes as diverse as for a large corporation, though obviously smaller in scale. These requirements can be generally divided into two categories. Firstly there are “must-have” needs such as email and desktop support. The second category includes applications in areas such as CRM or BPM (Business Process Management), which help make these companies more productive, more informed, and more responsive to the changing world. It’s this second category where SMEs have generally lagged the larger corporations in adoption for obvious reasons. The SMEs do not have the scale to invest in human resources, software, and consulting cost to implement these solutions. A lot of times SMEs are busy just trying to manage their must-have technology needs that they don’t get time to seriously think more about incorporating technology solutions to streamline their businesses.

However, during last few years, the environment has become increasingly favorable for SMEs to start looking into incorporating more technology into their daily business tasks. Firstly there is the rise and acceptance of open-source technologies as a viable alternative to more expensive commercial software from companies like Oracle and SAP. LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) based technology stack provide robust frameworks on which we can build applications. Also available are open-source customizable applications that target certain verticals such as Joomla for Content Management or SugerCRM for Customer Relationship Management. The result is that the product development life cycles have been reduced drastically thus enabling fairly rapid development and deployment at a much lower cost.

Secondly the evolution of VA companies have provided these SMEs with one-stop shop where they can ask providers to look into operations, spot potential areas which can be automated, suggest particular existing or new applications that can fit the bill, and then make development resources available to develop and maintain those applications. Today’s crop of VA companies has amassed a strong knowledge base working with SMEs which they can leverage. Plus they can rely on in-house research teams to supplement their knowledge base when working with a particular company. Quite simply, this range of services is not available through specialized offshore development houses or dedicated technology consulting companies.

Combine the low cost of open-source or subscription based software with the flexibility of reasonably priced VA rate plans and you create a very attractive model for SMEs to speed up technology adoption and gain competitive edge – at a time when they need it the most.

Virtual Collaboration to keep your Back-Office running

Monday, April 13th, 2009

The age of virtual reality has arrived! We have seen a gradual but steady development in human psyche as well as technological advancements that have led humans to push the envelope in terms of how we use virtual systems. Take for example the online gaming industry — you have millions if not tens of millions of people connected in a virtual gaming arena. The experience is life like, yet safe in your living room. You can not only beat your opponent from Germany; 6 time zones away; you can even talk to him on the game system.

With economic pressures looming large these days, businesses have stretched their office boundaries to virtually include the entire globe. One such phenomenon is the Virtual Office Services. These companies have been operating as small niche players, typically a single working mom would be the owner of such company. The services offered were faxing, calendaring and sending emails etc. But with the advent of secure Internet communications, seamless availability of office and productivity tools (that you use every day), these companies now offer large scale services that not only relieve your staff, it dramatically improves the way you are used to doing business. Offshore companies have tens or hundreds of educated staff members offering a wide range of service portfolios.

All of the above hinges on how effective the ‘Virtual Collaboration’ is between you and your virtual service company. The mainstay is the initial dialog; simply put — how well can you define your needs and requirements! These companies are nimble and flexible in turning around with a viable solution at very affordable prices. Virtually anything that can either be digitized and processed on a computer is something that you can offload to a Virtual Assistant or a Virtual Back Office Consultant.

Try to push the envelope today and enjoy the benefits of cost savings while staying focused on your core business!