Software, Hardware & servicesNOT YET, PART 1
It’s not yet the end of tax season, but it’s already time to start learning its lessons — like the fact that both your real and your virtual workspaces are unbearably cluttered and woefully inadequate. Once you have some spare time, you might consider a couple of improvements.
For laptop users, the new SpaceStation from Bluelounge (www.bluelounge.com) is an all-in-one docking port with a USB hub and a cable management system that keeps the usual snake-like welter of power cords and connecting cables under control, while also keeping your computer cooler, and offering a handy accessory rail.
If it’s your desktop that’s hampering you, consider expanding your virtual real estate by adding a monitor or two using a USB display adapter from StarTech.com (www.startech.com). These adapters, which are available for both VGA and DVI displays, turn a computer’s USB port into a second monitor connection — or a third or fourth — so that you can make up in virtual office space for all the real space that your firm hasn’t yet seen fit to grant you.
NOT YET, PART 2
The fully mobile Internet isn’t here yet, with surfers easily accessing complete Web pages on their cell phones and PDAs, but it’s fast approaching. And while we’re not sure that people will ever feel a compelling need to view an accounting firm Web site on their iPhone, the day may yet come when you want to wow a chance-met prospect in an airport lounge. Ubik’s new Mobilizer service, powered by Volantis System’s mobile-optimization technology, offers a simple, easy way to optimize your existing site for thousands of mobile devices.
NOT YET, PART 3
The recession is not yet officially upon us, but times are certainly getting tougher — which means you have to get tough, too. Collections expert Michelle Dunn offers a wide variety of tools and resources to help make sure you receive your accounts receivable, including an e-course on how to get clients to pay; a series of books on collections; a blog on credit policies and more; a free collections guide and free credit applications you can print out and use with clients; and much more.
NOT YET, PART 4
For many firms, the paperless office is not yet a reality, but new tools, equipment and software are bringing it closer every day. Kodak’s new i780 Scanner, for instance, can capture up to 130 pages per minute with resolution up to 300 dots per inch, and comes with a huge variety of special features. You may not yet need a scanner this powerful or pricey, but it’s nice to know it’s available — and in the meantime, you can try Kodak’s ScanMate i1120, which is designed and priced for small and midsized businesses, but still features a range of ease-of-use and document management features. On that note, it’s also nice to know that yet another Kodak scanner, the Scan Station 100, is now certified to work with the docStar document management system, bringing the paperless office yet another step closer.
NEW AND IMPROVED!
CCH has added the Financial Reporting Asia Pacific Add-On Library and the Knowledge-Based Audits of Governmental Entities Module to its Accounting Research Manager platform. ... Apex Analytix has issued V. 7.2 of its FirstStrike Retail Performance Platform. ... Lucid8 has launched V. 2.0 of its Digiscope e-discovery and recovery tool for Microsoft Exchange Server. ... Winshuttle has released transaction Shuttle V. 8.0, for automating data exchange between Excel and the SAP Business Suite.
The largest thought that we here at New Products are able to encompass involves supersizing parts of our lunch, so Big Think Strategy (Harvard Business School Press; $29.95) presented us with a whole new world. The book teaches readers how to embrace big, bold ideas, and use them to revolutionize their businesses. Peppered with real-world examples, it amply demonstrates the value of the Big Think, and better yet, shows you how to do it.
While we’re not (yet) able to think big, we are fully capable of enormous blunders, which is where Think Smart, Act Smart (Wiley; $27.95) comes in. The book breaks bad thinking down into four sub-categories — wishful, mythical, tribal and royal — to help you avoid falling into all of them while you’re building up your big thoughts.
It’s a Wonderful Life’s George Bailey wishes for a million dollars, but he’d have been wiser to wish for The Million Dollar Financial Services Practice, since it would show him how to build just that. After all, a million dollars doesn’t go as far as it used to, while a successful financial services practice will generate fees for decades. The book is a step-by-step guide with a complete program for all aspects of building your practice, from choosing your niche to marketing, prospecting and sales, and includes plenty of templates, scripts, letters and “Market Action Plans.” If George had read it, he might never have gone into banking — but then, what would have happened to Bedford Falls?
Amacom Books; $30
HONESTY: THE BEST PUBLICITY
These days, it seems like most people are ready to tack marketing onto the end of the old list of lies, damn lies, and statistics. The answer, according to Truth: The New Rules for Marketing in a Skeptical World, is to acknowledge that reality, and start replacing hype with honesty, and image with integrity. The book shows readers how to avoid credibility killers, replace pricing strategies with value promises, build customer loyalty, and generally market themselves while avoiding the stigma of “marketing.”
Amacom Books; $24.95
Public speaking is one of those things, like dancing at weddings or battlefield surgery, that many are called on to do, but that few do well. Brian Tracy’s Speak to Win can do for the inexperienced speaker what alcohol does for the wedding guest, with the added bonus that the speaker will actually improve, as opposed to merely thinking that they have. The book covers everything you need to know to become a better orator, from the large, like mastering your fear, mastering the crowd, and speaking well, to the small, like making sure the room is set up correctly and at the right temperature.
Amacom Books; $19.95
When we here at New Products finally get around to writing our book about workplace investigations, it will mostly focus on brass knuckles and techniques for breaking down a prisoner’s — sorry, employee’s — resistance. Nolo’s The Essential Guide to Workplace Investigations takes a different, equally valid approach to investigating and resolving employee complaints and problems in a legal way that minimizes the risk to the company. It guides you through the whole process, from deciding if an investigation is needed, through conducting interviews and gathering evidence, to documentation and following up. It includes sample policies, checklists and more, as well as a CD-ROM of forms, and audio interviews and scenarios.
Also in print
The latest edition of HSA Road Rules, a reference on health savings accounts, is available at www.hsainsider.com (HSA Insider/Canopy Financial).
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