WHAT WE LEARNED THIS WEEK: No excuses for not backing up data

The Commonwealth Bank stepped out of its comfort zone this week and announced a new cloud storage product for its online banking customers, allowing them to store as much as they want, as long they stay under 1,000 files.

It’s an interesting move, and comes as Google is trying to take on DropBox with its own storage product.

This is all good for the consumer – and especially the entrepreneur.

With so many free storage options available, you really have no reason for not backing up crucial documents and files.

The time has come and gone where businesses could be excused for not having a backup of a file. But now that companies are offering all of this to you for free, there isn’t a way out. You need to back up crucial files, and you need to do it today.

If you don’t know what you’re doing, then talk to someone more technical than you. But the line in the sand has now been drawn – back up your data before you lose it.

There are more opportunities in green energy

There are plenty of businesses still concerned about the carbon tax, but there may not be as many which realise there are actually quite a few opportunities in the clean energy space.

This week, KPMG released a report in which it said there will be more opportunities in the clean tech space – especially out of China and Japan where businesses are looking to purchase assets.

The company’s national leader of renewables, Matthew Herring, told SmartCompany there are some great opportunities here for SMEs, especially in developing clean tech like battery storage technology. The only problem is finding a place for SMEs in the product supply chain.

There are opportunities here. As more Asian companies start looking in this space, there’s a gap in the market for SMEs. For budding entrepreneurs, there’s a lot to be done.

Fraud can be prevented with tech

The collapse of Hastie Group is another testament to the weakness in the construction industry, but it also serves as yet another warning of how fraud can take down even large companies.

Hastie said last week it had discovered an irregularity in its accounting worth $20 million. As far as frauds go, this is a large one. And it joins others over the past year, including a fraud at Visy, where other companies have lost millions.

Fraud experts say that in some cases, it all comes down to technology. Are you monitoring who can access your company accounts?

This type of situation may only suit smaller businesses, but there are ways you can control who is looking at your accounts, and when. You can also order records of who has logged into your banking facilities, and you can get reports if anything out of the ordinary occurs.

If you’re using these types of online banking facilities, you’d best figure out how to keep on top of everything – the tech could save you millions.

Change the culture, not the product

There have been plenty of questions surrounding Apple in the past year, now that Tim Cook is at the helm. Analysts have queried whether he’s the man for the job, or whether Steve Jobs’ tight control on the company would relax, and the quality of the company’s products along with it.

But, in a piece at Fortune, Tim Cook is said to be changing Apple in a few different ways – and for the better.

Some of his changes, including meeting with investors and inviting supply personnel to engineering meetings, are creating a more positive atmosphere. In fact, he’s started eating lunch with random employees – something Steve Jobs rarely did, if at all.

Steve Jobs delivered quality products, but morale at Apple could be shaky during his outbursts. Cook is trying to keep the quality high while introducing a more relaxed atmosphere.

You don’t need to adopt the Steve Jobs style of management in your own business. Insulting and berating employees may get you results, but at what cost? Consider a lighter approach, and see where the results take you.

Keep shopping around for tech

The Federal Government has finally confirmed the parliamentary inquiry into IT pricing will go ahead, with the committee responsible already asking for public submissions and releasing terms of reference.

It’s a good start. In the committee’s opening letter, it remarks that many businesses are suffering as they’re forced to pay higher prices for digitally distributed software products, even when the reasons for increasing the prices aren’t persuasive.

It’ll be some time before the inquiry delivers a response. But in the meantime, businesses should know they don’t have to just pay whatever price a retailer offers them. There’s good reason to shop around.

Don’t just look in retail stores, look online, too. If you want to save money on Microsoft products, you can download them instead of buying in-store. And perhaps you don’t even need to buy software at all – there are plenty of open source, free alternatives to major software programs.

Look around and test the market – don’t just give up and pay hundreds of dollars for software you may not even use.

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