Seventhman Blog

  1. The Secret to Successful Cloud Computing Revealed

    "Cloud Computing"Cloud computing has the power to break down the application divide inside and outside your organization, where everyone can freely share information on the clouds.  It’s not really a new buzzword and businesses have used it to tap into resources beyond their own, in times when running their own IT departments means costly, risky and time-consuming.  This technology has existed for years, built upon the foundation of services-oriented architecture – to respond more quickly in times when change happens in a mouse click, where technology is that ultimate driver to make you a leader in your industry.  So, what’s the secret to adopting cloud computing into a successful corporate strategy that you can maximize on?

    The Secret Sauce of Cloud Computing Revealed

    By now, we’re clear about one thing: Cloud computing comes with benefits, enabling businesses to run an effective workforce, anytime and anywhere.  If you have just made that transition to a cloud-based enterprise platform, you need to know that:

    Virtual Security is Everything

    It’s a no-brainer! To run a successful cloud computing application means developing a secure infrastructure that will make hacking obsolete.  Moving sensitive info on the clouds can be a tough decision for many businesses with proprietary information, and every effort must be made to protect data in a dynamic setup that’s evolving in a faster pace than ever imagined.  This means coming up with a secured technology, even at grass roots levels.

    Being Service-Oriented Surely Makes a Winner

    There are plenty of cloud applications out there that run like ‘franken apps’ that are not versatile when it comes to changes or future developments.  When cloud computing has the power to run your virtual workforce, having a service-oriented architecture that makes access and delivery of services easier to your remote team matters… a lot!  So, it makes sense to have a close-knit application that helps bolster collaboration inside and outside of your organization.  Besides, time is a valuable commodity these days and you want everyone to be efficient on the clouds.

    Simplicity is the Absolute Key

    What good is your cloud computing application when people are wrestling with servers and upgrades?  Did you know that Amazon Web Services is closing in on $1B a year just because they cared to make things drop dead simple?  By simplifying the network’s model, not only will you keep costs down, but you also get things done faster in a world of rapid change.

    The cloud computing revolution is here and most of us have learned lessons, the hard way.  It’s now time to correct this and build a consensus to a successful transition.  It all comes down to having a change management plan, where you orient everyone on the team so that the adoption to cloud computing for your business will be a major success.

  2. Perceptions in the Age of Social Media

    "social customer"When was the last time you experienced a phenomenal customer service?  Why was it memorable?  In today’s market where customers are empowered like never before, digital word of mouth can spread like Greek fire about your brand on the Social Web.  The question now isn’t really about how innovative your business model is when it comes to new product or service offering, but how customers perceive your brand as a whole.  First impressions may not last, but perceptions do.  What impression are you giving to your customers in this social media age?

    Marketing and Customer Service: A Huge Divide

    Know that customers are social-savvy these days and they talk about brands on social media platforms, where you have no control about what’s being said about your business.  The age of industrial era marketing is over and companies need to realize that traditional marketing doesn’t simply work like it used to these days.  Customers expect you to listen and take action on their feedback about your products and services.  Simply put, don’t expect your customers to call or write you if they need help; you have to engage them in places like Facebook, Twitter, and many more.

    With a demand for world class customer service that consistently meet or exceed expectations, customer service and marketing departments must learn to work with each other in order to address what’s expected of them.  In the near future, the gap between these two will vanish as the social media landscape is changing ways on how people interact with your brand.

    Your Product is NOT the King; Your Customers ARE!

    The value of your business is taking a major shift from your products and services – to your customers.  As Steve Jobs said, “Sell Dreams, Not Products” and by delivering a value proposition that sells the dream of simplicity, functionality and beauty, the Apple brand has become the top of its kind.

    Learn This: High customer engagement is the key to your sales funnel and it brings us all back to how your customers and potential ones perceive your brand.  Just how satisfied are your customers with the level of service they get from your business?

    If you want to survive and grow in this age of social media where social customers have the power to make or break your brand, you will need more than just a customer service strategy to start with.  You have to involve your customers at every stage of creating your products or services… until its delivery.  Are you ready to revamp your business model to cope with this change?

  3. The Seventhman Evolution Continues…

    EvolutionIllustration by Ferrari. Hire him on Ajeva.

    For many years our motto at Seventhman was “Evolution at the speed of business”. Although this may not be our official motto these days, it is still at the core of our belief. We continue to evolve and change as business around us changes.

    Today, the business environment is much different than when we first started in business 11 years ago. We have survived through recessions, bubbles and like most other businesses in this environment we see the change.

    The environment of business has changed incredibly. The global village continues to get smaller, and more accessible than ever.  Technologies are iterating at a speed unlike ever before. And the environment continues to get more competitive for every category of business.

    Over the past decade we have been blessed to get an opportunity to work with a large diversity of clients and projects. Through these experiences we found a set of common underlying goals that just about all businesses share:

    Save Money   |   Accelerate Growth   |   Gain Competitive Advantage

    Starting now, our focus of service is to address these three goals for our clients. If are not helping you save money, accelerate growth, and gain competitive advantage; then we’re not doing our job.

    Want to see how we can help your business? Don’t wait – contact us now.

  4. The virtual office: A growing number of workers are setting up ‘offices’ wherever they want

    October 6, 2008 Jacksonville Business Journal

    The past decade has seen a quantum leap in the ways businesses are able to operate, especially as technology has advanced to a point that allows freedom from traditional brick-and-mortar offices. More companies and individuals are opting to work from a virtual office.

    “It’s a natural evolution,” said Cynthia Encinosa, managing member of A Virtual Office Service in Jacksonville, which receives mail and faxes, answers telephones and provides other functions to give people working outside the traditional office the needed services and a more professional appearance.

    “All my clients are owner/operators of small- to medium-sized companies,” Encinosa said. “They don’t find it necessary to make their overhead heavy with a physical location.”

    Instead, with developments of faster, wireless Web, more capable computers and a changing management mindset, workers are opting to hammer away at home or work wherever.

    William Cook, owner of William Cook Appraisal Service in Jacksonville, is one such person. “It reduces cost and I still have the effect of having an office,” Cook said. “When you call the business line, they have a person on the other end instead of voice mail and you reach me anytime, anywhere. I have been pleased with it. ”

    A Virtual Office Service’s 149 business clients range from local attorneys and doctors to international companies that do business in the U.S. The company’s annual revenue has more than doubled over the past decade.

    “Traffic is [a big factor]; a lot more are working from their homes,” Encinosa said. “Also, they don’t want to invest in infrastructure and they don’t want the overhead.”

    From broadband to BlackBerrys, technology and tools now allow people to work and stay in constant contact with clients and colleagues, even when they’re miles apart.

    According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 15 percent of all nonagricultural workers did some work at home as part of their primary job in May 2004, the most recent statistics available. Of those, about one-third were self-employed, and one in four had a formal arrangement with their employer. One-third were in management or professional occupations.

    The department did not have earlier statistics, but a recent survey indicates the virtual office is on the rise, especially since high gas prices entered the equation. In 2008, a record number of companies in the U.S. allowed employees to work from home, according to a new survey from WorldatWork, a human resources association based in Scottsdale, Ariz.

    Forty-two percent of U.S. companies surveyed said they offered teleworking programs to employees this year, compared with only 30 percent last year.

    “Rising gas prices, leading-edge technology and the push for work-life flexibility have all come together in the past 12 months to create a pretty dramatic increase in telework across the U.S.” said Anne Ruddy, president of WorldatWork.

    It’s easy to point to examples of businesses in Northeast Florida going without the trappings of traditional office space.

    “I could write a book on virtual offices,” said Shaleen Shah, president of Seventhman. The Jacksonville-based Web design and software development firm started in a traditional building, but began allowing its staff and developers to work remotely three years ago.

    “Things worked well and with the increasing amounts of bandwidth and technology, it’s easy to work in a virtual environment,” Shah said. “My wife and I are traveling around the world and I am able to work from wherever I am. A little while ago, I was in London working just as if I were here.”

    Seventhman is 100 percent virtual and 100 percent paperless thanks to technology and tools such as voice over Internet protocol, project management suites, video conferencing and Earth Class Mail, a service that receives and scans snail mail and then delivers it electronically.

    In fact, working from a virtual office has been so successful, Shah is now building a new virtual office venture, CityTalent.com, an online marketplace that uses proprietary software such as project and time management and billing to link more than 1,500 developers, graphic designers and programmers from around the world with corporate clients.

    Dave Kollasch, founder and CEO of greenerbilling LLC, a software-as-a-service firm that provides a platform for business invoicing, estimating and time tracking, said he’s found no difference working with a virtual firm such as Seventhman versus a company in a fixed office. Seventhman built a Web-based software program for greenerbilling.

    “Everything that I need to communicate to Seventhman, regardless of where in the world we are, can be done through an electronic connection,” Kollasch said during a drive to Orlando. He and his wife like to travel, and Kollasch works from the road when they are out of town.

    “Being virtual allows not having set hours. There is a freedom of mobility. I can travel and still not miss work or deadlines. Case in point: We’re driving down the highway using our wireless card to access e-mail and respond to your questions. All of this saves both of us time.”

    - Dolly Penland
    Jacksonville Business Journal

  5. Selling in cyberspace helps local businesses survive

    October 29, 2007 Jacksonville Business Journal

    JACKSONVILLE — Small businesses are becoming increasingly interested in selling their products online, with many moving to cyberspace stores.

    E-commerce can allow businesses to expand their markets and better serve existing customers, said Robert Myers, area program director with the Small Business Development Center at the University of North Florida. The growing familiarity with the Internet means businesses are looking for more than just a company Web site.

    Installing a standard e-commerce option to a Web site costs about $1,500, according to Seventhman, a Web design and development company in Orange Park.

    Adding an e-commerce option to your business, however, costs more than just the initial startup, said Joe Lemire, co-founder and chief innovator at eLYK innovation inc., a Jacksonville Web design and development firm. “If you spend X amount of time on e-commerce, you’ll need to spend twice that to generate traffic.”

    Marketing methods include advertising using blog networks, banner ads and targeted e-mail campaigns. Search engine optimization, which increases the likelihood of businesses coming up in online searches, is another tool. Letting traditional customers know about the online store also is essential, Lemire said.

    Those extras can spur growth for a business. In some cases, e-commerce can ensure a business’ survival.

    Barbara Nailler said her St. Augustine book store would be bankrupt if it hadn’t started selling online. About 30 percent of Wolf’s Head Books Inc.’s sales are made online. The online option means sales from all over the world, but it also requires constantly updating the Web site.

    Not sending orders promptly or displaying books that are no longer available causes poor customer reviews. “We need to have someone looking at our computer every day, or we need to pull everything online and then put everything back online,” Nailler said.

    Before entering the e-commerce area, small-business owners must consider whether their products are suited for the online market. This is especially pertinent if they are starting off and don’t have a “bricks and mortar” customer base, said Shaleen Shah, president and CEO of Seventhman.

    E-commerce is likely a good fit for any company that can sell products or services over a long distance, he said. Companies that target a two-mile to 10-mile radius should take a critical look at e-commerce.

    Shah said e-commerce can work for businesses that traditionally wouldn’t see an opportunity there. For instance, Seventh Wonder Day Spa is selling gift certificates all over the country for buyers who want to treat their Jacksonville friends.

    - Mark Szakonyi
    Jacksonville Business Journal

  6. See and be seen

    October 5, 2007 Jacksonville Business Journal

    Businesses large and small can improve their bottom line by improving their Web searchability

    There are an estimated 1.17 billion people regularly using the Internet nowadays, according to the research Web site, InternetWorldStats.com. That means small businesses really can sell their wares locally and globally — if potential customers find their Web sites.

    If you build it and they don’t come, your Web site just isn’t doing its job.

    “There are millions and millions of little Web sites that are very nice looking, but compare it to a beautiful billboard,” said Chris Patterson, CEO of information technology/Web site development firm InterChanges.com. “If it’s in the middle of the woods, it’s not doing any good. You need to take that billboard out of the woods.”

    An effective Web site, with good content, will only attract and retain customers if it ranks high on search engines such as Google, Yahoo or MSN, thus making search engine optimization a key part of any Internet marketing strategy.

    One strategy is to pay for a higher ranking. However, a good IT company or in-house staff guru also can use organic search engine optimization methods.

    “Internet marketing has evolved quite a bit from just 2003, particularly search engines,” said Shaleen Shah, president of Seventhman, an Orange Park-based software and Web site development company.

    “There used to be a time when businesses would add metadata, key words and things like that, that helped them get ranked on search engines,” Shah said. “Whereas now, search engines have evolved so much, it’s almost an art to [know what it takes to] be ranked well. This is especially true when you want to get ranking for high-frequency key words.”

    That was the case with The Waterhouse Group and its high-frequency key words, such as the words “sales” and “training.”

    “I have been involved with the Internet since it was a top-secret military tool,” said Steve Waterhouse, president of the sales and training consulting firm. Waterhouse isn’t kidding — he’s a former Raytheon Co. design engineer who worked on the Patriot missile. “We started early using the Internet as a business tool back in 1991 or 1992.”

    Waterhouse’s company, also based in Orange Park, enjoyed high search-engine rankings all that time until about three years ago when it slipped. That’s when he contacted Seventhman.

    “They got us from, I think it was [being ranked] in the 20s, and in a matter of weeks, we were at No. 1,” Waterhouse said. “We have sat at No. 1 since then.” That means when the keywords “sales” and “training” are queried on Google, The Waterhouse Group pops up at or near the top.

    The Waterhouse Group was getting about 15 to 20 unique visitors a day, but is now getting more than 100 each day. “I get all the leads I need just by being No. 1,” Waterhouse said. “My business does just fine simply from the Internet [-generated] business.”

    Useful content that is updated regularly is key to attracting customers, Internet marketers said. “You want to have the right information for people doing their due diligence on products or services,” Patterson said.

    Useful content also improves a site’s ranking on the search engines. “Google really values content. So, you can please Google and position the products or services at the same time,” Patterson said.

    “I would put that around 20 percent to 25 percent,” Shah said. “How fresh the content is also makes an impact, 5 percent to 10 percent. A tremendous amount is created with link-building with other Web sites.”

    The criteria for Web site rankings are complicated and in constant flux. So when hiring a company to give a site a boost, it’s important to look for current experience and good results. The big search engines have spent years refining algorithms to prevent artificially inflated rankings. Officials with those companies frown on attempts to game the system.

    “Google has penalties if they do some ‘black-hat’ approach to search engine optimization,” Shah said. “These search engines, when they find these tactics, [Web sites are] penalized.” Those penalties might even include being banned from ever being highly ranked.

    InterChanges.com helped egg-incubation equipment manufacturer NatureForm Hatchery Systems strengthen its Internet presence not only by updating the look of the company’s site, but also raising its rank among the search engines. Steve Warren, vice president of NatureForm, said traffic on its old Web site was “spotty.”

    “We definitely weren’t pulling internationally from it and it just wasn’t a very impressive site from an image standpoint,” Warren said. Now, “We’re getting a couple thousand hits every month.”

    New business opportunities generated from NatureForm’s Web site increased 44 percent within the first 180 days after InterChanges.com’s work. The number of unique visitors grew 57.56 percent in the first 12 months.

    Warren said NatureForm nearly doubled its sales volume in 2006 over 2005 and that sales will be up 40 percent in 2007.

    “It doesn’t matter whether they’re selling real estate or auto insurance or chicken incubators. If you sell nationally or internationally, you definitely need to make sure you have a strong Internet strategy,” Patterson said. “It’s not just big national companies. It’s also for local small businesses looking to increase leads and improve customer service or credibility.”

    This is particularly true as more people jump online to look for local information. According to a survey by Searchenginewatch.com, 74 percent said they conduct local searches, with 45 percent of those local searches being conducted with the intent to buy.

    Businesses “are finding the old way of marketing is just not working as well as it used to because the Internet is dominant,” Patterson said. “People are much more comfortable going on the Internet and looking for their product than looking at billboards or listening to radio ads or flipping through the Yellow Pages.”

    - Dolly Penland
    Jacksonville Business Journal

  7. Seventhman launches Clay County Sheriff’s Office Web site

    February 23, 2004 Press Release

    Coming to a computer near you – an improved CCSO Internet site. It can still be found at the same address, www.claysheriff.com, but is now loaded with additional pages of information that should prove to be more useful to the public as well as to current CCSO employees. The site was designed by a team of website developers at Seventhman of Orange Park.

    Here are just a few examples of some of the improvements you’ll find on our new site:

    - An updated homepage that is more professional looking and user-friendly

    - A “Learn More” section with information about crime prevention, laws, sexual offender lists, and Clay County’s Most Wanted criminals

    - An “About the CCSO” section with specialized pages for each agency division

    - A map of the county from which citizens can access sector-specific information such as crime stats and personnel contact information

    - A “Career” section that includes information about available jobs, Florida retirement, off-duty job guidelines

    - The “Speak Up” section gives residents a direct email connection to agency leaders in a wide variety of areas so they can provide tips on criminal activity, traffic concerns or comments about the agency

    - Much, much, more!

    Seventhman is a software development company specializing in web-based, information management systems and products. Their team worked with the Clay County Sheriff’s Office over a nine month period to complete the site redesign project bringing an out-of-date site into the next century.

    Please call CCSO PIC Mary Justino at (904) 213-6009 or Mr. Will Lombard, Seventhman Director of Business Development, at (904) 215-7075 for more information.