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Are You Happily Invoicing Your Customers?Case Details

 

Closed: 20 May 2010, 1:46PM PT

Earn up to $250 for Insights on this case.

Our entrepreneurship series - sponsored by AcceptPay from American Express - is compiling interesting resources, valuable tips and useful services that can help out small business owners.  One of the key themes we want to discuss is the process of invoicing -- because what could be more relevant to a small business than getting paid?  Every business (small or large) needs to deal with billing customers and efficiently accepting payments.  For smaller companies, though, invoicing and payment collections can become a more time-consuming process than it should be.

For those of you out there who are already happily invoicing -- what kinds of invoicing software do you use?  What kind of billing solutions have you tried?  What is your opinion of online payment solutions? (full disclosure: AcceptPay is a player in this market.)  How would you evaluate an online payment system for your company?

However, if you've ever encountered invoicing challenges that started to eat into the enjoyment of actually running your business, do you have a happy-ending story for your billing solution?  What would you recommend for other small businesses that might have similar experiences?  What kind of procedures have you developed to make your accounts receivable easier to handle and more reliable?

To other helpful folks who aren't (yet?) entrepreneurs, what types of small companies do you think might benefit from using online payment solutions (that may not already be doing so)?  How would you describe the market for online payment services?  What recommedations have you seen for small business invoicing software?

We're looking for your input on these topics, and the best response will be published on the Entrepreneur's Corner edition of Techdirt, as well as receive a monetary award.  Other high-quality insights may also receive monetary bonuses, depending on the content and how many insights are submitted.

7 Insights

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Propose a Webinar On Building A Business Case For IT InvestmentsCase Details

 

Closed: 3 Feb 2010, 11:59PM PT

Earn up to $500 for Insights on this case.

Sun and Intel are interested in holding a webinar around the topic of building a business case for IT investments -- specifically for server datacenters. They are looking for experts to be featured in a 1-hour online webinar that will be broadcast live in mid-February (exact time to be determined). A 1-hour practice run will also be required prior to the broadcast date.

We are looking for you to submit proposals that would describe a webinar topic that you would be willing to discuss. If your topic is chosen, then you will then need to be available to participate in the online webinar, hosted by Techdirt's Mike Masnick.

The potential topics that we are interested in are:

  1. An overview of the major factors behind IT investment decisions
  2. Justifications that can turn a "nice to have" project into a "need to have" datacenter project
  3. Success stories about long-term datacenter development strategies
  4. Lessons learned from previous datacenter investment decisions
  5. Mistakes to avoid for major IT investments

Your proposal does not have to deal with all of these topics; these are suggestions meant to serve as a guide.

In your proposal, please include:

  • The headline of your proposed webinar.
  • A description for the webinar that you would run.
  • A description of how a Sun or Intel representative might interact with you during your presentation.

If there are any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.

1 Insight

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Submit A Webinar Proposal On IT Productivity MetricsCase Details

 

Closed: 13 Jan 2010, 11:59PM PT

Earn up to $500 for Insights on this case.

Sun and Intel are interested in holding a webinar around the topic of IT productivity metrics. They are looking for experts to be featured in a 1-hour online webinar that will be broadcast live on January 19th (01/19/2010). A 1-hour practice run will also be required prior to the broadcast date.

We are looking for you to submit proposals that would describe a webinar topic that you would be willing to discuss. If your topic is chosen, then you will then need to be available to participate in the online webinar, hosted by Techdirt's Mike Masnick.  For examples of past proposals, the previous webinar topic available here.

The potential topics that we are interested in are:

  1. An overview of best practices for improving datacenter productivity.
  2. What metrics are most valuable to your organization for monitoring datacenter productivity?
  3. How do you measure lost productivity from your datacenter hardware?
  4. Describe how your organization benefitted from adopting a metric of productivity that you had not monitored before.
  5. How can an organization prioritize its datacenter resources for increasing productivity?

Your proposal does not have to deal with all of these topics; these are suggestions meant to serve as a guide.

In your proposal, please include:

  • The headline of your proposed webinar.
  • A description for the webinar that you would run.
  • A description of how a Sun or Intel representative might interact with you during your presentation.

If there are any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.

1 Insight

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IT Predictions for 2010 And BeyondCase Details

 

Closed: 28 Dec 2009, 11:59PM PT

Earn up to $100 for Insights on this case.

As 2010 looms, we're continuing our series of cases here to develop interesting, engaging and useful discussions for our new sub-site, IT Innovations. We're looking for insights that might help IT managers stay informed and keep their operations competitive.  

For this case, we're looking for your predictions for the upcoming year for data centers or IT management.  What changes do you anticipate for 2010?  What are you most looking forward to?  What trends from 2009 will really pick up in 2010?  What events are you planning for in 2010?  These are just a few of the questions we'd like to see answered.  It's hard to look into the crystal ball and predict the future with certainty, so if you want to evaluate past predictions and correct the predictions of popular IT pundits, feel free to do that, too.  Our main goal is to try to offer an insightful and practical outlook for the year ahead. 

This case isn't necessarily restricted to just 2010, either.  If you have predictions for the distant future, please share your thoughts on what you think will happen in the next decade and beyond as well.

7 Insights

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A Look Back At 2009 For ITCase Details

 

Closed: 28 Dec 2009, 11:59PM PT

Earn up to $100 for Insights on this case.

We're continuing our series of cases here to develop interesting, engaging and useful discussions for our new sub-site, IT Innovations. We're looking for insights that might help IT managers stay informed and keep their operations competitive.  

As the end of the year approaches, we're looking for your views regarding significant trends or events that happened in 2009 that will affect (or have already affected) data centers or IT management.  If you have a list of the "top 10" IT milestones for 2009, that would be great.  But if you only think there was *one* major event, and you'd like to delve into that topic -- we're open to that discussion, too.

If you're really ambitious, an overview of the past decade could be interesting as well.  Looking back at the past can help everyone plan for the future, so recent lessons from the past year (or even the last few years) could be enlightening.  How has the financial crisis affected the IT landscape?  How does the current environment compare to the dot-com bust?  What were the most game-changing products/services/concepts that were introduced in the recent past?  These are just a few of the topics we'd love to hear your opinions on....

4 Insights

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Picking The Right Spot For A Data CenterCase Details

 

Closed: 16 Dec 2009, 11:59PM PT

Earn up to $100 for Insights on this case.

If you haven't noticed, we're starting an ongoing series of cases here to develop interesting, engaging and useful discussions for our new sub-site, IT Innovations.  We're looking for insights that might help IT managers stay informed and keep their operations competitive.  

So for this case's topic, we'd like to delve into the subject of picking a data center location. We're not too interested in lengthy narratives about horror stories in selecting a server farm back in 1998.  But that's not to say we don't want to hear your personal experiences.  We're just aiming more for concise, non-generic advice that might help your fellow IT gurus (or gurus in training).  A few hundred words should suffice.

If you're not exactly a writer, you could submit something like a mashed-up map for where data center locations are optimally located -- just as long as your contribution is relevant and useful.  A picture can be worth a thousand words -- and is sometimes more illustrative of a point.  

And this topic isn't restricted only to geographic factors.  There are likely a multitude of reasons for choosing a data center, and we'd like to hear what you think are some of the most important.  

 

7 Insights

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Justifying Your Datacenter Management ImprovementsCase Details

 

Closed: 14 Dec 2009, 11:59PM PT

Earn up to $100 for Insights on this case.

If you haven't noticed, we're starting an ongoing series of cases here to develop interesting, engaging and useful discussions for our new sub-site, IT Innovations. We're looking for insights that might help IT managers stay informed and keep their operations competitive.

For this case, we're looking for engaging content and experts to be featured who can help educate IT decision makers on the management of mission-critical applications in datacenters.

The topics for this case will focus on datacenter management services and solutions. We're looking for at least 300 words in the form of a blog post that can serve as a discussion starter, and we'd also like to encourage commenting on the submitted insights. Appropriate topics for these discussions include:

  • How do you effectively communicate datacenter priorities to non-technical managers?
  • What datacenter management services can you not live without? How do you justify the costs?
  • How do you assess datacenter priorities? Do you think there's a better way?
  • How often do you review your datacenter management tools and compare them to alternative solutions?

These topics are not exhaustive, and you do not need to address all of these suggested conversations. We welcome additional proposals for alternative subjects, and if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.

4 Insights

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Essential Datacenter Tips On Application Performance MonitoringCase Details

 

Closed: 29 Nov 2009, 11:59PM PT

Earn up to $100 for Insights on this case.

We are looking for engaging content and experts to be featured who can help educate IT decision makers on the management of mission-critical applications in datacenters.

The topics for this case will focus on application performance monitoring and testing. We're looking for at least 300 words in the form of a blog post that can serve as a discussion starter, and we'd also like to encourage commenting on the submitted insights. Appropriate topics for these discussions include:

  • tips for datacenter managers on improving efficiency of existing resources and an overview of the methods to do so;
  • a review of software tools and metrics for predicting future capacity and development;
  • a compilation of the common risks and benefits of automating application monitoring and testing tools; and
  • guidelines on the development of internal benchmarks to assess current performance and to set future performance goals.

These topics are not exhaustive, and you do not need to address all of these suggested conversations. We welcome additional proposals for alternative subjects, and if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.

6 Insights

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The Importance Of Skilled Immigrants To The American EconomyCase Details

 

Closed: 27 Oct 2009, 11:59PM PT

Earn up to $50 for Insights on this case.

One of the most difficult concepts to grasp, at times, is the difference between a zero-sum game and a non-zero-sum game. This becomes especially evident when discussing skilled immigration in America. There are many who are quite against the idea of giving visas to skilled foreigners to come to the US, believing that these individuals "take away jobs" from Americans. The only problem is that this is not supported by the data. That's because jobs are not a zero-sum game. There is not a set number of jobs that cannot change. And skilled immigrants have a long history of not just coming to the US, but also in creating a significant number of new jobs.

The importance of skilled immigrants in driving new jobs has been known for years, but the trend has only accelerated over the past decade. That older study found that 25% of Silicon Valley companies were founded by immigrants. A more recent Duke study found that this number has spread throughout the US: of tech- or engineering-related companies founded across the US, over 25% were founded by immigrants. In Silicon Valley, the number is now 52.4%. These companies are creating tremendous new job opportunities, not taking them away. Growing jobs is quite important.

Furthermore, it's difficult to see how keeping skilled immigrant labor out of the country helps the US. Those same workers do not disappear. Instead, they join tech companies in their homeland, where they end up competing against US companies. Shouldn't we want the best and smartest individuals working for US companies and helping to create US jobs, rather than the alternative?

Many of the concerns about skilled labor immigration tend to focus on the controversial H-1b program, with most of the complaints pointing to various abuses with the program. But we shouldn't be throwing out a good idea (encouraging skilled labor to come build companies in the US) with the fact that the program itself has been abused at times. If there are abuses, let's fix the abuses, while looking at better ways to encourage immigration from those we want to help us building our economy.

The Innovation Movement is an effort by the Consumer Electronics Association to make more people aware of such issues, and to make sure that Congress actually takes these issues into account, rather than just focusing on the patriotic headline while ignoring the unpatriotic results.

In this Insight Community Conversation, we're looking for thoughtful and well-written discussions on skilled labor immigration, and how to best encourage it. These can be ideas on how to respond to critics of skilled immigration programs, how to improve our current programs (such as the H-1b), or even brand new ideas for how the US could best encourage skilled immigration and enabling the creation of more jobs in the high tech sector. The best results will be used as posts on the Innovation Movement website.

10 Insights

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Help A New Kind of Music Label Revolutionize The IndustryCase Details

 

Closed: 21 Oct 2009, 11:59PM PT

Earn up to $500 for Insights on this case.

The music industry has changed significantly in recent years, and technology now allows musicians to distribute their work and interact with fans more easily than ever before. As times have changed, the traditional process of signing with a record label is getting more and more competition. Here we describe one alternative vision for supporting musicians that focuses on the artist and aims to disrupt conventional music publishing. The subsequent task is for the Insight Community to suggest improvements to the plan, give feedback from an artist's point of view, offer advice on implementation, and even respond with possible arguments against this approach.

The Vision of an Un-label

The 4 pillars in the work of a musician are: compose, record, be on stage and on tour. The live show is more than ever a vital component of the career of an artist, but it can not exist without the production of new tracks. For the artist to tour, an album is a prerequisite.

As always, there are costs to produce an album, but the artist should ALWAYS retain ownership of his/her work. Without artist ownership, the genuine involvement of the performer is lost. But if the artist ultimately owns the work, the musician has an honest commitment to promoting every song and a vested interest in connecting with fans. That said, albums still need to be financed at times, and a complete support infrastructure to promote the artist and his/her work is still necessary as well.

For the financing of albums, an artist will sign a temporary exclusive license to his/her music in exchange for initial funding (if necessary) and a share of revenues from tours, shows, physical and digital sales, merchandising, etc. The artist will commit to live performances and interactions with fans through various channels (eg. press, TV, web, etc). The artist will be the brand behind the music, and the new 'Un-label' will provide financing, publicity and management as necessary. The Un-label has incentives to serve the artist since its exclusive license is temporary, and the artist will be free to go elsewhere after the contract is fulfilled.

Key points summary

  • Artists always retain ownership of their work.
  • Artists get worldwide distribution with transparent accounting.
  • Artists get a dedicated partner with aligned incentives.

Supplemental Materials

To further explain this vision, there is an accompanying presentation to discuss this concept:

 

How You Can Help

The idea behind this Un-label is hopefully easy to understand, but how does a business based on this philosophy attract and convince artists? Below are some questions that attempt to focus this discussion on improving this vision. These are not the only questions to answer, but they're a starting point.

  • What kind of educational materials need to be created to help this business compete with the more traditional recording contracts?
  • If you were an artist, how does this proposition sound to you?
  • What are the most attractive portions of this plan for musicians? What are the least attractive parts of this concept?
  • Have you heard of similar businesses? How do you think similar businesses are doing?
  • Are there services that exist that could improve this business? Can you think of potentially good partnerships or collaborations?

Visit the CybearSonic Site (English translation)

22 Insights

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