Thursday, January 26, 2012

Welcome customers into your business on Google

(Cross-posted on the Lat Long Blog.)

When we initially announced the Business Photos pilot program, we wanted to give business owners an easy way to get customers in the door online using interactive, high-quality, 360-degree images of places on Google Maps and on Google Search results. With thousands of businesses under our belt — from salons to gift shops — we’ve been hearing the same question again and again from both business owners and photographers alike: How can I participate?

Well, with the overwhelming success of the first pilot, we’ve decided to unveil a complementary initiative that will help us reach more interested business owners, more quickly: Trusted Photographers.

Click and drag to view the inside of Spice Market, New York City.

It’s simple. Visit our new website and search for a Google Trusted Photographer in your area. Either email or call a photographer in your area to schedule a time and agree on a price that you will pay the photographer for a photoshoot of your business. This self-serve model makes for easier scheduling and quicker turnaround, while also supporting the local photographers in your community. During the hour it should take for the shoot, you can collaborate with the photographer about how best to display and capture your business. When finished, the photographer will upload the images to Google, and shortly thereafter, you’ll see 360-degree panoramic views of your business on, Google Maps and on your Google Places listing.

See how Business Photos has helped Toy Joy of Austin, Texas.

Trusted Photographers are available in 14 U.S. cities, as well as in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and France. Don’t see a photographer in your area? Let us know, as that will help us determine where more Trusted Photographers are needed.

Posted by Gadi Royz, Product Manager, Google Maps

Friday, January 13, 2012

Limber and flexible IT: YogaWorks goes Google

Editor’s note: Today’s guest blogger is Jay DeCoons, COO of YogaWorks. Renowned for its excellence in classroom instruction and teacher training, YogaWorks delivers yoga training and classes in 60 cities around the world. Learn more about other organizations that have gone Google on our community map.

At YogaWorks, we first and foremost consider ourselves to be educators of yoga. Since opening our first location in 1987, we’ve expanded our reach across the world, which means we’ve had to figure out how to effectively scale a growing organization while continuing to deliver the best training instruction possible. When we first took a look at Google Apps, we thought it would be a great cost savings tool but as we’ve discovered, Google Apps has also allowed us to easily and flexibly connect our business throughout the world.

Prior to Google Apps, we used a hosted Microsoft Exchange server. While on Exchange, we had to set a 2 gigabyte inbox quota and had difficulty achieving a simple, scalable email deployment for our staff’s mobile devices. We also had a lot of offline processes that were cluttering the operations of our studio managers and producing a lot of excess paperwork, which ran counter to our goal of running a sustainable and eco-friendly company. At the time, our IT costs were roughly $130 per user per year.

When we were evaluating Google Apps, we realized that the solution would allow us to further our green-friendly mission by reducing our overall environmental footprint and would enable us to create a truly mobile workforce with anytime, anywhere data access. We also saw the potential Google Apps held for collaboration among team members, with its unique communication and sharing capabilities.

We went Google with the help of Google Apps Authorized Reseller Dito, who assisted us in setting up Apps and training our team. With Google Apps, we’ve been able to reduce our total IT costs by over 60%. The ability to share documents and reach out to teammates quickly has boosted the morale and sense of community across our team. Mobility has also been a key gain for us, as Google Apps allows us to work seamlessly while on the go across our 24 studios and 60 cities where we hold teacher trainings. Through Google Docs, we have been able to save paper and eliminate tedious offline processes, making our day-to-day operation more environmentally-friendly and efficient.

Google Apps has helped us create a more efficient, more excited and more productive workforce, which in turn has helped us focus on what we care most about: bringing safe, compassionate and skillful teaching of yoga to all.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The person behind the web site . . .

I love reading personal finance topics on line and there are so many GREAT sites out there . . . if you were like me, have you ever wondered who the person is behind the site ?

So I started trying to know more a bit out the person behind the web site - I asked for their permission for me to conduct an email interview with them.

First I sent out an interview request like this.  Not everyone replied of course, but I manage to get a few reply from the sites I love most ....

( click on the paragraph title to view original interview scripts )

He is most probably one of the person whom I know the longest in real life.  A young guy who shared his true belief and through out his blog sharing, you can see he is making an excellent progress toward finance independence if not already is.  Although I know him the longest among all other bloggers or web site owners, until today I don't remember his web site URL.  I just google search "Champdog Finance" and usually his come up at the top.  May be its time he re-brand his blog !? :)

CP Teh
CP is in education line.  With his intuitive interest and strength in Math, he shines out an interesting charisma on Technical Analysis in stock market.

KC Lau
I am sure KC Lau needs no further introduction.  It was KC who gets Meshio to blog whom I asked advice from the very first time I started out sharing my stories.  My years of calling KC the pioneer and the guru of the gurus in Malaysia Personal Finance blogsphere has never been challenged.

Although I am nowhere near his success, but I always thought my life path share quite some similarities with his.  Frugality is within our bones but we treat ourselves quite well from time to time :D

I always think accountant who also pursue personal finance is a best match of skills.  After he help you fix you yourself, he can help you build an empire too. :)

Through out years and years of constantly reviewing personal finance web sites, Gabe's always stands out to be the easiest and most browser friendly site.  Simplicity says it all.

Alan Tan
Alan is another blogger who needs no further introduction.  Not just personal finance, he shares pretty much everything interesting that he came about; and carefully shape his marketing so that people always find his articles first.  I always ask my lover to read my blog but she always end up reading Alan Tan's blog even without realizing it. :D

Its hard to find a lady in personal finance blogsphere ?  So she claims but I didn't even realize any gender differences in internet until this was brought up.  She likes Sabah so I like her :)

Although this is no longer an active site but its one of those things in life.

What have you done ?
What are you doing now ?
What do you wish to leave behind ?
What have we actually left for others ?

Eventually we all will join Fathersez . . . and how would the world remember us by ?

There were quite a handful objectives I was planning initially when I thought of this interviewing project.  But unfortunately most of my thoughts did not materialize well.  Mostly that is due to my in-experience to conduct email interview - my questions were not well formed and many were answered from a different perspective than initially intended.  For example, how would you answer this question ?  Please do leave your answer in the comment section.

"You met someone in a social party, describe what you do in 2 to 3 sentences."

However, I did manage to realize 2 interesting findings through this exercise.

  1. Most of us blog or create a web site just for the sake of sharing.  Seldom do we realize how precious it has become and we never thought of keeping our blog/site to live forever, even beyond us.  And to achieve that is nothing harder than setting up a trust ourselves.  Which can be easily done once you have the know how.  Check out kclau's interview respond and search for "set up a trust".
  2. Most of us here who are giving out truthful sharing here share some similar background
    • We came from a middle income family, not so poor, not so rich ... ok may be a bit poor.
    • We learn to be frugal from our parent
    • We "save" quite well, thanks to parental influence
    • But we learn to "invest" after we have gone through our lives ourselves
    • Now our saving part is saving us from our investment swing
      • About there - financially independent !?
    • We do ok now and we start to pamper ourselves from time to time :D
      • Opps, drop back to rat race !?

Alright, thank you very much for reading so patiently up until here.  I know its another boring wordy post.  But I have decided to keep this boring wordy style.  After all, everyone will have a cup of his own tea :)

And I haven't found any other ways to embed a message where a reader hates to hear now but would realize and appreciate it years later.

Next article : scheme vs scam