Here are the influential voices leading the conversations where nonprofits and technology overlap.
Terrance Gaines’ love of technology came from a humble place. As a college student, he worked at an audio/video technology store part-time to earn money. But working with technology turned into more than just a job for Gaines — it became a passion.
As a writer for the Small Biz Go Mobile blog, one of the 50 Must-Read IT Blogs selected by BizTech, Gaines highlights and covers trends in mobile computing for small and medium-sized businesses. He also makes appearances on the Mario Armstrong Show as a mobility specialist, in addition to posting on his own blog, Brotha Tech.
We recently caught up with Gaines and talked about tablets, the future of ultrabooks and all things mobile.
BIZTECH: What are your daily must-visit tech stops online?
GAINES: Since I'm an unapologetic Apple Enthusiast, two of my first online stops are MacWorld & TUAW (The Unofficial Apple Weblog). Since I write about tech tips for small business owners on the go for Small Biz Go Mobile (shameless plug), I make sure to see what my colleagues are talking about. After that, I just channel surf my Google Reader feeds to get an idea of what's going on. Most of the general tech sites like BGR, The Verge, The Next Web, and PCMag are on my shortlist.
BIZTECH: What emerging technology do you think will most change the enterprise landscape in 2012?
GAINES: Tablets, of course. Apple reinvented the category with the iPad. Consumers flocked to the device at a scary rate, and now companies are trying to figure out the best way to implement tablets into how they do business. Look for Apple with its next iPad iteration — and even Microsoft with it's upcoming Windows 8 platform — to make even more of a splash at a company near you in the next year or so.
BIZTECH: What existing technology do you think businesses have most underutilized?
GAINES: Video conferencing and teleworking are areas companies could tap to expand their talent reach beyond their physical location. Most telecommunication providers like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast are serving up high-speed connectivity to the home. A decent web cam will run the average consumer $30 to $60. I've read studies that have concluded that employees are no less productive at home versus in a cubicle. So why not give employees more options on where they work? Companies may even be able to employ more talent if they weren't restricted to their immediate area.
BIZTECH: What's the most innovative, creative or unusual way an organization has deployed technology that you've come across?
GAINES: I would say when Apple let their retail store employees step out from behind the cash register and use an iPhone to "ring up" customers who were paying by credit. Who doesn't use plastic nowadays? As a result, I'm just beside myself in amazement when ANY business deploys mobile technology for financial transactions. I think that's one technology trend that any retail business needs to adopt immediately.
BIZTECH: When it comes to technology adoption, what best practice can't be repeated often enough?
GAINES: Don't adopt every new tech trend. Find out what works best and figure out ways to improve or adapt to current trends. If there is something new and innovative that piques your interest — and can dramatically enhance your bottom-line — by all means investigate. But you shouldn't feel forced or left behind by the technology industry if you aren't necessarily on the bleeding edge of everything that's new.
BIZTECH: Why do you blog?
GAINES: To reach out to others who share my common interest in technology, and to share my interest with my immediate circle, who may not be "in the know," in hopes of helping them figure out ways to make the technology I love work for them as well.
BIZTECH: What advantage do businesses gain by adopting mobile technology?
GAINES: A large amount of consumers or employees are not getting and staying "connected" by sitting in front of a desktop or laptop anymore. If you're even remotely aware of the "digital divide" that the U.S. and world is faced with, there are segments of our population that don't even have a main computer in the home, but are still connected via their mobile devices. Access is not the only solution to the problem, but it would behoove any business to seriously look at ways to provide a value to its customers without computers, or give employees ways to remain productive outside of the office.
BIZTECH: What's your take on the ultrabook wave headed our way in 2012?
GAINES: "Smaller, lighter, faster" has been a mantra of our society for the longest time. Ultrabooks (like smartphones) are nothing but a microcosm of how fast computing technology is moving. The price of ultrabooks will have to come down before your traditional laptop's jeopardy is at stake, because a solidly performing laptop can be had for almost half the cost of an ultrabook. But, you have to admire how far technology has come to be able pack more technology into a smaller footprint. People most certainly will admire ... with their wallets! So look forward to ultrabooks being more than just another trend in the coming year.
[For more on figuring out if an ultrabook is right for you, check out this article on if it's Time to Make the Switch.]