Technology Makes a “World of Difference”

If you plan to be in the New York City area on January 26-27, you should know about the World of Difference Conference. The third of three conferences, co-sponsored by Intel and the Small Business Technology Institute (SBTI), WOD offers small business owners a chance to immerse themselves in educational modules designed to help them learn about different types of technology that can help them grow their businesses.

If you’re not able to attend this session, the two companies are also sponsoring a series of smaller events — Small Business Technology Boot Camps — to be held in San Francisco, Washington D.C., Miami, New York and Vancouver during 2006. The dates for the new sessions have yet to be determined.

SBTI is a Silicon Valley, Calif.-based non-profit corporation created expressly to encourage small businesses to adopt technology. Andrea Peiro, the company’s CEO, said the conference is designed to educate small businesses on how to integrate technology with their specific business needs. “This is not a trade show and no one will be selling products,” he said. “This is a full day with a dense curriculum that offers business people real value for their time.”

The session offers five different tech modules that span a range of business areas. The seminars are 90 minutes each, and they run on two tracks, Standard and Advanced.

Lynn Castlevetro, Intel’s director of small business marketing, said the two tracks reflect different levels of technical experience common in small business. “Small business owner have varying levels of technical sophistication. The two tracks let them choose the level with which they’re most comfortable.”

She said attendees don’t need to commit to one particular track. If you’re familiar with financial software, choose Advanced to learn even more. But if you don’t know anything about data backup technology, you can sit in on the Standard seminar.

According to the SBTI Web site, the five module topic areas include:

Front and Back-office Productivity and Security

  • Standard Level: This seminar will introduce you to the principles and concepts you need to plan, implement and maintain a sound computer network infrastructure, telephony services — including VoIP — security and backups.
  • Advanced Level: This seminar will educate you on the business consequences of suffering an information security breach and give you strategies and techniques to protect your business. Areas covered include: network security; data security; physical security; application and operating system security and security policies and procedures.

Marketing, Sales and Business Development

  • Standard Level: Topics include e-mail marketing, online advertising and special marketing techniques such as search engine optimization and keywords advertising.
  • Advanced Level: This seminar will cover in-depth customer relationship management tools, Web analytics tools, e-mail marketing and search-engine advertising.

Operations, Inventory Management, Collaboration

  • Standard Level: This module will touch on the fundamentals of ecommerce, inventory management, order tracking, point of sales and scheduling tools that can help streamline business processes from the warehouse to the sales counter or your customers’ door. Collaborative applications, Intranets, Extranets, EDI, RFID, time tracking and management will also be discussed.
  • Advanced Level: This module will discuss how to address order processing challenges plus inventory management, collaboration and project management tools that can help streamline business processes from the warehouse to the sales counter.

Financial Management

  • Standard Level: This module will tackle accounting concepts such as computer-based accounting, cash flow optimization and digital payroll management. It will cover in detail the right accounting software programs to integrate with online services, online bills payment, invoicing, electronic transactions, e-commerce, taxes and payroll.
  • Advanced Level: This module will cover your business’s move to server-based accounting applications. It will explain the advantages of deploying integrated systems that work with your core financial application to give you comprehensive control of your business finances.

General Management and Executive Decision Making

  • Standard Level: This module covers essential topics such as customer relationship management, business management applications, collaboration software, scheduling, Web analytics and overall technology planning guidelines.
  • Advanced Level: This module covers the business advantages of deploying server-based integrated business management applications. It provides guidance on application selection, acquisition, working with technology vendors, calculating return on investment and total cost of ownership for technology purchases; plus choosing the right support models for different technology environments.

The Fine Print
The conference spans two days, but the first day, Thursday, Jan. 26, is open to resellers only. They’ll have the opportunity to learn how to better position, market and sell technology to small businesses. Resellers need to register for the event, which includes breakfast and lunch, but admission is free. You’ll find the full day’s agenda and a link to register listed on the conference Web site.

Intel and SBTI sponsored a contest in which companies submitted plans of how they would use the prize — $100,000 in hardware, software and services — to improve their business. On Thursday, the five finalists will present their proposals to a panel of judges, and the winner will be announced.

Friday, Jan. 27, is dedicated to small business owners and the technology modules. Attendees must register and admission costs $20, which includes breakfast and lunch. You’ll find the day’s agenda and a registration link here.

The event is being held at Hilton New York, 1335 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY.

Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of

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