The Mac Means Business

In the computer world, there’s a pervasive attitude that the Mac is a great computer for graphic design, publishing, video production and education. But when it comes to software to run your business, you may want to think about buying a Windows PC.

Whether or not that is a fair representation of the Mac is, of course, open to interpretation and largely comes down to your perception of the Mac. But even if you if love the Mac mostly for what it’s best-known for, you may not be giving it enough credit for its business savvy, according Paul Kent, vice president of Macworld Expo.

To help spread the word, Kent said, Macworld Expo last year launched its Small Business Symposium, and this year it’s back to help spread the business gospel of Apple’s Computer’s desktop and laptop computers — which are known for attracting a rather religious following.

The small business event, which is designed to help you learn how to best tap your Mac to help you run your business, is part of the Macworld Expo. The conference and exhibition run from January 8 to January 12 at San Francisco’s Moscone Center. The Small Business Symposium takes place on the last day of the conference.

According the show organizers, a panel of experts will guide small business owners and managers through important considerations and options you need to know regarding your office hardware, servers, network services, desktop configuration and IT management.

Macworld Expo: Small Business Symposium
Each year, Mac enthusiasts flock to Macworld Expo, but there’s plenty there for small business enthusiasts, too, say show organizers.

Other topics include when and why to change ISPs, bring servers in-house, outsource hosting, manage desktops, create collaborative workflows, manage IT policies, IT budgeting and more. The Symposium is also designed to help you determine what Mac software is best-suited to your small business. Kent said the sessions will look at the pros and cons of using off-the-shelf software versus using contracting custom solutions.

According to Kent, the symposium will help you get more from the programs you already have and see which changes will have the strongest positive impact on your business, so you can get the best return on your investment when it comes to buying new products. The Expo also includes events such as the MacIT Conference, Effective Collaboration at a Distance, Hands-On MacLabs: Creative Suite and others.

Kent points out that “there are plenty of business applications for the Macintosh,” including FileMaker, various CRM application and QuickBooks. “Plus, you don’t have to deal with viruses.”

The symposium will also help you learn how to communicate more efficiently through both internal and external collaboration offerings, Kent said. Other topics include how to assess your storage needs, data transfer and communication requirements. Kent said the session will mix lecture and demonstrations in an educational setting, meaning mostly that “you’ll have surface to write on to take notes.”

Kent said the show exhibit floor will also feature many vendors that sell small business products. Companies and products that might be of interest to small business owners at Macworld 2007 include the following:

  • Qnext, a company that offers Internet communications and file-sharing applications.
  • NovaMind Software, a company that offers a visual idea mapping software designed to help business owners and managers organize thoughts and solve problems more quickly.
  • Mindjet, which offers Mindjet MindManager 6 Mac, a visual idea mapping software designed to improve decision-making and shorten planning processes.
  • SeeFile Software, which offers a product designed to turn a Mac into a Web server, allowing creative companies to share files with their clients, enhancing the use of the OSX platform in the pro photo, publishing and video markets
  • CRYPTOCard, which provides security products for VPNs, laptops and Blackberries.
  • Xnet Communications, which offers Captain FTP, a product it claims is the first FTP client to allow local network FTP users to share files directly. Its Megafon software is specifically designed for the Mac to enable free calling.
  • Recosoft Corp, which offers PDF2Office, a PDF-to-Word, -PowerPoint, -RTF conversion tool. The company claims to be the only company to offer this on the Mac platform, independent of Adobe Acrobat.
      The fee for the Small Business Symposium is $375, which includes admission to the expo.

      Dan Muse is executive editor of’s Small Business Channel, EarthWeb’s Networking Channel and ServerWatch.

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