Flexible IT helps companies win talent war

Connected WorkplaceWhat can companies do to make workers happy and attract the best talent?

According to a report from Deloitte Access Economics in Australia, it’s as simple as having flexible technology policies.

That means letting staff work from home some of the time, allowing them to bring their own devices to the office and to use social media. They also like collaborative tools. Get these things right, says Deloitte, and there’s much less chance your best employees will head off in search of greener pastures.

Deloitte uses financial numbers to show flexible technology policies add up to huge savings, but the real benefit is in being able to keep the most productive workers.

The Connected Workplace – War for talent in the digital economy

CamCard rocks on Lumia 920

Business cards

Right you lot, time to get organised

For years I’ve searched for a better way to scan and store business card information. Apart from one minor niggle CamCard running on the Lumia 920 delivers the goods.

Getting card information into the phone is a snap, literally. Simply take a photo of the card, the app reads the information and makes smart guesses about which fields to send the data to in the phone’s address book.

Before you tell me there is nothing special about that, three things mean this works better on the Nokia Lumia 920 running Windows Phone 8 than I have previously seen:

  • The camera takes extraordinary sharp pictures of business cards even in poor light conditions. I’ve tried similar apps on my iPad 2, an iPhone 4 and an HTC One X Android smartphone. None of them managed to take such clear images of cards. This alone, is why the app rocks on the Lumia 920. 
  • There’s plenty of grunt in the Lumia 920 to handle optical character recognition. Results take seconds, not minutes. Earlier card reader apps I tried on iPhone 4 and the HTC One X would time out before delivering results. If necessary, you can edit fields and add notes manually.
  • CamCard integrates beautifully with Microsoft’s People app – that comes standard on Windows Phone 8. I’ve seen nice integration on Apple devices, but frankly that process isn’t so smooth on Android.

I’ve used the CamCard trial version for around a month before paying for the app. The purchase told me it was $6, I can’t tell you if that’s US or NZ yet because the transaction hasn’t gone through my bank account yet. I noticed a few days delay with earlier purchases from the Windows Phone App Store.  

One problem I noticed with CamCard, the app crashes occasionally. It’s not a disruptive crash, but it undermines confidence.

Replaces earlier business card scanner
CamCard replaces a desktop card scanner I used until four or five years ago. It had to go when I moved to Windows 7 and the old, old software would no longer run on my PC.

For a while I used a standard desktop scanner, but the card reading software was so clumsy manual data entry was easier. LinkedIn’s CardMunch does a decent job on iOS and Android devices, but doesn’t integrate as well and you have to wait while scans are sent to real humans for interpretation.

I also tried the $4 ScanBizCards which worked fine, but not as smoothly as CamCard. I was also put off by the $10 a year charge to back-up cards in the cloud – even though I don’t need that feature. 

Will a Chrome tablet kill Android?

CaptureGigaOM notes Google is adding tablet-like features to the next version of Chrome OS. From there it is a short step to deducing the company plans to build a Chrome OS tablet.

The story is just speculation. There were earlier rumours of a Chrome OS tablet – nothing appeared. And this time last year Google told journalists it wasn’t working on a Chrome tablet.

Google has constantly evolving strategy, so the idea that the company make alter course and build a tablet around its web browser-based operating system is plausible. At least from a technical point of view.

What’s less likely is that Google would compete with its Android OS which is slowly gaining traction in the tablet market. And hurting Android in the tablet market wouldn’t help its long-term prospects on smartphones.

A more plausible deduction is that over time Chrome and Android will converge.

Underlining Apple’s stunning PC market victory

Apple's PC market victory

The thing that matters most about selling computers is making money. I was conscious of this on Monday when I wrote about Apple’s stunning PC victory.

That story says Apple’s iPad laid waste to the PC industry in the space of just three years. But what about that PC market. Who is the winner there?

The only winner is Apple.

While it is obvious Apple makes proportionally more money from selling PCs than other computer makers, I didn’t have enough information to figure out how much extra the company makes.

Horace Dediu at Asymco has the numbers and it turns out Apple’s PC market dominance is even more pronounced when you look at the slice of profit that company commands.

Apple accounts for almost half of PC industry profits and it makes more than the next five PC makers combined. A stunning victory.

And this is another reminder of why Microsoft is pushing ahead with Windows 8. It is the only plausible route out of this dead-end for Microsoft and the non-Apple PC makers.