This version updates Fran Scarlett's professional title.
Each January millions of Americans make New Year’s resolutions to improve themselves or the world around them. This New Year, we wanted to know what the members of Wilmington’s business community were planning to change about how they interacted with the technology that surrounds them. We reached out via email and gathered their responses about how they would be changing the technology that they use for personal and business purposes.
Elizabeth Kuronen: PPD, vice president of strategic communications, marketing and public affairs
“I certainly have to be more disciplined about backing up data both at the office and at home. I am lucky to have the support of a great technology team at PPD for things like this. I have thousands of digital photos that are priceless memories, and it is so critical for them to be backed up in multiple places."
Fran Scarlett: Small Business Technology and Development Center regional director
“No responding to work emails at 11 p.m. at night or throughout the weekend. But more importantly, not sending them at those times either. Must. Create. Boundaries.”
Tom Looney: retired software executive formerly with Microsoft and Oracle
“I’m going to spend less time on Facebook. Because I’m starting a new venture this year called I-LED Growth Strategies, I’m going to ‘blog’ for my website on issues I’ve previously limited to Facebook.” Looney also wants to increase his digital news reading. “Though I get print subscriptions to the GWBJ [Greater Wilmington Business Journal], StarNews, Wall Street Journal and weekend NY Times, I’ll continue to increase the use of my iPad to access other newspapers, business journals and blogs.” He also plans on paying for ad-supported services. “I’m finally going to upgrade my Pandora [music service] to go ad-free ... what a terrific app!”
Fred Meyers: Queensboro Shirt Company president
Meyers said he wants to “stop all of my paper subscriptions. Waste of paper, bad for the environment and not necessary” and “get all of my personal data into the cloud, including pictures, wills, important files, etc.” As for Queensboro, Meyers plans to “get rid of all desktops computers, and by necessity, probably make one or more key corporate positions semi or fully remote” as well as to “try to recognize and be ready for the Next Big Thing!”
Annie M. Anthony: Cape Fear Volunteer Center director
“The year-end goal dream came true with a new printer that has been donated. We look forward to reducing our ink costs by using a printer more suited for business use than personal use and keeping more documents online rather than making hard copies. Ultimately, making all case files online is a goal of Big Buddy [program].”
Steve Tetrault: Gig Bureau, online talent agency and booking website, president
“We're going to begin catering strongly to mobile. We are in the throes of redesigning Gig Salad and making it responsive [having the website resize automatically, based on the size of web browser, from mobile to desktop].” Tetrault said that both personally and at the business, he has been cutting the cord on their phones. “We have no phone in our office, other than our cell phones” and “we recently dropped our home landline.” Like many of the other respondents, Tetrault also is using more cloud storage. “I am using DropBox now instead of relying on storing photos, music and video on my computer.” But Tetrault is bucking the trend of eReading. “I still read real magazines,” he said.
Steve Schnitzler: Port City Java CEO
“PCJ will be upgrading our entire point-of-sale system in all the corporate cafes this year. It will automate a lot of data collection, integrate credit card sales and enable us to roll out an automated rewards card using our existing gift cards.”
Ian Oeschger: IBM software developer
“I'm going to try and care a bit less about what time it is this year. When you work at home and work on technology, you can really become your own jailer, fretting about how many minutes it takes to go downstairs for a snack or to get to the coffee shop, getting anxious when you’re not connected to the office. I’m going to try and surf a bit more this year, ride my bike, get outside. I know I’m more productive when I just take off now and again. Everybody wins.”
Pomegranate delves into eBooks
With the rise of the eReader and tablets, fewer people are reading physical books, instead enjoying them in electronic form.
Kathleen Jewell, owner of Wilmington’s Pomegranate Books, 4418 Park Ave., said even some of her most loyal patrons have started eReading and are coming in less often.
To compound the problem, local book clubs and reading groups, which have always had good relationships with local bookstores (buying their books, holding meetings and organizing author discussions in the stores) have started to embrace the eBook formats, Jewell said.
A number of smaller, independent books stores such as Pomegranate that are members of the American Booksellers Association (ABA) are now offering the Kobo eReading platform as a way to recapture some of the business lost to Amazon, Apple and Barnes & Noble.
According to a press release about the new partnership, Kobo is one of the “largest ebook stores in the world with 3 million books, newspapers and magazines.”
Reading materials are available on a wide range of platforms from apps for Android and iPhone to dedicated eReader devices.
Kobo provides devices to retailers to sell in-store and sends a share of sales for customers who register with the local retailer, even if the purchases are made directly from the Kobo online store.
Ian Oeschger, a software developer for IBM with a passion for eReaders, has done some consulting work outside of IBM for Pomegranate to help it integrate the new program with its website.
“I am a patron of Pomegranate Books and very interested in the business of publishing,” Oeschger said.
“I have the Kobo apps on my Android phone and tablet and Kobo app on my Mac laptop. I have the Mini reader from Kobo, and my wife has a Glo reader.
Oeschger explained that the ABA had a previous arrangement with Google's Google Books division to do affiliate-like deals with local booksellers, essentially pointing bookstore patrons into the Google Books marketplace (now called Google Play) and taking a small percentage of the eBook sales.
“The formats and technology employed by Kobo and ABA this time are genuinely more open source [than previous eReader programs for small book stores],” he said. “Kobo uses the EPUB format and related technologies for its books and its line of eReaders. EPUB is increasingly the choice for open source publishers, internet archives, self-publishing and others who wish to avoid the proprietary ‘lock-in’ of formats like Amazon’s Kindle eBook.”
Jewell said she recognized that readers interested in content will be gravitating toward electronic formats.
“A group already tending to do this is book clubs, whose members do not want to own 12 books not of their choosing each year,” she said.
On the other hand, Jewell said, other readers still appreciate the aesthetics of books as objects – “the feel, the look, even the smell.”
“For these readers, being able to browse for and purchase a physical book will always be attractive,” she said. “Therefore, I see bookstores evolving into places where people can attend events such as author readings, wander and browse and choose a preferred format for their reading selections. We hope to be able to provide that format.”
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