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Tech Buzz 11/03

Evaluating the newest version of Microsoft Office; a data privacy law goes into effect in California

Office Offers
The new version of Microsoft Office 2003 Small Business Edition (SBE) is rolling onto the streets, and it wants to entice you to either upgrade or buy it for the first time. When making that decision, look at what's different in this version and what it offers your business. All the components you're used to are included: Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Publisher and Word. Updates include junk mail handling, XML file support in Word and Excel, and the new program OneNote that lets you capture and organize notes. OneNote is of interest to businesses that use tablet PCs.

One feature that sets this edition apart from other Office editions is the Business Contact Manager that integrates with Outlook. It's designed to help manage customer interactions and track sales more effectively. Office 2003 SBE also includes Publisher templates for brochures, catalogs, fliers and other sales and marketing materials. Equipping multiple workstations can represent a large budget investment. Still, the suite represents savings over purchasing individual components. Office 2003 SBE runs $449 (street) for the full version or $279 to upgrade. Stay tuned next month, when we look at the rival open source OpenOffice.org office suite of software.

Lock It Away
Keeping your customers' data secure is the law- least in California. The new privacy law, S.B. 1386, went into effect over the summer, requiring public disclosure of any computer security breach that affects a California resident's private information, such as Social Security and credit card numbers. Your business doesn't have to be physically based in California for this law to affect you. Any business that fails to follow the law leaves itself vulnerable to hefty lawsuits and embarrassment.

The Security Breach Information Act is designed to reduce identity theft, but it's also a wake-up call for growing businesses to get serious about data security. Standard-issue firewall software may not be enough anymore. Since the law covers unencrypted data, good data encryption methods will help keep entrepreneurs in compliance. For more information about S.B. 1386, data management company StrongAuth provides a handy resource site at www.strongauth.com/ sb1386.


30%
of small businesses either lack data backup and storage procedures or fail to implement them regularly.
SOURCE: Imation Corp.


As of June 2003, there were at least
2.4
million active blogs (Web logs).
SOURCE: Blogcount


On average, businesses currently use about
20%
of their IT budgets for e-business initiatives, compared to
17.5%
in 2001.
SOURCE: Line56/A.T. Kearney

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This article was originally published in the November 2003 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Tech Buzz 11/03.

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