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Tech Insight
By: Brenda J. Trainor

Digital Transition Impacts Small Business

You can’t watch more than 30 minutes of television lately without  hearing about the digital transition of broadcast channels set to  occur in February 2009, and you may be surprised to learn that this  transition might mean a few things for small business owners.

The surprising thing is that the implications for business are not  related to television , but to digital - all things digital!  The  reasons that broadcast signals are going digital, is because pretty  much all of our information processing is going digital.  And if our  information processing is all going digital it won’t make much  difference how it is being transmitted—whether voice, video, or  data, digital information is just so many bits on a path.

The policy wonks will tell you that going digital is going to enable  new technologies to use the airwaves currently occupied by broadcast  signals - for free over-the-air tv.  And we’ll still have some free  tv, but it will be in a digital format and it will require new  equipment to receive it.

So what does this mean for business?  It means that all our  information appliances are going to start acting like each other -  we’ll answer the telephone through the television, and replay tv shows  on our laptops, and show our emails on our mobile phones.

So as we will all become used to the transference of information to  whatever device is most convenient, the way we shop and make purchases  is going to continue to evolve.  We’ll want product and pricing  information in a way that is easily transferable across technologies,  and that is portable, from our house to our office or to the metro -  or to the airport or the cabin by lake.  Our work, our households, and  our fun will be transportable, and more easily so because it will all  be digital.

Television is a very powerful medium - it is words and pictures and  sound, and is a very rich form of communication - and more effectively  conveys emotion as well as information because of the depth and  variety of pathways.  And as consumers, we all know that our emotions  affect what we want and what we buy.

When businesses connect with customers on an emotional level they  design better products that meet more of their consumer needs.  That  is good business.   So the implication of all this digital transition  is that it will become more important for businesses to understand how  to use video, and to create transportable messages that have emotional  appeal.

And that means we have to look for creative tools that help us make  good video messages.   One of my favorite companies creating cool  products is Pinnacle Systems, Inc. (visit their web site: ). This is a company that makes affordable, simple, and handy devices  that make the use of video really easy, and encourages creativity and  effectiveness.  While Pinnacle targets the consumer market, I have  found that many of their products make it easier to do my work.  If I  want to transfer a video from the internet to watch on an airplane, I  can use a Pinnacle Video Transfer to quickly and easily grab video  from one device to transport to another - it has a USB port so I can  pop a video onto a memory stick and not even have to use a DVD.  It is  handy and simple and easy to use.

Pinnacle makes a whole line of neat devices and software for both PC  and Macs that make it easy to move video around across devices and  makes it really easy to edit videos using only a standard laptop.   That means I can incorporate video messages easily into my  presentations, and create videos that I can post to blogs, or to  websites.  I can shoot demonstrations (even using the video feature on  my cell phone) and easily compile some shots from the field to bring  back to the office for management to review.  If a picture is worth a  thousand words, just think what a video compilation is worth -  especially if it is quick and neat and easy to watch with high quality.

Pinnacle even makes a very small device that you can plug in to your  laptop that turns it into an HDTV receiver - yep, I can snap this  little gizzy into my computer when I’m stuck somewhere (like an  airport) and pick up free tv - and it is digital and it looks great.  and it will continue to work after February 2009.  Change is getting  good!

Brenda J. Trainor
Frontier Trail, Inc.
Box 935
Monrovia, CA 91017