by July 7, 2008 0 comments



Two years ago when I paid my property tax to the Delhi municipality, I used
the services of an architect. For a stiff fee, his assistant spent ten minutes
measuring the house and filling up a complicated-looking form, and submitted the
form and fees. This year, it took me four minutes and a credit card on
www.mcdpropertytax.in. I saved the time and hassle, and petrol and money.
Since 2003, I haven’t paid a utility or household bill the old way, or even
‘manually’ online. Electricity, landline phones, mobiles, and insurance: they’re
all set up to be paid automatically on a bill
payment service. I use billjunction.com; there are also other such services.
I’ve also switched to e-bills-no paper. And anyway I get an email record of
every bill due, and paid, through Billjunction. I can stop a bill payment if I
don’t think it’s okay.

I’ve saved time and money, not having to queue up to pay bills or to pay
someone else to do it. I’ve also saved money and hassle-for no service has got
disconnected for non-payment in over five years, nor has anyone charged me a
late-payment fee. It’s the same with credit card payments: I have my cards
auto-linked to my bank accounts, and they’re auto-debited (I can manually defer
a payment if I want to, though). Again, no hefty charges for missed payments.

Prasanto K Roy,
president. ITCC Publishing Group, CyberMedia
pkr@cybermedia.com

In many little ways, using tech effectively can save you money, hassle, and
time.

Fuel prices and thus airfares have shot up, and that’s helped push through
some tech in offices. For one thing, video-conferencing has seen a spurt in
growth. For everything from office meetings to client presentations to-most
commonly-recruitment interviews, video-conferencing is replacing official
travel. Telcos are setting rules requiring senior level approval for all travel:
videoconference instead, they say.

For smaller companies, there’s always the audio-conference, almost as good.
Audio-conferencing has become ever so easy. You can do a free audio-con by
having four or five people dial into your mobile phone (get conferencing
activated: it’s free) and selecting “conference” on most handsets. Or you can
use a more flexible commercial audio-con: they’re cheap. Airtel even has a
reservationless system where you get a permanent conference ID code, and don’t
ever have to book.

If you run a small (or large) company, telecommuting is another way you can
save a fair bit on transport and other bills. Working from home flexibly,
instead of necessarily getting all employees to report into office first, can
have good payoffs in productivity and costs.

In fact, large tech companies like IBM pay handsome ‘stipends’ to employees
to work from home (the stipends cover expenses). It saves them infrastructure
and other costs. And it can trim down two or three wasted commuting hours
daily-a major time and productivity gain for both employee and organization. The
tech that lets you do this is cheap today: laptops, home broadband, audio
conferencing.

Oddly enough, there’s not that many people using such cost-saving,
productivity boosting tech out there. Even among the tech elites. I asked a
sample group of ten IT company employees, and two of them were using billing
auto-payment systems.

Here’s your challenge: look at every major process in your personal and work
life. Can you do something better or cheaper with tech? Can you automate or
outsource anything repetitive? How can the Internet help you tackle inflation
today?

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