Five years ago, it seemed that PHP was on “life support.” Then quite surprisingly, new frameworks began to emerge, and PHP became “Lazarus.”
One of those frameworks was Laravel, developed by Taylor Otwell, and because of its simple yet elegant syntax, building apps with PHP suddenly became fun and popular. In terms of general benefits of Laravel, it is worth mentioning the following:
- Free and Open Source
Modular Packaging System – Dedicated Dependency Manager (Composer)
Utilities for App deployment and Maintenance
Suitable for Beginning-Advanced Programmers
The largest Community Size (40K) of the Four Most Popular PHP Frameworks
A Documentation Website (Laravel.com) and Great Video Tutorials (Laracasts.com).
But the popularity of Laravel for developers really lies in the fact that all of the common tasks (repeated across projects) can be solved easily, so that they can move onto the creative tasks of writing custom functions faster. Of course, this means that delivery time is shorter and more cost-effective for the client.
Features and Benefits That Developers Will Love
Authentication and Authorization Systems
On the list of web owners’ important concerns is ensuring that all users are verified and that no unauthorized users gain access to resources (secured/paid). Laravel makes authentication easy and fast, because everything is already configured. And what’s more, Laravel offers a simple method of organizing authorization logic and controlling user access to resources.
Mail Service Integration
Laravel has a simple and very clean API over SwiftMailer library. It also offers drivers for Amazon SES, Mailgun, Mandrill, SMTP, and others, allowing sending mail through local or cloud based services. There is also support for sending notifications via multiple delivery channels, such as SMS and Slack.
Laravel handles security within its framework, by using hashed and salted passwords – passwords will never save as plain text in the database. It includes a Bcrypt algorithm for encryption and, as well, protects against SQL injection via prepared SQL statements.
Kostyantyn Bondar, CEO of DarinX, a web and mobile app development agency, specializing in innovative software products notes that:
“When developing any application, security is paramount. The biggest threats are SQL injection, cross-site scripting, and cross-site request forgery. Laravel is certainly secure. The codebase is exceptionally guarded – code that has been vetted by a number of people. We can say firsthand that having these security features up front is critical. Trying to fix vulnerabilities after the deployment can cost as much as 30X more.”
Developers interact with the Laravel framework by using a command line that will handle the project environment. Laravel has a command line tool – Artisan. This is what allows developers to perform most of those tedious and repetitive tasks, rather than having to perform them all manually.
Artisan can be used to create skeleton code along with the database architecture, build migrations. Developers can create their own commands, and perform tests through Artisan.
Error and Exception Handling
User satisfaction can be impacted by how an app deals with errors. If, for example, a user enters information in a form and then clicks a submit button, only for that function not to work, there is frustration. Most often, the error is the user’s fault, having failed to fill in a form field correctly. When this happens, an error message must be provided to the user explaining what needs to be corrected. Often, developers have to code these functions manually. Not with Laravel, however. Exception and error handling is already configured. Further, it is integrated with Monolog library – there is thus support of solid log handlers.
Speed is critical for user experience. One of the ways to enhance speed is through integration with the backend caching. Laravel supports several cache backends, including Redis and Memcached. This support is built in, so no manual integration has to be coded.
Unit testing must occur throughout any app development, and Laravel makes this easy and it is often far better than manual testing. Support for testing (PHPUnit) is included and an .xml file is already set up. There are simple methods for developers to mimic user behavior and test everything from requests to filling out forms and more.
Within an app, users will click links and assume they will be taken (routed) to what they want – perhaps a product description, or a subscription form. Effective URL routing is critical for any app, Laravel routes are all defined in the automatically loaded app/Http/routes.php file, and developers can easily define app routes.
Business Logic Code and Presentation Code Already Separated
The great thing about this is that layout designers can change a web page appearance without having to go to the developer. Because it is an MVC framework, the separation already exists.
Message Queue System
High traffic means more requests. If an app has not been configured for these events there is the risk that the web server will shut down. Data will be lost. To prevent this, many developers us a message queue system as a part of load balancing. Thus, the system will automatically delay, for example, a scheduled email for a later time, if too many requests are coming in. Laravel provides for this through a unified API that crosses multiple queue backends.
Configuration and Management of Task Schedules
Many tasks may need to be scheduled – a mass email, a cleanup of database tables, etc. Traditionally, developers have had to generate a Cron entry for each scheduled task. No longer. With Laravel’s command scheduler, only a single Cron entry is required.
These are easily installed through Composer.
These are only 12 features of Laravel that simplify a developer’s life. Once a developer really gets into using it, s/he will discover many more benefits that will make building an app easy and fast. Clients are happier in this environment.
The big plusses of Laravel include its large collaborative community, it documentation website, and tutorials. Probably most attractive, though, is the fact that basic tasks common to all projects are already configured, leaving developers to focus on custom functions of individual clients.
Third graders are learning to code; high school students are creating game apps; and business owners are using DIY tools to create their own websites, with easy-to-install plugins for any functions they want. All of these activities used to be part of the skill set of a developer – that person who sits at a computer and writes that indecipherable language called code.
The “mystery” of coding is gradually falling away. With online courses and plenty of books, people can teach themselves to code. Still, when the demands are complex and the projects have lots of breadth and depth, we look for skilled developers/development teams to create what we want. And what we want is more than mere coding expertise.
We want that amazing developer who isn’t just skilled in languages – those can be verified. We want that developer who has a host of other skills and talents to bring to the table.
Staying on Top of the Technology
This almost need not be mentioned. And yet, developers, like any other career professionals, can become complacent and “rest on the laurels” of their current knowledge. Further, if they operate within an enterprise culture that restricts, they can be discouraged from pursuing innovations. This is a bad recipe. Consider just a few disruptive sectors, for example – fintech, healthcare, and media/entertainment. Everything from big data gathering and analysis, to AI, to IoT require an ever-expanding skillset from developers. Amazing developers are “hungry.” They are passionate about learning everything new in their industry. They need to be “reckless” to a point – to be willing to try new stuff, even if it is an epic fail.
Giving Advice and Counsel
Businesses, especially entrepreneurial startups, certainly have general ideas about what they want their websites to look like and “do.” The “look” is largely a design issue. But when it comes to functions and elements, it is the developer who makes it “do,” with both backend and frontend programming. It is the developer who determines the technology stack to best meet the specifications of the business owner. In this capacity, the developer must play a role of “advisor,” providing options and making suggestions on the technology that will best achieve the desired results.
With this in mind, amazing developers will also need some solid understanding of what constitutes state-of-the-art user experiences and interfaces along with marketing best practices. This understanding is clearly outside the realm of coding, and some self-education is in order. A great “crash course” might be something like Vincent Piana’s, “The Website Formula to Success,” offered through FuzzBooster.com.
Creative Problem-Solving in a “Team” Environment
“No man is an island” is an appropriate adage for the web developer. Whether working as a full-time IT employee for a mid to large-sized or as a consultant, the developer cannot isolate himself in a room with his coding tasks. Interaction with designers, marketers, sales, managers, and executives will be required. More and more developers are pulled into critical meetings when businesses are scaling and/or innovating.
Understanding the business mission, goals and operations is how an amazing developer ultimately creates what that business and, ultimately, its users and/or customers want.
Non-techies do not understand the development environment. They will not understand such terminology as “backend stack,” Angular.js, etc. What they do want to understand is how the coding will result in the app, program, website doing what they want it to do.
In these cases, communication can be a challenge. The developer cannot just present a listing of the languages s/he will use to accomplish the task. People want to understand.
It becomes the developer’s task, then, to use visuals to educate. Drawing a picture of the backend stack, for example, will help non-techies understand the relationship between server, database, and API’s. Using visuals to demonstrate how a user will place an inquiry and get a response and how that response will provide a good experience will go a long way in endearing the developer to the client. Doctors draw pictures for their patients – so should developers.
Staying Motivated and Enthusiastic
Amazing developers are problem-solvers. And they stay positive and enthusiastic, even after 6-8 hours of moving links around or finding the “culprit” as they de-bug some function. Amazing developers see these tasks not as drudgery but as exciting challenges that they want to attack and over which they want to be victorious. And they love the battle as much as the victory. A good developer goes through the process; an amazing developer loves every bit of it.
Designers and developers, especially those that are outside contractors, occasionally get a reputation for being somewhat untrustworthy – they may not be as responsive as they should be; they may not keep their clients in the loop as often as they should; and they may miss a meeting or a deadline. These things do not inspire much confidence on the part of a client. While a developer may indeed be working very hard and very consistently on a client’s project, meeting deadlines and attending meetings, even if virtual, are critical components for a client to say, in the end, “My developer is amazing” and to recommend that developer to others.
The developer’s role is certainly changing. From an early “vision” of a nerd sitting in an isolated room creating code to the much more dynamic individual that a developer must be today, there are clearly skills and talents that go far beyond coding. The amazing developer will recognize this and take the steps to develop those hard and soft skills that are now required.
A Playlist consists of a collection of preferred music and videos. With the introduction of YouTube Playlists, anyone can now have easy access to download, create a mix of their choice and share this Playlist with friends, through a mobile or a computer. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ allows a person to post the link of their own or other mixes created by YouTube users, to an invited group of viewers.
Functions and features of a YouTube Playlist
Privacy can be effectively controlled by creating an individual circle of friends and acquaintances who will have access to watch the collection of videos. The experience of an interactive social platform is now made fun through YouTube Playlists, by allowing people to add on music and videos of their own choice to the playlist. Collaboration on the playlist is now made possible for anyone who has received the playlist link to modify the mix according to their choice. Upon invitation, one can contribute to a playlist or alter it according to their preference by adding and removing selected videos. To have a quick and easy access to watch YouTube videos at any time, individuals can add videos to their Watch Later Playlist according to their convenience. To ensure an uninterrupted playlist experience it is important to ensure that contents of a playlist are public videos where the uploader has enabled the embedded option, as it is difficult to distribute private videos unless the uploader gives access for distribution.
The option of privacy
Being owners of a playlist, individuals can control its privacy settings to make sure it is public, private or unlisted according to their preference, like the management of individual videos. Everyone can have access to Public videos whereas Private videos can only be viewed by users of preferred choice. Unlisted videos can be accessed by every person who has received a link to the playlist. Created and existing playlists along with the Watch Later list can now be effectively managed by adding them to the Library which ensures easy and quick access to music and videos.
Editing playlists include extra functions like adding titles, descriptions, reordering videos and removing them from a playlist. The Auto-add tab controls the rules for the automatic modification of videos added to the playlist by the usage tags and keywords associated with a video or title description. Once the rules are well stated, the new uploads added to the playlist will adhere to the related tags or keywords mentioned. The tedious task of constantly updating playlists to keep up with the latest up-to-date is now made easy with the help of a YouTube Playlist. By clicking on the Auto add setting on the playlist, new videos will be automatically updated. The Auto-add setting is closely monitored by the specified keywords and tags in the title description. Only related videos will be authorized to be posted on the playlist.
Downloading a YouTube playlist
The creation of lively thematic playlists is now made easy and convenient for everyone. A preferred collection of latest videos can be effectively utilized by following the following steps to download a YouTube playlist. The first step is to download and install the 4K Video Downloader application, which is available for the following operating systems- Mac OS, Windows, and Linux. The link of the preferred video must be copied from the browser and pasted on the 4K Video Downloader application by clicking the ‘Paste URL' button. The ‘Download Playlist' button must be clicked when a drop-down box appears to confirm the process. The application will then gain all information about the playlist. Upon the selection of the quality type in the download window, one can proceed by clicking on the ‘Download' button. The videos will soon be downloaded along with the files to provide the user an uninterrupted and convenient playlist experience.
Copy the video link from the browser.
Press 'Paste Url' button in 4K Video Downloader application.
Then you need to press 'Download Playlist' in order to download the whole playlist.
Wait until the application gets all information about the playlist.
Select a quality type in the download window and press 'Download' button.
The preferred choice of music collection and the creation of thematic mixes are now easily available to everyone. One can effectively utilize the features and functions of the YouTube playlist to modify and update it according to their taste. This experience can also be shared on various social media platforms to allow different users the access to a created playlist.
The Chinese government is well known for its strict and tight control on the access of internet usage in the mainland of China. It regulates what the citizens can search, read and publish on the web. The authorities have employed a large number of populations to keep a check on the activity on the web and social media, and block access to sensitive topics.
China has partially banned the services of Google and completely blocked the access to Gmail services and Google Maps by Google. This occurred in 2012 when the country was working on changing the leadership and hence made all these sites inaccessible to restrict the usage of the nation’s internet. The company started to redirect its search results from the mainland China to its Hong Kong website which made the Chinese authorities ban those services as well by making the users wait for 90 seconds to see banned results.
There are some keywords that are deemed sensitive by the Chinese authorities and hence have been censored from search results by a filter called the Great Firewall.
How to Access Google in China?
There are some steps on how to be able to use Google in mainland China, which are as follows:-
- Sign up for a VPN service, which is a proprietary technology that defeats website blocking.
- Follow the instructions for downloading the VPN and launch the application on the device.
- Log in with appropriate and correct credentials.
- Choose which location server to connect to which is free of censorship.
- Use internet and websites as they are supposed to enjoying unrestricted and free services.
What is a VPN?
An individual will definitely come up with this question while browsing through how to access censored websites. VPN is short for Virtual Private Network that hides the user’s internet identity and helps them avail the internet services that are usually inaccessible or blocked. It works by encrypting the user’s internet connection to keep every web information private while online on a blocked website. A VPN changes the personal IP address to its server’s IP address for free usage of restricted websites. A VPN also secures the connection so the user does not have to worry about the government snooping the user’s privacy.
What are the best VPNs for China?
- ExpressVPN - It is the most recommended VPN service for China as it is the fastest on earth. It is aimed at providing simple, clean and dedicated mobile/desktop applications and websites. This VPN allows the user to use the same account on up to three devices simultaneously and the servers are specially designed to operate in China. ExpressVPN offers a 30-day money back trial so that the user can get a refund whenever they feel like. It is a bit pricey but the services are worth the investment as it provides leak protection and high-tech secrecy. It has a neatly designed interface that allows the user to choose a favorable server with optimal performance in mainland China. It has a reliable service with very rare network drop-outs in China.
- VyprVPN - It is termed as one of the fastest and the most reliable and secure VPN services available till date. The company owns its entire infrastructure and offers great encryption technology across its plans. Premium VyprVPN users get a stealth technology that is specifically designed for China to defeat the Great Firewall. Its desktop user interface is simple, clean and quick to use especially during changing servers. This service also offers a 30 day full refund so users can get their money back if dissatisfied. It can connect to multiple devices and have constant quick support.
The choices are presented and the choice of VPN will be left to the user. These are the two most commonly used VPNs in China to access Google. However, the options are not limited to the same. You can check out for more options that won’t be pricey or unsafe. Get access to all the relevant and useful data in Google because we all have the rights to learn more in the growing trend.
Web/app design is becoming a crowded field. With a growing number of professional designers for hire, it is an easy task to hire someone to craft a delightful user experience – it really is an art form. Designing the user interface, however, is an entirely different matter, and the market is far less “flooded” with UI developers.
UI designers have to take the creative plan of a UX design and translate that into actual screens, pages, and all of the visual elements that users will need to have the great experience they want from an app and to ensure that the experience is delightful no matter what device may be “in play.”
There are some “best practices” in crafting great UI – here are seven of them.
Simplicity and Consistency
One of the essential elements of an app that provides a great user experience is simplicity. Users should not have to try to figure out how to navigate around; they should not face any confusion, but, instead, be directed quite simply.
This means as few buttons and other navigational options as possible. If your app is more complex, than present a link for “advanced options.” This allows users to get the basics down, and they may not want to go any further. For others, the advanced options will provide the interfaces they want to move on to.
Consistency removes “chaos” from the app. Color, font, buttons, and icons should all be familiar and comfortable for the user. Changing these things out mid-stream only confuses the user who has to then force his brain to adjust – not cool.
Understanding the Audience
A good UI developer spends time with the client and the UX designer, in order to understand the target demographic of an app. Think, for example, of the differences between the interface needs of a 15-year old, Gen Z demographic and a senior citizen, Baby Boomer one. They can be huge, just in terms of navigational tools in an app, not to mention typography style and size. The more a UI developer knows about the target audience, the better the “fit” of the interface for that audience. as well, the visuals,
Use Visual Hierarchy
Some elements and features of an app are clearly more important than others. They need to stand out. While consistency is important, those things that should command attention from a user should stand out in some way – through color, size, typography, etc. Another example of the effective use of visual hierarchy would be to create lots of white space around a call-to-action button, so that it immediately draws the eyes of a user.
Making Use of Typography
Too many fonts can be confusing and create some chaos in a user’s brain. In fact, OWDT recommends that app developers should ideally use two fonts. Here is the thing about fonts, however:
The nature of the app should dictate selection of fonts. Is it serious, playful, or inspirational?
The nature of the user demographic should also play into this selection. A younger user will tolerate more contemporary and playful fonts while an older, more serious demographic will not find them comfortable.
You can use size and color variation of the same font to create visual hierarchy too. Different background colors will also provide variation to the same font.
Speaking of Color
The UX designer may have a lot to say about color, so be certain that this is discussed at length. There is an entire body of research on the psychological “triggers” of colors, so study it and be certain that the colors are conveying the right “message” to users. There is a reason why the Lego website and apps use only bright primary colors; there is a reason why Rolex uses blacks, silvers and grays. Color consistency also gives users a nice comfort level.
That said, there is certainly something else to be said for the use of contrasting colors in order for certain elements to stand out and draw users’ attention. Everything in moderation, however. If you use the concept of contrasting colors too much, users can become irritated.
Build in Feedback Messages
This is one of the best arguments for testing interfaces all along the way. You have no way of knowing how users may mess up as they navigate and use your features. They will find ways to mess up, however – count on it. To determine where they may get off course, you will need to test, test, test with actual users from the audience demographic. Once you have identified those points at which errors will occur, you can design feedback messages that will let them know what went wrong and how they can fix it.
Sometimes, especially when users are filling in forms or making payments, there will be a necessary pause while information is being processed. Don’t leave your user “in the dark.” Give them a signal that things are processing so they do not duplicate. And give them another signal when information has been processed.
Forms Must Be Simple
Consider the purpose of each form you design. There should be a minimal number of fields for the user to complete – remember, many of them will be on mobile devices. If the conversion is simply to subscribe to a newsletter, for example, you do not need more than name and email address. For payment purposes, of course, you will need credit card/banking information. If the billing and shipping address are the same, however, a simple check-the-box interface will do. The concept is simple – Minimize.
Interface design is a complex task and it can be somewhat intimidating. If you have experience with UX design, however, you are a natural to move into this more “intimidating” function. Just remember the basics – ease of use, simplicity of navigation, understanding the audience, consistency, compatible typography and color, and visual hierarchy. Juggling all of these elements is not easy, but the person who can do it will be in high demand.
Modificado el por joshuagreen
Becoming an entrepreneur is the in-thing now – it sounds cool and trendy. That’s fairly good news for the world; hopefully the world is becoming a better place.
In a world where change is the only constant, the start-up scene is becoming more competitive. It is very important to understand the key traits necessary to become an entrepreneur that can deliver high-impact and meaningful results.
Mohd Atasha Alias, Founder of DigitalEconomist.co, named these ‘the triangle traits’.
1. Put Your Ego Aside
Ego helps you make sense of your thoughts. It gives you confidence and helps you to differentiate yourself from others. That’s great. However, in certain activities, it is recommended that you don’t let your ego control how you think. This is so you can avoid feeling that you know everything, that you’re always right, and dismissing other people’s achievements because you think you can do way better than them. It’s highly likely these feelings can lead to you becoming more arrogant. If that happens, the ego will become your major blind spot.
We’ll borrow an example from Kodak, highlighted in an article from the New York Times dated 2 May 2008. Steven J. Sasson, an electrical engineer who invented the first digital camera at Eastman Kodak in the 1970s, shared his management’s response to him:
“My prototype was big as a toaster, but the technical people loved it,” Mr. Sasson said. “But it was filmless photography, so management’s reaction was, ‘That’s cute — but don’t tell anyone about it.’”
Check your ego before you listen and respond to anyone. This is key in discovering better ideas and tactics to improve your business. It is not a weakness if you admit you do not know about something.
2. Passion to Innovate
We are living in an ever-changing world. Innovation is a must at every level of organisation to respond to incoming business and technology trends. You need to be crazy about it because the cost of not innovating may be a big disaster for your business.
Nokia is a great example.
During the press conference to announce Nokia being acquired by Microsoft, the Nokia CEO ended his speech saying this: “We didn’t do anything wrong, but somehow, we lost.” Upon saying that, all his management team, himself included, teared up sadly.
Nokia was a respectable company. They didn’t do anything wrong in their business; however, the world changed too fast. Their opponents were too powerful.
Amazon is a great example of an innovative company that grew tremendously due to innovation.
3. Patience and Perseverance to Celebrate Failures
Google X – the secret Google lab is rewarding staff for failure.
“If you tell them that they've failed you because they didn't find a mountain, no matter how diligently they looked for or how cleverly they looked for it, those scouts will quit your company,” said Astro Teller, Google X.
Tata Group started an annual competition with a prize for the best failed idea (failure is a “gold mine” for a great company) to encourage innovation in their business.
Sara Blakely, CEO of Spanx, shared a very interesting story about how she grew up in a family that celebrates failures.
People love recognition and to be valued for their contributions, no matter how small or big. Always find a way to appreciate your supporters (parents, friends, peers, employees) as a great source of feedback and to improve your business. Make them feel special for being part of your circle. Celebrate successes of all sizes. Do not wait for big milestones to celebrate; celebrate the small successes, too.
Celebrate failures as an effective teacher to improve your business. This will help you to improve patience and perseverance to achieve your goals.
Modificado el por subham-sarkar
To celebrate PowerPoint turning 30 years old, Glisser has pulled together some of the twists and turns of its life so far. Through its sheer versatility, it's amongst the longest serving
software applications on the market. With additions like Glisser's PowerPoint
extension, it's ready for the next 30 years in the hands of the social media generation.
Robert Gaskins invented and worked alone on ‘Presenter’, printing the two page concept on his dot matrix printer, before later being joined by Denis Austin and then Tom Rudkin.
PowerPoint became the first venture capital investment ever made by Apple’s Strategic Investment Group.
PowerPoint 1.0 for Mac was black-and-white-only, and was first available on 20th April 1987 (on foppy disk of course). Two days after release, all 8000 copies in stock had been sold.
Microsoft bought PowerPoint for $14M (equivalent to $30M in 2017) with the original founding team becoming Microsoft's ‘Graphic Business Unit’.
PowerPoint 2.0, or “Color PowerPoint” was released, to capitalise on hardware improvements. It boasted a massive 256 colours, and also included graphing tools and bullet points.
1992 PowerPoint 3.0 added animations, sound and video effects, transitions and drawing tools, turning businesspeople and teachers around the world into budding Martin Scorseses.
The very first public use of a laptop to project video from PowerPoint took place on 25 February 1992, at the Hotel Regina, in the Place des Pyramides, Paris.
PowerPoint 8.0 (for Windows 97) introduced auto-clipart and ‘Clippy’, the much maligned Office assistant, proving not all evolutions worked out!
2000 Startup adoption of PowerPoint was cemented in the dot.com bubble between when investors wanted 10-slide decks rather than 80-page business plans.
PowerPoint 12.0 included SmartArt to effectively kill off clipart.
Prezi was launched to challenge PowerPoint with an alternative nonlinear approach. Many users love the new concept, but others report audiences suffering from motion sickness from
too much animation.
PowerPoint skipped over 13.0 for superstitious reasons.
Technology startup Glisser launched to live-share PowerPoint slides to audience phones, and incorporated live audience response and integrated social media feeds.
Powerpoint announces Artificial Intelligence elements. 'Designer' helps users automate the creation of slides and presentations. AI marks a significant evolution in PowerPoint and is heralded as a new age of app features.
PowerPoint celebrates its 30th birthday.
Modificado el por joshuagreen
Social media marketing has gained a lot of popularity in recent times. It is considered to be one of the most effective marketing strategies that can help you reach thousands of customers, and generate huge exposure in a short period of time with least effort. In this post, I will discuss the importance of social media marketing, and how it can benefit small businesses.
Cost-effectiveness: Social media marketing is the cheapest marketing strategy. It’s easy to create free business account on these sites. All you have to do is register with these sites, create professional looking business profile and start interacting with other users. You can even create new posts promoting your product, service or brand. It has the ability to reach thousands or millions of targeted audience within a short span of time. Although, it’s free to open business account on these sites, you will have to spend money in terms of content creation, graphics and development.
Educate and empower online community: Social media marketing allows you to share your expertise with your target audience. By creating educational or informational posts and sharing them online with other users on social media, you can gain quick recognition, trust and followers. In other words, social media can be a powerful tool in educating and empowering your online community.
Direct interaction with customers: Social media marketing allows you to directly communicate and interact with your customers, and respond to their queries. Moreover, by conducting surveys and polls, you get a better insight regarding what your customers think, and how you can make your product or service better, in order to provide better customer experience. Daniel Wallock said it best:
“While it's important to post relevant content to your audience it's just as important to engage with them. Listen to them. Respond to questions. Add value. Effective social media marketing is about building a real relationship with your audience, not just posting great content.” – Daniel Wallock, Marketing Consultant
Generate Leads and Sales: When it comes to generating leads and sales for your small business, social media marketing can play a key role. By creating new marketing campaigns on social media platforms, you can engage with more potential customers online and spread awareness about your offerings. However, you will have to remain consistent in your efforts to ensure quick response to client queries and provide valuable customer support.
Branding and Exposure: Social media is a great platform to build brand awareness. However, in order to boost your visibility and create brand awareness, you will have to create valuable posts that resonate with your audience. If your posts are enticing enough, the users will share it with other individuals, resulting into more likes and shares. Moreover, it even allows you to connect with other business professionals from the same industry.
In a nutshell, social media marketing is worth your effort, as there’s hardly anything for you to lose. Any small business that has an active social media presence is considered to be more professional and competent.
Anyone who owns a car understands maintenance and repair. If we get oil changes regularly, check our fluids and tire pressure, replace brakes when necessary, etc., we can expect the car to last longer than that of someone who does not take care of these things.
Organizations have equipment too; they also have facilities. These are assets much like cars, but in most cases, far more expensive to maintain, repair, and replace. It has only made sense, as technology has provided the wherewithal, to install maintenance and repair software packages that will keep preventive maintenance and repair needs on track.
Customized Software Solutions
Typically, organizations that depend upon their physical assets have contracted with software development firms (often offshore) to craft custom computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS), based upon their specific needs. This can be a lengthy process, because the organization must supply a huge amount of information about equipment, maintenance schedules and work order processes, so that those can be imbedded into the software package. That package is then installed into the organization’s system. There is also the need for continual updating as old equipment is retired and new assets brought on board. And those original developers will still be needed for those updates.
The benefits are obvious – no more paper, employees can receive maintenance alerts and work orders, complete the tasks and “sign off,” and everyone in the organization can access the software and see that tasks have been completed.
Enter Cloud Solutions
This was the next obvious step. Companies such as Limble CMMS have taken CMMS into the cloud with flexibly-designed systems that allow organizations to customize their own maintenance and repair schedules. They do this through a configurable architecture, so that the company can plug in all of the necessary information rather than gather it and send it off to a third-party developer or implementation expert. And updates are a matter of local input.
With these cloud solutions, the benefits increase. Now, anyone can receive alerts or track maintenance and the flow of work orders from any device and from anywhere.
A supervisor who is out of town, for example, can access a work order and see that it is progressing as it should.
A repair technician who is third in the progression of a repair can access a work order and know that parties one and two have completed their parts of the task and are ready for him to proceed.
In essence, greater control is placed into the hands of the organization rather than reliance upon third-party contractors.
What Cloud-Based CMMS Can Do for an Organization
The more an organization is dependent upon its physical assets (think of hospitals, for example), the greater the importance of proactive maintenance and repair and the greater the number of decisions that will have to be made. Cloud CMMS solutions allow all of the following:
What assets must be scheduled for regular, routine maintenance, based upon manufacturer specs?
Who will perform the required maintenance?
How will maintenance tasks be tracked, and what has been the cost?
When a repair is needed, how is it scheduled? And what individual(s) will perform that repair? How will that repair be tracked?
Who needs access to maintenance and repair alerts and requests and how will they gain that access?
How are problems reported to the maintenance team so that a quick resolution can occur?
And perhaps more important? Cloud-based solutions allow updates and changes to be accomplished easily and quickly by those with the authority and access to do so – all in-house. As organizations embrace cloud-based CMMS solutions as more efficient, less costly, and much easier to manage and control, they may very well find that cloud-based solutions for many other functions will also provide them those same benefits. Technology marches on.
The joy of online shopping is only marred by the expenses we often have to in cure in order to fetch the best product. Computer software is no different. Although there are a lot of freeware available in the market, sometimes you cannot absolutely compromise on quality and you have to shell in a few bucks to get the top notch software to keep up with the latest technological trends. However, you don’t need to jump from one website to another to find out which one offers the best deals on software.
We bring to you a list of top 5 websites that can help you to seek the best online software deals .
DealNews.com is one of the most popular deal comparison sites out there. Software seekers can simply go to its “Computer” category and choose the best deals every day based on brands and category. DealNEws.com also enlists the best deals every day so you can be sure you haven’t missed out on the best market price of your desired software on that day.
Now RetailMeNot.com is not a website that itself sells software. Rather, it is a coupon based website. It enlists deals based on categories and the best brands and their best deals. You can use this website if you have a specific brand of software you absolutely don’t want to miss and still want to save money on it.
OEM software is the newest rage in the software market. OEM or Original Equipment Manufacturer refers to software that is bundled along with the hardware package sold by the manufacturers of the same software company as a retail package. OEMs have become popular because of their affordability, equipped license, cost-cutting feature and quick online activation. Buyoemsoftware-store.com is one of the most renowned names in the OEM software markets. They offer a plethora of OEM software at the cheapest rates in the market.
Ebay is one of the best websites out there for software. One of the most popular e-auction websites out there, eBay not only offers you comprehensive deals on software, but it also allows you to choose from the largest online stock of available resources.
SoftwareMedia is one of the largest partners of Microsoft SMB Partners in the USA. These guys have been in the business since 1997 and have been selling reliable software. They also offer complementary software compliance reviews to assist you in business compliance. They have a rewards program to offer you additional discounts in case you continue buying from them.
Finally, after you are done visiting and comparing deals, your last stop should be Couponbuffer where you can find the latest deals exclusively on software products. Each category and brand has at least 5 coupons to choose from at a time!
People usually don’t prefer buying software and prefer using a free ware or a cracked version. However, if you are in a situation where you need a paid software, it is better to browse the above websites for the best deals and the best prices to save some money in your software-shopping spree.
In 2016, something happened that has likely never happened before. One world power hacked into the databases of another world power in such a way that they were able to influence the outcome of the presidential election. No, that’s not conspiracy theories. It really happened.
This is what happens when everything is so interconnected. Yes, there is convenience in the continuing flow of data. Anyone who is old enough to remember when data was transmitted from place to place in batches can attest to this fact. Now data flows freely, not just from computer to computer, but device to advice, even appliance to appliance. This causes significant risk everywhere, including in supply chain management. Fortunately, there are some steps that can be taken to secure the supply chain
First Understand Where The Risks Are
According to a survey conducted by SCM World, the majority of executives are (37% of those expressing concerns in the named area) are most concerned with supply chain breeches related to incidents occurring in information technology, and data security.
Significant levels of concern are also expressed in the areas of shipping and logistics, and intellectual property. There are many other fears outlined in the graphic, and most of them are likely influenced by the increase in hacking incidents as well as perceived future risk.
Vet Out Your Suppliers
Unfortunately, in supply chain management, you can do everything right, but you are still at risk. This is because everything connects together like… well, a chain. Criminals, other governments, militaries, unscrupulous businesses, etc. are on the lookout for weaknesses in that chain. When bringing acquiring new materials and services, know who you are working for.
Ask them the right questions. Know who they are doing business with, and whether or not they are aligned with countries that are not friendly or concerned with the interests of your company or your country.
If you want to ensure that software vendors won’t let you down either, it’s worth setting up an escrow deposit for the source code and/or license. In that case, even if the vendor goes out of business at some point, you would still be able to run your business smoothly.
Involve Supply Chain Management Teams in Information Security
Many organizations are very concerned with data security risks that come as the result of users abusing their access or doing foolish things that put them at risk for phishing, social engineering, or simply doing something that allows unauthorized access to data by a nefarious entity.
In spite of the fact that purchasing, selling, and transferring goods and services involves huge amounts of data, the risk is often not even considered. For example, an organization might block users in the customer service department from downloading a social media app because of security risk (nothing wrong with this per se: employees are definitely the cause of many security risks), but won’t do its due diligence in mitigating supply chain risk.
Not only should supply chain teams be considered when making data security policy, they should be subject to rigorous auditing as well.
Be Prepared to Spend Money
This may be something that you cannot handle in house. If your supply chain consists of vendors and suppliers from multiple countries, for example that may be more than your in house IT security staff is up for. An information security consultant specializing in supply chain risk management will be able to analyze your current situation and provide the advice and solutions that can help you mitigate your security risks.
Unfortunately, there is no way to completely eliminate the risks that simply exist in supply chain management. As long as you are involved in the process of buying or selling, you cannot avoid being exposed to some level of risk. Fortunately, by educating yourself, being vigilant, and investing in the right kind of help, you can help to ensure the safety of your data.
For retailers, inventory is one of the most important aspects of business. But it is also one of the most difficult things to track. Every day, sales, returns, new receipts and breakages affect your stock levels. While daunting, keeping track of it all in real time is one of the most important tasks to keeping your business ticking over.
Here’s why your retail business needs a dedicated inventory management software.
Miss fewer sales
When you don’t keep track of your inventory, it’s easy to run out of products—and miss out on sales. Instead of relying on your memory or constantly visiting your warehouse, a dedicated inventory management software could be just what you need.
With most modern systems, you can run a quick and easy stock report to stay updated about what’s going on in your warehouse. You’ll be able to quickly see what products you’re running low on, compare your stock level with what’s been selling well and automatically reorder before you run out.
Invest in products that sell
To be successful in retail, you need to invest your cash wisely by buying the right quantity of each product—enough to keep sales going and prevent stock-outs, but not so many that some just sit on the shelf. Keeping accurate inventory reports helps. And with a dedicated inventory management platform, you can quickly identify slow-moving products and reallocate budget to invest in products that sell.
More accurate reporting = better decision making
With a dedicated inventory management software, you can quickly produce accurate stock reports and see true stock cost values—which are essential to your financial reports. The easier, and more accurately you can see your balance Sheet - as well as your Cost of Sales and Profit and Loss reports—the better management decisions you can make.
Easily pick up on errors
If you’re keeping an eagle eye on your inventory levels with dedicated software, you’ll spot problems right away—instead of months later during annual stock takes when they may have already cost you a lot of money. Whether a step in your warehouse process is being missed or one of your salespeople is making mistakes on sales orders, you need to know sooner rather than later. The best way? By constantly reconciling sales and purchases through an automated inventory management software.
Precise inventory management also help you provide better customer service. When customers say they haven’t received one of the products they ordered, you need to be able to check your stock and confirm. Likewise, if you regularly keep on top of inventory levels, you can identify incorrect shipments sooner. And if your stock system is up to date with purchase orders, you’ll be able to sell customers the products they want because you’ll know more are just about to arrive. This kind of communication encourages your customers to trust you, which in these competitive times, is a valuable asset.
Reordering will be fast and easy if your reports tell you what’s in stock. You can work methodically through your product set, making informed buying decisions instead of physically checking your warehouse shelves to write a purchase order. If your reports come from an advanced inventory management system, you also can tell if you already have products on order with a supplier and if your supplier has long lead times or irregular deliveries. This information is a must if you want to keep reordering under control.
Reduced warehouse costs
When your inventory software tells you what you have in stock, the pick-pack-ship process runs more efficiently. Your warehouse staff don’t need to run around looking for the last product because you know exactly when it sold and shipped. This enables you to process more orders in the same amount of time with the same staff—or balance your resources differently. Accurate inventory management tracking keeps your business lean!
Improve stock take and end-of-year efficiency.
With a dedicated inventory management system, periodic stock takes are faster and more efficient. You’re just confirming data that’s already in your system instead of doing a lot of time-consuming data entry.
Modificado el por DiLabrien
In the beginning, there was statistics. Ask any Ph.D. who produced a dissertation in the 1980’s, and, unless they were math or science majors, you will hear a litany of expletives about the statistical analysis chapter, during which their data results had to be “crunched,” using any number of formulae, and be crunched by hand, with only a calculator for a tool.
By the 90’s, of course, there were computer programs and it was a matter of plugging the right data into the right formula, and the numbers were automatically “crunched” to determine the statistical significance of a research study. Technology to analyze data has continued to evolve since then.
The Use of Analytical Tools by Startups
“We’ve come a long way baby,” as the saying goes, and businesses have all sorts of tools at their disposal to collect and analyze data that can help make better business decisions. Google Analytics, for example, is a great place for startups to begin and there’s a number of other apps to gather all sorts of insights for you.
However, as a startup scales, though, Google Analytics, and other tools (CRM software, Excel) will outlive their usefulness. It will be time to incorporate BI in order to make faster decisions based upon larger pieces of data.
And that’s really what BI is – software tools that automatically extract data from lots of sources and then extrapolate that data, so that trends can be identified and predictions made. Wouldn’t it be nice, for example, to extrapolate data from your competitors and find a gap in what they offer that you can fill? This kind of data you cannot get from the lower-level tools like Google Analytics.
What BI Offers to Startups as They Begin to Scale
It is commonly believed that AI is only for the “big boys.” Indeed, it is currently in use by the following:
- Banks are to acquire extrapolated data that will predict risky investments and customers who may default on loans
The medical profession uses it to gather and extrapolate data on a global level to predict outcomes of specific treatments and procedures.
Governments and the military use it to analyze and predict success (or not) of policies, legislation, and military operations.
And on a less serious level, some NBA coaches are using it to predict specific player behavior based upon past performance. Who is a great shooter but clutches? Who is a not-so-great shooter but who remains steady under stress?
Large e-commerce businesses use it to predict customer behavior, consumer buying habits, and the viability of new launches/products.
You don’t have to understand the data science behind BI. This is what many business owners believe and they thus feel inadequate to use it. It’s scary, and they don’t want to spend money on something they will not be able to use. But understanding the science is not necessary. Knowing how to use the tools is, and that can be learned. Here is how scaling startups can use BI to make sound decisions.
- BI will make predictive analyses based upon past data and trends. This will help an owner to determine whether a contemplated new product or service will be well-received and really marketable. Already, the fashion industry is using AI to predict design trends.
BI will provide far more analyses of your customers – their behaviors, those that are the most reliable and profitable, and those that may need additional attention. It can tell you who is dis-satisfied and provide possible reasons.
The right BI tool can analyze your utilization of resources and show you where you can save money on staff, supplies, etc.
Reports, information, graphs and charts can be accessed from anywhere by those to whom you give permission. And those permissions are important. Suppose, for example, you have “outsiders” accessing your site and you need to segment them out based upon their profiles. A solution for an Australian “pay as you play” recruitment startup, using BI-based mapping, “trained” its BI app to provide permissions based upon user profiles that were entered as either recruiters or applicants, along with other demographic data.
BI tools are primarily mobile-first now. Consider the convenience, if you are meeting with a bank or potential investor and can pull up your most recent data.
You and your team will be able to analyze all operations and pull KPI’s, so you can enhance what is working and re-model what is not.
Getting Started with Business Intelligence Software
There are a number of BI tools on the market and more being developed daily. Your job will be to examine the features that each offers against your needs. You have to determine what data will be most helpful, what you want to track, and what kinds of reports will be the most understandable and useful for you and your team.
Taking it one step at a time will allow you and your team to adjust. People, including yourself, buy in to new technology slowly. But understand that the impact for all of your operations can be significant – forecasting customer behavior, customer service, predicting viability of products/services, to name a few. But you cannot tackle everything from the beginning. Take iterative steps.
Do some learning yourself first – it’s not as hard as you think. Remember machine learning is all about the machine teaching itself from the data it is fed. And you can guide that learning by coming up with your own objectives and asking the right questions. This only takes a bit of practice.
A tool like IBM’s Watson, for example, will not break the bank and yet will allow you to play around. Feed it your data from Google Analytics and then ask questions about it. Gradually, you will learn what your AI machine can do for you.
Selling it to others in your organization does not have to be difficult.
- Take it to your team and simply demonstrate what the tool can do.
Show marketers how it can predict the highest trending topics and types.
Show customer service how it can extrapolate data to determine which responses are being received positively and those that are not and what other customer service initiatives are meeting with success.
Some will “power up” on the concept and can then lead others through their own excitement.
The important thing is to start small. You cannot expect to incorporate BI into every aspect of your operations all at once. You, as well as others, have to develop a comfort level, and that is a process. Start with small projects, show the successes, and the “buy-in” will come.
BI is a “Now” Thing
The future of AI is now. Businesses that understand its value and commit to a gradual but steady implementation will realize the unlimited possibilities it offers.
No one knows how far artificial intelligence will carry us. On the horizon are driverless cars and intelligent manufacturing. But for startups in any niche, its value is right now.
There are many reasons for keeping product development costs down. Obviously, increasing profitability is one of these. Reducing costs also helps you to offer your products at competitive prices. This is also money that you can reinvest in research and development as well as growth.
On the other hand, cutting costs isn’t worthwhile if quality is compromised as well. The following tips will help you to reduce development costs while still maintaining high quality standards.
Use Technology to Replace Prototyping
If you’re developing a physical product, you’ll eventually want to create a prototype. Investors and potential customers will want something tangible that they can hold and use. On the other hand, prototype development is expensive.
The last thing you want to do is get in a cycle where you are spending money to recreate and work the kinks out of your prototypes. Fortunately, there are tools and apps for virtual prototyping. These allow you to begin the prototyping process in a way that costs significantly less money. Even better, you’ll know where any issues are before you produce a physical product.
Don’t Overload Your Product With Features
Simplicity is nearly always less expensive than complexity. If cost is a concern, it may be time to pare away some of the features you had originally planned on including. After all, bells and whistles aren’t so great if you cannot turn a profit, or even afford to bring your product to market at all. Remember that features can be added on in future iterations once your base model proves to be worthy.
Spend Enough Time in The Planning Phases
The more time, effort, planning, and resources you invest in planning and design, the less likely you will be to run into problems during development and production. Don’t rush into product development too quickly. Taking things slowly can be frustrating, but doubling back to fix things that weren’t covered the first time around is a waste of time and money.
Bring Quality Assurance Into Every Step of The Process
If there is one team that should be involved in every step of the way from design to launch, it’s your QA team. By keeping QA in mind, and conducting appropriate testing from the beginning, you ensure that expensive flaws don’t become an issue in the later phases of development. In the case of app and software development, investing in software testing automation services can pay off with cost savings down the road.
Recycle What You Already Have on Hand
Don’t start from scratch if you don’t have to. For physical products, it’s fairly rare for a company to be develop a new product that has no components in common with other products. For example, if you manufacture office furniture, several elements such as moving parts are often the same from one product to the next. Likewise, if you are developing software or web based utilities, there is probably a good chance that you can recycle snippets of code from other projects. Consider keeping a library of designs, specs, and coding samples on hand. Then, go back to those before you reinvent the wheel.
Shop Around For Raw Materials And Supplies
Cost of materials can be a big factor in product development. Depending on your location, industry, even time of year they can fluctuate widely. Shop around. If your business has grown, and you have more purchasing power, use that to renegotiate terms. You may be able to pay significantly less while still buying quality materials.
No matter what your product is, at least a couple of the tips listed above should be useful to you. Your ability to cut costs can benefit your organization, your investors, your employees, and your customers.
We are Keeping a Watchful eye on Home Security Tech Trends!
Cloud storage, everything seems to be moving to the holy grail of cloud storage. And not far behind, home security is now jumping on that too. From monitoring your home for a fixed cost to now backing up data stored by security cameras, they have found new ways to make users feel safe and bring home some extra money themselves as home security providers.
What to Look for in a Modern Security System
Before going out and purchasing any random home security system, one should consult experts opinions and research which is best. Make sure that it has automation features available. This can include Z-wave automation, security apps for turning on and off the system and more. Regardless, too many home owners are taken advantage of every year by not knowing what security system to choose. Using a buyer’s guide like the one Alarm Reviews provides can save users lots of money and time from choosing the wrong one.
Next, make sure it fits your budget and get what is needed to secure the full home. Don’t miss out on features that you really want to save a couple of dollars. If that is the case, hold off on home security for a few more months until you can afford the security system that is wanted. It is better to have too much security equipment than not enough in which case a burglar may never be caught. If you want to go full out and have the best self-defense system possible, keep reading as we will now discuss what to look for in security cameras.
POE, Z-Wave and other Surviellance Cameras
If you thought choosing a security system was complicated, the specifications and technology of security camera systems is much more. Now you have to choose between wiring options, viewing from mobile device (and how much that will charge users for data), hard drive storage versus cloud storage and more. Here is a few tips after analyzing the information from SecurityCameraSystemPro’s.
- Go with a large hard drive with backup cloud storage options. Most Swann, GE and Honeywell security cameras offer this. It may cost an additional $5 to $10 a month.
- Go with wired over wireless. Wireless security cameras can sound appealing at first but it turns out to be quite the headache. Avoid the trouble of changing in and out batteries and get the correct set of cameras from the beginning.
- Install at correct points of interest. If your camera doesn’t catch the bad guys stealing, loitering or other crimes then it is doing no one any good. Video footage can be used to pursue crooks so make sure the cameras are placed outside in front and cover a wide range. To achieve this it may take 2 to 4 separate security cameras.
No matter what you do or choose to increase your home security, make sure to take actions and start today. Like car accidents and other disasters, it is best to have ‘insurance’. Consider these two methods of home defense as insurance against the worst case scenario of someone breaking and entering your premises.