IBM Developer Cloud
Cloud Computing Made Simple
This half-day briefing consists of an overview and introduction to cloud computing, essentially cloud computing 101, the drivers and the various components of cloud, and concludes with “how to get started” - that is, how clients can capture the silver lining in their organisations.
Just installed Apache Hadoop on IBM's Development and Test Cloud (SUSE instance)!
I am running a HADOOP two node cluster on IBM's Developer Cloud with static IP, Large SUSE 10 instance and 200 GB instance storage.
See IBM Developer's WIKI on creating a single node HADOOP pseudo instance on IBM Developers Cloud.
Below I have described procedures to download US Census 2000 data to be used in HADOOP JAQL sample program to calculate male, female and total population for the states of California and New York.
1) SSH to your HADOOP Namenode instance and download US Census data for California and New York into censusCA and censusNY directories (Please read US Census 2000 FTP Read Me instructions for details). Total download: 3699 files for CA and 2931 files for NY (each file type 02 includes data for total, male, female population per state's region):
wget ftp://ftp2.census.gov/census_2000/datasets/Summary_File_4/New_York/*102_uf4.zip2) Unzip files in censusCA and censusNY directories and upload them into HDFS:
cd ~/censusCA3) Compile and install latest JAQL 0.4 (for HADOOP 0.20.1) version as described in here (send me an email, I might be able to provide JAQL latest build)
4) Start JAQL interpreter:
jaqlshell --cluster5) Copy and paste the sample program shown below into jaql prompt and get the results in 7-8 minutes (on my Developer's Cloud two node HADOOP Cluster)
6) JAQL Program Code (just try try to compare JAQL program below and mapreduce Java program to process US Census data described here - JAQL wins!)
//JAQL program to calculate male , female total population in CA and NYRegards,
Today I ran Amazon EC2 50 slaves plus one master for the cost of $3.50/hour ($0.07/instance/hour)!
During the test, I have processed census data from CA and NY as described in Run HADOOP and JAQL on US Census 2000 Data using Hadoop 0.20.1 and Pig 0.5 on my Amazon EC2 51 nodes cluster!
Next I will start 100 spot instances (that is the default limit on the number of instances per an account) and test process full set of Census 2000.
Check out the PayPal demo on YouTube:
This blog entry explores the steps involved with all the steps taken to implement a Business Intelligence Solution in the cloud. This example was used using Cognos. It is a step by step example from the implementers perspective
Unified Computing and Data Center Evolution
Data center virtualization has created a market transition where IT organizations are trying to reduce costs and increase flexibility. Constantly working against inflexible existing hardware platforms, however, data center administrators must spend significant time on manual procedures for basic tasks instead of focusing on more strategic initiatives.
The Cisco Unified Computing System is a next-generation data center platform that:
This approach decouples scale from complexity. Whether the system has 1 server or 320 servers with thousands of virtual machines, all resources participate in a unified management domain designed to:
The system incorporates:
It supports an incremental deployment model and protects customer investments with a future migration path to unified computing.
http://www.cisco.com/en/US/netsol/ns944/#~overview,So does anyone have any idea what the IBM competitive viewpoint is for this CISCO offering?
was application advisor取得したので日数は無いけどセキュスぺの勉強を今日から10月18日まで
HorstBuellesbach 110000KDUD 4,077 Views
I'm always getting error messages from IE8 ( different messages from Firefox) while I'm working with the Dev&Test Cloud. Can anyonbe help what the reason and solution could be ? It pops up when I'm starting the 'Create Instance' process.
Webpage error details
User Agent: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 8.0; Windows NT 5.1; Trident/4.0; .NET CLR 1.1.4322; .NET CLR 2.0.50727; .NET CLR 3.0.04506.30; .NET CLR 3.0.04506.648; .NET CLR 3.0.4506.2152; .NET CLR 3.5.30729)
Timestamp: Tue, 7 Dec 2010 13:14:02 UTC
Message: Expected ';'
"Although IT departments play a crucial role in nearly every aspect of revenue-generating operations—from processing transactions and generating business intelligence to developing, customizing and maintaining software—all too often they’re viewed as cost centers. The time has come to change that. IBM CloudBurst* 2.1 jump-starts IT departments into the world of cloud computing, enabling them to flexibly allocate resources in minutes, maximize utilization, minimize system-management time and speed the deployment of new revenue-generating operations."
JeffHebert 060001UEQ2 Tags:  storage server paas tcp iaas ip saas cloud san network das nas virtualization 6,308 Views
JeffHebert 060001UEQ2 Tags:  iaas ibm power saas reliable available paas scalable cloud 6,237 Views
The unprecedented interest and projected IT spend on cloud computing is coming from all types of organizations, businesses and governments that are seeking to transform the way they deliver IT services and improve workload optimization so they can quickly respond to changing business demands. Cloud computing can significantly reduce IT costs and complexities while improving asset utilization, workload optimization and service delivery.
Today’s IT Infrastructures face challenges on many levels:
As a result of these challenges, organizations are demanding an IT infrastructure and service delivery model that enables growth and innovation. An effective cloud computing environment built with IBM Power Systems™ cloud solutions helps organizations transform their data centers to meet these challenges:
Power Systems cloud solutions enable customers to build an effective cloud computing environment, enabling organizations to reduce IT costs, improve service delivery and enable business innovation.
cynthyap 110000GC4C Tags:  provisioning virtualization cloud_computing automation service management cloud 5,299 Views
Today IBM announced new SmartCloud Foundation capabilities to help organizations realize the potential of cloud computing. Watch the replay of the IBM SmartCloud launch webcast, to learn more about how the new announcements, including IBM SmartCloud Provisioning (delivered by IBM Service Agility Accelerator for Cloud), can help customers move beyond virtualization to more advanced cloud deployments.
There's still time to sign up for the IBM webcast: Managing the Cloud – Best practices for cloud service management
Ok, I admit, I was among the early adopters of the late nineties to get hooked on VMWare. In fact, as an open source advocate I remember playing with "freemware", qemu, bochs, openVZ, and several other x86 virtualization technologies. Likewise, I was among the first to start using Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). I've been hooked by x86 commodity hardware virtualization for a long time, and I thank VMWare and Ed Bugnion in particular for that. But why choose VMWare now?
Ten years ago when the CPUs made it hard to virtualize efficiently, VMWare was great. After 2003 if you were mostly interested in linux (king of the cloud) Xen was an excellent open source alternative to virtualize x86 commodity servers. In 2006 Amazon launched their EC2 service which would become the defacto cloud standard. EC2 is built on Xen and is probably the single biggest x86 virtualization environment in the world. Several hundred thousand of my closest friends have found EC2 to be a fantastic compute platform that goes beyond server virtualization, all without a trace of VMWare. So why choose VMWare now?
Today modern CPUs include specific support for virtualization making it easier to deliver efficient virtulaization without Xen's paravirt trick or VMWare's innovative code patching. Current linux kernels include support for KVM and I believe upstream kernels will again support Xen natively. I remember when RedHat bought Qumranet, developer of KVM, SPICE, and SolidICE (a desktop virtualization technology) in 2008. Back then KVM didn't compare to VMWare. It certainly was not "good enough" back then. Three years later, KVM has matured extremely well. I think it really is "good enough" for commodity OS virtualization. In my cloud development efforts I've run hundreds of thousands of VMs on Xen and KVM during the past 2 1/2 years. While I really respect Xen, I've come to like and appreciate KVM on modern CPUs since it's just so simple and easy to use. Today there are so many "good enough" choices for x86 virtualization from Xen, KVM, and VirtualBox to Hyper-V, which Microsoft is practically giving away just to keep Windows relevant in the datacenter. So why choose VMWare now?
Is low end disruption a threat for VMWare? Linux and Apache are certainly well established in the datacenter preventing Microsoft's dominance over the desktop to spill into the datacenter. Ten years ago when Windows had 90-something percent market share of desktop computers, I myself considered Microsoft an untouchable giant. Today, however, I think they're doomed because Apple is cooler, all the kids have 'em along with iphones and and ipads. By analogy, VMWare should be very concerned. IMHO, they can and will lose their dominance and I think they'll do so by the classic Innovator's Dilemma. VMWare continues to cater to their traditional high end customers. Meanwhile, nearly three quarters of a million developers are using Amazon's cloud as their platform for new software applications and services. And the best part is Amazon's cloud doesn't even need or use VMWare. In fact, neither does Google's AppEngine or Microsoft's Azure. Sense a pattern? If you believe, as I do, that we're on the cusp of a new platform war to deliver the next generation of applications and services, then the key to success is the application development community. VMWare may have operations teams sold, but developers love the cloud. Interestingly, they may not even have the ops guys sold after all. Here's a forum thread titled "VMWare, a falling giant".
"According to Ars Technica, 'A new survey seems to show that VMware's iron grip on the enterprise virtualization market is loosening, with 38 percent of businesses planning to switch vendors within the next year due to licensing models and the robustness of competing hypervisors.' What do IT-savvy Slashdotters have to say about moving away from one of the more stable and feature rich VM architectures available?"
The survey found that VMware is the primary hypervisor for server virtualization in 67.6 percent of shops, followed by Microsoft's Hyper-V with 16.4 percent and Citrix with 14.4 percent. Wow, this doesn't even compare to Microsoft's former dominance for which I recall seeing numbers as high as 98% market share!
So why choose VMWare now? Maybe the question should be, "Have you tried an open source hypervisor lately?" Or better yet, "have you tried a public cloud yet"? Frankly, I don't even like using hypervisors directly anymore as I find clouds much more powerful and easier to use. Why don't you give ISAAC a try? You can see what a real cloud is like while also trying out open source hypervisors.
cynthyap 110000GC4C Tags:  cloud-computing virtualization cloud_computing provisioning 16,407 Views
Orchestration can be one of those ambiguous concepts in cloud computing, with varying definitions on when cloud capabilities truly advance into the orchestration realm. Frequently it’s defined simply as automation = orchestration.
But automation is just the starting point for cloud. And as organizations move from managing their virtualized environment, they need to aggregate capabilities for a private cloud to work effectively. The automation of storage, network, performance and provisioning are all aspects handled in most cases by various solutions that have been added on over time as needs increase. Even for organizations that take a transformational approach -- jumping to an advanced cloud to optimize their data centers -- the management of heterogeneous environments with disparate systems can be a challenge not simply addressed by automation alone. As the saying goes, “If you automate a mess, you get an automated mess.”
Read more about how cloud orchestration can simplify and accelerate service delivery.
cynthyap 110000GC4C Tags:  image virtualization cloud-computing cloud management cloud_computing 2 Comments 6,101 Views
The challenges of managing virtualized environments are mounting. The benefits of virtualization—from cost and labor savings to increased efficiency—are being threatened by its staggering growth and the resultant complexity. A critical piece to solving these challenges, as many organizations have already discovered, is image management. Read more: http://ibm.co/SpHTlV
cynthyap 110000GC4C Tags:  development cloud-computing provisioning agile cloud cloud_computing devops 4,611 Views
DevOps has become something of a buzzword lately but the idea behind it can be truly powerful. Using a combination of technology and best practices to increase collaboration between development and operations teams can accelerate the application development lifecycle while improving software quality and reducing costs.
IBM Enterprise IT professional services
Here is the URL for this bookmark: http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/mydeveloperworks/blogs/7c7d52e0-5dad-41be-9e0f-e9b58cbb1f9c/?lang=en
When it comes to web design, it’s an ever-changing landscape that grows with advances in technology. However, not all changes are equally significant, especially when new design concepts are emerging on daily basis. If we look hard enough, there are some trends that have become quite popular nowadays. Lilo, a web design and SEO firm from London, UK that specializes in building and developing websites from scratch, while using an array online web development platforms is today sharing some cool web design trends that are dominating the industry.
360 degree is basically an interactive video that encourages viewer engagement. There are several companies that are using 360 degree video as a marketing strategy. By putting it on a website, one can boost client engagement and CTP rates.
Appealing Grid Layouts
Also, referred to as card design layout, it is being used for pages that have a lot of data. By doing so, one can make the info in his website more appealing and accessible for the visitors.
Responsive Web Design
A mobile responsive website allows your clients to view and navigate your website on their mobile devices with ease.
Real People Real Picture
Stock photography is on a decline with several new websites popping up that provide candid and real images of life. These real life images can add a realistic look to your website with which your clients can relate to.
In today’s era when most of the individuals have disconnected their landline phones and gone mobile, there are still quite a substantial number of people who still prefer cordless phones over mobile phones. In fact, more and more households, businesses, educational institutions and industries are installing cordless phones, as not only it is cheap, it comes with long range capabilities and durability.
For instance, if we talk about Engenius, which is the leading provider of cordless phones, it has changed the traditional telecom landscape by offering longest range, i.e. up to 250,000 sq. feet in healthcare facilities, warehouses and retail stores. Moreover, it can penetrate 12 floor building and is perfect for school campuses and farms with range up to 3000 acres.
Apart from this, the new cordless phones come with a myriad of new features, such as, clear voice, an in-built answering machine, crisp display, conferencing, phonebook, great battery back-up, call barring, fully compatible with home security system, and wide range of packages and models to choose from. Hence, not only it makes your life simple, it provides security too.
With so many features and models available, it’s not difficult to choose a cordless phone for your house or facility. All you have to do is check the price plans and features that best suit your need and budget.
Due to a recent stamp duty increase, the housing market in UK has seen a dramatic surge, as a result of which, most of the homeowners are unable to purchase larger property. However, these homeowners are now considering buying log summer houses, because not only these houses are cheap, they are a great way to add space to their existing home in an affordable manner.
One of the great things about wooden summer house is that it can be customized, and can be installed by the homeowner himself without hiring an assembly company. Apart from this, these summer houses are fully ventilated, waterproof, reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and consume less energy. They come in a wide range of sizes, design and feature, and can be a great addition to your property.
However, when it comes to choosing best wooden summer house, the buyer has to make sure to buy from a renowned company only, such as ‘Summer House 24”, which is one of Europe’s leading and most trusted providers of log houses. All their Summerhouse’s, Garden Buildings and Log Cabins are made out of sustainably sourced slow-grown Nordic spruce. Moreover, they implement latest wood processing technologies to create a top-notch product that’s not only durable but can stand the test of time. Their range of log summer houses can be found here.
Do you have a blog focused on parenting? Are you wondering how to transform your blog from a hobby into a real business? Read on for advice that will help you succeed.
1. Take It Seriously
If you want to make money from your blog, you need to view it as a business. If you see it that way, and you talk about it that way, other people will follow suit. If you get an offer for direct advertising, incorporate it on your site. Don't apologize for wanting to be successful.
If a company contacts you and asks you for advice, get a consulting fee. A blogger was recently in communication with Disney and received $6000 to participate in a meeting, answer a survey and respond to a couple of emails. Be ready for opportunities like that; get a PayPal account set up so that you can receive money going forward.
2. Determine Your Limits
Heather Armstrong is basically the leader of all mom bloggers. She writes interesting pieces that are funny and intriguing. She doesn't really have a filter, however; there is nothing that is off limits, and she lets her readers know about personal moments that happen with her family. She also incorporates profanity into her posts.
You need to be comfortable with your content. There is no hard and fast rule that says you need to be like Heather Armstrong in order to be successful. However, as a mom blogger, you probably need to be fairly open with your readers. Think about what is right for you. Set limits for yourself and stick to them, so that you feel good about what you are doing with your blog.
3. Become A Member Of ProBlogger
It is a good idea to join ProBlogger and to periodically read the posts. Of course, the information is meant for professional. However, you will find information that can help you on your blogging journey. Take a look at the information and figure out how to apply the advice to your own situation.
4. Learn About Advertising
It is up to you to figure out how you want to handle ads. Look into the best placement and determine how many you want to have. Remember to have enough followers on your social media accounts too – it can make a big difference. Also, direct advertising is something you need to think about as well.
5. Make Connections
You want your blog to make money. That means you have to get people to your site, so that advertisers will want to work with you. While having excellent content is crucial, it is not the only piece of the puzzle. You have to network as well if you want to get impressive traffic to your site.
How do you do this? Begin by commenting on different blogs within your niche. In addition, reach out to bloggers that have sites like yours and ask them if you can submit a guest post. You'll find new followers that way, so it is certainly worth the time and effort involved.
In addition, social media platforms are important in this process. Twitter, for example, can help you get attention for your blog. Don't forget about Facebook, either. Look into other sites as well, like Instagram and Pinterest.
6. Write What You Love
Your readers are important, and you should think about them when you are posting new content. However, that doesn't mean you should deviate from the topics that you love and that you find interesting. Be entertaining. Bring out emotions in other people. You don't always have to provide factual information in your posts. You don't always have to give other people tips and tricks on parenting. Simply making a connection with people is often enough.
7. Be Proud Of What You Do
There is nothing wrong with earning money as a result of your blog. You should be proud of what you are doing. You are a good writer, other people find you interesting, and you've put a lot of time and energy into creating the connections necessary to succeed. There is no reason to apologize for making money while doing something that you love. Check out Don Mills Diva's post entitled "Show Me The Money." It is a great read.
8. Don't Overdo It
It is not easy to get your blog up and running, much less to turn it into a success. If you are committed to this process, you don't want to wear yourself out in the very beginning. You may find yourself consumed with your site; however, you need to set limits in order to find the right balance. Remember, your family needs you to and you should enjoy them. The Internet should not take you away from what is really important. It's work, but it is not your entire life.
In today’s era when new inventions are launched each day, it’s quite difficult to get noticed and gain the attention of potential investors. Moreover, even if you manage to get investors, you have to make sure to protect your idea or invention by patenting it. Those who do not know what a patent is, it is basically a legal document that allows the owners or inventors to legally prevent their invention ideas from being copied or exploited by other individuals.
However, patenting a product or an idea is a complex process, and there’s no guarantee that it will be patented by the respective authority. The good news is that there’s a firm called “InventHelp” that has helped thousands of inventors gain investors and patents through their referral service for their unique inventions. InventHelp has made its corporate headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for over thirty years. They have a team of researchers, illustrators, writers, and customer service representatives who can assist inventors in submitting their invention idea or new product to industry.
According to InventHelp’s spokesperson: “InventHelp's job is to try to submit clients' inventions or new product ideas to industry in an effort to obtain a good-faith review and also to review any interest expressed. You may choose to apply for a US patent and simultaneously attempt to present your idea to companies. Many inventors select this option of using InventHelp's submission program in conjunction with our invention patent referrals. If you prefer to locate legal counsel on your own, you may still use InventHelp's submission program. Inventors who have already obtained patents for their inventions can also use our services to attempt to submit to industry.”
In a nutshell, they can guide you throughout the whole process, right from how to patent an idea to manufacture a prototype of your product.
Custom drink coasters have been in use since the late 1800’s, and they have been used to promote customized messages for over a century. Custom coasters are a staple of events big and small, and one of the most cost-effective ways to deliver your message to friends, family, and potential customers without overt intent. To help you decide which package to go with, we’ve put together excellent uses including custom beer coasters.
And if you want a custom designed coaster, go to a design shop like Insite Advice.
For any business that truly values efficiency, it is a no-brainer to have an IVR virtual receptionist. This is why an increasing number of companies are relying on this type of automated phone attendant system for greeting callers, asking and answering questions, and routing individuals to the right department or agent. However, virtual receptionists are not all the same. Just ask any customer who has found themselves stuck on hold for long stretches at a time. The following are some useful tips to help you take your virtual receptionist to the next level to provide your customers with a great first impression and leave them with a positive experience.
First Record A Real Person's Voice And Then Re-Record It
One thing about IVRs that annoys many callers is that they feel as if they are speaking with a robot. One of the most common criticisms made about virtual receptionists is that people want to be able to speak to a real person. Having a live agent for answering the phone isn't always possible. So until a caller is able to speak with a real human, make sure that the experience that they have is as close to being human as possible. Use your own voice to record all of your menu options. Then listen to your menu and be sure to re-record any of the parts that are hard to understand, awkward or seem forced. Don't rush through this part. It is the very first thing that a caller hears when reaching your business, so you want to make sure that you leave a good first impression.
Pay Close Attention To How You Word Your Menu Options
Just like all conversations between an agent and a customer, the responses you set up to use on your virtual receptions should always be professional and courteous. To take an obvious example: if you are selecting a response for when your IVR needs the caller to repeat what he just said, don't have it say "What?" That can sound rude. Instead use something like, "I'm sorry, I didn't hear what you said. Can you repeat that please?" Even when a machine is doing all of the talking, manners are still very important.
Keep Things Simple
Callers want the same thing that you do, which is to be routed to the right individual as soon as possible. When there are too many menu options, your customers might feel like they are wandering through a maze that never ends. Make sure that your menu options are kept simple, and have as few steps as possible from start to finish.
Many of today's IVR systems offer touchtone versus speech recognition options. Just make sure with speech recognition that your IVR doesn't pick up background noise and think it is the caller's voice. That can result in looping and frustrate the caller.
Pay Close Attention To Benchmarks
According to a recent study, the average hold time across businesses of all different sizes is 56 seconds. When you are trying to gauge how well you are serving your customers and how fast you are at attending to their needs then benchmarks do matter. So determine how well you stack up against benchmarks. It can help you figure out what you need to do to improve your phone system.
Remember To Say Thank You
We previously emphasized manners, and this relates to that, but there is another reason for why it also stands on its own. Customers can get testy when they are on hold, so it is up to you to make sure that they know that their patience and business is appreciated. Just simply saying thank you can go a long way.
If you truly love your car and value the amount you spent, you will always be searching for how to protect your car from daily damage. Yes, there are several elements that are capable of damaging your car daily. Most of the elements are what most car owners ignore not knowing that they are the main culprit for their car damage. Parking your car under the intense heat of summer sun or under the freezing snow falling winter season can make the car to damage daily without your knowledge. Also, parking your car under a tree for shield may seem great at least to protect it from heat from the sun, but it can put the car at risk of being damaged by bird droppings and other elements. This post is dedicated to provide you information on how to protect your vehicle from daily damage.
1, Get a Sunshade While Driving On Hot Sunny Day
While driving on hot sunny road, you need to consider protecting your car screen including the windscreen the door screen and others. Just make use of sunscreen and the glasses will be protected. The reason for this is that intense heat from the sun can result to cracking of your windscreen and other glasses on your vehicle. So, car sunshade is of great important in this respect.
2, Avoid Parking under Shield of Tree to Avoid Bird Dropping
Parking under a tree shield may seem wonderful due to the fact that it can help protect your vehicle from direct heat from the sun. But, the truth is that it can expose your vehicle to risk of being damaged by bird droppings. Bird excretes usually contain chemical that can quickly damage paint on the exterior part of a car. That is why you should not always rely on parking under shield of tree to protect your car from damage.
3, Wash Your Car Regularly
It is important you wash your car regularly to remove the dust, debris and other dirt that can lead to scratching of the paint. Make sure you use smooth material to scrub the body of your car in order to avoid scratching off the paint.
4, Wax on the Car to Protect the Paint
While planning to protect your car, you must also plan to protect the paint properly. The best way to protect the paint is to wax on and wax off the car. The wax can help protect the surface paint from being scratched off or damaged by debris and other little elements here and there.
5, Cover the Car When Parked Either At Home or In the Office
Whether your car is parked at home, in the office or it is on the go, you must look for a way to protect it always. Covering your car while parked is the best way to avoid dust, debris, bird dropping water splashes, acid rain and even heat from the sun from damaging it. You must look for mobile car umbrella that can go with your car anywhere it goes. That is where the need for innovative Lanmodo car umbrella which is built with automatic feature operated with remote control.
Along with making your brand stand out in a congested and competitive space, digital PR also involves monitoring what online users have to say about you as well as knowing how to prevent a reputation crisis from occurring.
But if you manage to establish a strong brand identity, you can stay one step ahead of rivals, keep on track with effective marketing efforts, and turn negative press or comments into an opportunity to improve.
Monitor your brand
First of all, you should set up Google Alerts for keywords relating to your brand. This way, you will be notified each time the business is mentioned, helping you keep on top of both positive and negative feedback in a timely, efficient manner. To this end, you may also want to use Brand Mentions, Buzzsumo, and Hooks.
Monitor your competitors
Don’t be naive enough to think that every brand with a presence online only looks at its own standing and stature. Whenever one business slips up, every other organisation in that industry will be quick to avoid the same mistake. One of the best competitor monitoring and reporting tools is SE Ranking, which enables you to see what rivals are up to at a glance. You can also view important trends, sudden ranking drops, and increases in PPC budget.
Handle criticism correctly
The brands with the best reputations online don’t shy away from criticism and condemnation; they deal with it up front in a helpful, authentic, and respectful way. You could even try to counteract negativity with humour, but be careful not to make fun of users with serious or significant complaints. Also, don’t just block unhappy customers or delete their comments, as this can backfire big time.
Implement brand consistency
Establishing a strong brand identity is hugely dependent on consistency across all online activity, especially with visual elements. A business is much more likely to stick in the memory of users if the company colours and branding appears the same on its website, social media channels, email newsletters, and advertising campaigns.
Increase site stability and security
The increasing impatience of online audiences means you cannot afford to have a website that suffers from slow speeds or prolonged periods of downtime. It is well worth the effort and expense to upgrade your site’s servers for better stability and greater security. For several customers, your brand’s online reputation will often start and end with the company website.
This article has been provided by SEO & Webdesigns, the leading digital marketing agency.
Authors Kevin and Shamil Cole are a married couple with special gifts in creativity. We wanted to display our love for writing and each other, this is one of our many things we love to do. We are also the proud owners of Cole's Publishing were we have taken being an author a step further into the world of writing. Here at Cole's Publishing we have made being an author a more exciting experience for established and aspiring writers throughout the world. We understand how timely the process in becoming an author can be. Our newest Books are Seeds of A Man and Seeds of A Woman, we are not only authors but we help with assisting other authors in getting their books published by a professional and reliable company. As you read the two books listed above, you will find that inspiration and motivation is what we aim to display. Our books are written to help others understand the value and of not only being creative but enjoying the developments of life. Although, we completely understand that life can take each of us on a different journey, we enjoy sharing our experience of how beautiful life can be. In our books, readers will find true inspiration and often relative messages that resonate with their own experiences. The idea for writing books like Seeds of a Man and Seeds of a Woman came with complete compassion of the acknowledgment in both men and women. We each carry a substantial amount of different strengths and are gifted in character.
Remote work is on a rise, where employees or workers can work from the comfort of their home, instead of a traditional office. Same is true for the IT industry, where a huge amount of professionals are remote IT workers. According to some studies, it has been revealed that these professionals are more productive, as they work in a quiet environment with no distractions.
There’s a new trend among these professionals, “Wooden Garden House”. If you ask me what’s the relationship between remote IT worker and a wooden garden house, the answer is quite simple. A wooden garden house provides more privacy and lesser distraction in comparison to a normal home. If you have family and kids, working at home is not that simple. However, if you have a fully equipped wooden garden house, you can easily use it as your small office or workplace, where you can do your task without any disturbance or noise.
Although, there are several companies offering different kinds of wooden houses to its clients, one particular company has become quite popular among remote IT workers. This company is none other than the “Gartenhaus”. It is known to offer highest quality wooden summer houses at competitive rates. With a wide variety to choose from, customers can find an ideal wooden house that suits their budget and requirement. Their range of products can be found here.
Over the past few years, businesses have understood the significance of local seo and how it can boost their local visibility. However, when it comes to local blogging, most of the business owners shy away, as it requires time and effort to create an awesome blog. What they don’t realize is that by doing so, they are missing the opportunity to interact with their community and gain some loyal clients.
If you are wondering what a local blog is, it is a blog that provides valuable information to residents, targeting a specific geographical region. In other words, it can be a great means of sharing your expertise with your community and gain its trust. Since, most of the business owners and small businesses do not have time to create a blog, they prefer hiring professional writers or marketing firms that can fulfill their blogging needs, and frequently publish new blog posts on their behalf.
“Blogger Local” is one of such firms, which not only specializes in offering blog writing services to local businesses, but also provides unique, valuable and timely information to its readers. They have a huge following and an avid reader base that visit the site quite often to read new blog posts. With a team of local bloggers, “Blogger Local” work tirelessly to bring latest news about local businesses, including reviews, special events, how to articles and announcements.
In a nutshell, you don’t have to be an expert writer to create local blogs. All you need is a good blogging firm that can share your ideas or expertise with the community in an effective manner.
Running a business online has become much easier than before and more people are getting an online extension of their physical shops to reap better profits and benefits. However, with the increase of the technological advances, the fraud activities have also increased drastically.
People are at a high risk of identity theft or fraud in the increasingly technological world which is almost entirely controlled by brainless machines. With more and more people falling prey to all the Internet and technology-based cyber crimes, having Professional Errors and Omissions technology insurance has become indispensable.
There are a variety of tech insurance policies which include non-owned or hired auto insurance, professional liability, worker's compensation, contents coverage insurance, general liability insurance and crime coverage insurances apart from umbrella coverage insurance.
Most of the companies which involve any Information Technology based business or those involving any consultation based business should consider consulting a technology insurance company and get themselves secured against any form of software misuse or website hacking and defacement.
These tech insurance policies provide a bit of security for the digital and electronic data.
Companies involving telecommunication, computers and software, IT companies, electronic manufacturers and medical technology are at a high risk for being plagued by these Internet and important data-based thefts and should wisely choose an insurance with all the necessary coverage. The increasing number of Internet frauds has not just attacked minor websites and companies, but also major giants and government high-security firewalls and sites like those of Master card and Visa cards.
It is, therefore, extremely necessary that every IT company should get a professional liability insurance. Internet Insurance helps their company stay safe even in the case of any fraud or if any hacking occurs. Getting such insurance helps get a cyber liability coverage which will help both the clients and the service providers to work at peace and become safe at the risk getting huge loss due to software or website crashes due to flaws in IT security from hackers.
Other IT companies which are involved with a technology service where consultation is a major part should also get an error and omission insurance to protect themselves from any probable lawsuits from the client’s side in case of any damage. In a business where a client’s business and dealings are dependent on the services and advice provided by another, a case where any physical or monetary loss happens at the client side, a fraud or deceit charge could come up against the consultants.
All kinds of businesses are prone to errors and a minor omission, misjudgment or negligence on the part of the service providers could cause huge damage to the clients, and the blame would come to the consulting firm. Some tech product manufacturers and distributors have major concerns when our product liability laws are surpassed by technology and automation that actually increase risk exposure. IT Professionals such as computer software database engineers, project consultants, business consultants, lawyers and doctors are in high risks of such law-related complications. These lawsuits involve a handsome amount of money matters involved in the fees, judgment process and damage coverage.
Therefore, getting an errors and omission's insurance policy for consultants will protect the individual as well as their company from going entirely bankrupt. There are also cases when the consultants are falsely charged but even in those cases, getting a defending lawyer to prove innocent might come at a huge cost. It is then when an error and omission insurance saves the company.
Want to pick up more Instagram followers and grow your profile? We have asked around and the experts from Instamacro came back to us with these golden nuggets – take a look.
Coordinate Your Social Media Accounts
A lot of professional online presences exist on multiple platforms. You yourself might have a website, a blog, a Facebook page, and a Twitter account in addition to your Instagram account. Don't assume that every follower will seek you out on every platform! Use your other accounts to promote your Instagram efforts. You'll be surprised by how many additional followers you can pick up.
This is a fundamental bit of psychological you can put to work on Instagram: People are more disposed to give help when it's asked for. You'll get a lot more engagement if you simply take the time to ask your followers to do something. Ask followers to like a photo to express support, tag friends when you share something funny, and much more. There's no harm in making a suggestion, and the benefits can be tremendous.
If you're posting content where the location is important (e.g. your latest vacation or a review of that hip new restaurant), make sure you geotag your post. This can attract extra attention from other users who share your region as well as your interests.
After you've been posting content for a little while, take some time to review what you've shared. Which photos garnered the most likes and positive comments? Which ones ended up getting ignored? Use this "market research" to shape the posts you make in the future.
To revisit the ideas laid out in point #6 above, make sure you are cross-posting to all of your social networks when you post to Instagram. The app itself has powerful features for integrating directly with Facebook and Twitter, and this is just the start of the linking possibilities.
Again, this speaks to honoring the "social" part of social media. Approach a popular Instagrammer about the possibility of "swapping" accounts for a day. Open things up by starting an Instagram challenge for your followers. Instagram is an inherently collaborative medium; use your imagination to think up clever ways to put it to work!
When it comes to software development process, also known as software development life cycle, there are several approaches and models. The details vary somewhat from one approach to another, but there are six basic steps or phases that are common across all models. VironIt, a top software development company today reveals the six phases that are crucial for the development of any software.
Blueprint: In order to develop fully functional software, one has to do some planning and create a blueprint of software. As a developer, you have to first understand what challenges you might face throughout the entire process, and then create a realistic plan that has no obstacles.
Analysis: This particular phase involves scrutinizing whether your project is feasible or not. Taking notes of further requirements or challenges you might face while each development phase.
Software Design: This is the key phase that involves marking out the entire architecture of software and creating a layout that acts as a base for next phase. Moreover, it also helps in knowing what exact hardware is needed to successfully run the software.
Coding: Like the name suggests, it involves transforming a design into code by programmers.
Testing and Software Deployment: Once the code has been developed, it undergoes several testing phases that determine whether the product is working as per original specifications or not. Software Deployment, also known as Beta Phase, involves the product being passed over to the clients, in order to get valuable customer feedback. Any bugs or glitches experienced during this phase can be fixed.
Maintenance: Last but not the least, maintenance is the phase that involves after sales services and support provided by the developers to clients or end users.
In today’s era, when technology plays a vital role in the development of a child’s future, a good pair of WIDA headphones is a must have. It allows your child to use a PC, laptop or even a tablet without any distraction. However, when it comes to choosing a set of headphones, there are a lot of things to consider: price, durability, sound quality, brand and usability.
With so many options available it can be quite difficult to compile a list of classroom headphones, especially those suitable for WIDA testing. Here are some headphone ideas to get started.
Over Ear Headphones: These are traditional full size headphones with large ear pads that cover your ears. These headphones are perfect for schools and most educational purposes, as they allow the user to focus on audio without any distraction.
On Ear Headphones: These are lighter and smaller than over ear headphones, with smaller ear pads. They are easy to carry, offer good sound quality and are easy to clean too.
Headsets with Microphones: Like the name suggests, they come with microphone and noise control or volume control option. These are needed for WIDA testing in cases that students must speak responses.
Disposable Headphones: These headphones are cheap and perfect for basic classroom activities. They are compatible with most devices. Hygiene is less of an issue than headphones that are being shared by multiple students.
Classroom Ear Buds: Quite sturdy and have longer durability. But are still disposable.
Wireless Headphones: With no wires attached, these headphones provide better mobility and are compatible with most of the new laptop, PC, and tablets. Students can inadvertently damage headphone plugs and other equipment when they have wired headphones on and try to walk away. Wireless headphones solve that problem.
Infrared Wireless Headphones: Provide crisp and crystal clear high quality audio. Moreover, these headphones do not interfere with other electronic equipments that are at close proximity.
One major advantage provided through guest blogging is that you are able to increase your search engine authority and domain name recognition. This blog is a great example of that.
Without even needing to invest my time doing any special SEO techniques or focusing on buying links from other sources, I've achieved the results I wanted. My blog currently has a Google page rank of 4, and it receives over 4,000 visitors every month. Some of my posts even have a page 1 ranking that I've achieved simply by using well-planned keywords.
My experience demonstrates the value of guest blogging as a way to build authoritative back-links that drive traffic to your blog and improve your search engine results.
How to Increase Your Online Influence
Do you know what your level of online influence is? When I speak about Influence, I'm not referring to expertise or authority. I'm talking about actual influence, which is able to be either positive or negative. It has everything to do with how many people you're able to impact.
Guest blogging on other people's blogs that are more well-known than yours is an awesome way to influence the lives of others, and to create a lasting memory of you for them. You might wonder if it's even possible for you to have such an influence on other people from your blog. The truth is that you'll reach more people by attracting the readers of other blogs to your own.
Guest Blogging Develops Your Visibility
How long it will take you to increase your visibility and become highly respected within your niche can vary. There are some people that claim that it will take years. The fact is that it only took me about 8 months because I used the power of guest blogging.
Guest blogging makes it possible to associate yourself with some of the most popular bloggers in your niche, and when people begin to notice your name on all the blogs they frequent, they'll automatically give you the same level of respect that they already have for the bloggers they love.
Increase Your Portfolio and Online Credibility
There is really only one reliable way to know if someone is worth having your attention, and if they can do what they claim to be able to do... their credibility. You have to demonstrate your reliability and credibility to visitors to your blog. One great way of doing that is by guest blogging on other blogs. You're portfolio of writing will be available on a wider scale, and when you do it regularly you'll establish a reputation of reliability in the minds of your readers.
Develop Your Writing Skills
When I first started blogging, I'd write lengthy articles to submit as guest posts for a variety of blogs. These treatises would be guided by my inspiration, and I'd experience a lift in my spirit as the words flowed to the screen. Of course, I felt like each article was a masterpiece!
At some point I received a reply from a blogger letting me know that he wouldn't be including my guest post on his blog. He told me that he couldn't even provide me with a critique of my work because the writing was so bad that he couldn't understand the article!
I was angry. I ignored his comments and I submitted the article to another blog, but in time I calmed down and gave what he'd said some consideration. I went back to the article and took another look at it, and identified several key problems with it that I was able to resolve by editing it. The revised article was accepted, and was posted to the blog. Here are some good tips to improve writing skills.
The lesson learned? Always proofread my posts!
It doesn't matter what your skill level is as a writer, or how inspirational you think that your work is, you can't avoid proofreading. If others can't understand what you've written, you're never going to be able to attract more traffic to your blog. Your goal needs to be to continually strive to improve and build upon your writing skills.
Grow a Healthy Subscriber Base
Driving traffic to your blog should not be your only goal. Guest blogging has enabled me to increase the number of new subscribers that I attract on a daily basis, to more than I used to gain in a month!
Some of my guest posts have resulted in acquiring over 200 new subscribers in a single day. When I first started blogging, I was lucky to get that many in a month. I seldom write a guest post that results in less than 50 new subscribers now.
Guest Blogging Increases the Reach of Your Social Media Profile
Not everyone cares about driving traffic to their blog or acquiring new subscribers. Possibly the most important thing to you is that you build a strong Twitter or Facebook fan base. Guest blogging can get that done for you. I've heard of people acquiring as many as 200 new followers by linking to their Twitter feed in a guest post. Talk about increasing the reach of your social media profile!
What's the Next Step?
If you loved this post and think that it could benefit others that you know, feel free to share it on your favorite social media sites. I'm also available for guest blogging consultation, or as a professional guest blogger should you desire to jump start your campaign. Contact me directly for the details.
Guest blogging works. I've used it to effectively promote my domain name and to increase my search engine visibility, and you can too! Give it a try, and watch as new visitors to your blog start to flow in!
Studies have shown that a caring and supportive environment in early childhood plays a major role in the overall development and success of an individual in adult life. “Play” is one of the key aspects of early childhood development, as it helps in social, emotional, cognitive and physical development of the child. These are the basic skills that allow a child to practice self-control and self-regulation at an early age.
“According to UNICEF, early childhood is the most and rapid period of development in a human life and how the child develops during this period sets the stage for later success in school and the character of adolescence and adulthood.”
SuperBaby is one of the firms, which has dedicated itself in promoting this maxim. They offer several programs, toys, books and tools that are aimed to boost knowledge development in kids, and provide parents with an opportunity to engage fully with their child. This in turn, promotes the probability of a child doing well at school, and later become a successful individual in terms of career, health and social environment. Their product line is inclusive of multimedia DVD’s, books, and toys that are aimed towards enhancing the knowledge development of kids aged 3 months to 6 years.
Apart from this, they even offer art and craft kits that contain a bunch of activities involving making things with one’s own hands, while utilizing material like paper, ice cream sticks, paper plates, card, threads, thermocol balls, etc. Activities such as these boost creativity in children and help them become more innovative in approach.
Introducing Millennial View: Workplace and Marketing Consultancy Firm Tailored to Attracting Millennials
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According to recent studies, Millennials, also known as “Gen Y” represents more than 80 million potential customers. They are more connected to technology and engage with brands more deeply. However, when it comes to convincing a millennial consumer through traditional marketing tactics, it seldom works, as the purchasing decision of millennials is influenced by their peer, family and friends.
Apart from this, they have become first priority for employers, as they are innovative, have leadership qualities and strive to make a difference. However, attracting millennial workers requires more than money and perks, as these workers are more interested in career development, leadership opportunities and growth.
“Millennial View”, is one unique firm that has dedicated itself to providing innovative workplace and marketing strategies to companies that want to benefit from millennial workers or consumers.
According to company’s spokesperson, Trevor Gormley: “The world is changing, we want to help businesses stay ahead of the curve. Empowering and engaging young people will create a better experience for the employee and most importantly for your consumer. We understand that not every company can provide its employees with the same environment as Google. However, at the Millennial View we assess your current management and marketing strategies to better position your business for the incoming millennial employee and consumer. Our assessment of the current Values, Interests, Environment, and Work-Life balance of your employees and consumers allow us to create crucial strategies to help guide your business in the coming years.”
The Millennial View team comprises of Trevor Gormley (Founder/CEO), Blake Hodges (Creative Director), Hannah Kraebel (Head of Strategic Execution), and Michael Levashov (Director of Research).
More information can be found at: https://www.themillennialview.com/what-we-do/
Plugging ‘The True Equity Gap’ for Technology Start-Ups is our USP, says Rosemont Group CEO Freddie Achom
Rosemont Group Capital Partners, the London based seed and early stage venture capitalist firm last year announced its intention to invest in as many as 20 start-up and early stage technology companies. Its target was to do so within 2 years, with a primary investment focus on consumer Internet, digital content, advertising, marketing, and commerce. To some this would seem like a tough or near impossible possible task given the precariousness of the investment sector at present, particularly for a reasonably small firm. The group invests capital through direct equity investments, convertible loan/notes, options, warrants or preferred shares and invests on its own or with co-investment partners. So far the firm has achieved some enviable success and insists there is more to come in the very near future.
“The focus of the fund is to back innovative technology ventures with potential for exponential growth, providing seed funding for start-ups. Why start-ups and especially at the widely considered riskier seed level, some may ask? This is where we feel we can add the greatest strategic value and see potential for greater financial return,” says Rosemont Group’s CEO, the Nigerian-born British Investment Entrepreneur, Freddie Achom. “We are still relatively young within the space and continue to accrue experience with every investment we make, this is achieved by working closely with the founders we invest in and believe in 1000 per cent.”
Unusually Rosemont Group’s business model is to adopt an element from ‘accelerators’, which apply less standard sizes of investment and offer greater executional assistance to digital SME's. The tech investment sector In the UK has seen the launch of programmes such as Seedcamp achieve good level of success, emulating those of US based accelerators like YCombinator, Betaworks, Techstars and LaunchBox to name a few. However, typically these programmes have served to increase the flow of new start-ups rather than specifically addressing the funding gap that Achom believes exists. With a strategy to target what Achom calls ‘the true equity gap’, generally businesses seeking less than 1 million pounds in financial capital and as little as 50 thousand pounds, the group has achieved good success so far. Given the unique characteristics of early stage Internet companies, Rosemont Group carefully screens and evaluates them prior to investment, then accelerates and maximises their portfolio companies’ executional prospects by working directly with them. “We specifically target early stage businesses which fall within or often below the conventional equity gap, accelerate the growth of these companies and create sustainable businesses as well as a proven investment model,” says Achom.
Last year alone Rosemont Group has seen one of its portfolio companies, social media management tech start-up JustGo, acquired by Tunecore, one of the leading digital music distribution and publishing administration providers in the US. Achom was pleased with the transaction but remained tight-lipped about the details of the deal, only saying ‘it was a liquidity event so we are happy investors.” A recent investment for Rosemont Group was in what is now the UK’s number one parking app, AppyParking. “Rosemont Group was the first and only money in at seed stage, which we are very proud of. We demonstrated our willingness to back innovation we believe in, ” explains Achom. Aviva ventures the venture arm of Aviva insurance lead the next round of investment into AppyParking with a 1 million investment and more recently the company has recently raised further 10 million pounds on a 30 million post-money valuation. Another investment saw Rosemont Group invest in a Pakistani tech start-up alongside Sunbridge Capital and Telefonica’s accelerator programme.
A factor that Achom feels brings the balance in their favour is that Internet and digital technology companies require less operating capital to develop working products and solutions than other more traditional businesses. They typically do not have large capital expenditure requirements, don’t produce or manufacture hardware or tangible goods, rarely hold inventory and do not have returns or leakage to contend with.
Achom concludes by saying “recent industry trends such as using open source software for building business services, cloud computing for storage or processing requirements and distributed flexible teams all contribute to the unique ability of digital SME's to start a project, product or company within months or even weeks for less than the amounts typical VCs look to invest. There is a gap and we aim to achieve as larger market share of this space as possible.”
ABOUT ROSEMONT GROUP CAPITAL PARTNERS:
Rosemont Group Capital Partners LLC is an early stage venture capitalist firm co-founded in 2003 by British entrepreneur and venture investor Freddie Achom. Its portfolio is as wide ranging as digital technology, bio technology, solar technology, financial services, land and property development to more high profile ventures in the entertainment sectors. Rosemont Group is headquartered in London with international offices in New York and Mumbai.
Rosemont Group is actively seeking interesting ideas, concepts and businesses to invest in and should be contacted via their website:
We are social: @RosemontGroup #RosemontGroup
When it comes to sexual expression, modern society is quite open to it, and several individuals have multiple sexual partners. Unfortunately, these people are more prone to sexual diseases, as STDs are caused by infections that are passed from one individual to another during a sexual contact. Such infections are hard to detect at early stages, as they do not show any symptoms. In fact, the estimated total number of people living in the US with STD is over sixty-five million, and each year, there are approximately fifteen million new STD cases.
Hence, it has become quite crucial for the people, especially the youth to practice safer sex and prevent the risk of getting infected by STD.
Freedom Network has recently launched a comprehensive guide to sexually transmitted diseases that includes the latest important information about STD and its symptoms with pictures and facts, and how it can be treated. They are a team of volunteer web-publishing professionals and medical experts who have worked side by side to produce this STD Guide Online Version for you. Through this unique collaboration, they give you access to knowledge and control over your health. The guide is available at: https://www.std-gov.org/
Moreover, they have even compiled a detailed STD list with descriptions and useful information. This list can be found here: https://www.std-gov.org/stds/std.htm
To learn about top 5 most dangerous STDs, visit: https://www.std-gov.org/blog/top-5-most-dangerous-stds/
Even if you are not too fond of gadgets, there will always be someone you know who is just addicted to anything that is related to technology. It may be a family member, a friend or a colleague. It is evident that if you want to give gifts that will be appreciated, you need to give something that they will truly love.
With the wide selection of gadgets that are available, how can you possibly choose? You first have to analyze your relationship with the person that you are going to give the gift to. If the person is close to you, you may want to spend more. If the person is merely an acquaintance, you do not have to give something extravagant even if you can afford it because it will be uncomfortable for you and the person.
Let us say that you would be giving a gift to a family member, a loved one or a close friend. What are the gifts that you can give?
1. Keyboard Waffle Maker: For the Hilarious Friend
You may have a friend who is so into playing and using his/her gadgets that he/she barely has time to cook. You can give the Keyboard Waffle Maker to remind the person that he/she still needs to eat. At the same time, the unique appearance of this waffle maker will make anyone happy. Since this is cordless, this can be cooked over a grill.
2. GoProHero+: For Someone Who Likes Traveling
You will always come across some people who live to travel. They would like to reach different points of the world because being immersed in different cultures truly change their mindset and their way of thinking. The best thing about GoProHero+ is that it is waterproof and shock proof. It can also take wonderful pictures that can be uploaded online immediately.
3. Light Up Gloves: For the Daredevil
Some people love riding their motorcycles and even their bikes late at night because there are fewer cars traveling at that time but they are also more prone to accidents because they are not seen by other vehicles on the road. Increase their safety by giving them Light Up Gloves. These gloves are very easy to use too. The button located at the gloves just need to be pressed and they will light up until they are pressed again.
4. Syma RC Helicopter: For the Peter Pan
You will always have that friend or that family member who does not want to grow up. Most of the time, they are able to live their normal, adult lives. They go to work and do their responsibilities but during their spare time, they cannot help but release the inner Peter Pan in them. This RC Helicopter will be perfect because this is inexpensive and can be fun to use.
5. Cool Looking Charger: For the Chic Friend
You may think that everyone who loves gadgets must love the outdoors or would love to play various types of sports but actually, there are some who are chic and sophisticated who love gadgets too. The best thing to give is a chic looking charger that they will be proud to put out of their designer bag whenever they need to charge. Search for colors that are not that common or you can find some that can mix the color of their smartphones.
6. 8Bitdo Bluetooth Retro Controller: For the Nostalgic One
You will always have some friends and family members who love playing the latest games and would love to have the latest gadgets but would gladly give a smile when reminded of the things that people used in the past. This bluetooth controller is set up to look like an old Nintendo controller and this can easily sync up with all of the other gadgets that are available at present time.
7. Tile: For Those Who Loses Keys All The Time
Everyone misplaces their keys once in a while but you will know someone who does nothing but lose his/her keys. This is the best gift because this can be attached to simple keys. The gadget will then be connected to the smartphone and it will give out an alarm when prompted so that it can be found.
Out of all the tech gadget ideas that are mentioned above, which one are you planning to purchase soon? Do not hesitate to give you gift ideas too.
In European Law, the right to privacy is a really developed aspect of the Law. The European Union has a very strong directive on data protection, which was adopted in 1995. This directive is based on the regulation of how the personal data of individuals and free movement of such data are processed within the European Union.
In January 2012, the European Commission made a comprehensive proposal to reform the data protection rules in the EU. This reformation of the policy was aimed to be a priority to be completed in 2015. The special goal of the reformed set of rules was to bring simplicity to the regulatory environment for doing business, and give back control to the citizens over their personal data. This reform of data procession is what now mainly enables the Digital Single Market, which has been prioritized by the commission. This reform enables businesses and European citizens to optimally gain from the digital economy.
In the course of carrying out certain social activities, like opening a social media account or booking a flight online, one hands over important personal data such as their address, name, and credit card information. Every individual has rights regarding all this personal data. These rights are concerned with the protection of personal data, as officially regulated under the EU Law.
The EU Law states that the gathering of personal data can only be made possible for legitimate purposes under very strict situations. This further means that every person or institution that gathers another’s personal data must ensure that it is well protected from any misuse. There are certain rights which every data owner has, which are guaranteed by European Union Law and must be adequately respected.
On a daily basis, there is a transfer of a great deal of personal data within the EU borders, by individuals, businesses and public authorities. If there were controversial rules in different countries regarding data protection, international exchanges would be disrupted. Many people wouldn’t be willing to allow their personal data be transferred abroad if there was uncertainty about the protection level in other countries. For this reason, a common EU set of rules has been created. In this way, everyone’s personal data enjoys a high rate of protection in all countries within the European Union. EU laws is open for anyone to complain or seek redress if his/her data is mishandled anywhere in the EU member states.
There is also the Data Protection Directive of the EU which foresees certain rules regarding the movement of personal data outside EU countries, otherwise known as third countries. This has put in place in order to ensure that personal data is optimally protected when transferred outside of the EU. The EU directive for third country transfer of data states that data can only be transferred to a third country that provides a sufficient protection level. An exemption to this rule is allowed in cases such as situations involving the controller himself who has assured that the receiving party will observe the data protection laws. There is also ‘’Article 29 Working Party’’ that offers advice about the protection level within the European and third countries.
In Germany, data protection is majorly controlled by the Federal Data Protection Act, which executes directive 95/46/EC on data protection.
In today’s era most of us can’t imagine a life without smartphones and computers. However, when it comes to technology, computers are prone to viruses, Wi-Fi networks can fail to connect, frequent cyber threats, and the list goes on. Unfortunately, most of the small business owners ignore the importance of managing technology, and undervalue the role of IT support company. One can understand how frustrating it can be when technology is not working, and you are unable to fix the problem.
The good news is that CMIT Solutions of Southern Westchester are available to help small businesses with all their technical issues and outrages. CMIT Solutions of Southern Westcheser is a New-York based IT Support Company specializing in IT Services for small-to-mid sized businesses in New York. They provide comprehensive IT service for businesses who are too small to have internal IT department and for large companies with multiple locations.
They offer a wide range of Managed IT Services such as, Network Security, Data Recovery, Backup & Disaster Recovery, IT Consulting, Security, On Demand Services, Office Moves, Managed Services, Email & Spam Protection, Cloud Computing, Virus Removal, Video Conferencing, Document Imaging, Hipaa and Computer Lab Setup.
Specifically, some of the key benefits of hiring CMIT Solutions is that they, eliminate annoying spam, pop-ups, and spyware from taking over your computer and your network, Safeguard your data, offer 24/7/365 monitoring and ongoing maintenance, in-house, New York IT support department without all of the costs, instant technical IT support, eliminate the risk of sudden and unexpected IT repairs and data recovery costs and replace it with a low, predictable monthly rate, cheap service with complete peace of mind, and dramatically reduce your risk of experiencing a very expensive, highly disruptive network outage, downtime or disaster.
There can be a lot of reasons to surprise your girlfriend with a beautiful gift. Maybe it’s her birthday, Christmas or Valentine’s Day. However, when it comes to choosing cute gifts for girlfriend, the stakes are high, as a poorly chosen gift can leave a damaging effect, or even worse, ruin the relationship.
Choosing a gift can be quite tricky, as there are several factors for you to consider before buying the gift, such as how long you have been dating, what’s the occasion, and how much is your budget. So without further ado, we are sharing with you a simple yet great tip that will make her feel like you really care about her, and bring a smile to her face.
A beautiful necklace can be the perfect gift for your girl, as not only there’s a huge variety to choose from, it’s something which she can wear every day. Besides, a necklace has always been an important component in woman’s attire. You don’t need to spend a fortune to buy a designer necklace for girlfriend. For just a couple of hundred bucks or less, you can buy a necklace that matches with the taste, style or personality of your girlfriend. There are companies like “Nano Jewelry” that offer wide spectrum of necklaces in different designs and styles at reasonable rates. What makes them unique is that their designs are inspired by history, spirituality and love.
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March 4, 2017 - Rosemead, CA, United States - Rudy L. Kusuma and his Home Selling Team, today announced that they have negotiated over $500 Million in transactions.
When it comes to hiring IT Consultants or IT Support Company for your business, there are several things you need to consider, such as your requirements, budget, experience and reputation of the consultant firm, etc. Today, most of the IT support companies are offering their services on contractual or as-needed basis. In other words, you can hire a professional for deadline-driven tasks or long-term assignments. Not only it saves you time, but allows you to save money, which you would have spent hiring a full time employee.
First of all, you need to determine your technology gaps, and where your team is lagging behind. Second, you need to decide what specific role the consultant will play and how much you are willing to pay him for that specific task. And lastly, go for those consultants who are fully certified, and have enough affiliations or credentials to support their claims.
However, before hiring the consultants make sure that they have enough experience in handling companies or businesses of your size. For instance, if you are a small business owner, and you hire a consultant who specializes in helping bigger enterprises, he might struggle to meet your requirements and fail to deliver results within given timeframe or budget. In the same way, if you are a bigger firm, and you hire a consultant who specializes in helping small business owners, he might not have the skills or expertise to handle bigger technological tasks of your business. Hence, conduct a thorough background check of the IT Support Company and see if they have the expertise to fulfill your demands.
In this article, Elias Kousoulas, founder and CEO of USPCNET, a Phoenix IT Services, discusses the top four benefits of hiring managed IT services and how it can play a vital role in success of your business.
Managed IT Services basically refers to a solution provided by a dedicated third-party service provider for a flat-rate fee that involves monitoring, managing and addressing a range of IT issues on a proactive basis. By choosing to hire an IT service provider, businesses can improve their operations, focus more on their core business, and minimize security breach, crashes or downtime. Here are top four reasons why it’s beneficial to hire a Managed IT Services.
USPCNET is an IT Services and Support Company with offices in Phoenix, Denver, Tucson, Las Vegas and San Diego. It specializes in offering network support solutions through a highly organized process that stimulates and promotes both personal and financial prosperity, inspiration, and growth for their clients.
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Patrick Hebert is the CEO of Optimize Leverage and YouInc Marketing. He also co-hosts the podcast show called “No More Mister Nice Guys”. Patrick has networked and strategized with a lot of great leaders, both online and offline to help grow their business. He is well trained in almost every aspect of online marketing and has successfully trained hundreds of clients from all walks of life. Patrick has been in the industry since 2011, and today he reveals his journey to successful mentorship, and how his training methodologies resonate with people. Behind every successful movie, there is a crew that plays a vital role in making a great movie. This crew comprises of people like SFX personnel, camera men, stunt men and women, etc. However, most often, the audience only remembers the names of actors and directors, and knows very little about the people who were behind the scene. Patrick is one of such individuals who kept a low profile while helping several entrepreneurs and business owners gain success in their business endeavors. When asked about why does he tend to shy away from the spotlight? His response was: “When I started to work online I was an active duty military member. Also at the time I was very new in the industry and was really learning a lot of thing about myself. As I became better, I really tried to stay small in business due to my military career. I knew no matter what, my primary job was to serve my country. I also felt a sense of freedom being low key and that allowed me to grow more and to help my clients”. He also noted that after doing a few speaking engagements, he realized that he didn't wanted any public speaking to interfere with his military career, so he shifted his focus towards private webinars and high ticket mentorship training. When asked what makes his training resonate with people on so many levels? Patrick commented: “I give a lot of credit to the military where I learnt true leadership skills and was given the opportunity to work with people from all over the world. Also, as much as I train and speak to others, I never turn off my ability to listen.” Specifically, some of the key online marketing aspects Patrick specializes in are: Direct Response Marketing, High Ticket Client Mentorship (mentorship and training to coaches on how to easily start a High Ticket Selling Program), Sales Funnel Optimization, Lead Generation, Traffic Optimization and Conversions. For more information, visit: Optimize Leverage
About Patrick Hebert
Patrick Hebert is an author, speaker, mentor, high ticket strategist and direct response marketer who had been secretly behind the scene helping others grow their business online since 2011. He is the CEO of “YouInc Marketing” and “Optimize Leverage” and Co-Host of the No More Mister Nice Guys Podcast Show.
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.
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.
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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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Miss fewer sales
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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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:
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.
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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.
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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:
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.
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.
DiLabrien 50GMUKR3EQ 2,914 Views
It’s been almost a year since that fateful vote on Brexit. There were two quite diametrically opposed assumptions of the consequences. Those who supported the move saw great economic growth for the UK, now that it was unshackled from the “chains” of the EU. Those who opposed it predicted an economic crash.
None of these has actually occurred. In fact, Brits have awakened every day since June 23, 2016 to “business as usual.” The Pound did take a hit, of course, and that is, as with any economy, a two-edged sword. Consumers pay more for imported goods, and tech startups will pay more for such things as Amazon S3. But outside investors find it much cheaper to do business in London.
The Bureaucracy Moves Slowly
The biggest reason for the continued “business as usual” is, of course, the fact that two years of negotiations with the EU on the details of Brexit have just begun. And the “biggies,” such as trade, exchange rates, immigration visas, etc. have yet to be hammered out.
What This Means for the Startup Climate in London
Thus far, Brexit has had little impact on the startup scene. In fact, during the first quarter of 2017, UK startups attracted $1.4 billion in VC. While it is a bit less than the same quarter of 2016, it is more than quarters 2-4 of last year. The primary reason, of course, is that with the devaluation of the British currency, foreign investors get more “bang for their bucks.”
The number of new startups, as demonstrated by the still-hot demand for office space in Shoreditch, indicates that founders are betting that the Brexit negotiations will leave the UK in a good position in the long run.
While there is a shortage of techies in the UK, and while this shortage has always been easily filled by the immigration policies of the EU, founders believe that #10 Downing Street is practical and realistic and understands the need for IT skills, no matter where those skills might come from. To slam the door too hard on immigration would be a mistake, forcing startups and even more established tech firms to pull up stakes.
Already, there is some talk that Dublin could become a new tech center, if UK immigration policies make it too expensive or prohibitive to attract and secure continued tech expertise needs.
What to Watch For
One thing is for certain – no one knows what Brexit will ultimately mean for startups or investors. A recent survey, conducted by TechCrunch, polled both founders and investors of some of the largest startups and investors in Europe.
Here’s what founders said: Over the next two years, they are very high on Amsterdam, Tel Aviv, Stockholm, Berlin, Helsinki, Paris, and even New York City (where the local government is revamping many of its commercial incentives), as opposed to London. Founders express uncertainty until the Brexit negotiations are complete, and “things” settle down. It appears that London will be losing its status as the startup capital of Europe, at least in the short-term. Founder cite as their concerns exactly those that have already been mentioned – staffing with uncertain visa/travel restrictions, and the ability to raise money in such a climate.
On the bright side, founders also cited the weaker GBP with its consequent ability to raise funds, along with the hope for governmental tax incentives and somewhat cheaper real estate.
Here’s what investors said: They see great opportunity in the same cities as the surveyed founders, but over the next two years, they will be closely watching the negotiations of Brexit. Right now, they are happy to have the devalued Pound and do continue to invest in UK startups, but remain cautious.
One of the challenges, investors believe, will be in FinTech, especially because of “passporting issues” for European banking licenses. Overall, however, investors believe that, once the uncertainty has dissipated, London will again be a highly attractive investment opportunity. They have more faith in the government’s pragmatism than founders do.
Some Other Positive Signs
A few of the tech “big boys” have recently announced expansion plans in the UK, and this can cause renewed confidence in an air of uncertainty.
In February, Amazon announced that it will hire an additional 5,000 in the UK during 2017. While most of this employment will be in fulfillment centers, 10% will be in research and development centers. – centers that are developing technology for such things as Alexa, Prime Video, and drones.
Late last year, Google announced that it would add 3,000 to its London office over the next several years. And Facebook is increasing its staffing by 50%. Adding to this positive news, Apple purchased a 500,000-sq. foot space for expansion.
Facing the Future
Whatever the Pound does, it seems the larger issue for the UK is the shortage of native STEM skills. The tech sector is now 16% of the UK economy, and if skilled expertise is not to be found “in-country,” immigration restrictions will be a serious blow.
According to the Coalition for a Digital Economy (Coadec), an organization that represents digital and tech startups, the UK will need an extra two million techies by 2020. They are not producing these people, and they will certainly not be coming from outer space. The recommendation is that the UK offer a special visa for those with this expertise, allowing the tech startup sector to continue to flourish in the UK.
“Brexit means Brexit” is a common saying among the supporters of this referendum. But for startups and investors, the meaning if still unclear. Again, the government of the UK, conservative or liberal, has always been highly pragmatic, and it is unlikely that it will let 16% of its current economy falter.
richardwatson 508Y2U1A4F 2,456 Views
We create an immense measure of health related information; from our fitness tracker mobiles applications to electronic medicinal records. The normal individual is probably going to create more than one million gigabytes of health related information in their lifetime which is huge. Clinical trials and examines additionally include an immense measure of data.
New discoveries are being made continually and all the more capable and advance technologies make better instruments for diagnosis prevention and comprehension of sickness and disease. The immense measure of individual data could open possibility of the knowledge to make life longer and more advantageous.
So the question is how can the healthcare professionals keep up? And the answer is IBM Watson Health. This Watson Heath esteem based offerings conveys more proficient care, connects with patients and consumers and improves business execution. IBM Watson Health will cause rethink ways to better help by giving information something to do for every one of us.
The capacity to learn and overtime refine its analysis based on what it is figuring out how to transform this enormous heap of data into information. With the help of IBM Watson, we will be able to do even more to make the data about our health work for us. This Watson Heath value-based offerings conveys more productive care, engages patients and consumers and streamlines business execution. IBM Watson Health will help redefine paths to better help by putting data to work for all of us.
IBM Watson utilizes psychological figuring for analyzing enormous masses of data. Extraordinary compared to other focal points of Watson is the capacity to break down unstructured information. This machine can consider confirm, break down photographs, make conclusions.
In the first place, IBM Watson was being prepared to treat breast and lung cancers. As Watson learns from its own experience, enhancing the exactness and making more certain treatment choices, this machine can now offer treatment for solid and blood cancers: prostate, ovarian, pancreas, liver, kidney, uterine, bladder, colon, cervical, etc. IBM Watson works like a bit psychometry which is best to use on objects who’s history can be proven, so that you can verify whether your impressions were correct or not.
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If employability is the only factor to consider, then the answer is absolutely yes; too many companies simply will not hire a PM without them having at least some experience in working with the PRINCE2 methodology. On the other hand, it’s important to manage expectations and consider what it is about a PRINCE2 certification that is worth the cost.
PRINCE2 Can Get Your Foot in The Door
If you look through project management job listings, you will likely see PRINCE2 as a prerequisite quite frequently. For some people, that may be reason enough to bite the bullet and get certified. Just make sure to keep things in perspective and don’t jump the gun. A five day class isn’t going to teach you some of the nitty-gritty details of project management that you only learn from experience. For example, while PRINCE2 will teach you how break down complex tasks and allocate responsibilities, it won’t teach you how to effectively assign these tasks within your team to fully utilise your pool of talent. This is something you can only learn by getting to know your team and examining independently which tasks are relevant to which skillset.
It’s also important to note that many organisations that ask for you to have a PRINCE2 qualification may not fully implement the methodology within their organisation. Because the methodology is comprised of a set of general principles and techniques for project managers, organisations may pick and choose which elements of the methodology they implement according to which are relevant to their method of working. Not all projects are the same and while PRINCE2 is a useful tool, your suitability for a project management role and your success within it depends on your ability to adapt the methodology and think independently, so potential employers will often ask for project management experience in addition to a PRINCE2 certification.
PRINCE2 May Not be Necessary For Project Support Roles
If you don’t want to be a project manager, but are interested in other roles on a project team, it may not be necessary for you to become a PRINCE2 Practitioner. However, there are many features of the course that you can utilize in your own work and if PRINCE2 is implemented in your place of work, then it will help if you familiarize yourself with the methodology, even informally. Risk management, for example, plays an important role in PRINCE2 and by learning the methods of preparing for and managing risks within a project, you may find errors in your work being reduced as well as time spent recovering from mistakes. In which case, you may want to learn the basics of PRINCE2 Foundation rather than completing the course in full and becoming a Practitioner, or you can purchase the PRINCE2 guidance and study some of the information in your own time.
Being a PRINCE2 Practitioner Can Help You Secure A Project Management Role
If your ultimate goal is to work as a project manager, PRINCE2 is a highly beneficial certification to have on your CV: this is true if you already have project experience and can be doubly true if you are coming from a different career background. As a practical matter, investing in PRINCE2 training courses is simply a necessity if you are looking to enter into a project management role without any prior experience. It will teach you enough for you to understand the basic principles and responsibilities of your position and it will also make you a stronger candidate for employment than if you had applied for a project management position with no experience or understanding of what the job would entail.
Just be aware that you may not be enamored with the methodology initially. Many project teams find PRINCE2 too inflexible for their types of projects. However, becoming qualified in PRINCE2 makes available possibilities to expand on your knowledge and make the methodology more relevant to your industry and projects. For example, PRINCE2 Agile is a qualification that is an extension of the PRINCE2 Practitioner course which mixes together elements of PRINCE2 and the highly flexible methodology Agile PM. For some project managers, paying for two or three certifications to learn the relevant methodology may not seem like a worthwhile investment, which is something you would need to think about before you consider enrolling.
PRINCE2 Does Not Make up For Lack of Experience
A good project manager has done more than master a particular project methodology. They have learned to communicate effectively, make time estimates, use resources, manage project scope, resolve conflict, and deal with inevitable catastrophes.
While a project management methodology like PRINCE2 might teach you the importance of these skills and the basic principles, much of what you will use within your team will come from experience. PRINCE2 does not supply you with a rulebook that you can refer to, so you will need to learn these skills through successes and failures and by collecting experience as a project manager.
PRINCE2 Methodologies Can be Applied in Multiple Industries
While there are some methodologies that only work well in particular industries, PRINCE2 can be applied virtually anywhere. In fact, it’s been said that PRINCE2 can even be used to plan parties or other personal life events. What this means to you, as a fledgling project manager, is that the skills you learn in PRINCE2 can be applied to any industry you are interested in working in. For example, your PRINCE2 skills used in an IT company can be fairly easily translated into skills that are useful at a manufacturing plant or marketing firm. This means you have a fairly wide variety of industries in which you can seek employment.
PRINCE2 is Not Widely Used in The United States
If you plan to seek out project management positions solely in the United States or within firms that do business primarily with American firms, the PRINCE2 Practitioner designation may not be quite as lucrative for you as it would be for a UK professional. This is because, in spite of its popularity in many other countries, PRINCE2 simply hasn’t gained traction in the United States.
While the PRINCE2 certification may be useful to professionals working with multinational companies, or for projects executed by US firms overseas, you might consider learning other methodologies that you may find more useful within the United States. Agile, CPM, Scrum, Kanban, and others are some of the more popular project management methodologies used by American companies.
It may be helpful to think of PRINCE2 certification as getting your high school diploma rather than being the one and only methodology you learn. It is one of the oldest project management methodologies still being used today, and so contains many elements from which most other methodologies were derived. While it is useful for many professionals, it may not supply you with the complete knowledge that you will need in order to excel in a project management position and not always will it be relevant to the industry or organisation you enter into.
If you are going to seek work as a PM in countries such as the UK or India where this methodology is highly popular, it will definitely benefit you. However, it cannot replace project management experience and while it can give your career a boost, it cannot be relied upon entirely to ensure your success as a PM. Think carefully about the requirements of your current role or the role you are aiming for when you consider whether a PRINCE2 certification is worth the cost and learn what you can about the methodology and others before you decide which you would benefit from the most.
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Not all startups are high tech, although it would almost seem so these days. Even if you are producing the next best gardening tools, however, you will need technology. And as your business grows, the tech needs do too. Consider just the minimum your business will need, even if it is operated from a home office at first.
IT Support is Not Optional
Startups, especially low-tech ones, will not have an IT expert on their teams. That’s a huge cost and one that really need not be. The current “wisdom” is that in-house tech support makes sense when a team grows to 25-50.
Yet, when things go wrong, there needs to be quick fix, and planning ahead to get that “fix” will be an essential part of your operational strategy.
There are two operational IT functions that must be considered – support for hardware, networking and security, and support for software that you are using.
Fortunately, as you purchase SaaS packages, there is support built in. It is a matter of contacting the tech support people and getting issues resolved as quickly as possible. This support function comes with your purchase or subscription.
It is when other things go wrong – things with networking, with hardware, with security breaches, with system crashes, with disaster recovery, etc. - that an IT professional is necessary.
So, what are your options? Actually, there are many, depending upon your budget and your unique needs.
Best Practices for Getting the IT Support You Need
As a small startup, your best option is to outsource your IT support. Before you sign on the dotted line, however, you need to do your own homework.
Free IT Support
There are a number of free IT support resources online, many of them run by volunteer geeks who have a passion for solving tech issues. In fact, your tech issue may be one that has already been addressed by the resource, and the “fix” may be simple. All of this, of course, takes time and the assumption that you will fully understand the fix that is being presented. Using free resources can be a cost savings but can also be inefficient.
With purchased software and services, there is always free IT support, so long as you have the contact information you need. How many of us have had our Wi-Fi go out and then find ourselves scrambling for the tech support number we need? If you have a reliance on a lot of utility and tech vendors, it may make sense to subscribe to a service that provides customer support numbers for everything from your electric utility to your Wi-Fi provider. Most of these services have a mobile app for download, so you have access to the number from anywhere.
Contracted IT Support – Remote or Local
If you want efficiency and minimum downtime for tech support, your best practice is to contract with a service. You may find them quite reasonable, and, after all, how much does your “downtime” cost?
This is one of the best ways to keep support costs down. When you contract with a remote service, you simply contact a support technician who then accesses your system from anywhere and fixes your issues without the need to come on-site.
You may want to see your IT support guy/gal face-to-face. While this is more expensive, it is an option that many small businesses choose, because it allows a relationship to be built over time, and the consistency of having the same individual who understands the history of your tech issues. If you go this route, be certain that you have checked many references before signing any contract. Usually, contracts can be designed for a “pay as you go” hourly rate, or a retainer option with a set annual fee.
Combination Remote and Local
There are vendors, such as the Geek Squad, that provide both remote and on-sites services. This group offer a huge support network, 24/7, and provides ongoing maintenance as well as troubleshooting when needed. There are usually several contractual options which allow you to add services as you grow. This IT support is owned by Best Buy, a retailer that is likely to be around for many years, so there is the security of knowing that your contract will be honored.
Other Important Considerations
Now that you understand the necessity of tech support and the options you have for getting what you need within your budget constraints, here are the other guidelines for a successful relationship with any vendor you choose.
Make sure that any individual or vendor operation you choose has people with the education and certifications to back up what they claim to be able to do. You want someone who understands how IT fits into your business and who can make suggestions and recommendations that are state-of-the-art. Security is a good example. Hackers target small businesses because their layers of security are much softer. Nothing could be worse than for your customers’ personal and financial information to be stolen.
This may seem like a “touch-feely” non-essential, but it is not. You want tech support people that can feel your pain when things go wrong and are able to see issues from your perspective.
Choose the simplest solution for you, not what any individual or company vendor thinks you should have. IT support should make things run smoothly for you with minimal stress or frustration on your part.
IT support people need to accept accountability for their services. Follow-up on their part is important. And if a specific provided service has not fixed every issue, then they need to return and make it right. Dump any provider who falters on accountability.
This information should be helpful as you look to find the IT support you will need today and that will evolve as your startup grows. But your job is to be proactive – looking at your needs, knowing what you can do yourself and what you cannot, and planning for support over the long-term – will mean that you will minimize downtime and your own frustration.
joshuagreen 310002UXAT Tags:  electric dirt for bike best kids of tablet 1 Comment 4,198 Views
In today’s age of technology, there has been a substantial growth in the number of educational activities for kids. Kids growing nowadays usually see their older siblings and parents on the laptop. Hence, their interest is likely to peak about also making use of the device. They will want to get on there and also play games as grown-ups do. However, it’s best that you pick educational activities so that the time spent on entertainment will likewise facilitate learning without the children knowing it.
As parents, you can find educational activities and games on the Internet for children of all ages. Moreover, you can also find several educational related games. If you are looking for arithmetic, there are plenty of websites that offer fun things for kids to do that deal with concepts of addition, subtraction, multiplication, etc. Studying is also enjoyed by participating in fun activities. Some sites read stories to kids while they follow along with the words on the screen.
There’s no doubt that technological advancement has brought important changes to humanity. It has also influenced the way kids experience entertainment and learning. Mobile gadgets such as tablets, laptops, computers, and smartphones are the source of entertainment for several kids. Tablets, along with other gadgets can have both negative and positive effects on the overall mental development of kids, but as parents, you can turn these mobile tablets into an educational tool for your kids. Using the best tablet for kids, your child can have a more entertaining and safe learning experience.
Tablets like these come with several essential features that set them apart from regular tablets. For one, the overall design of the tablet is nice-looking, child-friendly and durable, and offers several brain-boosting benefits. Though, for kids to get the maximum benefits, it is necessary to choose one with the right features.
Apart from allowing kids to use educational gadgets, parents must also allow their kids to indulge in outdoor activities and explore the real world. The open-air environment provides experiences that can facilitate the improvement and enhance the physical, social, emotional, and intellectual skills of kids. One great way for your kid to explore the outdoors is with the use of an electric dirt bike that specially designed for kids.
Electric dirt bikes allow kids play outside of their homes, providing them with a perfect opportunity to explore many things around them. An early daybreak biking activity to your much-loved biking trail or even around the neighborhood will allow kids to observe individuals, animals, plants and so many other things that will spark their interest. However, not any electric bike will do. You will have to choose the best electric dirt bike of kids that’s safe, fun and exciting.
In a nutshell, educational activities are great. They develop the kids’ interest and enhance learning. At the end of every session, they learn something new that helps them become smarter, more patient, and allow them to have a better understanding of the world.
MargaretBays 50GCXK2VDX 3,631 Views
We generate a huge amount of health related data; from our fitness tracker mobiles apps to electronic medical records. The average person is likely to generate more than one million gigabytes of health related data in their lifetime which is enormous. Clinical trials and researches also add up a huge amount of data. The medical industry is unable to keep up with the tremendous rate at which the information are produced. Here comes the IBM Watson Health cloud.
Imagine if you had a rare, un-diagnosed disease that’s any doctor is not being able to tell of. What if there were a single secure database which could read your symptoms of that disease and run through thousands of clinical studies, similar patient records to determine the disease? Just after one year of its launch, IBM Watson Health is already starting to make this unimaginable impossible task to reality. And its all because of its powerful cognitive computing platform and a wide-reaching partnership strategy.
MarieReynoso 504XE4ANV1 2,997 Views
Learning the tricks of any trade will take time and dedication. However, IBM offers developers a way to connect, learn, and grow with six different types of developer events including hackathons, workshops, meet-ups, web casts, conferences, and premium events.
Hackathons are unique to the developer community. Although the name sounds bit sinister, hackathons are actually a legitimate way to grow as a developer. During these events, developers have the chance to build innovative apps, typically based on a theme or challenge presented at the hackathon.
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Ecommerce. Even brick and mortar retailers also now sport a website for online shoppers. In fact, shoppers can go to an online big box retailer, purchase an item, and then pick it up at their local store. Then, of course, are the small retailers who only have an online shop. Add to that all of the newer concepts in online ecommerce, such as subscription-based product purchases (coffee-of-the-month; razor blades, diapers, etc.), and you have perhaps the most major disruption of any industry.
Successful Ecommerce Requires an Amazing Website
Given the fact that today’s consumer has the attention span of a goldfish, an ecommerce retailer has only a few seconds to engage a visitor, provide an exceptional user experience, and keep that consumer entertained, inspired, and motivated to keep looking at products/services on display.
All of this means that an ecommerce website must be exquisitely designed and developed. It must load fast; navigation must be speedy and easy; the cart and checkout process must be smooth and seamless.
How does this get accomplished?
The Early Days Vs. Now
In the beginning were a few programming languages and coders. Every part of a website had to be coded, line by line – an arduous task and one which was assumed by “gurus” of coding that accomplished mysterious miracles that no one else could understand.
But technology has a way of simplifying things. And that is just what has happened with ecommerce technology stack architecture. The components of a technology stack (called microservices) are generally created by different developers who work independently. So, in building an entire platform, there are many choices for microservices. And for those looking for the easiest solution, there are entire platforms, composed of microservices which are already configured, such as Shopify, Etsy, PayPal, or Instacart.
In essence, you will have an operating system, a web service, a database and a programming language, each with components that must be chosen based upon your current and future business goals. Choosing microservices, each one focused on a small task, will all have to support what it is you envision. But because all of those components are standalone microservices that can be easily incorporated into a platform technology stack, it is now a matter of choosing the right stack components, customizing them if and when it becomes necessary. And that is what developers do today.
The job of the ecommerce retailer is to decide what the website must have on the front-end architecture, for seamless user experience, to ensure that products are available to his customers, either through his own inventory or that of drop-shipping suppliers. Oberlo can perfectly help you with the latter. You will also need to ensure that the technology is there for product displays and descriptions, for shopping convenience, and for a perfect checkout process.
Important Considerations for the Technology Stack
Traditionally, ecommerce platforms have been built on Java/.Net/PHP and so forth. They use long-standing application servers, supported by Relational Database Management System (RDBMS). The issues crop up when a retailer needs to scale, either through expansion of product lines and/or an increase in customer base. At that point, the goal is not to sacrifice speed or responsiveness.
Typically, when scaling is necessary, there will be the requirements for increasing number of servers, load balancing, hardware, and such. And a decision must be made whether to scale horizontally (add more machines) or vertically (add more power to existing machines). Horizontal is often preferred because it utilizes less system resources and can handle larger amounts of traffic.
As an ecommerce business considers microservices architecture, they must think about the following:
The following services will be mandatory
Here is an example of the microservices that could be chosen for an ecommerce enterprise that is horizontally scalable, non-blocking, and responsive.
To make ecommerce site building even easier, a number of “big players” have published their technology stacks on StackShare, a site that focuses on all things “stack-related.” There are detailed listings of the stacks used by such companies as Best Buy, Airbnb, Dropbox, Medium, Vine, Shopify, and many more. StackShare also provides the latest news on tools and trends on stack architecture.
The featured stacks include microservices in application and data, utilities, DevOps, and business tools and provide lots of options for ecommerce startups and existing retailers to consider.
Is There an Ideal ECommerce Technology Stack?
The short answer is “no.” Anyone who studies the stacks on Stack Share can clearly see that even the “big boys” use a variety of microservices that are not in common.
An ecommerce retailer is just that – a retailer. S/he is not an expert on technology stacks. And so, the wise move is to do the following:
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So, you have a great idea for an app. You think there is an audience out there, and you are hell bent on developing it so that you can get it to market as soon as possible. Yes, it will be a costly project; yes, it will require hours upon hours of wireframing and development.
It’s time to take a step back and just breathe for a minute. Before you launch headlong into a complex and costly app development, make the smart choice to do the research, determine the need, and then develop an MVP that will “test the waters.”
Developing a minimum viable product is not something new, nor should it be considered a “negative.” It’s normal to want to develop the entire product from the “get-go,” but it is not wise. Consider this: Google and Dropbox both created MVP’s before they moved forward. And look where they are today.
If you have never developed an MVP before, it can seem a bit scary. How do you actually do it? Here is your simple guide to MVP development - five steps that will take you from conception to the creation of a product that can be tested and marketed before you develop full functionality.
Define the “WHY?”
If you are developing an app because you think it is cool, then you may be sorely disappointed. Every app, even a game, is built to solve a consumer problem, not your need. So, do the research. Who is your target demographic and what do they want? Creating a customer persona is a major and critical first step. From that persona, you can then identify individual consumers who are willing to participate in user acceptance testing.
Blue-Sky It – the “WHAT” – The Product Requirements Document
This is the step during which you will develop your product requirements list. It the “What” of your app.
Begin by developing a workflow diagram of exactly how your app will work. You need two columns. On the left, identify the input and on the right, the output. From this diagram, you will be able to identify the product features and create that PRD.
Your Product Requirements Document will describe in detail all of the features, relative to the design and user experience. It will become the “bible” for developers. And those developers must be “in” on these discussions, for they will determine the software architecture that will be necessary, the projected time and cost involved in each feature development, etc.
Features should also be ranked – otherwise there is no way to determine the “what” of an MVP.
Another critical piece of the product requirements document will be the criteria for release. At what point will the MVP be ready for testing by your audience? This part of your document may indeed have to wait until you have completed Step 3.
From the workflow diagram that you have crafted, it is now time to start eliminating features and functions. There is one question that you must continually ask as you move through this process – “What is the least important function of those that remain?”
As you eliminate, of course, you will want to keep a listing of what you removed and in what order. Because, once the MVP is released, tested, and proven to be successful, you will want to add those functions in the reverse order in which you took them out. Your engineers must have this list as well, so that they may what functions will be developed next and in what order.
Once you are down to the minimum viable product, you and your developers(s) can craft that section of the product requirements document that includes the criteria for release:
Short Development Sprints
Divide the development process into short chunks. As working code is developed and tested in-house, pause to ensure that each chunk is still compatible with the “why” of your product development. Sometimes, the nature of software development means that the scope of a function may change. New ideas may emerge. While these may not be on your plate right now, keep track of them for future scaling.
If a new idea is added, what will you take out? Remember, this is an MVP.
What are You Doing About a Business Plan?
If you are a first-time entrepreneur, and our app is your startup, what have you done about a plan to acquire the funding you may need to fully develop? It is time at this point to look for business plan writers, especially if your strength is in tech and not in marketing/writing. Do not wait until your MVP is finished and tested to do this. That plan must be ready to present to potential investors. At this stage in the process, you have the information you need to craft that plan, and you want it polished and ready.
The Beta Testing
Once the minimum functions are in place and once the criteria for release have been met, it is time for actual user testing. For this step in the process, you and the developer(s) must create a list of tasks you want your testers to perform.
During the testing phase, performance of tasks must be closely monitored. Where are there issues with navigation, speed, etc.? Are there “fails” that must be fixed? What bugs must be worked out?
The other key component of beta testing is tester feedback. Is their experience enjoyable? And, most important, does this product provide a solution to the problem or gap you originally identified? User feedback may also generate ideas that will cause you to re-think the additional functions you originally envisioned – all the better! Remember – it’s all about the user, not you.
Your final development revisions and “fixes” will be based upon actual user testing.
Get Your MVP and that Business Plan Out There
You may not love the idea of marketing and investment-seeking, but it is a reality you must face. There are places to start, obviously. App reviewers abound, and you can offer incentives to reviewers to perform this function for you. You may need some professional help or, at the very least, to conduct some research on your own about marketing options.
There are also an amazing number of funding resources today, so check them out and find the best options for your product.
Doing business on the go has become the new norm. So does dealing with all sorts of financial transactions through your trusted smart phone or device. From purchasing stocks, making wire transfers and quick personal deposits - mobile finances has exploded in popularity the past few years
The industry keeps growing. Over 1.75 billion users are expected to conduct banking operations through mobile devices by the end of 2019. With this explosive growth what are the benefits for financial enterprises? As more of banking moves into the digital realm, the less money financial institutions have to invest into brick and mortar locations, as well as all of the personnel that goes along with that. When technology can perform all of the functions of a bank teller, and when all of those functions can be safely and easily accomplished by a user app, everyone wins.
But there’s some bad news as well - not all of those users are particularly happy with the kind of user experience they are currently having with their mobile banking. According to the latest J.D. Powers survey only 32% of bank customers say they trust mobile banking and most respondents indicated that they are not “fully satisfied” with the current app proposed by your bank.
The bottom line is this - while financial app development definitely is a promising sector, product owners should specifically focus on building a user-friendly, secure and personalized product rather than deploying just “some app” to stay in trend.
Building That App – Key Elements to Consider
There are several steps in the process of creating a financial app that users will find friendly, safe, and easy to use. If you can accomplish these three things, you will keep customers and your costs down. Consider the following critical pieces.
Know Your Customer
Just who is our mobile consumer? Most would say it is the millennial and younger generations. And they would be mostly correct.
But here’s the thing: Gen X’ers and even 45% of Baby Boomers are using online banking too. And people are interacting with their banks far more frequently than they used to. It’s now so easy to check a balance, transfer funds, and pay bills, if, and this is a BIG if, the app is well done. If not, customers will be lost.
So, what are the biggest objections/frustrations of our potential app users? You have to find this out before you can begin to build or remodel an app.
Here is what consumers are saying about their current banks’ mobile apps:
The other critical information you need to get from your customers is what exactly do they want to be able to do on your app. You can use data analytics to track customer behavior or you can ask. But, in general, here is what most consumers do on their financial apps:
List the Elements You Will Include
Don’t just make a simple list. Create a scenario for each element. How do you want the customer to go through the process involved?
Once you have all of this, you are ready to look at developers, if you don’t have the in-house expertise. Seasoned financial app developers can take what you want and recommend the best technology stack for your needs.
And speaking of financial app developers, be selective as you search for the best one. They should be willing to show you case studies and put you in touch with clients for reference.
Security – It’s the Most Critical Challenge
You already have security measures in place if you offer online banking through your website. Translating those to a mobile app means the following:
Keep it Simple
You know the features your customers want. Limit activities to those features only. If the majority of your customers pay bills on the app, then focus the application around that feature. Don’t waste time building features, such as applying for loans, that are hardly used by your clients.
As the app matures continue adding features in a methodical and customer centric way.
Sleek Design and UX
Here are the things to think about:
While security is important, make sure you have a fully refined QA process in place to reduce any problems with the software.
And don’t forget user testing – you’ll get great feedback.
Plan for Diverse Devices
Make sure you app works well across all devices and screen sizes. There are a number of services that offer online emulators for you to test your applications - make use of that.
Consider adding a mobile analytics piece in your application to track detailed information about usage, and better visibility into any problems your customers might be facing.
Cost – It’s Not Your Primary Concern
When looking for a developer for your application, cost should not be your only concern. Financial applications are complicated and require experienced developers who understand the intricacies of the industry, security and functionality. Don’t just go after the lowest priced developer.
Building a financial app will be key to retaining your customers. If even Baby Boomers are using them, the proverbial “handwriting is on the wall.” Take these eight “criticals” and find the right developer now.
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Bluemix is a cloud platform powered by the world’s most popular open source project. Bluemix is here to help you efficiently develop applications in your way; simplifying how you build and manage them in the cloud. Bluemix let you choose your own programing language; work with your own architecture and make your own design choices.
Bluemix is designed to accelerate innovation tapping into your current cloud environment and delivering more engaging solutions. Since the inception of Bluemix we have seen a huge market response from startups to enterprise corporate clients like SilverHook, Tangerine bank, Hertz car rental, IQ, Capgemini, Volvo, Honda, Citibank and many more.
Bluemix is designed with choice of deployment in mind; even the suit the most sensitive workloads. Bluemix Public allows the user to experience and tap into a world of services across Watson like mobile and IoT in our public cloud environment. IBM Blumix technology could be a leverage in Adwords scripts. Blumix dedicated offers superior combination of security and time to value in a cloud environment which feels like an extension of your own data center. For your very sensitive workloads for data compliance you can bring Bluemix behind your firewall with the markets first of its kind approach private cloud delivery.
Gaming. It begins at a very early age these days. How many early elementary kids are playing “Minecraft?” By the end of 2013, 33 million kids were playing.
Many of those kids are at least 4 years older now, are graduating high school or may be entering college. But their passions for gaming have not decreased. In fact, they are participating in lots of online competition and dream of either professional gaming or, even more ambitious, getting into game development.
Given the popularity of gaming, there will always be work in the gaming industry. For those who specifically want to move into development, there will be some skill training and some work ahead. Here are 8 tips for these passionate gaming development hopefuls.
Choose Your Focus
You have two choices (and a third, actually – more on that later) – the science of gaming (programming) or the art (design).
Identify Your Limitations and Account for Them
If design is your focus, and you are great at creating scenes and music, you may not be so good at character development. If you are working for a company, the expertise will be there, and you will work as a team. If you are a freelancer, however, you will need to partner up with someone else.
If you are in the programming side, and you are struggling with some of the coding, you need to know where to get that help. Understanding your limitations and getting that help will demonstrate to an employer that you want to get things right the first time out, rather than having to debug after testers have pointed out the “fails.”
And if you have identified some design or programming skill gaps, get thyself into some gaming design coursework from a reputable institution – either off- or online.
Check Your Passion
Good game development requires passionate people who do not see what they do as real work. For them, it is fun. There are crazy long hours, lots of collaboration with others, disagreements, long discussions over Chinese takeout, creative problem-solving, and flexibility/compromises. Make certain that these are all things you will love, or you will develop resentment – never a good thing.
Check Out Options Other Than Development or Design
You may love gaming, and you may want to be a part of the industry. But you are not really into the art or science of it all. There are other opportunities within the industry. These include such positions as testing, marketing, or even doing voice-overs for characters or contributing the music.
Look for Internships
If you want to work for a company/studio, pursue internships. These are amazing learning experiences, even if you do not end up working for that specific company. Other gaming firms or groups will be far more interested in talking to you if you have an internship under your belt. Some internships are even remote, should you not live in close proximity, and many are actually paid.
If you are on the independent side, you may not like the idea of joining a studio as a regular employee. Studios need lots of expertise and, especially if they are small or in the startup phase, they cannot afford full-time employees. Once you have your skill set, check out job boards and niche publications – there will be many opportunities within your skill area.
If and when you take a gig, be certain that you craft a contract, if the firm/studio does not provide one. Any contract should sell out exactly what you are expected to do, how much you will be paid, and a guarantee that your contribution(s) may be used in your professional portfolio.
Be Careful About Pay Offers
There are lots of “poor” studios out there – people who are passionate about gaming and who have big dreams but no money. They are looking for “desperate” people who have their same passion who they can pay almost nothing. Sometimes they will offer you a small equity position or stock in the company or claim that your work will be a great portfolio addition. These things can be tempting, especially if you are hungry for work, but don’t sell yourself short and don’t work for nothing.
Getting Discouraged – It Comes with the Territory
Expect long dry spells. Of course, if they don’t come, great. But when they do, it is probably not because you lack skills. Competition can be tough, and there just may not be a “fit” between a studio’s need and your skillset.
When you hit dry spells or no nibbles from your job applications, take that time to design or develop on your own, to build up your portfolio, or take additional coursework to add to your skillset.
Find ways to network – attend workshops, conferences, and other meetings. Keep your LinkedIn profile up to date, and join groups on that platform. Participate in online forums and discussions; start a blog; develop some podcasts. There are just many things you can do to keep your name out there and to keep your passion intact.
And, if you have to eat, take an unrelated job. Eventually, you will find a position or “gig,” and you will “get your groove” back.
The gaming industry is exciting and fun. It is also evolving rapidly, as technology continues to improve gaming experiences for players. Keep abreast of these advances – you don’t want to become irrelevant.
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In 2007, some computer engineers at IBM began to build Watson. The goal was a machine that could be programmed to locate information in order to answer questions asked of it. They decided that the big “test” would be for Watson to go on the TV show Jeopardy, and win it. That happened in 2011.
Since that time, IBM has made a conscious decision to use Watson in medicine – to have it master a huge body of knowledge related to medical research, diagnosis, and treatment. To that end, Watson is able to read medical journals from all over the world in minutes; it can review patient histories, track drug trials, and present new therapies to medical professionals. And nothing is ever forgotten – in fact, Watson just keeps on learning.
Now, Watson is dabbling in psychology and overall wellness on a very human level. Alex Sass, CEO of PostMood, has developed an app that combines the social media behavior of individuals (specifically, what they post on Facebook), their sleep patterns, daily diaries, and their Fitbit data, feeds all of that into Watson, and comes up with a “mood” indicator on a daily basis, among other things.
Over time, PostMood provides information on volunteers’ basic personality traits and even makes suggestions for improving their general well-being. Such suggestions may be to post more positive messages, to increase exercise, or to get more sleep. More general analyses are also made – is an individual primarily an introvert or an extrovert, for example.
The goal of this app for the individual is to gain insights into their moods and personality, what causes moods to shift from positive to negative, and to “correct” behaviors in order to increase positivity.
The Larger Goal
According to Sass, the app analyzes each individual participant, provides their reports, and hopefully improves their well-being with recommendations.
Such recommendations usually include a thorough analysis of the Facebook content they post and, as well, what they are reading from others. Facebook is also analyzing what they post and view and gives them more of the same. Negativity thus begets negativity, and the mood becomes rather permanent. PostMood takes all of this in and provides a “score” of sorts, allowing the individual to make conscious choices to change Facebook behavior.
The same goes for other the other aspects of analyses conducted by the app – physical exercise, sleep, personality inventories, and more. Participants thus gain valuable insights into how the choices they make impact their moods.
But Sass has bigger goals. He uses Watson to aggregate all of the data that is collected to generate more “global” patterns of behaviors that promote happiness. From all of PostMood’s analyses, he hopes to be able to come up with daily activities that will promote happiness worldwide
How To Participate
Anyone can sign up for free, as long as they are on Facebook and/or Twitter. Bonus point if you have a physical fitness tracking device.
Participants log in daily and their changing moods are recorded for them based upon their own comments, their posts, their fitness data and the amount of sleep they have had. Daily challenges are set for individuals, based on Watson’s analyses.
This project is the first of its kind to record and analyze the mind/body connection, and Watson has been an instrumental piece in all of this. It allows the aggregation of not just individual data but allows scores to be compiled globally. This allows more generalized daily challenges to be set as well.
According to Sass, Watson has analyzed in excess of 10 million social media posts. And because Watson never forgets anything, he can analyze trends in posting on an individual and aggregated basis.
All of this analysis allows Watson and Sass to generate “mindfulness” exercises that will benefit everyone, using the data that Watson aggregates and mood-tracking software developed by Sass.
According to Sass, 45,000+ from all over the world joined last year and almost half of them are now experiencing a rise in their “happiness scores.” And this improvement is not merely subjective. Watson is analyzing their social media posts, their fitness data, and their sleep amounts to get those scores.
Having been analyzing the data for a while now, Sass says that his top tip for happiness is to get more sleep. “We included sleep tracking in our system this year, and those who manage to get a decent level of shuteye seem to have the edge when it comes to also expressing joy, both internally and through their social timelines.
Biggest Project in Human Predictive Analytics
Sass believes that his Human Happiness Project is the largest of its kind outside of the predictive analytics used by businesses to predict consumer behaviors and trends. AI is used to collect data on such things as purchasing preferences and credit worthiness; it is used to present doctors with data than can drive diagnoses and treatments. But this project can provide predictive analysis of what people themselves can do to make themselves happier and more positive.
If you’d like to let PostMood give you a happiness score and get some solid, actionable suggestions for improving your overall well-being, you might want to join this project. Sass has plenty of funding, and it will be long-term and global.
Go to the PostMood site, read a little bit more about the project, and sign yourself up. You really have nothing to lose, and you may gain some valuable insights into both your personality and behaviors that may be keeping you “down.”
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Great customer experiences lead to conversions. You create great UX by ensuring that the customer journey is as frictionless and intuitive as possible. You can’t accomplish that unless you are able to predict customer behavior from the first point of contact to the point of conversion. Brands who are successful at this often rely on insights they gain from big data.
Mined Data Can be Combined With Direct Customer Feedback For Great Insights
Big data doesn’t need to stand alone, nor should it. These large repositories of information can be combined with more intimate and real time information to gain insights on customers’ thoughts, opinions, and motivations.
Here’s an example. Your analytical data may tell you that a particular product is simply not selling. If that is all you go by, it might be easy to dismiss the product itself as a loser.
The problem is that if you make that decision without communicating with your customers or customer facing staff, your assumptions could be wrong, and your predictions about customer behavior could be off base. In this case, the issue may be with pricing, the performance of a landing page, or some other factor not the product itself.
When you listen to your customers and your staff, you can combine the insights they offer you with data to learn about customer preferences, weak spots, and trends.
Big Data Can Provide Information That Can be Used to Personalize Experiences
Data that tracks customer preferences and behavior can be used to create personalized website experiences, and to curate personalized content. This can be done on both a micro and macro level.
On a micro level you can collect specific data about customers. Then, you can predict their behavior based on their specific purchasing habits, social media behaviors, and the data you are able to collect from them through their interactions via social media.
On a macro level, you can collect and store information from general data sets. This can give insights into overall customer behavior, website analytics, and other more general data. All of this information can then be used to create personalized website experiences, to recommend products, and find other ways to predict the customer’s wants and needs throughout the purchasing journey. Salespeople in particular can use this information to identify data driven sales opportunities.
Shopping Cart Analytics Can Predict Future Needs
What customers add to their carts is meaningful. Whether or not they complete purchases, adding an item to a shopping cart is an indication of interest in that item. It can also show need for an item at a given point in time or under specific circumstances. That’s important as well.
Of course, whether or not the customer continues on and makes a purchase is also meaningful. Data can tell you if your pricing, level of earned trust, website performance, or other factors are successfully pushing customers through the funnel. Data can also tell you not only when you are losing them and why.
Combine these metrics, and you can curate special offers, customize your ads, and address roadblocks to conversions. This includes, but is not limited to improving the checkout process so that it is more efficient and is perceived to be safer.
Engagement Metrics Can Be Used to Determine Which Content Will Hit With Customers
If you know what to look for, engagement metrics can help you predict which content is going to earn comments, likes, and shares. By digging into this information, you can determine which content is likely to be a hit, when you should publish the content, and how you should promote it.
The key is to think beyond the obvious. For example, ‘my customers like videos most’ isn’t an insight. Everybody likes video content best. Now, ‘my customers like how to videos when they are viewing my product pages’ is helpful.
It’s also important to use data to understand how customers are engaging. Liking, sharing, and commenting are three different behaviors. The motives behind those behaviors can be very different as well. For example, people tend to like posts without doing much investigation.
Merge Customer Data With Performance and Logistical Insights to Predict Trouble
Your data shows you that bounce rates on two of your landing pages go through the roof near the end of the month. You also notice more shopping carts are left abandoned. Other analytics show you that orders to be shipped out of one of your facilities are frequently cancelled.
What’s going on? You have part of the picture. You know what customers are doing. They are abandoning shopping carts, cancelling orders, and backing out of your landing pages. The question is, what else is going on. Big data can tell you that there are logistical issues impacting your warehouse. It can also indicate that performance issues due to end of month demands are making your pages load slowly. Once you know these things, you can predict when logistical and performance issues may result in problematic customer behavior.
The better you can predict your customers’ wants and needs during any part of the customer journey, the more you will be able to predict what their behavior is going to be. This means you will be better prepared to give them what they need at any point in time. This will help you to design the overall customer experience, curate content, and recommend products among other things. You’ll also be able to predict trends. All of this will allow you to create the kinds of customer experiences that will drive more conversions.
It’s intimidating. You are a solopreneur or a hiring manager for a small non-tech related company, and you have to hire a software developer. You know nothing about the profession, nothing about coding, nothing about the “going rates” or salary ranges. Your understanding of software is, “Show me what it can do, how it runs, and then I’ll use it.”
So, where do you begin? With this guide, perhaps. Here are the steps you might consider.
Identify Exactly What You Want the Developer to Do
Either you have an idea for a piece of software you want to take to market, or your company needs specific software developed for in-house purposes. Your initial job is to decide exactly what you want that software to do.
Is this a “one-shot” deal for a single piece of software, or is this a longer-term deal where a developer will be working for you on a regular or contract basis?
Do Some Basic Research
It’s not difficult to find any number of resource articles on software development, even in the niche related to what you want developed. You can get an idea of the programming languages that are most recommended and popular with developers. You don’t have to understand them – you just need to understand the programming languages you want your hire to know.
You research will also give you solid information on price/salary ranges – certainly a good thing to know.
Finding the Candidates
You have lots of options, so pick the ones that will work for you, perhaps those that have worked in the past. Remember, the process of recruitment and hiring is no different for software developer. It is the skills and expertise that will be unique.
Narrowing the List
This will be tough, but you can look for some very specific things in resumes or perhaps in initial phone or video interviews. Here’s a short checklist of sorts for that initial contact:
So, now you are ready to interview the few candidates that have made your short list. What do you ask? Based upon surveys of both programmers and even Google hiring managers, here are questions you should and should not ask. You will find that many of them are questions you would ask any candidate.
This you will ask any candidate. Put a specific spin on this. Ask the candidate about his biggest disaster and how he worked through it. If the candidate is honest, she will be able to identify one and then describe how it was “fixed.” Any good programmer will have had disasters. You are looking for honesty and the work ethic to do what it takes to resolve issues.
Ask the candidate to describe his/her favorite project. As a prelude to this question, you want to inform him/her that you are not a techie. The goal here is to see if the candidate can explain the project so that you have a good understanding of what s/he did – in non-techie terms, that is.
Part of a developer’s skill must be in communication and must be the ability to communicate to those outside of the niche what a project is all about and how s/he will go about approaching a project. Even if you are hiring someone remotely, you will want to be a part of the development, and you will want continual conversation with the developer. Being able to communicate that progress to you in terms you can understand is vital.
Solo or Team Player
Depending on your needs, you need to know your candidates’ experience and their comfort level with how they will function for you. Hiring a freelance means that the developer is comfortable working alone but also communicating with members of your organization who will be impacted by that work. Hiring a employee means comfort with collaboration.
Is There Passion?
One of the ways to gauge this is to ask what development communities the candidate is active in. GitHub, for example. Developers who are really passionate spend non-work time communicating and collaborating with other developers.
When the candidate talks about his/her projects, do you sense excitement? You should.
This is where you may need to have someone with expertise take a look at the projects in a developer’s portfolio. As well, just as you do when you hire anyone, you will want to check references, whether from clients or former employers.
It is not a negative for a developer to have had a lot of past employers. This is a career that is in high demand, and they like to go where the challenges (and the money) are more attractive.
Things to Avoid
A lot of recruiters and hiring managers give developer candidates “puzzles” to solve. And non-techie interviewers often pull these from the web or are given them by other developers. Chances are the candidate has already seen them or something similar. They really are not a gauge of talent.
It’s also not a good idea to ask a developer where he sees himself in five years. If they are honest, they won’t actually know, so it is not a fruitful question. Good developers will go where the challenges fit their needs, so that is really the only answer that will make sense.
You really can make a good hire even if you don’t have expertise in technology. Follow this guide, get help when you know you need it, and make a good hire.
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Your immune system is always at work; protecting you from a constant barrage of threats. And to combat such diverse threats, your immune system must be equally coordinated to prevent and detect attacks in an orchestrated, fast response. But what if your body was also vulnerable to cyber threats? You’d need a different kind of immune system, but one that still works as a unified whole to disrupt threats at any point of the attack, no matter how advanced they may be.
Security operations and response allows you to prevent detect and respond to threats in an orchestrated and automated fashion; powered by cognitive capabilities an IBM x-force threat intelligence. The IBM security immune system senses, identifies and prioritizes known and unknown threats enabling rapid resolution.
Information, risk and protection keeps your data users acts and transactions safe wherever they are. Real-time analytics and alerts helps you pinpoint risks, gain visibility and control over user identities and manage your sensitive data. You can also strengthen compliance initiative, secure applications, improve mobile collaboration and protect your mainframe environment.
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The world is becoming an increasingly digital space. Today we manage, share and store our lives online. Data is gathered from our devices, computers and smartphones that collect and transmit information on what we do; but that is just the beginning. This phenomenon is transforming our understanding of the world and our place in it; it’s become known as Big data.
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Everyone is familiar with the name IBM (International Business Machines Corporation), but most of them are not familiar with Big Blue. Usually, these two are the same. IBM was formed in the name of the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company (CTR) back in 1911 and later renamed to IBM in 1924. We all know the history of IBM and their inventions. IBM is currently running their operation in over 170 countries. Most of our necessary gadgets are their invention like hard disk drive, automated teller machine, magnetic stripe card, UPC barcode, SQL programming language, dynamic random-access memory (DRAM), etc.
The market of IBM is huge. They manufacture both software and hardware products. Besides, IBM is one of the largest companies in the world having 380K employees. They are the record holder of having the most patents generated by a business company. Their research wing is very active and their latest invention is IBM Watson. According to many sources, IBM has a plan to bring revolutionary changes in paystub generator sector.
First of all, IBM is developing a holographic chatting system (also known as 3D Telepresence). The programmers said that they are very close to make this happen. The improvement of 3D camera makes it easier to reach to the common people. The researchers of the University of Arizona successfully made a system that is capable of sending holographic images to nearby locations in time. Besides, it is said that we will be able to enter into personal computers through 3D visualization. Thus, the pictures we see now in 2D, we will be able to see them in 3D.
Secondly, the next item on the list is lithium/air battery project (battery 500). This project is still under development and the results are quite satisfactory. IBM believes that these batteries will be able to use the same air which we breathe to produce energy. The concept is that these batteries will use oxygen and react with the metals. Besides, these batteries will be lightweight and very small in size. Surprisingly, these batteries will last ten times more than our regular lithium-ion battery.
Now the third item is personal sensor for every scientist. The development of personal sensors is really important for the welfare of the people. It is essential for the scientists to collect data and preserve them in a storage. IBM predicts that it will be possible within the next five years to collect all these data and send it to various devices like cell phones, cars, computers, etc. using personal sensors. Persevering these data in huge amount can be resourceful in the coming days.
A smart computer system for drivers is number fourth in the list. IBM believes that we cannot solve the traffic problem only by creating new traffic rules or constructing new roads. There are other circumstances which control our transportation system. The smart computer system for drivers will not only show the best way to travel but also helps us with necessary objectives. This technology is based on mathematical models which analyzes probable values to help the drivers.
Last but not least, IBM is researching to control the temperature of a computer. According to a calculation, 50% of the energy is consumed in CPU (Central Processing Unit) to make the engine cooler. Now IBM wants to use this warm air in a significant way. IBM considers that this warm air can be used to heat various parts of a building or to heat water or convert it to current.
Large companies began using this term to refer to those services hosted on the network. In fact that is the first thing most of us come to mind about "Cloud Computing". Therefore, we can say that the word cloud would be equivalent to what we know as the Internet. However, the concept has much more scope and is something that we intend to relate in this article.
Types of cloud
There are currently 3 types of clouds:
Types of services
Once you have covered the types of clouds that exist, what can we do with them?
Depending on the need we need to cover, there are different types of services within cloud computing:
As an advantage of this administration and development model, we can highlight the cost savings as the most important, in addition to the high scalability, reliability, as well as the abstraction of hardware maintenance, something up to now innovative in large companies with its own department ITEM.
One of the concepts that best define the cloud environment is the term "Pay as you go", which means that we only pay for usage and not a monthly fixed fee, such as traditional hosting services.
Lastly, it is worth mentioning the agility with which we have these services, achieving in a matter of minutes a putting into production that could take months, when dealing with the traditional on-premise process.
While it is true that the advantages of cloud computing are worth considering, there are some points that can be crucial when it comes to hitting the cloud:
First, there is the perception of insecurity in moving our information out of our physical reach, which can manifest a sense of vulnerability. To solve this "fear" among potential customers, large cloud companies have efficient, high-security systems to keep data safe from potential attacks.
Another drawback is dependence on an Internet provider. Due to the location of the services, we are tied to this need, so it is advisable to have a second connection in case of failure of the main.
Although less and less, there is still some immaturity in some of the services offered by lack of functionality, in relation to similar products designed to meet these needs in servers within the client.
In this section, we have been able to know the concept of cloud computing as the technological proposal of large companies to refer to the different services hosted on the Internet, as well as the different types of clouds available in the market. In addition we have listed the types of services available to date and how some companies already offer them to the public.
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Your website domain name is one of the most important pieces of your business. This essential component is greater than the different parts that comprise it: Websites, email addresses, etc. The overall domain is the core of your brand’s digital presence. As such, it must be defended and protected throughout its lifetime. Risks such as hijackers, spammers, and domain registrars seizing control are all factors to be wary of as you work to protect the health of your website domain.
One of the biggest contributing factors to good domain health is your email sender reputation. Your domain’s registrar will intervene if it notices emails sent from your domain are not reaching inboxes or being marked as spam. Not only will your email service provider block you from access, but your website domain also becomes at risk. The best way to avoid this is to employ an email checker to verify emails.
The risks of a poor sender reputation are as follows.
The Number of Emails You Can Send Will Be Reduced
When an email service provider (ESP) doesn’t recognize the domain sending emails, it will react in multiple fashions, including throttling your email send. This refers to the slowing down and capping of the number of emails that can be sent each day. When a business varies its email send numbers greatly in a short amount of time (e.g. sending thousands one day, hundreds the next), throttling is a common penalty. Timing is an essential part of any marketing campaign, so the consequences of throttling are severe.
Throttling can stem from a poor sender reputation. Your ESP doesn’t recognize your domain because it has been marked as spam too often. By utilizing an email address checker, you can reduce the number of emails that get marked as spam. As a result, your ESP is less likely to mark you as a spammer and instead recognize that you are a legitimate sender. You’ll never have to worry if your email is reaching everyone on your list on the right day and time, or that you’re being marked as an illicit sender.
Your Emails Won’t Make it to Inboxes
A low sender score means your emails aren’t even reaching inboxes. Instead, they’re being marked as spam immediately upon reaching recipient’s mailboxes. Without users able to open and take action on your emails, the overall efficacy of an email marketing campaign greatly declines. This results in a negative impact in all the ways such a campaign can improve business. It means less company awareness, reduced brand engagement, and lost ROI as the ability to convert greatly declines.
Maintaining your sender reputation begins with an email tester. Using such a tool as a way to check emails and validate them ensures a higher inbox rate and better preservation of your sender score. A sender with a score above 90 has a 92% rate of success in reaching inboxes, versus the 72% success rate of a sender with a score between 71 and 80.
Beyond making it to inboxes, your emails won’t even get delivered if the emails you have are bad or your sender reputation is damaged. With 30% of an email list vulnerable to decay each year, it’s crucial that your business has a system in place to replenish emails and make sure they’re real. The easiest and fastest solution to do so is using an email validator.
Your ESP Will Block You
The most significant consequence of a poor sender reputation is complete inability to send emails from your domain. Every email service provider has different criteria for what defines content as spam, but it is up to you to be aware of what these specifications are and do your best to avoid negative experiences. The last thing you want or need in the midst of a marketing campaign is to be barred from using your email.
Verifying and cleaning your email list is one of the simplest solutions for avoiding a slap on the wrist (or worse) from your ESP. Not only does it ensure that your website domain remains healthy and protected, but also protecting your sender reputation improves the functionality and results of your email marketing strategy. Maintaining email send speed and numbers, increasing inbox rates, and staying on good terms with your ESP are all benefits of a high sender score, and is made easier through the use of an email checker.
A Guide to Writing Advanced Access Profiles for IBM Tivoli Access Manager for Enterprise Single Sign-On
The financial industry crash in 2008 severely damaged faith in the traditional banks. But even before then, banking and financial transactions had been moving into new digital realms. PayPal had already been around for 10 years, and other virtual wallet systems had begun to pop up too.
Enter Bitcoin in 2009. Developed by an unknown individual or group using the name Satoshi Nakamoto, it is an asset/payment system that uses no intermediary (i.e., a bank) – a peer-to-peer transaction platform that is be fully secure and almost without fees. The concept is that “value” can be virtually exchanged all over the world in a digital environment that does not transmit any sensitive information (e.g., credit card numbers) that could be subject to cybercrime. That “value” can then be converted into any fiat currency on the receiving end, although the value of a Bitcoin would be subject to market volatility, just as currency exchanges can be.
Slow to Catch On
The disruption of cryptocurrency has not been rapid. It’s tough to get individuals and businesses to make a paradigm shift to virtual currency and to understand such things as blockchain technology. But there are many who predict that Bitcoin, and perhaps some other cryptocurrency platforms, will replace the traditional bank card payment system.
We are not there yet – not by a long shot – and there are many “wrinkles” to iron out if this is to happen. But the question is certainly out there. Can Bitcoin replace traditional payment systems? Some say “yes;” others say “no.”
There are certainly arguments to be made that Bitcoin will ultimately replace the fee-based transactions that consumers and merchants use today. Among those are the following:
In looking at those hurdles, along with some other factors that keep legacy payment processing the preferred transaction methodology, many believe that bitcoin will take its place for certain demographics but will not replace the use of bank cards, money transfers, and letters of credit that still constitute the vast majority of transactions. Here are their arguments.
The average merchant would have to develop a technical savviness that he is probably not prone to want to do. Bitcoin transactions do not have the support structure that bank card processing has, and merchants would have to create and manage their own digital Bitcoin wallets, in order to accept funds and convert them to fiat currencies.
Traditional payment processors are getting much better with what they do, especially considering the competition out there. Most payment gateway services are providing the streamlining, the lowered transaction fees, and the support that merchants want and need. And they are beefing up security measures by leaps and bounds today.
Merchants who use Bitcoin will still need some processing support, from providers such as Stripe, PayPal, or others that are now in the business – processors who are able to lock in exchange rates at the point of transaction. For example, if a merchant were to accept Bitcoin that is currently worth $1500 U.S., but the value had dropped to $1200 by the time he exchanges that Bitcoin for USD, then he is out $300. The lowered transaction fee is worthless at that point. Using a processor to convert the Bitcoin to a fiat currency at the time of payment processing will be essential, and that actually adds another step to the whole process. It’s just not the maximum efficiency that most merchants want.
There are also problems on the consumer side of Bitcoin transactions. Online purchases using credit cards come with certain risks. The merchant could be fraudulent; ordered products may not be received. Exchanges and refund requests are commonplace transactions. These are currently handled pretty well when normal bank cards are used for purchasing. Refunds can be directly credited to a personal credit card account. And, if there is a dispute, the credit card company acts to resolve it.
Bitcoin transactions are irreversible. There is no process for disputing a charge or getting a refund, except directly through the merchant. And these are not always successful, particularly if the merchant is unprincipled or simply disputes the consumer’s claim. Where is the consumer recourse? Currently, it is non-existent. There are no consumer protections in place. Even if they were to be put into place, they would have to be managed by a processor divorced from Bitcoin itself. In this case, that processor is still in business, not replaced.
It’s still out, obviously. Predictions as early as 2014 stated that bitcoin would replace legacy financial transactions, for merchants and even for individual consumers. That has not happened.
For the near term, fiat currency exchanges, traditional bankcard transactions and processing, and consumer purchasing protections are strongly in place with legacy systems. People are comfortable with their systems, and Bitcoin still holds a mystique that is difficult for both merchants and consumers to fully grasp. It still seems a little bit like “fake money” to many. And change comes slowly.
But no one should discount the ability of Bitcoin to evolve and to take its place within the payment processing industry. The security it offers, as well blockchain technology and lower fees, all provide an attractive alternative to traditional processing through banks and legacy payment processors.
On the other hand, in its current environment, Bitcoin will have to rely on traditional processors that have the ability to lock in exchange rates and to ensure that both merchants and consumers are afforded the protections they need. Only time will tell. For the moment, traditional payment processors are still in business.
Disruption. That’s the new term for big change that comes to industries as a result of technology. Consider just the changes in communication and services as a result of technology. The internet, smartphones, social media, education, entertainment and beyond, have all changed dramatically in the last decade, showing how technology marches on at an incredible pace.
Disruption in the financial services industry was inevitable. And it is upon us in major ways. What we witnessed in 1998, with the founding of PayPal, we are now seeing on a huge scale, with banking, investments, lending and insurance affected by huge disruptions that are being embraced as quickly as they come. As both financial service providers and consumers look to the near future, here is what to expect.
1. Fintech becomes a solution for the little guy
Traditionally, only investors with deep pockets could enter the banking and financial services industry. This is no longer the case. Lean start-ups, focusing on specific areas of financial services, do not need the kind of money that traditional institutions needed and are eating away at the market share that were traditionally the monopolies of large financial institutions.
Pushing this along, obviously, was the financial crisis of 2008 – people lost their trust in the big banks and welcomed new and innovative services that allowed them to have more personal control and choice.
Everything from transferring money to buying insurance, investing to bank accounts, even getting a mortgage loan can now be accomplished online through companies that do not have the large overheads that traditional institutions do. All they need is talent, and there is plenty of that.
And consumers love this new form of “shopping” for services, especially because they can compare all in one place. In a recent PwC Global study, respondents from traditional financial service institutions stated that by 2020, they expect to lose 25% of their business to FinTech enterprises.
2. Matching investors with those in need of capital
Time was, if an individual needed venture capital, they had two choices – family or traditional banks. The problem with traditional lending institutions was a lack of access unless all “hoops” were jumped through and all conditions met; as an industry, moreover, large institutions enjoyed a concentration of power and, often, a lack of transparency.
To compete with the venture capital industry, savvy disruptors created crowdfunding platforms and what is known as equity crowdfunding. In the former, smaller investors can contribute to a start-up venture with the anticipation of receiving a payback at interest. The latter involves individual investors putting up money for an equity position in the new venture.
Peer-to-peer lending models include such companies as Indiegogo and Kickstarter in the U.S. and Crowdcube and Seedrs in the UK. Additionally, larger companies, like Barclays and Accenture, have been attempting to find new and innovative financial solutions through acquisition, reducing the risk potential or need to conduct the research themselves. Smaller market infrastructure firms such as NEX. NEX have been successful in competing with the larger venture capital institutions and banks by partnering with growing fintech companies.
3. Data science
Data analytics have come a long way. From e-commerce businesses tracking who comes to their websites and what pages they visit and how many move into the buying funnel, technology has moved to the collection of huge amounts of data about consumers and their behaviours. From those aggregate collections, sorting that data into information that large institutions can use to make decisions about what products they offer, to whom they offer those product to, and even when they make such offerings.
This has meant a big paradigm shift from focus on products, to focus on consumers and what they want and value. Financial services institutions that use big data to drive their decisions will win the competitive race in the long run.
4. Investments – more consumer participation
Financial investment services have traditionally lain with brokerage houses and financial advisors who evaluate personal investors’ finances and make recommendations regarding investments. Then along came “day traders” who thought they could compete with the “big boys,” cut out the middleman, and make their own fortunes. In most cases, this was disastrous – they just did not have access to the research and information that the career professionals did. And, again, like banks, these career pros had a monopoly on bringing individual investors into the markets.
The mystique is now gone, and individual consumers are demanding the same information that the investment services industry has and getting it. They are also demanding personal participation in investment decisions and their own asset management. Digital robo-advisors hit the scene, and brokerage houses and investment counselors were caught off guard.
Investment institutions will have to make the change to more user-friendly platforms if they intend to keep a decent market share.
Charles Schwab realized this earlier than others. It began in the 1970’s as a discount brokerage house, offering cheap trading prices to individual investors. But when disruptors like Wealthfront and FutureAdvisor came along, the company had a choice – be beaten or change its business model.
They took some time to analyze this robo-adviser disruption and see if it was viable. It was. And so, the company became a FinTech startup itself by launching Schwab Intelligent Portfolio. It was a huge success and today it outperforms other startups.
5. Insurance and IOT
Insurance companies have also become more consumer-driven, given that customers can shop for their insurance needs online and compare products. This of course has forced insurers to modify products and become more competitive. One of the biggest disruptions in the insurance market is the internet of things (IoT). From home and car security devices to remotely controlled temperature and appliance turn-ons and shut-offs, to devices placed on cars to monitor safe-driving habits, insurance companies can use digital information to set individual rates.
6. Public cloud services will streamline banking operations
The more cloud-based computing becomes mainstream, the more comfort financial services institutions will have using it. And SaaS apps are continually improving. As this happens, core activities of financial services will be taken to the cloud and automated. As this continues to occur, the need for people services within company infrastructures will certainly be reduced. It is predicted that by 2020, core functions, such as payments, statements, billings, and even credit scoring/worthiness will no longer require human/manual work. The implications for underwriters alone, in the mortgage lending business for example, are pretty big.
7. Cyber-Security – A continuing risk of increased technology
Executives in the financial services industry continue to worry about security, especially due to the increase in the use of mobile devices and IoT technologies (particularly older devices that do not have the latest security) on the part of consumers and the potential for cyber criminals to “back door” into their systems. Cloud-based technologies can help some, but are not immune to attacks either.
These are only seven disruptions that technology has brought to the financial services industry. There are more to come – the shift to Asian technological innovations, blockchain technology which is still a bit of a “mystique” to most financial services executives, and the technological advances in the regulatory sector. And there are more to come, for certain. FinTech startups are trying to out-pace traditional institutions. Traditional institutions will need to make decisions to step up their game or to find ways to collaborate with those startups that prove to be successful. If Charles Schwab can do it, so can others.
Just under a decade ago, Google’s concept of a self-driving car seemed outlandish. That’s not the case today. Now, brands like Tesla, Lyft, and Uber are actively pursuing the idea. Even mainstream car manufacturers are conducting research into the concept of self-driving cars in an attempt to gain their own foothold in this space.
But here’s what is certain. In the future, we will be driving autonomous vehicles. Yes, there are still things to work out in terms of the technology, but the truth is we are coming closer and closer to this being the reality.
Then again, technology isn’t the true roadblock. Nor is safety. When 93% of all accidents are caused by human error or intentional action, it’s clear that the safest thing to do is take the human element out of the picture for the most part. Instead, it will be legal and regulatory issues, and resistance among drivers themselves that slow down this progress. There will also be pushback from those who benefit from maintaining the status quo. Then there are the logistics of it all.
Job Loss is a Real And Perceived Concern
When self driving cars become mainstream, there are potentially millions of people who could lose their jobs. This includes delivery drivers, taxi drivers, truck drivers, and bus drivers. This will likely impact those working in complementary fields. Imagine the impact of this change on a motel chain or truck stop that relies on vehicle traffic for its main source of income.
This, of course, puts politicians in a quandary. Do they vote in favor of policies that support autonomous vehicles? This gives their challengers ammunition to refer to them as job killing and out of touch with the needs of their constituents. The current political climate doesn’t exactly seem to be leaning towards progression at the cost of populism.
Drivers Will Need to Rethink Personal Safety And Liability
It turned out that the fatal car accident involving a self-driving vehicle from Tesla was the result of the driver’s failure to download a vital software update. In the future, if autonomous vehicles are going to become a reality, one of the challenges will be getting drivers to buy into new concepts regarding vehicle maintenance. Replacing worn brake pads, keeping tires inflated, and having cars checked out a few times a year are all commonly accepted ways to keep cars safe and operational. In the future, keeping up with software upgrades, even installing vehicular anti virus and security software will be considered the vehicle owner’s responsibility in terms of keeping cars safe for themselves and others.
There are definitely unanswered questions. For example, who is liable if a driverless vehicle causes an accident? We know that if a driver loses control of their car because they did not properly maintain it, they are responsible. If a driver is in an accident as a result of their negligence relating to their AV, are they equally liable? What about the manufacturer. There will very likely be new laws that will need to be written. Attorneys will have new challenges to face as they seek to protect and help those who have been injured in car accidents caused by self-driving vehicles.
Tough Decisions And Higher Expectations
Every driver makes mistakes or chooses to drive recklessly. Sometimes those mistakes and choices end in near misses. Other times, fender benders are the result. Then there are times when injury even death are the consequences. We accept that risk.
In spite of the fact that AVs reduce risk, they cannot eliminate it altogether. Although it was later proved to be human error, Tesla was initially blamed for a fatal car accident. Self-driving cars from Uber have been tagged running red lights on multiple occasions.
So, what happens when a self-driving vehicle is involved in an accident? In addition to accepted risk when humans are in control, there is often some level of sympathy and understanding towards those whose mistake cause an accident. Reckless, illegal, or intentional behavior being obvious exceptions to this. There’s no way you could have stopped in time. It could have happened to anyone. Don’t blame yourself.
Reactions to accidents caused by machines are starkly different. There is an expectation that these machines will execute perfectly, and make the best decisions possible. When the inevitable happens, it will and has become fodder to justify preventing this technology from becoming mainstream or rolling back progress.
Security is a Serious Concern
Hackers have already taken over vehicles that have some self driving features. However, in cases where there is a driver present, there is less risk. An alert driver can see that something is amiss, and override the driverless features. When a car is truly driverless, that’s not an option. When all aspects of the vehicle’s operation are software driven, how will the car know when things aren’t right. Auto manufacturers will have to work hard to ensure that the security measures they implement stay far ahead of the malicious individuals or groups who could literally turn a self driving vehicle into a weapon.
Self driving cars will eventually become the norm. It’s inevitable considering that all major players in the automotive industry are slowly adopting the technologies that will take us from fully manual vehicles to partially autonomous, to fully autonomous. However, it is clear that the transition will not be without challenges. Politics, human nature, legalities, and logistics will need to be dealt with before progress is made.
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We consumers love our gadgets. And as technology gives us the “latest and greatest,” we jump to acquire it. From Apple watches to Fitbits, to controlling our home heating and cooling and locking systems, we have become a people wedded to convenience and efficiency.
New “smart homes,” in which everything can be controlled remotely through a single smartphone with a single technology, are the future for sure. But what about the homes that have added smart devices one at a time, each with its own manufacturer and proprietary technology. And these device manufacturers are very jealous of their technology. They want it to be unique and are not particularly fond of collaborating with other manufacturers to standardize the architecture. As a result, there is one app for the refrigerator, another for the heating and cooling, and still another to operate the home locking and security system.
What began as a revolution in convenience and efficiency has turned into a quagmire of device fragmentation.
Middlemen Offer Solutions
Several services have tried to fill the mess created by incompatible smart devices by offering packages of “smart” lights, thermostats, and security cameras that will all work together.
Companies like Comcast, AT&T, Time Warner, and Verizon are happy to sign consumers up for a monthly fee, usually around $40. This may be fine for some basic devices, but appliances and other smart home devices are not included. This doesn’t seem like a truly viable solution for the consumer who only gets a partial “fix” to his incompatibility issues.
Individual Manufacturers Want a Solution that Involves a Monopoly
Manufacturers such as Sony and Samsung have expanded their smart device product lines, hoping that consumers will “dump” their current smart devices and take a package from them. So, a consumer could buy a Samsung washer, dryer, TV, fridge, etc., and they could all talk to one another, but this could obviously be pricey. And a manufacturer like Samsung will not produce every smart device that a consumer may want to purchase. They are savvy, and they will research the quality of everything from slow cookers to robo-vacs and make purchasing decisions based upon reviews and recommendations, not on manufacturer name.
So, What is the Solution?
There is no single solution at present, although many are working on it. The goal is to have a technology that, when inserted into every device, no matter the manufacturer, will allow a consumer to control everything from a single smartphone app.
And there are people working on this right now.
Recently, Qualcomm unveiled two innovations. The first is a chip-based integration system. What it claims is that if consumers put this into their connected products, then those devices will connect to anything. It has also developed a technology that uses Amazon Echo, Apple’s Siri, and Google Home. Consumers can ask a question of any of them, and supposedly, the best assistant for the task will answer.
Quirky Wink Hub
A New York startup by the name of Quirky claims that it has the solution to smart home fragmentation. It has developed a $79 box that will allow communication among numerous smart home products, over a variety of architectures. The Wink app can control devices no matter who the manufacturer and no matter what the system.
Zigbee and Z-Wave
Two other names in the attempt at standardization of some sort are ZigBee and Z-Wave. Both of these are using wireless networking that will let devices from different manufacturers and different technologies to talk to one another. While hundreds of device manufacturers have “signed on” to one or the other of these standardization technologies, manufacturers of appliances have generally not. And until the manufacturers of the bigger items agree to allow standardization, no progress will really be made by either of these two concepts.
Another hub which sells for $99 can communicate with appliances over Wifi, once those appliances are connected wirelessly. Everything is accessible through one smartphone app, which is at it should be.
The Consumer May Need to Step In
It doesn’t appear as if manufacturers are ready to agree to any standardization which would reduce their control. And if they will not “sign on” to such as Zigbee and Z-wave (or some other standardization element), then the consumer must look to work around them.
Right now, the biggest promise is some type of hub and, while it means another item to buy, at least it is a one-time purchase. Middlemen services’ monthly fees go on forever.
Purchasing the technology that will bypass the proprietary technology of individual manufacturers will ultimately make their technology meaningless. And once that is meaningless, they may be willing to agree to standardization. Remember, while they are certainly on a smaller scale, phone chargers, USB ports and cords, Bluetooth devices, etc. have all been standardized to meet consumer demand. And at one time, Mac and Windows didn’t “speak” either.
Yes, smart homes are still a “hodge-podge.” But we can probably take heart that there are those working on solutions.
Launching a product is overwhelming. Overseeing or conducting development, doing your marketing, meeting investors – there’s a lot of chores a founder needs to juggle all at once.
Legal matters are often left unattended in this merry hustle and bustle. Of course, developing your vision is way more exciting than getting through the murky legal waters. Yet, failing to establish a strong legal base for your business can cost you your company later on. The following four tips are the bare must-do for any founder launching a tech venture.
Choosing a Domain/Brand Name Without Doing Your Homework First
Just made up a cool sounding name for your venture? Awesome! Now it's time to do some digging apart from checking its eligibility on a domain registrar.
You will need to make sure that you have not picked a name that is the same or sounds similar to an existing registered name, especially a trademarked one. And failing to register a trademark can be a huge roadblock later down the road.
Think Apple. The company has been continuously suing various Chinese companies, who have been “trademark squatting” on Apple’s iPad without any legal consequences. According to the China laws, whoever registers the trademark first, owns it for good. Also, during all those squabbles it turned out the name "IPAD" was already legally copyrighted to a Taiwanese company back in 1988. Suppose that makes a good lesson on why researching and protecting your business name is so important, especially if you decide to expand to a foreign market.
That’s why it may be worse to do some preliminary digging and commission a patent and trademark search before you go all into product development.
Failing To Protect The Source Code and Other Intellectual Property
Intellectual property laws are not evolving at the same pace as the technology advances. Hence, startups now enter a somewhat sticky area with no fine line defined, especially when it comes to the product source code.
Imagine this: you are licensing some software from a 3rd party vendor to power your product, API integration for instance. What happens if that vendor goes out of business just when your product finally starts taking off? To avoid these scenarios, you may want to negotiate a software escrow agreement with that vendor through an agent. The agent will store that licensed source code and give you immediate access to it once the respective conditions apply.
Next, think about your web app design – what if it gets completely or partially ripped off by some 3rd party? While filing for utility patents (protecting the way the product is used and works) is rather common for startups; filing design patents, which protect your product looks isn’t something most companies consider to do.
The official US Patent Office stats prove this tendency: in 2015 over 9.2 million utility patents were issued, compared to just 746,000 design patents.
But think about this – obtaining a utility patent for software inventions has become significantly harder in the US after the Alice v. CLS Bank case. Design patents may be easier and faster to claim and they will still protect the essential parts of your product such as GUI, logo, screen flows and so on.
Operating Without Proper Paperwork
Hiring and legal mistakes come hand in hand just too often. You should prepare in advance all the required paperwork for the new people with clear contracts, NDA agreements and any other supplementary clauses you deem appropriate.
As a founder, formulating strong bylaws should be on top of your agenda. Your work contract should specifically list all the existing policies, how the disputes are settled, descriptions of duty, conditions, and terms of employment and the rights and powers of key shareholders. Also, you should mind the worker's compensation laws in your state (as those differ largely) and establish the procedures for claiming injury compensations, which cause not just financial, but reputational damage as well.
You will also need to have a business owner's insurance (BOP) before moving into an office space. It would have your back covered when it comes to property damage, personal property coverage (hardware, furniture, and other possessions). Some insurances also offer extended coverage for valuable documents (both paper and digital), meaning you can receive compensation of related costs if you lose access to those files.
Have a Formalized Founder’s Agreement
Also called the operating agreement, it will help you avoid certain conflicts among the founding party. This legal document should clearly define the relationships among the founders; outline how the communication is expected to happen and incorporate a conflict-resolution clause that should minimize and regulate the disputes.
Richard Harroch also suggests that a founder agreement should absolutely include your agreement on the following matters:
While doing the legal chores may be not the most exciting part of your job, you will have to prioritize them at the beginning to avoid paying for your mistakes later down the road.
Bitcoin and blockchain. It’s still a mystery to many, including C-level corporate executives. And yet Bitcoin has come to its own, as a cryptocurrency, having closed on October 3, at a price of about $4300/coin. It has become a major disruptor of traditional financial institutions and financial transactions, despite naysayers like Jamie Dimon.
But it is not the bitcoin currency itself that is causing such a stir. It is the technology behind the transactions – blockchain. And it is this technology that is now capturing the attention of a variety of industries, not just financial.
Just What is Blockchain?
Consider that financial transactions in traditional banks are all housed in huge databases of ledgers. When a customer wishes to access his/her account online, he can see every transaction over a selected period of time and be given a real-time balance. This is a personal banking ledger and it is a part of the larger ledger databases that are reconciled overnight, every night.
Here is the issue: these ledgers can be altered, either by those who have digital permission to access them or, unfortunately, by hackers. They are therefore not unalterable, permanent records.
Blockchain technology was developed to make financial ledgers permanent and unalterable. Here is how that works:
All activity (e.g., a banking transaction) is entered as a part of a block of transactions over a specified period of time (e.g. ten minutes). These transactions are verified by multiple people, and the block of activity is then “hooked” to the previous block and to the block that follows it. Blocks are permanent and can never be altered once verified and entered. No one has permission to access and modify, and, if anyone did attempt to do so, the other verifiers would immediately know and shut that down.
The use of blockchain transactions is especially attractive to enterprises that wish to do business in countries in which financial institutions and currencies are unstable. Using a cryptocurrency and an unalterable ledger of financial transactions keeps such transactions safe and secure from corrupt governments as well.
Ethereum is another blockchain organization that began with a cryptocurrency of sorts (called an ether), and individuals can purchase Ethereum tokens just as they do Bitcoins. But these individuals or organizations can use ethers to conduct far more than just financial transactions, as is the case with Bitcoin.
Early Ethereum Blockchain Adopters Have “Shown the Way”
The UN has been an early adopter of Ethereum, with the following activities:
Corporations are Coming On Board
The prospects of creating blockchains through Ethereum for a host of business activities is what is now attracting corporations to this organization. In addition to financial transactions, Ethereum has opened its technology to a host of organizations and corporations, and all sorts of activity can be permanently recorded on the back of Ethereum blockchain technology. Ethers can be purchased by corporations for the use of this technology.
Consider the following corporate uses of Ethereum blockchain technology:
The potentials for blockchain technology are just now beginning to be understood by many more organizations and enterprises than just the financial industry. Already, education is being disrupted, by allowing a permanent irrefutable record of students’ coursework, especially when it comes from multiple institutions and some online. And, no matter what industry niche corporations are in, the use of blockchain can provide security, consistency, permanent records of every transaction and internal activity – records that are publicly available and that provide a transparency that has not previously been there.
Once business owners and C-level executives see the value of blockchain technology, and what it can do to streamline and provide transparency within their operations.
You’ve finally done it. Your ecommerce site is ready to go live. Now, you can relax and wait for the orders to roll in. Can’t you?
Unfortunately, you can’t. In fact, the day you go live is the day the real work starts. Keeping your ecommerce site up and running, and profitable requires continual maintenance and monitoring.
Ensuring that your site is secure, and that it can handle the volume of transactions you anticipate is, of course, a primary concern. However, that’s something that the average business owner should anticipate and plan for. What many aren’t prepared for are the three most common challenges.
According to experts from Zfort Group, who have developed more than 150 ecommerce websites, there are three key challenges that remain common among all of them after they’ve launched. These are as follows:
Ensuring That Products are Presented in The Best Light Possible.
When a potential customer arrives on one of your product pages, that’s a big deal. It is the successful result of many efforts and investments including:
It’s a real victory. The worst thing you can do is squander that by failing to deliver what the customer wants in that moment. Here’s the real challenge. You’ve got about 8 seconds to make a good impression. There are four things you can focus on to ensure this happens.
The images on your product pages are going to register in the minds of your visitors before any of the text does. High quality images play a major role in whether or not customers will stay to read more, and whether or not they will convert.
Case studies have shown that larger images can increase conversions by up to 63%. Of course, it’s a no-brainer that images should be the highest possible quality. The rest isn’t so cut and dried. For example, there’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to the number of images that should be included on one of your product pages. That depends on the product you’re selling, and the needs of your customers. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
There are other things to consider as well. Tagging images will help ensure they rank in searches. Keep image file names short but relevant. Use dashes to separate words. These Tweaks are important as 78% of SEO issues can be attributed to problems with images.
Clear, readable, and compelling product descriptions are also important. This is an area where it is imperative to prioritize the needs of the mobile consumer. Keep in mind that 44% of mobile users list the ability to read product descriptions clearly as extremely important.
When writing descriptions, focus on two things - features and benefits. Shoppers want to be able to quickly discern whether or not your product will meet their needs. A scannable list of features will facilitate this. The other side to this equation are benefits. Focus on describing ways in which your product can add value or convenience to the lives of your customers.
Finally, keep social proof in mind. You know your product best, but shoppers want to know what others think as well. To be certain, many will read reviews before making a purchase. Consider embedding positive reviews about your product directly onto your web page.
Use cross reference links and data to improve customer experience, and provide information about your products. Here are some examples:
Consumers expect your product pages to load within 2 seconds. If load time exceeds 3 seconds, you’re going to start losing people. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to improve page performance. These include, image compression, enabling caching, optimizing images for SEO for starters.
Why page performance matters so much? Well, if you are experimenting with paid advertising, fast page loading speed will result in more page views, and ultimately higher conversions, especially for mobile users.
Keeping products updated regularly, and the time involved in that.
Stagnancy is the enemy. If you don’t update your products regularly to meet the changing needs and wants of your customers, you’re going to lose sales. In addition to this, your growth going forward will also depend on your ability to select and offer new products that meet your customer’s needs. Pay attention to customer feedback, and keep up with developments in your niche to keep your product offerings up to date. Here are some things to consider when determining whether or not to update or add new products to your site.
Staying On Trend (with Holidays, News, Competitors, Offers, etc.)
Today’s consumers are a bit spoiled. They are accustomed to receiving special offers and discounts to commemorate virtually any event you can think of. Whether it’s Christmas, the beginning of the school year, or some other event, you can count on your competitors holding some sort of sale. Plan ahead so that you can remain competitive.
Keeping up with holidays and current events also offers you some important opportunities. Not only can you impress your customers with special offers, you can also reach them with relevant content as well. Then, there’s the opportunity to offer select merchandise for holidays and other special events.
Your ecommerce site is a bit like a needy pet. It requires constant feeding, attention, and nurturing. By staying on top of the three challenges mentioned above, you can help ensure consistent growth and profitability.
With the online-based evolution of the IT world, moving apps to the cloud is a fundamental step in the future of technology. As the demand for app development for the cloud has increased more and more in the past years, specialized cloud-based platforms have been created to take apps from idea to URL.
Nowadays, web developers have several platforms that can optimize their work and enable them to make better apps for the cloud. In this article, we are going to tell you all about the rise of cloud-based platforms for app development, along with the benefits they bring, as well as their inevitable shortcomings.
The Demand for Cloud-Based Platforms
Moving an app to the cloud has become one of the most appealing ideas in the IT world because it is extremely convenient. Essentially, it entails running an app on the internet instead of the company's servers. As this idea grew to become a full-on sector of the IT world, three main types of cloud-based app development have been established. These are as follows:
1. IaaS - Infrastructure as a Service
The IaaS model entails that the app is created on the company's platform. Then, the entire app-platform bundle must be deployed to a cloud infrastructure. This is the most lucrative form of cloud-oriented app development because the developers working on these apps have their work cut out for them. However, the IaaS model provides them maximum flexibility, which could be essential when it comes to apps meant to suit very specific roles.
2. PaaS - Platform as a Service
This is the middle ground in cloud-based app development because it entails the use of a middleware platform, such as Heroku or Azure. The deployment process is then made to a cloud service that supports this platform.
The PaaS is becoming more and more popular because it offers developers with quite a bit of flexibility, but it significantly reduces the work they have to put in by providing them with specialized features that can optimize certain parts of the development process.
3. SaaS - Software as a Service
The SaaS model means creating cloud-based apps by using a pre-existing app the offers the required functionalities. The best example for this model is the full range of apps that allow users to log in using their Facebook accounts.
Instead of creating new data for the app's log-in system, developers can simply link it to the Facebook app. While this model is clearly convenient, it keeps developers somewhat limited because they need to adapt to existing apps.
While each of the three models has its own advantages and disadvantages, the highest demand has been observed for the PaaS model because it offers the best of both worlds. Developers have flexibility in the processes they choose to run, and the middleware platforms can help them reduce the work they put in.
The Main Roles of Middleware Cloud-Based Platforms in App Development
Middleware cloud-based platforms, such as Heroku, Microsoft Azure, AWS, OpenShift, and others, are all focused on increasing developer experience. These offer a set of specialized enterprise features that can optimize their work by making the development process more accessible.
By simplifying and speeding up the processes of deployment, app configuration, scaling, testing, and tuning, these platforms can let developers focus on the creative part of their jobs, rather than spending a lot of time on technicalities.
In fact, the most complicated part that developers have to get through is the deployment step because this determines how smoothly their apps will run in the cloud. This is where middleware platforms make a difference because they can make the entire deployment process far easier and thus increase developer experience significantly.
It is extremely easy to deploy Django to Heroku, for instance, precisely because the Heroku platform is made to run processes written in traditional programming languages. Then, it will make the transfer to the cloud as smooth as possible.
The Advantages of Middleware Platforms and PaaS
If this is the cloud-based app development model that show the biggest potential for enterprises, as well as start-ups, let us tell you more about the primary advantages boasted by PaaS and middleware platforms.
Optimization of Testing and Deployment
Whether you are using AWS, Azure, or Heroku, middleware platforms are meant to help web developers try various configurations of their app and run comprehensive tests to assess its performance and its compatibility with various cloud systems. This is an essential part of speeding up the deployment process and increasing developer experience.
Increased Focus on Business
By simplifying the app development process, companies can focus more on their core business targets. The PaaS model can optimize the web development department with minimal effort because middleware platforms are specially created to be suitable for any development system adapted for the cloud.
By simplifying the testing process, platforms like Azure and Heroku are not only useful for developing new apps, but also for creating new features for existing ones. If the developers can test these new features quickly and efficiently, they can implement them efficiently to their apps.
The Drawbacks of Middleware Platforms and PaaS
While these specialized platforms for cloud-based app development are on the rise, there are several aspects that must still be improved. While the drawbacks of middleware platforms are not significant, they can constitute issues for certain business models.
While clearly more permissive than the SaaS model, PaaS platforms still keep web developers limited to a series of features. As such, this could prevent them from creating certain features that might be of interest to some businesses. This is why it is essential that these platforms are chosen in accordance with the company's needs.
As any emerging IT sector, Paas platforms require improved cybersecurity. As such, it is essential that companies stay in touch with vendors to have access to the latest updates to this middleware, as increasing security is one of the primary objectives for the optimization of these platforms.
As you can see, cloud-based applications are clearly an important part of the upcoming IT era. By using specialized platforms such as Heroku, Azure, or AWS, web developers can quickly make the transfer from traditional programming languages to cloud-optimized systems, thus maximizing the potential of the entire project.
Why are companies so keenly focused on creating great user experience?
Ultimately, the answer is quite simple. It’s ROI! In fact, research shows that a great UI can boost conversions as much as 200%. Well, ROI and the opportunities that technology and data has brought us.
Think about it. The importance of creating great customer experience predates computers. For example, people have always appreciated the following:
Historically, have not only appreciated these things, they’ll even pay more for better experiences. Early user experience efforts include Henry Ford’s creation of mass production technology, Walt Disney’s carefully designed strategies to make his parks a joyful place, and Don Norman’s pioneering work at Apple focusing on functionality and usability over aesthetics. In fact, it was Norman who coined the term ‘user experience’.
What’s slowly developed in recent years is that companies can now do a much better job of pinpointing the experiences that customers want. Even better, they can do it more effectively, and much less intrusively. Credit for this can largely go to big data and artificial intelligence.
The Role of AI in User Experience
A large part of the conversation about user experience and AI centers around chatbots. The idea is that AI driven chatbots can become more intelligent over time as they receive input from consumers as well as data from other sources. While this is true, it’s only the tip of the iceberg.
Artificial intelligence also plays a role in the creation of websites that deliver great user experiences. For example, The Grid uses artificial intelligence to help create sites with great UX nearly automatically. Netflix allows AI to do the grunt work of creating user experience by creating a framework of algorithms and rules that AI technology can work with. In the meantime, that leaves designers and others time to focus on the more human elements of user experience.
While AI plays a role in UX beyond the bot, that doesn’t mean the bot should be ignored. Chatbots are an emerging technology that have and will continue to improve the user experience. No, they aren’t perfect. There’s no doubt that most of have rolled our eyes at the seeming cluelessness of bots. However, thanks to advances in the way that bots process natural language, the ability for bots to respond and react appropriately to what people input is rapidly improving.
Paul Gordon at 720 Digital specializes in conversion rate optimization. He says, “Bots are no longer intrusive sales machines. They are intelligent. They possess the ability to interact, to show insight, and to meet customers’ needs when they interact. This is an exciting technology that will continue to improve UX down the road.”
Today, social media platforms are assisting businesses in their effort to use bots to improve UX. This includes the ability to deliver personalized content as well as deliver relevant information and answer questions.
Considering that most people have only five apps on their phone that they use on a regular basis, and that the most used of those five is likely to be a messenger app, there’s no reason to ignore the role that AI can play in messenger apps whether it’s facilitating purchase, acting in a customer service role, or simply providing information.
Big Data And UX
Another asset in the ability for businesses to deliver great user experience is the improved ability to collect and store data. This data can then be used to inform decisions about creating better UX.
One way that startups are able to use data to improve UX is by collecting that data in less obtrusive ways. Analytics software can deliver data about true consumer behavior. Not only that, sometimes big data can gleen better information about customer information than customer feedback through surveys and other instruments.
Of course surveys are a valuable means of connecting with customers. Market research is also an apparent tool for reaching out to the users. However, once again it’s intrusive and requires customers to provide input that they would not otherwise give freely.
Businesses have been collecting and using data from customers and other sources for years. However, thanks to analytics they can identify the right questions to ask in the first place, and also identify where data collection might require a bit of sensitivity. After all, at the end of the day businesses want customer data in the most convenient way possible.
What do Customers Really Want From UX
From the time they leave their homes, log into their computers, or walk into your store, customers really want just one thing. They want to be provided with easy, informative, and easy to connect experiences. More importantly, customers understand the value of CX. They want convenient, safe, and entertaining experiences.
The American Medical Association (AMA) is working alongside leading IT companies like IBM and Cerner to develop an integrated healthcare big data analytics platform. The name of the project is Integrated Health Model Initiative (IHMI) and it is aimed to provide a continuous learning environment that can produce interoperable technological solutions, as well as valid care models based on relevant feedback.
IHMI will feature a central data model for organizing and exchanging information, as well as a physician-led validation process to review the clinical applicability of the data. The technology that will deliver this type of sensitive data analysis will be developed by IBM and Cerner, as well as other partners that may join the project in the future. This new healthcare analysis big data platform is set to be developed and released in 2018.
The Central Aims of IHMI
The main goal of IHMI is to provide a digital basis that will support a collaborative approach to optimizing population health management. This will be achieved by identifying the diverse factors that have led to positive medical outcomes, as well as pointing out the points in healthcare development that require improvements. The platform will also offer comprehensive information for medical research.
According to James L. Mandra, MD, the CEO of AMA, the amount of health data produced in the US has reached impressive proportions. However, much of this data remains "fragmented, inaccessible or incomplete" in spite of its potential to lead to valuable improvements in patient outcomes.
As such, IHMI was created as a collaborative effort that could enable the healthcare system to "collect, organize, and exchange patient-centered data in a common structure that captures what is most important for improving care and long-term wellness, and transform the data into a rich stream of accessible and actionable information”, says Mandra.
The healthcare platform is specifically targeted to gather data about high-cost and high-impact clinical areas, such as diabetes prevention or hypertension management. This platform would serve doctors and researchers in optimizing patient care tactics and developing new healthcare protocols based on comprehensive feedback, which has the potential to improve patient outcomes.
The Usability of IHMI
The AMA's big data platform is will ultimately be designed to be used by doctors. As such, IHMI will feature a close collaboration between physicians and IT specialists that can provide the specialized data analytics features that will be both useful and accessible to the medical community.
According to Laurie McGraw, AMA's Senior Vice President of Health Solutions, the new data platform will actually encompass many existing data standards that the medical community is already familiar with, such as SNOMED, CPT, LOINC, or ICD-10.
However, it will be taken one step further because it will help users gain access to patient-centered data, such as patient goals, function, and state, which are essential for an accurate assessment of patient wellness. McGraw said that IHMI is expected to "build bridges with health technology leaders and bring the physician voice into the innovation space”.
IHMI will help physicians access specific patient information in the patient's record more efficiently by putting together patient care models which can be easily deployed and the biggest advances in IT technology that target protocols and workflows.
This type of interdepartmental collaboration could lead to technological breakthroughs that would deliver sensitive information that is relevant to the specific needs of a group of users. Similar developments where technology can help facilitate certain red tape processes are made every day.
For instance, in 2017 a tech solution was made available that can issue an electronic Vietnam visa for US citizens upon demand. This will simplify the visa release process tremendously and hopefully, the model will be implemented for visa systems in other countries as well. In the same way, IHMI is meant as a technological advancement that could then be applied internationally.
To conclude, the Integrated Healthcare Model Initiative will have the titans of healthcare and IT working together for the development of comprehensive big data analysis platform that will fuel the optimization of the American healthcare system. It remains to be seen when the platform will be made accessible to the medical community, but it has the potential to fuel ground-breaking advancements in patient care.
You start working on a spreadsheet from your home office. Later, on the train you open it up with your phone to check out a few of your calculations. When you get to work, you open up your laptop, and continue working on it. You’re not carrying the document around on a flash drive. You’re simply taking advantage of the convenience of cloud storage. It may be time to move forward, and treat your accounting the same way.
Using cloud based accounting solutions is certainly not bleeding edge technology either. As of 2014, 69% of accounting firms were using cloud based financial solutions. More than 25% of the small to mid sized businesses that were surveyed indicated that they were using cloud based accounting solutions specifically.
Whether you’re a small business owner handling your own financials or a dedicated accounting pro, there are plenty of reasons to consider cloud software. It’s certainly a technology that’s growing in population overall. Keep reading to learn more about the growth of cloud solutions for accounting, and why it should be a viable option for you.
Access And Collaboration For Team Members
Cloud based accounting solutions are highly regarded because they don’t keep people pinned to their desks. You also don’t have to rely on emails or file sharing to share accounting data with other team members. Instead, those with authority and connection can simply access the accounting system from any connected device.
Cloud based accounting systems also enable collaboration. Files can be accessed, modified, and created by multiple team members. This ensures that everyone has the latest version of each document.
It Takes The Heat Off of Your Systems
In addition to financials, your home-based systems handle a lot. You likely store customer and employee data. You may process transactions. There’s also emails, data related to other systems, security and antivirus software, and more. That’s a lot of processing and storage. This doesn’t come for free.
By moving your accounting to the cloud, you can take a load off of your networks, servers, and peripherals. This can lead to better performance, and more room for the data you do choose to keep in house.
Cloud Accounting Solutions Are Often Less Expensive
In all likelihood, running your accounting solution is the cloud will result in lower out of pocket costs. First of all, if you purchase an in house solution, not only do you have to cover licensing fees, you’ll also have to cover the cost of any hardware upgrades required to host the solution. Also, you may be able to break your payment into a series of monthly payments thus defraying your upfront costs even further.
You’ll also pay less for hardware maintenance and other resources. This is especially beneficial for smaller businesses. Rather than hiring an IT person, or bringing in a consultant to deal with maintenance and upgrades, you can simply leave that to your solution provider. This is much less expensive than paying for an IT pro or consultant that you may only need part time.
Cost of storage is another thing to consider. With cloud based solutions, you only pay for what you use. And, in many cases your subscription options will likely give you plenty of room to grow before you move up to a higher, pricing tier.
Finally, keep in mind that as in house solutions grow, you also have to consider the physical space you have to store servers and other hardware. It’s not much of a stretch to go from having some equipment in a well vented utility closet to needing a fully realized computer room with raised flooring and other bells and whistles.
High Security Protocols And Standards
Unfortunately, some very publicized events relating to cloud storage has put people off the idea of using cloud as an accounting solution. They believe that their information won’t be secure. However, in most cases that’s simply not true. A reputable host is going to have exceptionally high security standards and protocols. They’re also going to have the manpower and knowledge to maintain a much more secure system than most businesses.
Truth be told, unless you’re a large company with a data security team, the right cloud provider is very likely to outdo you when it comes to data security and access control. However, this is important enough of an issue that you should ask questions about data security when you’re exploring cloud accounting solutions.
Flexibility And Scalability
If you select a cloud based ERP solution, or even a standalone accounting solution, it’s quite likely that you will be able to customize it to the needs of your organization and clients. This can often be done by selecting apps that are created by your vendors. Another option is to customize cloud based accounting systems yourself. This is one of the advantages of cloud computing that actually stretches beyond accounting and financials. You can do this in house, or bring in a software development contractor. This option is popular enough that many vendors offer development platforms, and open source products.
Cloud based solutions are also scalable. If you’re operation is growing, the cloud simply grows with it. You don’t have to calculate how much server space you may need in six months or how much you will need a year from now. Instead, you can spend those resources focusing on providing clients with great service and earning profit.
Cloud to Cloud Integration is Now a Possibility
If you’re already using cloud based solutions for other business applications, let your accounting solution provider know. It’s relatively, but the truth is cloud to cloud integration is absolutely a possibility. In all likelihood, all of your cloud based applications can share data amongst themselves in order to truly provide you with rich, enterprise solutions.
Automation Leads to Accuracy
Many cloud based accounting solutions are largely automated. That means there is less human intervention. That leads to less error,and more quality control. Fraud, duplicate entries, and other issues can be flagged and dealt with, often with limited human intervention.
Ease of Maintenance
In order to keep your in house systems working, you have to constantly concern yourself with upgrades and maintenance. Servers must be updated as your company grows. You’ve also got security patches and other upgrades to stay on top of. Even for a small accounting firm, the job of ensuring your servers, devices, and networks stay up and running can quickly become a full time task for at least one of your team members.
That’s not the case with the cloud. You don’t have to concern yourself with maintenance at all. These tasks fall under the responsibility of the software provider. Don’t forget the cost of server downtime. Depending on the solution you choose, a cloud based accounting system may mean you’ve got as little as 45 minutes down time each month.
Not only have cloud based solution providers gone a long way in allaying concerns about security and privacy, they’ve taken steps to ensure that their solutions are more secure than most other options. In addition to this, cloud solutions can be less expensive as well as using up fewer resources. Any accounting firm or small business in need of an accounting solution should strongly consider looking to the cloud. There’s a very good chance that there’s something in the cloud that will meet your needs.
The Superbowl. It is the culmination of a football season and the most watched football game each year. But for football fans and non-fans, part of this event’s draw are the commercials. Every year, the “big boys” – Coca-Cola, Anheuser-Busch, Frito-Lay, and more – put their marketing and advertising teams to work to come up with amazing commercials. For days afterward, these commercials are analyzed and voted upon by a loyal following.
For average businesses, however, this type of marketing is an impossible dream. They have to use more conventional methods, most of which involve developing customer personas, trying to develop relationships with customers, providing responsive customer service, and creating online advertising and content marketing which is, actually, pretty budget-friendly.
Hacking Through a Noisy Environment
The problem with internet marketing, or marketing of any kind for that matter, is that the environment is noisy. Marketers are throwing a lot of “stuff” out there and hoping that some of it will stick with some of their target audience members. And consumers are growing tired of the growing disruptions of marketing of products and services that don’t meet their needs.
Many marketers have also come to use data analytics to keep track of the success of specific campaigns they run – tracking consumer response and the number of conversions that can be attributed to each strategy. And this can drive marketing decisions that they make for future campaigns. It’s a good use of “science” to make marketing strategies more effective.
Before and After-the-Fact Analytics
There is data and then there is big data. Conventional analytics is “after-the-fact” analysis. But what if bigger amounts of data could be gathered and gathered before marketing campaigns were ever crafted in the first place? This is the promise of this new big data science. Here is an example:
A bank has had a portfolio of loan options for consumers – auto, home, personal, business, etc. – for a number of years. Now it must compete with a host of new loan products from a host of new lenders, especially online lenders, and business is falling off. How does it determine how to alter it current products, perhaps design new ones, and market those effectively, in order to gain a good market share? Big data analytics can do this.
With the right software and tools, and the right questions, data can be gathered from all over – from the competition, from social media, from consumer review sites, etc. – and all of that data can be organized and synthesized to provide answers that will drive the loan products the bank will offer, to whom, and even how and where they will best be marketed.
The idea of big data analytics is that it is supremely scientific. It deals only with factual information and is based upon actual consumer behaviors that are gathered from multiple sources and then presented in reports that businesses can use to predict how consumers will act in the future. Armed with this knowledge, business owners, managers, and marketers can make smart decisions about what they offer, when it is offered, to whom, and the best places for their campaigns.
6 Ways in Which Big Data Analytics Can Boost Marketing
Consumers looking for products or services often conduct generic searches. And, according to Matt Kirkman, Director of Grapefruit Digital SEO Agency,
“...consumers rarely go beyond the first page of a search result, in fact, beyond the top five results. What big data analysis can bring to the table is not just the most commonly-used search terms, although that is a critical factor, but also the demographics using those terms, where they hang out online, and the most common needs they identify related to products or services. All of these can be used to craft content that search engines will find valuable.”
More Precise Definition of the Ideal Customer
Marketers spend a lot of time developing a target audience persona. Some of this may be based upon current customers, and some may be a “guess and test” strategy. Big data takes the guesswork out. Companies can see who is buying similar products/services, what and where their related conversations take place, what other websites they visit, the social media platforms they use, and, when, where, and how they prefer to be contacted.
Anyone who has shopped for a product on Amazon or ordered a movie from Netflix, will find suggestions for additional purchases or other movies they might like. This is the result of big data and machine learning, gathering information on previous customer behaviors to predict those of future customers. Marketers for any business can use such data to suggest additional products or services too.
Another aspect of personalization is targeted marketing based upon predictive analysis. When leads come in to sales teams, they can be categorized as hot, warm, or cold, based upon how similar leads have behaved in the past. This allows sales teams to spend their time more wisely relative to those leads.
Better Content Marketing
Marketers have used analytics to measure responses to their content – blog articles, social media posts, etc. The right big data analytics tools, though, can now crawl through related content all over the web and analyze responses to it all. This provides marketers with topics, with “pain points” to address, and with offers such as loyalty programs and discounts.
Managing a Reputation
New analytics tools also allow businesses to monitor any mention of their brands or products/services from any place on the web. They can then immediately access those mentions and respond accordingly. When compliments are given, that behavior can be reinforced with coupons, discounts, etc. By the same token, negative comments can be addressed publicly with resolutions that both satisfy the unhappy customer and let others know that a business is serious about its customer service/relationships.
Because of big data algorithms and analytics, it is possible for businesses to rapidly obtain information on competitors’ pricing, price changes in the sector as a whole, and even price points at which customers may be turned away. Pricing optimization is a huge factor in marketing and sales, and the ability to get information and suggestions based upon actual data relieves marketing departments of a lot of manual research, which may not be comprehensive.
This list of six benefits is only the beginning. Data science is relatively new, and promises to be the single most important factor as businesses look to design products and services that consumers really want and need, to find their ideal customers, and to market their brands most effectively.
Matt Stathis 50BYV81TQ8 1,654 Views
Online reviews have a very strong influence on the success of any business. According to the Wall Street Journal, consumers’ behavior is influenced by social norms. This is why online reviews—the new social proof—is such a powerful concept. A survey by Bright Local in 2017 found that 85% of consumers trust online reviews like personal recommendations. No wonder why Influencer Marketing has become such a powerful weapon for brands. Just consider the initial steps you normally take when you are thinking about buying a product or service. You most likely go online and begin looking for reviews to help ensure you are spending your hard earned money wisely. Your clients or customers will also want to do the same thing before they purchase your products or services.
According to a study that was conducted by YouGov, 78% of customers consult online reviews before making a purchase. Another online review survey done by Bright Local’s in the year 2016, revealed that 88% of consumers trust online reviews just as much as they trust recommendations from family members and friends. That same study also found that, 74% of costumers say that the positive reviews make them trust a business more.
If you are a business owner, the aforementioned statistics should provide you with sufficient evidence of the importance of the online reviews. That being so, many businesses tend to struggle when it comes to getting reviews from customers. Either they get very few reviews, or none at all. So, how do you get people to review your products or services? Here are our top 6 tips;
1. Spotlight the Customer
Most people like being the center of attention. When you receive a review from a client or customer, you can show gratitude by giving them some spotlight. Giving your customers or reviewers attention can actually encourage other customers to give their reviews. Moreover, expressing your gratitude in public can help you inspire customer loyalty. You can also feature the best reviews on your website or social media pages, and even go a step further and give shout outs to each reviewer by name.
2. Send a Follow-Up Email
At times, it can be somewhat intimidating to use emails to encourage clients to leave reviews as you might feel as if you are harassing them. However, when done correctly, this can be one of the most efficient ways of getting more reviews. If you've the client’s email address, consider sending out a personalized email 2 to 7 days after the purchase. The follow up email should contain links of where to leave a review. Remember to let them know that your goal is to create the best possible experience, and that you do value their feedback.
3. Make It Easy to Review Your Products
In order to inspire customers to review your products, you need to make it easy for them to do so. You should list your business on various different review sites which are relevant to your particular business. Some of the best review sites you might want to consider include: Yelp, Lodlois, ConsumerAffairs for Brands, among others. That said, make sure you not only provide them with the website URLs, but also explain how to leave a review.
4. Respond to Reviews
If you ask your customers for reviews, the least you can do is read what they've written, and respond when necessary. You should show them that you are available to talk by personally responding to their reviews. Responsiveness actually shows that you value their feedback and care about their opinions. It also increases the likelihood of other customers joining the conversation and adding their own reviews.
5. Don’t Forget to Ask for Reviews
This is one of the easiest and most overlooked ways to convince clients/customers to leave online reviews. If you do not ask for reviews, many customers will not remember to do it since they've other things going on. According to a 2016 survey by Bright Local, 70% of customers were willing to write a review if the business actually asked them to do so.
The ideal time to ask for a review is when the value that you have delivered is fresh in the customer’s mind, therefore making it easier for them to recall the purchase, and write a honest review. So, do not wait for too long before asking for a review since the happy memories will get more out of focus with every passing minute.
6. Incentivize Your Customers
It is really amazing what a little incentive will do to encourage people to leave reviews. For instance, you can set up a program which rewards customers at random for leaving a review. The program should be designed in such a way that it rewards any review at random regardless of whether it's positive or negative. That said, be careful not to give an impression that you're trying to compensate customers for writing reviews.
Matt Stathis 50BYV81TQ8 1,649 Views
Most of the world’s population is increasingly shifting to social media. Did you know that social media has surpassed porn as the #1 activity on the web? Also, more than 50% of the earth’s population is under 30 years old. This is significantly affecting marketing.
So what exactly is influencer marketing?
Some people like celebrities can have a significant effect on the character of brands. Since these individuals (influencers) have a vast following and appeal to many people, brands use them to promote and sell their products and services. This is what influencer marketing is all about. While there are other channels for influencer marketing, social media influencer marketing is currently the most effective. Businesses are taking advantage of influencers with a massive following on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat, and other platforms to sell their brands.
Although influencer marketing has been around for a long time, it has recently become a hot trend and is expected to be the next big thing for marketers. One of the reasons it is trendy now is the fact there are more people than ever before using various social media platforms, with an opportunity to share their opinion and content on anything. Here are reasons influencer marketing is considered the next big thing;
It is powerful
Influencers can significantly improve your brand’s sentiment among consumers. A study by Rhythmone showed that influencer marketing campaigns that lasted for 14 days or more led to a 9 percent improvement in positive brand sentiment. Investing in influencers who believe in your products and services has even more benefits.
Social media is a big factor
More consumers are shifting to social media by the day, and this is going to make influencer marketing even more effective. Social media is, in fact, turning traditional marketing models on their head. A recent report from Salesforce showed that up to 70% of brands will allocate a bigger budget on social media. Nowadays consumers are connecting with each other on social media and making purchase decisions by learning the experiences of each other and those of their favorite personalities.
It is currently an arbitrage
When Facebook launched its ad network, business owners who adopted it early had record ROIs. Currently, influencer marketing is a massive arbitrage as there is a huge supply of influencers, but few brands are running the influencer campaigns. For instance, Periscope and Snapchat present good markets for influencer marketing but very few marketers are investing in it.
People are getting tired of paid ads
Consumers are these days exposed so many ads that they at times unconsciously tune them out. For instance, can you remember the last ad you saw and what it was promoting? Infolinks (a digital advertising platform) found out that just 14% of its respondents remembered the recent ad they saw and whatever was promoted in it.
Influencer marketing is good for SEO
Besides driving sales more effectively, influencer marketing can also boost your ranking on search engines. A study by The Social Media Revolution suggests that user-generated social media posts account for up to 25% of search results. The more your brand is mentioned on social media, the more relevant and popular you get on Google.
It is more effective that traditional models and other forms of digital media
A case study by WhiteWave Foods and TapInfluence found out that per 1000 views, influencer marketing brings in $285. This is 11 times more ROI over other forms of digital media.
It is also worth mentioning that Millenials have become vital game-changers as far as influencer marketing is concerned. The rules of marketing to this generation have changed, and traditional channels no longer appeal to them. Studies show that these days, only 3 percent of Millenials consult traditional forms of marketing such as TV, magazine and newspaper ads before making purchase decisions. Instead, they go to social media platforms, websites, and blogs to find out what their friends are saying. Again, the Gen X and Millenials only trust people they know.
Contrary to what you might expect, content does not matter so much to Millenials, authenticity does. If they don’t trust you, no matter how good your content is, they will not bother looking at it. Influencer marketing seems to be working for them, and this necessitates the need to engage them on social media or the blogosphere.
Experts also say that consumers’ trust in brands has been decreasing over the years. On the other hand, the tendency to rely upon word-of-mouth has been increasing. Consumers continue to demand authenticity, and instead of using outdated brand messages, authentic brands are now focusing on the human component by, say, putting a face to the brand’s name. This genuine and relatable marketing creates a connection with consumers and can foster brand loyalty if done effectively.
An Influencer can have millions of followers or just a few thousand. The number of people who follow an influencer is not that important. What matters when looking for the right influencer to promote your brand is the level of relevance and engagement. Therefore, while a celebrity with a 100 million followers, like Kim Kardashian’s younger sister Kendal Jenner could be the right influencer for a beauty and lifestyle brand, micro-influencers like Leandro of LifetoLiveit and Alex of Wikigains could be similarly effective for a fitness brand or a brand that uses coupons and deals as a sales promotion tool.
How to know if influencer marketing can benefit your business
If you intend to use influencer marketing, here are some tips for telling if the marketing campaign would be right for you.
Matt Stathis 50BYV81TQ8 1,892 Views
What is more important: a great product or a great marketing? The truth is that a mediocre product with great marketing will always defeat a great product with mediocre marketing. This is because great marketing can influence consumers through psychological tactics. For example, a marketing campaign that creates scarcity and urgency, makes consumers think the marketed product is more valuable than the one that exists in abundance.
When a market is so overloaded that is difficult for you as a merchant to stand out, your marketing may be more important than the product you are selling.
Weight loss is a very crowded market. It is comprised of commercial weight loss chains (i.e Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig), diet pills (i.e Alli, Belviq), diet food home delivery services (i.e BistroMD, Nutrisystem), medical procedures (i.e gastric bypass surgery), and even weight loss gamification (gadgets and mobile apps). In fact, at some point, an incentive-based app by IBM aimed to bring weight loss gamification to the workplace. Many of these products and services offer effective solutions to the problem of obesity. Yet, as is the case in almost every market, 10% of these weight loss products absorb 90% of the customer base. What’s interesting, the weight loss solutions that are most successful do not necessarily provide a better service than their competitors. They are just better marketed.
The largest weight loss program in the US today is Weight Watchers. More than 8 million people visit it website every month. With more than two-thirds of the U.S. population overweight or obese, there is an enormous weight-loss market – to the tune of an estimated $66 billion this year. Weight Watchers has cornered a significant share of it, thanks to a smart strategy in targeting dieters.
With $1.16 billion in revenue in 2016, Weight Watchers is at least two times larger than its biggest competitors in the space, Nutrisystem and Jenny Craig. It’s also seen a meteoric rise in shareholder support, as its stock price has skyrocketed more than 2,000% from $2.13 per share in 1999 to $44.44 in December 2017.
So how did Weight Watchers rise to the top? Surely, the product they sell is very well designed. For over 50 years they keep improving what they offer to the point that today the company’s reputation precedes its service. But, the company’s success is based to a substantial degree on great marketing tactics, not the product itself. This is, after all, expected for a company that spends 90 million a year on advertising campaigns. Let’s take a look at what Weight Watchers does right.
Lesson 1. Present the Problem, Make it Look Complicated
First, the company makes the weight loss problem look complicated. Despite what dieticians may have been telling us, according to Weight Watchers, it’s not just calories in, calories out. Instead, it’s all about how your body processes different types of foods. A 200-calorie cupcake is processed differently than a 200-calorie salad, according to Weight Watchers’ nutritional scientists.
Weight Watchers’ new Freestyle program incorporates new data from recent research in the field of eating behavior and psychology. What makes us gain weight is not homeostatic hunger (eating to meet the body’s energy needs) but hedonic hunger (eating for pleasure), they tell us. This makes the issue complicated in the eyes of the consumer. If weight loss is not as drop-dead simple as we thought, then we feel that we have to turn to a company who can provide us the right solution.
Lesson 2. Offer an Exclusive Product that Solves the Problem
This brings us to our next point: Weight Watchers has created a solution to a complicated problem that looks relatively easy… but not so easy that someone can follow the system all on his or her own. Weight Watchers has created the PointsPlus system that assigns a certain number of points to each food based on how the body processes it. It used to be that points values were calculated based on calories and fat content, but now calories have been taken out of the equation. It’s now based on what it does in the body, a more complicated equation that considers carbohydrates, fat, protein and fiber. A 272-calorie apple serving has 0 Points while a 272-calorie ice cream serving has 7 points. A sophisticated mathematical formula calculates the points which means that consumers need some type of a guide—whether it be a special Weight Watchers calculator, a book or online tools—to tell them the number of points for each food.
Lesson 3. Exploit Your Competitors Weakness
Another smart marketing strategy employed by Weight Watchers has to with taking advantage of its competitors’ weaknesses. People who struggle with their weight generally don’t like rigid food plans or having someone else tell them what to eat. If they did do well with meal structure and discipline, many of them probably wouldn’t have weight difficulties in the first place. Weight Watchers has smartly tackled this in its marketing campaigns by contrasting the freedom to eat what you want in their program to the food restrictions in their competitors’ programs.
For example, Optifast, Jenny Craig and Medifast are all meal-replacement programs. And Nutrisystem is considered by many the best diet meal delivery service. Although all of them do offer some flexibility in letting customers choose different meals, Weight Watchers has taken advantage by referring to their foods as a “’boxed burger” and “microwave pizza.” Weight Watchers then contrasts this with its own strengths by saying you can eat “real food in the real world. You want a burger? Go ahead you can have it. Weight Watchers is not a diet”.
Lesson 4. Sell Feelings Not Products
That brings us to our next point: Weight Watchers focuses on people’s feelings and making them feel good. On the Weight Watchers plan you can eat “real food” versus “boxed food”–that just makes you feel better. Even in the company’s promotional materials, famous singer Jennifer Hudson talks about how great Weight Watchers makes her feel as a mother and as a performer. She talks about how Weight Watchers gives her so much energy, makes her “feel great and liberated in so many ways”.
In one interview, Jennifer says: “Weight Watchers has helped make my new lifestyle a reality”. What Weight Watchers is doing here is selling the feelings around the product, not the product itself. Currently, in the Weight Watchers home page, spokesperson Jessica Simpson “feels like she’s on top of the world” inviting readers to see why Weight Watchers worked so well for her. Weight Watchers knows how to sell feelings.
Sean D’Souza of Psychotactics explains that businesses make this mistake all too often. They try to sell software, marketing strategies, copy-writing services, websites, etc but what customers need is not the product; they want what the product will give them: money, respect, freedom, etc. They want the feelings associated with the product.
In his book Start with Why, Simon Sinek proves that successful businesses are those that have managed to clearly communicate their “why” (the belief, the lifestyle and the feelings the brand represents). To the contrary, businesses that focused on the “what” (the product), didn’t go that far.
Lesson 5. Give them What They Want, Not What They Need
Finally, Weight Watchers is so successful because it employs one of the best marketing tactics in the book: it gives people what they want, not necessarily what they need. By allowing members to choose the foods they love (as long as they stay within their PointsPlus limits), they are still letting members follow their desires. Perhaps members should be eating more fruits and vegetables (and those foods are enormously rewarded in the Weight Watchers system by usually being worth 0 points), but Weight Watchers gives them the option to eat chocolate, cake, ice cream, donuts, burgers, you name it. By doing so, consumers don’t feel restricted or feel like someone else is telling them what to do, and so they will gravitate more towards that type of weight-loss program.
Lesson 6. Let Potential Customers Join for Free
Allowing people to try your product without attaching any strings to it (i.e credit card information), eliminates the sense of fear and risk that often stand as an obstacle between your product and your potential customers. Weight Watchers allows you to join their program for free. You can experience a Weight Watchers meeting discussion free of charge and without any obligation in some of the 30,000 weekly meetings in the US for people trying to lose weight. For those who want to continue the program promo codes for Weight Watchers products are always available. Of course, there is always a sense of hurriedness as the offer ends soon.
Overall, Weight Watchers provides a fantastic case study of marketing weight-loss products. From offering exclusive solutions to a complicated problem, to letting people join for free, the company has been incredibly savvy in the way it promotes itself to consumers. With the weight-loss market only expected to go up for the foreseeable future, Weight Watchers only stands to benefit as more and more people seek the program that gives them the right feeling when it comes to shedding their extra pounds.
What can YOU learn from Weight Watchers’ marketing approach?