Small business owners need to find creative ways to build a strong, productive operation. The best way to create the kind of productivity required to successfully grow a business is to ensure that everything works in concert. Today, we will look at a four technologies that can go a long way toward helping any small business grow their organizational productivity.
In a study conducted by Capterra, small business owners of 699 different companies were polled to see what technologies they considered mandatory for the small business. The top four were: Data & Information Security, Website, Cloud Computing, and a Customer Relationship Management system. Let’s take a brief look at each to see just what makes them so important for the bourgeoning small business.
Data & Information Security
It’s no surprise that data and information security is at the top of this list. The use of technology will always present risk, as some people continually try to subvert secure data systems through the use of shady techniques and other plans to make off with anything of value. While the data security market covers a lot of ground, it is important to protect your organization’s data from several avenues of theft. One is directly, so you’ll want a firewall and antivirus software to ensure that threats from outside your network don’t just come and go as they please. The other is through deception. Since a lot of today’s digital security solutions are extraordinarily complex, today’s hackers need some help. They typically get it through trickery, so while comprehensive network security solutions are useful, training your staff on the best practices of network security and over-IP communications is essential.
The best way to protect your organization’s data is by implementing a feature-rich backup and recovery platform. Backing up your data and storing it offsite can be extraordinarily useful if you do end up dealing with hardware failure (or some other event that could put your data at risk). Being able to safely restore your data can ward against many potential problems.
With the advent of social media, almost every business has some type of web presence. It is important that a small business use the Internet to make headway with their sales processes and one of the best ways to do that is by creating a website that offers customers and prospects a glimpse of your authority.
Rolling out a dynamic, pithily-constructed, and uncomplicated-to-use website can be of great benefit to every small business. By giving your customers e-commerce options or other innovative features on your website, there is a better chance that they will engage with your company.
Everyone is using cloud computing, and as a result more businesses are beginning to leverage it in order to shift their expenses. The cloud’s value comes from dispersing cost. Typically when a business has to buy new hardware, it will purchase everything they need and it can cost into the six-digits to get started. With the cloud, you can disperse that cost over the length of an agreement with a cloud provider.
An additional benefit is that it offers quick setup and access to all types of computing environments. From full-scale virtual infrastructure to communication, the cloud offers a lot of options. Cloud constructs do come in private (which an organization hosts) and public (which is hosted elsewhere). Many businesses today choose to roll out hybrid options, utilizing public cloud resources for certain types of computing (such as communications), while creating a private cloud platform that hosts resources that need more security and access control.
Customer Relationship Management
Customer Relationship Management software is a management platform that bridges all aspects of a business. From the sales process to the actual operations of your company to the fulfillment and support of your products and services, it’s very beneficial to have one overreaching interface to use in order to oversee the whole process and cut out the gaps in the customer conversion process.
There are a few different forms that the CRM comes in. Some CRMs are created for certain vertical markets, while some can be used by any business. When a small business runs their operations through a CRM, not only do they benefit from the time-saving automation the software provides, they also can view and generate better ideas and make more educated decisions. The CRM can innovate and improve your business’ sales workflow.
If you are looking for ways to improve your business, look no further than Kite Technology Group. We can present you with the options that can best meet your organization’s needs. Call us today at 855-290-5483.
Humankind has been fascinated with the concept of helpfully intelligent machines making life easier for many years. While we may still be many years away from the likes of Josie from The Jetsons or J.A.R.V.I.S. and F.R.I.D.A.Y., Iron Man’s digital super-assistants, artificial intelligence is a very real thing, with real benefits for businesses even today.
Understanding A.I. and Its Importance
As one might imagine, there is a massive amount of data in the world for machines and people alike to leverage. In the future, this will help to someday replace the human workforce with artificially intelligent, tireless machines. Nowadays, A.I. is leveraged as a means of boosting the technology that we rely on already, improving the solutions and applications that shape our world.
Those at the forefront of technology today have evangelized in support of using artificial intelligence to benefit humanity. What’s stopping them? Simple: humanity itself.
Looking at the economics of artificial intelligence in business, it only makes sense that a business would sooner turn to an automated machine than a human worker. The machine doesn’t need to take any time off, it doesn’t need a 401k and health benefits, it doesn’t even need to be paid. Therefore, despite the ill will that the public feels against businesses that replace human employees with machines, it just makes more sense from a business standpoint to minimize long-term expenses and boost profitability by replacing a staff with a server room if possible.
Studies have estimated that it is possible that, by 2033, 47 percent of jobs could be foreseeably automated – a mere 15 years from now. In 2016, another report found that nine percent of workers were superfluous, and another estimated that more than 800 of the world’s largest businesses will be substituting A.I. for anywhere between four and seven percent of their employees.
A.I. Isn’t All Doom and Gloom
Despite these grim statistics, A.I. is also already improving lives and simply making things more convenient. When did you last Google something? That was a time that you benefited from A.I., just like the last time your email’s spam folder caught something before you could click on it. Even small businesses are now able to leverage basic applications of artificial intelligence to improve their business standing. For instance:
Customer Service – Customer service is no easy job, which is why it is so easy for an employee with these kinds of responsibilities to burn out and leave you in a worse place with your customers. By relieving an employee of many of the rote tasks that customer service requires, A.I. and automation can improve customer experience and retention.
Marketing – A small business needs its marketing to be cost-efficient and highly targeted in order to be successful. A marketing platform that leverages A.I. can provide the insights to optimize the business’ marketing strategy.
Operations – Automation can also cut down on redundancies, and by integrating it with an enterprise resource planning or customer relationship management platform, your business can become even more efficient.
As one of the most important emerging technologies out there at the moment, speculation about blockchain, and its growing list of practical applications, has run rampant. Soon, someone will come out with a blockchain application that makes and delivers pizzas. In all seriousness, it really holds a lot of promise for the development of interesting applications. For this week’s tech term, we look at the blockchain.
What is the Blockchain?
In the public eye, blockchain has almost exclusively been associated with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. It’s true that blockchain technology is at the core of cryptocurrency, but it is much more. It is essentially a combination of three technologies that have been around for a while. They are:
Private key cryptography
Distributed network ledger
The incentivization of that network’s transactions, record keeping, and security
Since these technologies have been around for some time, pairing them together to make another, more dynamic technology seems like it would be advantageous for maintaining a ledger system that has a secure digital identity reference. Essentially, that’s what blockchain produces.
The main benefit of having a distributed network is that it provides multiple unquestionable validators for any transaction. If a transaction is in the blockchain, it absolutely happened, and, by the use of encryption, users of the blockchain know that no data could have been altered. Any attempt at altering information (in what is called a node) would create its own link in the blockchain; or invalidate the blockchain entirely. The more transactions on the network, the more verifications take place, and the more secure the transaction is.
What to Expect Out of Blockchain?
As was mentioned earlier, there are a lot of potential uses for blockchain technology. These applications will be dictated by the technology’s core features. Obviously, cryptocurrency utilizes blockchain to provide a secure transfer of monetary funds for users. As this technology advances and begins to be leveraged by multinational banking institutions (that are currently investing heavily in blockchain R&D), and nation-states, it may change the way that people around the globe view currency.
Other uses include:
Improve equity management and transfer
Provide smart contracts
Reduce inefficiencies in any number of industries
Eliminate election fraud
While it may not be the easiest technology to understand, the applications of it are numerous and could change the world we live in innumerable ways.
Over time, we’ve seen technology be developed into smaller and smaller sizes. One of the most notable examples of this is the computer. Computers used to be so large that they would take up the whole room, but nowadays, thanks to the developments in technology manufacturing, they take up a fraction of the space that they did not so long ago. What’s even more amazing is that this development has simultaneously increased performance while making technology take up a considerably smaller amount of space.
What is Nanotechnology?
The actual meaning of nanotechnology can be seen by analyzing the specific parts of the word. The prefix nano means “one billionth,” which is derived from the Latin nanus, or “dwarf.” Technology isn’t a unit of measure, but nano in this context means that the technology will be measured in terms of nanometers. For reference, a strand of DNA is about two nanometers in diameter. Nanotechnology is typically used to describe technology that is somewhere between one and one-hundred nanometers.
Nanotechnology, due to its size, operates on a different set of physics than the majority of the world does. As a result, major changes can happen without it being realized.
Why This Technology Isn’t More Popular
Despite the many potential uses of nanotechnology, there are major challenges that the “technology” faces. According to Dr. George Tulevski, a researcher at IBM’s TJ Watson Research Laboratory, nanotechnology development has slowed considerably since the major advancements made in the 1980s.
Tulevski believes that progress can be resumed through the use of carbon nanotubes. According to the researcher, these nanoscopic tubes made of carbon can magnify a computer’s performance tenfold. However, a computer chip will need billions of these, which makes for a complicated setup.
Chemistry provides a solution to this dilemma by providing a way to arrange circuits in a better way in the final product. Nanotechnology can be used to provide a myriad of technological and practical benefits, including medicine delivery, fuel production, more efficient electronics, and cleaner natural resources. If leveraged properly, nanotechnology can change the world.
I’m fortunate enough to have not one, but two personal assistants. Alexa, my first assistant, is fantastic. She’s my personal DJ. She tells me the weather. She even adjusts the thermostat in my house. Google, my second assistant, is also fantastic. He’s my navigator. He knows all the traffic spots to avoid. He even gets people on the phone for me. But recently, I was introduced to a third personal assistant that I didn’t even know I needed: Cortana
Cortana is Microsoft’s artificial intelligence (AI) built into Windows 10. A late comer to an already crowded space, Cortana often gets overlooked because of her lack of integration into other ecosystems, such as Amazon and mobile devices. But Cortana has two very strong points in her favor:
- She is deeply integrated into the Microsoft ecosystem
- She has a monitor to show me things
As a working professional, I rely heavily on Microsoft’s services. My corporate data is stored in Office 365. I use Outlook to check my email. My computers are Windows 10. And because Cortana is built in, she can help me manage it all.
“Hey Cortana, what’s on my calendar?”
Because Cortana *is* Windows 10, she uses the built-in Calendar app to retrieve this information, which takes a little setup at first. She can read this information out to me, but she can also display it on the screen.
“Hey Cortana, launch Outlook”
Yes, I could’ve reached for the mouse and done this myself, but this way is much cooler AND I didn’t have to put my coffee down!
“Hey Cortana, what time is my flight?”
When I booked my flight, the airline sent me a confirmation via email. Cortana is able to locate and provide me this flight information, even though I didn’t put it on my calendar.
“Hey Cortana, how long will it take to get to BWI airport?”
Sure, I could’ve asked Google. But my phone is in the other room. Cortana can provide that information immediately, and I can get back to work.
Some of the best things, she does without me needing to ask. Yesterday, I emailed a client promising to send them a report in the morning. This morning, Cortana popped up to make sure I remembered to send that report. If I have an appointment out of the office, she lets me know when it’s time to leave.
Alexa’s and Google’s jobs are safe. What they do to enrich my life cannot be replaced. But when it comes to staying focused and getting work done, Cortana is my right hand!
The International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is designed to showcase new technology and products to the world, with a focus on industry professionals and companies that want to showcase their latest projects. The show, which was held in Las Vegas in January, saw the introduction of many consumer products, but the ones that showed off new virtual and augmented reality capabilities made a considerable impact on attendees.
Hype has been building over VR and AR for years now; hype which has failed to meet the considerable expectations placed on the technologies. It turns out that these innovators are coming up with valuable new ways in which to leverage these rather complex technologies.
Even now, virtual reality is a huge deal. Manufacturers are still finding ways to develop both hardware and software for it specific use. However, the problem that developers are finding is that VR has taken too central of a role in the entertainment industry compared to its more practical or business-oriented purposes. In the future, manufacturers are hoping to create valuable applications for the technology to keep the demand high.
In an article for Forbes, Charlie Fink showcases that VR will most certainly show a profit, but the market is still only at around $2 billion per annum. Judging from previous trends set by color TV, VCR, PC, cell phones, and the Internet, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that the standard consumer will see VR as a worthwhile investment before too long. However, Fink points out that “…before VR companies can understand how consumers want to spend, they need to cater to how consumers want to consume.”
Even though it’s not as profitable as other technologies at the moment, VR had a huge presence at CES. New technologies in VR ranged from novelty to necessity, including the HTC Vive Pro and an analytical tool called Looxid. Looxid allows for marketers and analysts to track eye movement and brain activity during use, providing information that should improve the way businesses understand consumers. For a more practical tool, the Meshroom VR headset can turn CAD drawings into legitimate 3D prototypes that can be effective for the use of architecture or engineering.
Regardless, even though VR has been around for quite some time, it is still a developing and volatile technology. It’s clear that it will be worth the investment in the near future–particularly when more useful applications are developed that can take advantage of it.
Compared to virtual reality, augmented reality is a bit more tame and less of an attention-grabber. Instead of transporting the user to a virtual world, augmented reality adds virtual elements to your surroundings. The easiest example to help explain this technology is to add a top-down overlay interface to your field of vision, allowing for the viewing of information or analytics at a glance. Yet, AR has found plenty of use in the real world already, from statcasts in the sports world to smartphone games like Pokémon Go. Some developers, like Google and Apple, have invested considerably in the creation of augmented reality applications, and it’s only going to improve in popularity as more companies create effective ways of leveraging AR.
At CES 2018, AR was a prominent force. Manufacturers are finding new and improved ways to take advantage of displays. Some of the more notable products include Vuzix Smart Glasses with Alexa–much like Google Glass, but with Amazon’s Alexa built into it. WinRay’s AR windshield is another device you should keep your eye on. This windshield can display directions, roadside information, and even basic car functions. Even Apple’s iOS 11 comes with built-in AR.