All posts by Miley Dowling

Startups

Steps To Run a Successful Online Business

During this pandemic, online business is one of the very few kinds that did not suffer much. It, on the other hand, had seen a boom during this global crisis. People already used to have an online presence to communicate with the customers far and wide. Now online outlets have become crucial in times of social distancing. People have come to realize how easy and effective online platforms are. In this article, we are going to discuss steps to run a successful business during this global economic downfall. 

 

An Idea: Every business comes from an idea. The idea is the currency of our generation. You can literally have one idea that can change the face of the earth. But not necessarily all ideas need to be revolutionary or unique even. A proper business idea needs to work. You should follow the details of the successful business module and think like that entrepreneur. You must not hurry while trying to come up with your business plan. It has to take its time. But when the idea comes to you, do not let it sit for a while. You should hit the iron while it is hot. 

 

 

Survey and Seminar: Seminars hold great value. It teaches us important life skills and business lessons that we would have otherwise not learned. It would have been too costly for us if you had to learn all the lessons from our own mistakes. Therefore we have books, we have seminars where we get to meet the business gurus who give us valuable lessons and guides us. Always remember that a good talk and a good book are investments for your business. Never shy away from them. While conducting the survey you should make an estimate of your average business plan and also add SEO cost to your business. We’ll discuss more on the importance of SEO in the upcoming points.

 

Starting your Business: Once you have gathered all the market information, it is time for you to start your business. As they say, you really don’t know the heat unless your feet are on fire. Starting your own business will teach you valuable lessons. All the important lessons you have gathered will make your skills in handling situations better.

 

 

Employee: You need to hire efficient employees who are skilled in their work. You are as good as your employees are. So, make sure you know how to get the best out of your employees. You should follow all the basic human resource guidelines and create a healthy work environment. 

 

Marketing: This is a crucial step for any business. If the customer is not aware of your product or services, then you fail to run a proper business. You must know how to run an advertisement, how to target your audience and how to reach your niece. But you don’t have time to do all the research on your own. You do have a business to run. Remember? This is where the SEO marketing team comes in. SEO stands for search engine optimizer. So, they will handle how to gain your reach to your audience. You can fully depend on them as they have tricks up their sleeves that a common layman would not think of in general. They will come up with unique content and distribute it to your target audience to gain more customers for your business. 

 

The final goal is customer satisfaction. If your customer or client is satisfied with the service you are providing them, then your business is a success. Work on your product constantly to make improve it even more as there is always a competition looming ahead.

DevelopmentInsightsProducts

Increasing Customer Convenience By Implementing These Payment Methods

Financial transactions have become easier than ever with the many digital payment options available today. However, this is a bit of a double-edged sword. Where does one begin to make sense of all the possibilities? We hear all this new jargon, from the option to sell bitcoins online to innovative tech that allows customers to tap their transactions. It all seems somewhat daunting, and we instinctively know that a lot of it has to be a fad or at least rather niche.

This doesn’t mean that there aren’t some feasible and efficient payment options you can implement to improve customer convenience. While there are several ways to turn site visitors into loyal buyers, payment options are important. The trick lies in understanding how these options work, and what degree of market adoption they enjoy. There is no point in investing in a technology that only a fragment of the market uses.

NFC Payment

One must then look for the options that have a broader market adoption, and there are a number of them that stand out. The possibility that is garnering the most significant market share is NFC payment, and it is prudent to understand why. Most new technologies fail because they rely on the implementation and adoption of entirely new tech. NFC, or near field communication, owes its success to the fact that it utilizes a technology that most people carry around in their pocket in any case.

The technology was initially developed to share media and documents between personal devices instantly. It just so happened that it is the same technology your bank card uses to make single-tap payments. Using readily accessible payment services that act as an intermediary between the banks and your client, a simple tap of their device is all it takes to complete a transaction.

QR Code Payments

Unfortunately, not all smartphones have NFC capabilities. This doesn’t exclude users without the facility to use their smartphones to make transactions. Companies like Zapper have stepped in with an alternative solution. QR codes made their debut as a novelty method of directing internet traffic in an engaging and fun way. You may remember a few years ago when scanning QR codes were all the rage, and every brand was coming up with ways to get you to scan a code to get more exposure.

That trend has died down, but the technology has found a new purpose by way of payment option. Zapper links to your bank account and allows a simple method of transaction. You simply scan the code and follow the on-screen prompts and bob’s your uncle. It turns out that this is also a very secure method of payment. Although it was initially a fifty-fifty bet on whether it would see significant adoption, the number of options and ways for QR payments has made it accessible enough to see a decent market share.

PayPal Payment

Speaking of market share, PayPal is one of the most broadly used payment methods for international transactions. For the legion of freelance workers across the globe who get paid in USD, there is a bit of a challenge and process of freeing funds into local currency. It is because of this rather notable demographic that it is strange to see how few companies offer payment options for PayPal accounts.

DevelopmentInsightsMartechProductsSaaS

5 Ways Businesses Can Avoid Risk of Information Breach Online

Successfully managing a business is a daunting errand because of the challenges you face amidst the journey. Cyber-attacks have been exponentially increasing; alone, in 2019, it is reported that breach of data exposed 4.1 billion records. And with that, the need to secure your business is becoming of enormous importance.

Business information serves as a critical asset for any company and makes it of the utmost worth. Therefore, in this post, I will be sharing 05 hand-picked ways to minimize and eradicate the risk of getting your information stolen by hackers. 

Let’s dive right into how you can protect your information online from cyber thefts. 

1. Use a Secure Network 

Surfing on the websites using public Wi-Fi makes your information exposed to cybercriminals. That further leads to increased chances of getting your vital information stolen. Thereby, it would be best if you used a secured network that is end-to-end encrypted. 

One of the best ways is to incorporate a virtual private network connection on all your devices to get full-fledged security. On top of that, using multiple devices VPN makes it easier for you to protect information sharing on all systems. Besides top-notch security, it will also enable you to have online anonymity on all networks.

2. Beware of  Phishing Emails

To avoid information breach, you need to be vigilant about the emails you entertain in your daily routine. Phishing emails are increasing enormously and are one of the apparent reasons behind security vulnerabilities. Make sure you do not click any of the emails that seem like a spamming activity.

Also, companies must provide adequate security training to the staff, administering the emails to know the parameter to recognize a fraudulent email. Based on a recent report conducted by Mimecast State of Email Security, almost 60 percent of companies are likely to bear email attacks if not appropriately secured. Therefore, you need to ensure to keep intense monitoring before you open any email. 

3. Encrypt Confidential Information

Access to sensitive information must be in the hands of critical stakeholders only. Company owners need to make their employees well-versed in handling cyber-security. It is essential to encrypt all the data you have stored in your business systems.

Never share any of your details using the collaboration tools as the risk of information theft is considerably high. For instance, it has been reported that the Zoom app has some serious privacy concerns that make your shared data vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Therefore, it is best to encrypt your data on all the platforms and restrict access to trusted people only. 

4. Create a Strong Password

If you are operating multiple business accounts, you must be concerned about making it secure from cyber-attacks. One way is to make your account password sturdy enough to provide security defense to your accounts. That means you have to create a strong password to secure your sensitive information on online platforms. 

People who use easy-to-remember passwords are more vulnerable to security breaches. Thus, you need to ensure you follow the standard security policies while creating your password on business accounts. Ensure you modify your password after 6 months so as to avoid the risk of code-cracking.

Moreover, it is recommended to use a blend of unique lower and upper case letters, symbols, and numbers. Make use of two-factor authentication in your password to fortify security. This way, you can create an impenetrable password that will make it hard for hackers to attack. And eventually, your information will be safe from unwanted malware. 

5. Regulate Vulnerability Assessments 

To make sure you are following all the standard security practices on your business systems, you must use an information security management system (ISMS). That has all the power to manage your business security in one place. This way, you can be assured that all your organization data is safe from any security threat or possible vulnerabilities. Try doing security audits every after some time to ensure business systems are well-equipped to combat threats. 

Key Takeaways

The risk of an information breach is getting high, and with that, the need to upgrade your security practices is a must to consider. The online world is a cut-throat medium for hackers and other spammers. And to restrain them from harming your business, it is better you keep in practice the above shared 5 ways to avoid the risk of an information breach. Although there are other practices, too, the ones I have shared are imperative for your security. 

Author Bio

Amtul Rafay is a Cybersecurity enthusiast who loves to write on topics pertaining to online privacy, internet security, and web privacy. She believes in the influential power of research-backed opinions to stay updated with the futuristic technology trends.

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5 Ways to Use Fitness to Reach Your Entrepreneurial Goals

Photo by David Iskander on Unsplash

Going down the entrepreneurial path is an exciting prospect, and if you stick to your goals and make some smart decisions, you could very well become a millionaire in the near future and build a thriving business. However, this is often easier said than done, and many aspiring entrepreneurs will abandon their dreams early on for a number of reasons – some of which include stress, financial troubles, or the sheer strength of the competition. 

Needless to say, you have to be one tough cookie both physically and mentally if you are to overcome the challenges that your new career path throws your way, and one of the best ways to do that is to adopt a fitness lifestyle. Being healthy physically is a powerful way to enhance your mental fortitude and capacity on all fronts, so let’s take a look at the five ways you can use fitness to reach your entrepreneurial goals more efficiently and effectively. 

Use exercise to stay energized

It might seem counterintuitive, but vigorous exercise actually improves your energy levels and keeps you from burning out during a particularly stressful day, especially if you’re running all over town from meeting to meeting and you have to maintain a hectic schedule throughout the week. The last thing you want to do is to sit at a desk all day long or to refrain from exercising altogether in fear that it will negatively impact your energy and zeal, because regular exercise can improve the production of endorphins to give you that energy boost when you need it most. If you want to get the full benefits of exercise, make sure to work out early in the morning before you take on the challenges of the day.

Stay stress-free with meditation and yoga

Photo by Carl Barcelo on Unsplash

Of course, fitness is not just about lifting weights or doing a lot of cardio, it’s also about learning how to take care of your body and mind from within, and how to center and ground yourself so that you can banish stress and anxiety. Staying calm and calculated is one of the biggest challenges that aspiring entrepreneurs struggle with, simply because of the stressful nature of their vocation.

This is why you should look to introduce mindful meditation into your day, and a quick daily yoga session to loosen those tight areas in your body and tune out the stress and the noise. It only takes ten to fifteen minutes for a quick meditation or a few yoga poses, after which you will be able to come back to the fight more powerful and focused than before.

Get your nutrition in order

A big mistake business leaders and new entrepreneurs will often make is that they will focused solely on one aspect of fitness – the workouts, instead of focusing on their nutrition as well. Fitness is a lifestyle, and it encompasses exercise, diet, sleep, and various other important factors, of which your nutrition can make all the difference, so you need to eat healthy if you want to succeed.

If you’re running on a pretty hectic schedule, then let healthy supplements lend a helping hand, and choose a good whey protein powder to make sure you’re getting enough protein throughout the day to fuel your body and mind. You can add a multivitamin in there as well, and make sure to get enough magnesium and zinc in your diet or in supplement form to stay sharp and energized at all times.

Build confidence and resilience

One of the biggest benefits of sticking to a fitness lifestyle is that it helps you build the confidence and resilience you need to keep pushing towards your goals, to overcome every obstacle, and to simply stick it out when the going gets tough without burning out. When you lift heavy at the gym or when you set a new running record, you will feel like there is nothing you can’t achieve, and most importantly, you will feel like a true winner – as all successful entrepreneurs are.

Don’t forget about sleep

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Last but not least, you shouldn’t forget or neglect the importance of quality sleep. Sleeping for eight hours every night and going to bet at the same time (and rising at the same time, as well) can do wonders for your overall health, your mood, and your energy levels. Be sure to commit to a strict sleeping schedule and you will have no problem managing your entrepreneurial lifestyle with ease. 

Wrapping up

If you’re thinking about becoming an entrepreneur, or if you’ve already begun your entrepreneurial journey, you should consider adopting the fitness lifestyle to achieve your goals faster. Remember, the key is to stay healthy mentally and physically so that you can continue growing your business, and enjoy your new-found fortune for years and decades to come, so let fitness help you get there.

Martech

Why your Valuable IP is Not Safe from Theft

Recently, the parent company of Budweiser, Anheuser Busch made a startling claim that its valuable IP regarding its beer recipes was stolen and delivered to its rivals Molson Coors. On first glance, it may appear a trivial issue — as in beer and insider threats? Is that even a possibility?

However, based on the claims related by Budweiser, Molson Coors which is the maker of Miller light, obtained secret recipes through an employer of Anheuser Busch. The Wall Street Journal reports the case in detail on how Budweiser has made serious allegations against Molson Coors. This brings us to the relevance of employing user and data activity monitoring, such as digital rights management to control and track document access and useand enable administrators to analyze potential data security incidents swiftly.

Today, more than ever, there is grave importance in quickly recognizing and analyzing a potential data security incident in progress. Here we look into more about the IP case and how companies can cut down similar data security risks and help prevent IP theft, regardless of their organization or sector.

How serious is case brewing on IP theft at Budweiser? Based on the litigation filing, Budweiser claims that a Molson Coors employee asked an employee from Anheuser Busch on data regarding recipes for Anheuser Busch beers. The filing reveals that the employee from Anheuser Busch printed out screenshots of recipes from Bud Light and Michelob Ultra and delivered them to the rival company. The court filing further claims that Miller Coors offered a job to the Anheuser Busch employee more than once.

This case is the latest in a lengthy list of legal disputes between both brewing companies, that started with Budweiser making a claim during the 2019 Super Bowl ads that Coors Light and Miller Light included corn syrup in their beer. Even as this case is being examined, corporate espionage claims such as these across industry and sector are grave incidents that must be investigated thoroughly.

Regardless of your company size or industry, you don’t have to be one of the largest companies in the nation or across the world to suffer data theft from IP pilferage. IP loss can take place in any company that holds valuable information, such as organizational or manufacturing secrets, client information, financial data, accounting details, health records and more. IP theft due to insiders can range from a variety of reasons such as financial stress, job dissatisfaction or revenge. Understanding these motivations is only part of the riddle, but getting a strong perception of employee jobs and roles and their wellness is a crucial part in preventing insider threats.

And while prevention alone may not be enough, companies must look into having a dedicated data security management defence in place. Digital rights management has a distinct advantage as a document security tool, as it gives power to content creators over who can access documents and how they can be used (i.e. preventing editing, copying, sharing, printing, screen grabbing, etc.). This system of externally focused security processes can prevent data exfiltration like the one that took place at Anheuser Busch. With document DRM, you can be assured that if any individual or employee is suspiciously attempting to obtain data then access rights can be instantly revoked. Thus, preventing a potential incident from ever likely to take place. A document DRM solution can prevent intellectual property theft from occurring whilst also enabling you to securely share documents outside the enterprise. 

When investigating data security threats from inside, speed and time are of critical importance. Such incidents must not take months to analyze and address the issue. With document DRM, the speed to investigate multiplies rapidly. Firstly, it prevents events such as these from taking place. In the likely scenario, it does happen, valuable and proven context as to which employee did what, when, where and how will be revealed. Rather than going through continuous logs of security files, security analysts can swiftly recognize the exact time a suspicious activity took place on a specific data file. They can then pair this data with the data on the file in question, whether it was redacted, copied, moved, destroyed or transferred from a machine. Methods of exfiltration such as screenshots, printouts and USB transfer can also be monitored.

Almost every company, when it comes to IT security budgets, the main focus is on technology and staffing. But the one critical area of data security budgeting that can play a significant impact on your company is often disregarded. With increasing regulations and rising data security threats on the horizon, having potential and reliable data security tools such as document rights management can prevent the overall risk of incidents. Data breaches are not only business-threatening but can also have a massive impact on revenue and reputation that can last a lifetime. This is why it is essential to understand how the cost of preventing a data security incident weighs against the cost of an actual data breach before you decide your IT budget.

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Why Your Business Needs Digital Marketing Services

With the onset of the novel coronavirus, times are strange. The coronavirus has changed the way we live and work, and the way that businesses are reaching their customers. Since the pandemic began and people have been forced to stay in, online sales have been steadily on the rise in all corners of the country. For many businesses, staying relevant and adapting to the new normal is crucial for survival. Ramping up your business’ online presence is going to be the single most important thing you do during this time. Here’s some tips for using digital marketing to your advantage in pandemic times.

What’s So Special About Digital Marketing?

Digital marketing offers new abilities that are not possible with most traditional marketing avenues. Taking your advertising online not only opens up a world of new channels for customers to find you on, but also creates a sustainable way to obtain information that you can use to bring in new customers. Digital data collected from online advertising channels can be used to paint a better picture of who your customers are, what does and doesn’t resonate with them, and how to get them thinking about your product again. This customer data makes it possible to retarget customers and reach them at various touch points of the sale cycle, which is pivotal in helping them make a purchase decision.

Tactics You Should Be Using to Your Advantage:

Digital marketing strategies can have as many or as little tactics as you want, but a unified, exhaustive approach tends to work best. Think of digital marketing as an ecosystem, each aspect feeds into the others to create an experience. Some of the most common tactics include:

Paid Media & PPC

One of the most effective ways to raise awareness of your brand and encourage purchases is through a PPC campaign on Google. Whatever your conversion goals are, you can track and optimize with PPC. The data gathered from these campaigns can also be used to retarget users who may have viewed your site or even a specific product, so that they can be served relevant ads to keep your brand top of mind. As customers spend more time online, using PPC campaigns is a great way to stay in front of them.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is noted as the first digital marketing tactic to ever be used. It’s come a long way from where it used to be, and is a powerful tool when used correctly. Since more people are forced to stay home right now, more emails are getting read and opened than ever before. Emails allow you the space to tell customers about new products, projects, or news from your company. The only catch is that you’ll need to already have collected emails to reach these individuals, so it’s a good idea to put an email sign up on important pages of your website and to collect emails when a customer checks out.

Social Media

The best part about social media marketing is that it’s free (unless you choose to use paid advertising on social, which can be another great tactic). All that’s needed to get started with this is to write some captivating posts and find engaging pictures to share with followers. It’s important to be hyper-aware of what you’re posting right now since COVID-19 is affecting so many, so just be sure you’re being sensitive to users. Social media is a great tool to raise awareness for your brand, and often acts as the first touch point for many users.

SEO & Content

It’s likely that your business already has a website. So what’s important now is to start writing content for it. Your site should have content on it that users find helpful, such as well thought-out product pages and even blogs. This content not only helps users on your site, but it helps your ranking on Google as well. Again, since people have more time due to lockdowns, they have more time to perform research. You want to make sure you’re giving customers the tools they need to make a well-informed decision, and Google the resources it needs to rank your page. And as a bonus, this content can be used on social media and in emails as well.

Staying Relevant in a Changing World

One thing is for sure, the way that the world does business will never be the same. Now is the time to experiment with new things and find what sticks. Digital marketing tactics are fairly easy to roll out and can be the lifevest your business needs as we navigate these strange times. And if you’re not sure where to start, that’s okay too. Reach out to an expert for guidance and implementation. However you get started, don’t miss out on all the great things digital marketing can bring to your business.

Insights

How to Manage Your Employer Brand During COVID-19

Employer brand is the way your employees see your organization as a place for work. It’s how prospective employees perceive you as an employer, which in terms affects the quality of talent you can access and the productivity you can achieve. In a crisis like COVID-19, managing the employer brand is more important than ever before. Due to the pandemic, your staff might be scared, stressed, and burdened with work

But like John W Holt Jr said, “The true test of character is not how much we know how to do, but how we behave when we don’t know what to do.” For many businesses, these times are a valuable opportunity to carve out a niche employer brand for themselves. Leveraging these opportunities will ensure that you’ll retain your best employees and maintain your image.

There are a couple of steps that you can take to effectively manage your employer brand. 

1.Communication

During times of crisis, people tend to easily believe rumors surrounding a company. It creates problems such as misinformation, confusion, and panic. To counter it, you have to build a transparent relationship with your staff. And the best way to do it through constant communication.

The first step that you can take is creating a clear and concise COVID-19 plan taking into account your employees, vendors, partners, and customers. You should also consider how different groups you’re communicating with are feeling at that time. For example, people working in the US might have different problems than people working in Canada. They should be emailed separately. 

Also, create a FAQ to answer the most commonly asked questions. Ensure that leaders and managers of your organization know exactly how to respond to doubts and follow up questions regarding the official communication. Make sure that all communication channels are open, and that you take up any questions employees may have. 

2. Address the market regarding layoffs 

You might be one of the organizations that have to lay off people during COVID-19. Of course, this affects your reputation in the market. Rumors and stories from unverified sources can harm your company’s name.

It’s better to issue a sensitive and honest press release/open letter regarding the layoffs. Ideally, that communication should come from the CEO or some other company executive. That will protect you against false stories and guard your character.

The other thing you can do is personally deliver the news to terminated employees and help them in their onward journey. You can give them a fantastic review on LinkedIn or a great recommendation letter. This way, the employees will see that you’re making efforts in the right direction.

3. Transition

Many employees these days are working from home. To ensure that all employees are well, try to make work from home easy by incorporating fun activities into your schedules like photography/art class, online games, etc.

You can also send motivational emails to employees. Include appreciation notes from management in them. That will motivate your employees to work better. To further help your staff present in a remote environment, you can do them small favors like refunding internet bills or providing them furniture for their work from home setup. Compassion towards employees goes a long way in maintaining employer brand. 

4. Actions

The steps you take during a crisis are what your company is about, as that’s the way people/employees will remember you after the crisis. Make sure that every action you take is in line with your organizations’ values and ethics.

Create the right tone for the voice of your organization’ and stick with it. For necessary emails, you can also use visual aids and statistics to make them better. You can leverage internal communication channels to educate employees about recent changes in company policies and practices.  

Doing that will strengthen your staff’s commitment to your brand, increase loyalty, and provide assurance to those who believe in you. It will also safeguard you and your brand from retaliation and adverse response. 

5. Future employment

If your company is facing financial problems, it’s better to use a dedicated page for hiring decisions related to COVID-19. It improves transparency and lets people know that there is a hiring freeze or not.

However, if you’re in a business that’s considered essential, you might have to hire more employees to cope up with demand. For example, hospitals are hiring more nurses to take care of patients. If that’s the situation, you might have to start with hiring campaigns to generate attention.

Make sure to improve your employer brand ranking on portals such as Linkedin and Glassdoor. Investing in the right marketing strategies will position you as a smart employer who attracts the best talent. Make sure to highlight things like your company’s reputation, culture, and, most importantly, career progression. Points like these will help you land the perfect candidate for the job.

Conclusion

Of course, a crisis like COVID-19 will have a massive impact on a business and its employees. As an employer, your top priority is to ensure two things: that your employees are safe and that you can handle the workload. Client fulfillment and employee satisfaction are the two most important things that you should take care of. 

Creating a great employee brand helps limit the harm caused to the company’s reputation by negative gossip and rumors. A clear and concise tone of voice and proper communication will help distinguish you from other businesses. Even if you have to lay off people, make sure that you communicate it to the world in your voice and help the employees who are terminated.

Remember, transparency and honesty in times like these will ensure that customers and employees trust you after the crisis is over. 

DevelopmentInsightsMartechSaaS

The Best Zoom Alternatives for Work and Play

The coronavirus pandemic has pushed more people than ever to work remotely. Yet, to function well, many types of teams still need to meet, including teachers, marketing professionals, and software developers like those at BairesDev. As a result, online meetings have become the norm and the videoconferencing application Zoom has become a well-known name and a de-facto alternative for group chats.

Zoom is also helpful for creating socially distant gatherings of family, friends, and other groups. But it isn’t perfect. In addition to being disappointed by Zoom’s limited features, users have experienced issues with data privacy and “Zoombombing,” which describes the activity of trolls who enter Zoom meetings uninvited and express hatred or display offensive images. The privacy issues stem from the application not being end-to-end encrypted, resulting in leaked user email addresses.

You may choose to use Zoom despite these drawbacks. But if you’re looking for a change, there are many similar applications available for you to try, including those listed here. 

Google Meet

If you want to replace Zoom for business meetings, Google Meet is a good application to try. You can include up to 100 participants per meeting and you get unlimited call time for free from now through September 2020. After that, call time will be limited to 60 minutes unless you upgrade your account. Google Meet also offers real-time translation, a useful feature for international calls.

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is another good choice for work-related meetings. Each meeting can accommodate up to 250 participants and you can store your conversations, files, meetings, and apps in a shared workspace. Useful features include the ability to search conversations, customize notifications, and blur your background for privacy. To use Teams, you must have an Office 365 subscription or a trial subscription of Teams.

Skype

Skype was one of the first videoconferencing applications and it’s still useful for online meetings. The new Meet Now feature enables functionality similar to Zoom and meetings can accommodate up to 50 users. You don’t need an account to sign in, just a link. Special features include reaction emoji, call recording, and the ability to blur your background. Skype offers both free and paid versions.

GoToMeeting

Packed with features, GoToMeeting enables you to include up to 150 participants per meeting with the entry-level plan or up to 3,000 when you upgrade. This application allows you to include multiple facilitators, share your screen, record and transcribe meetings, and assign follow-up tasks. You also get drawing tools to help participants make important points while presenting.

WhatsApp

For more informal conversations, such as those with family or friends, WhatsApp is a good option to try. While better known for messaging, the app does allow you to videoconference as well. You can include up to eight participants on each call, and the app is free to use. The best thing about WhatsApp is that it can be used across platforms, so it doesn’t matter if you use an Android device and your cousin has an iPhone. WhatsApp provides end-to-end encryption so you can be sure your conversations are secure.

Facebook Messenger

If you’re on Facebook a lot, Messenger is a great tool for videoconferencing with friends. Even if you don’t use Facebook much, it might be worth using Messenger for those calls because the video quality is better than that of some other apps. With Messenger, you also get emoji reactions, stickers, and the ability to include up to six people on-screen during a video call (though you can have up to 50).

FaceTime

Practically synonymous with video chatting, FaceTime enables those who use the Apple ecosystem to easily communicate with each other. You can get up to 32 callers on at one time and use special features to project your digital look-alike or add fun effects in your call. FaceTime is also end-to-end encrypted so you can be sure your calls are secure.

Discord

Discord is popular with gamers because it integrates with games like Call of Duty: WWII and Divinity: Original Sin 2. But it can be used by anyone who wants encrypted chat, messaging, and video call functionality. Users can set up their own “rooms” in which to chat via video or text. Up to 50 users can participate in a call.

Houseparty

Many things are just not possible with social distancing, but game night isn’t one of them. Houseparty enables you to connect and also provides the entertainment! Up to eight callers can play Trivia, Head’s Up!, and other fun games that are included. The app also allows you to purchase additional games if you want.

In Summary

Social distancing is making communication more difficult, but the right technology can help. If Zoom isn’t for you, there are many other options available for keeping in touch with colleagues and friends.

DevelopmentInsightsProductsSaaS

Why 5G Is so Important for the IoT

The 5th generation of wireless network technology, known as 5G, promises to dramatically increase data transfer speeds, decrease latency, and improve network reliability. These and other enhancements will result in more efficient internet access, and the ability to connect more devices within a given area at one time.

Such advancements are particularly important as the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to grow. Expansion of the IoT supported by 5G will be enriched by innovative IoT products for both consumers and businesses with built-in security features and software validated by QA & testing services. Here we explore exactly how the IoT will benefit from 5G.

What Is the IoT?

The IoT is the collection of internet-enabled devices that are an increasingly major part of human activity. The number of active IoT devices is expected to grow to 10 billion by 2020 and to 22 billion by 2025. A robust IoT enables new services, such as self-regulating electrical grid equipment that sends signals to utility operators when it needs replacement or repair.

IoT devices include everything from our familiar smartphones to smartwatches, internet-enabled video cameras, streetlights, motor vehicles, retail beacons, store inventory, shipping containers, manufacturing equipment, and robots. These devices add a high level of convenience to everyday tasks for individuals (such as shopping) and companies (such as inventory control).

In an example described by the World Economic Forum, we see just how integrated the IoT will become, even in things as commonplace as clothes: “Maybe you’ve heard about the Commuter x Jacquard, a jacket that connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth – the result of a collaboration between Google and Levi’s. With a haptic buzz on your cuff, you are reminded about the phone you left behind; by swiping your sleeve, you can skip a song; while a tap on the shoulder strap takes a picture.”

How 5G Supports the IoT

Naturally, the more of these connected devices there are, the more bandwidth they require. While the current generation of wireless technology, 4G, has the capacity to handle many of them, 5G can support many more. Cognizant VP Randal Kenworthy, a Forbes Technology Council member, states, “5G can send data to and from as many as a million devices per square kilometer, compared to 100,000 devices per square kilometer using today’s 4G networks.”

Additionally, 5G offers super-fast speeds that are 100 times greater than 4G’s and that enable devices to make split-second calculations with optimal performance. For example, self-driving cars must be able to transfer data within milliseconds to receive instructions for how to safely perform – with 5G, they are able to do precisely that.

In addition to expanded capability and speed, 5G is more reliable than previous wireless generations, meaning essential connected objects like locks, security cameras, and other safety devices will operate more effectively. In fact, according to Intel, 5G wireless networks will be “so reliable they can replace physical connections.”

5G also enables easier setup for the IoT. According to IoT For All, rather than connecting each device to a Wi-Fi router, “5G connectivity will let each device connect wirelessly, individually and directly to your internet service provider.” In this way, “You can think of 5G as a kind of next-generation Wi-Fi.”

Industry IoT

With 5G, many industries will be able to make ever-greater use of the IoT. Here are just a few examples:

  • Agriculture. IoT sensors embedded in the soil can help farmers determine how much water or nutrients are needed and, in conjunction with artificial intelligence (AI), deliver them at the right time. These processes enable farmers to spend more time on higher-level tasks. 
  • Automotive. As mentioned above, self-driving vehicles require fast processing to operate as safely as possible. Additionally, maintenance shops can use sensors within cars to send reminders when it’s time to have them serviced. 
  • Healthcare. With 5G and the IoT, telehealth will become more ubiquitous, enabling doctors and robots to treat — and even perform surgery on — patients remotely. Wearable health monitors can help patients and healthcare providers closely monitor symptoms.
  • Manufacturing. Manufacturers will have the opportunity to respond to consumer and business demands for new IoT products. They will also use IoT devices in the manufacturing and transportation processes, such as monitoring equipment and tracking packages. 
  • Smart Cities. The possibilities for smart city technology involving the IoT are nearly limitless. One example is connected parking lots that send real-time information to smartphones about parking availability. Another is using technology to make automotive and pedestrian traffic flow more efficiently. 

In Summary

The World Economic Forum states, “Coupled with an array of other new technological solutions like IoT, edge computing, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, 5G is powering the Fourth Industrial Revolution in the same way that steam, electricity, and silicon powered the previous three.”

Given how the IoT can evolve with the support of 5G, both consumers and businesses are likely to see great technological leaps in the coming years. Both will benefit from greater efficiency, convenience, and flexibility in their daily activities.

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5 Strategies Your Start-up Can Implement to Survive an Economic Downturn

The COVID-19 pandemic has created an unpredictable business environment where even the most established companies are shifting their focus from growth to survival. For start-ups, the challenges are even more significant. 

Thousands of start-ups enter the corporate race every year. However, only a little over half actually survive to their fourth year, and the startup failure rate at four years is approximately 44 percent. These are daunting numbers even in a normal economy. 

Now consider an economic downturn. Investments dry up as venture capitalists become risk-averse and seek more reliable investments. Most start-ups work with slim cash margins so a slow sales cycle can create a major cash flow crisis. Also, start-ups thrive in an environment of close in-person collaboration. However, in these times of social distancing, that’s not an option. 

Navigating an economic downturn is a daunting task for organizations in the early stages of development. However, it can also be taken up as an opportunity to innovate and implement new ideas that will help organizations come out stronger in the long-run. 

Here are five strategies that can help start-ups weather this economic downturn. 

1. Cut costs 

Start-ups track expenses carefully in a regular economy but during a downturn, it is important to actively cut costs. Eliminate low performing projects, trim employee perks, and carefully consider whether you need a brick-and-mortar location. Enable effective remote work conditions for your team or consider getting a coworking space to save on rent and utilities. 

Even small budget cuts make a difference so eliminate overheads such as underutilized software licenses, free office lunches, and take careful stock of your inventory. If it’s not completely essential to the business, delay or don’t buy. Conversely, negotiate with suppliers on better deals and prices for essentials items. 

2. Go digital 

Optimize operations by going digital wherever possible. As an example, you can improve employee productivity and cut costs by automating the management of your software and hardware assets via a cloud-based IT asset management software. Get real-time information on the location of your IT assets, and ensure that the equipment is in top-shape with automated servicing and maintenance alerts. 

Automating this function also enables employees to easily collaborate both on-premise or remotely while you receive real-time updates. 

3. Hire freelancers 

Start-ups thrive on highly motivated teams and downturn or not, you should not skimp on quality talent. If you cannot afford to hire full-time employees, consider freelancers, contractors, or part-time workers. 

As the economy slows down, there is typically a large pool of talent to choose from due to lay-offs and cut-backs on hiring. You save money by paying them a fixed price or an hourly rate without the added cost of benefits such as healthcare, sick leaves, holidays, and other perks. 

4. Don’t be afraid to pivot 

An agile company is not afraid to pivot with a changing market. Consider multiple businesses that changed course from what they originally planned to do and found success with a different plan. For example, YouTube was originally a sort of video-based dating service, and Yelp was not always the go-to source for reviews — it started as an automated system to ask friends for direct recommendations. 

An economic downturn changes consumer budgets and priorities which is why it is important to consider the new market reality and pivot your business accordingly. This could mean adding more products to your portfolio, changing your product, offering a discount on pricing, or targeting a whole new demographic. A downturn may require an overhaul of your plan but it could be the path to long-term survival and success. 

5. Use government stimulus offers 

Finally, it is important to avail financial assistance offered via government loans or stimulus packages. For example, the US Small Business Administration (SBA) offers a Paycheck Protection Program to eligible businesses. This loan is designed to provide a direct incentive for businesses to keep their employees on the payroll. 

Likewise, the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) is designed to provide economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. EIDL proceeds can be used to cover a wide array of working capital and normal operating expenses, such as continuation to health care benefits, rent, utilities, and fixed debt payments.

About the author

Rabia Mughal works as a Communications Manager at AssetSonar, a leading cloud based IT asset management solution. An experienced marketing communications professional, she is interested in the impact of digital transformation on modern business operations.