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September 9, 2019  11:42 AM

Emergence of Big Data AI

Keith Harrell Profile: SAS70ExPERT

Not long ago, big data was one of themost talked about tech trends, as was artificial intelligence (AI). But, in case people need a reminder of how fast technology evolves, they only need to consider something newer — big data AI. It combines elements of both technologies. AI allows computers to perform cognitive functions, much like the human brain. It can also make adjustments based on what the information shows. In contrast, big data looks for insights in gigantic quantities of data and may spotlight certain trends, but it doesn’t act on them. So, big data AI can both compile information and respond to it. In some cases, companies working with big data AI build tools or platforms that require AI and big data capabilities to work. Each of the technologies plays a defining role in achieving the result.

Making Sense of Location-Based Data

A company called Near has technology that uses aspects of big data and AI. It recently closed a funding round where the company got $100 million to develop technology that gathers mobility-based behavioral data from more than 1.6 billion devices around the world. For example, the enterprise has tools that tell users how often people from a certain demographic visit stores and when, or how far they traveled to get there. AI comes into play because the enterprise collects data from third-party sources and uses machine learning algorithms developed in-house to clean the information and cut out noise, making it more usable.

Aiding With Risk Assessments

Companies work in the risk assessment realm when representatives decide whether to offer insurance or loans to clients. They need to determine whether extending those things to a client could be a bad idea for the brand that’s offering them. For example, if a company seems likely to file an excessive number of insurance claims, it could be a high risk for an insurance company and cause the company to pay higher premiums to compensate. Or, if it appears that a client is unable or unwilling to pay back a loan, they’ll likely have trouble securing one that’s as generous as they want. Some big data AI companies assist underwriters with making risk assessment decisions. The proprietary technologies they use cuts down the time required to come to conclusions and allow the users to view more data when evaluating a client. Cytora is a company that operates in the European and Australian markets for now but plans to expand. It has an AI data engine that gathers information from multiple sources, like government data sets and news articles. Then, it intelligently assigns a risk grade from A to F, with an F-graded business most likely to have the highest claims costs. Similarly, there’s a business called Scienaptic that combines AI and big data while looking at other kinds of risks, too. For example, besides assisting with commercial underwriting needs, it works for fraud prevention and financial forecasting. The company recently received agreements from a company in Singapore that will invest $7 million to help build its technology.

Potential Hurdles Limiting the Internet of Things

Some Companies Will Restructure to Maintain Stability As Big Data AI Gains Prominence
Company leaders have to evaluate several things before they prepare to go public through an initial public offering (IPO). Some of the questions typically on the table relate to the appropriateness of the current management team, the trustworthiness of the board members and whether the company has a history of profitability. In 2014, Cloudera and Hortonworks had much-hyped IPOs. But, in January 2019, Hortonworks closed an all-stock, $5.2 billion merger with Cloudera. Both of those companies use Hadoop to help clients manage and assess their data, and they were constant competitors. The merger should allow the companies to blend their talents and business models and figure out how to stay profitable in this age of big data AI. Some analysts wonder if the end of big data is near. But, it seems like it’s merely evolving to incorporate more AI. As such, more mergers between big data companies may happen, and a shift could occur where those companies bring AI experts on board to help them prepare for the future. Even if mergers don’t happen, big data companies may start investigating how they could revamp their technologies to feature more AI elements. One of the main advantages of doing that is that AI could help people make sense of big data findings faster than before since it has decision-making abilities. Then the companies using those platforms could become more successful at applying the insights provided to them by specialized platforms. Big data as a standalone technology is not going away, but people should expect more instances where it gets better with AI.

The Abundant and Diverse Potential of Big Data AI

The examples above illustrate how there are compelling use cases for big data AI in the business world. But, people need to realize that other applications exist, too. One fascinating example of what’s possible involved the most recent Wimbledon tennis tournament. Wimbledon organizers invite hundreds of thousands of people to attend the event, plus stream it live to millions more around the world across nearly two weeks. Plus, the high-profile event demands constant security. Data helps the event succeed without major problems. IBM is the official technology partner of Wimbledon, and it has collected 62.8 million data points since 1990. The information gathered ranges from photographs of the matches to the positions of players on the court. Then, IBM uses AI in inventive ways, too. It created a chatbot that allows fans to find out more about scheduled matches or their favorite players. But, on the back end, there’s substantially more happening with help from AI. IBM applies AI to real-time video footage, tasking it with analyzing the expressions made by tennis stars or the noise level of the cheers from fans. Wimbledon representatives then depend on AI’s findings to help them figure out the best highlights from the matches on a given day. There are 10 courts on the Wimbledon grounds, so mining through all the video data without AI would be too time-consuming. After all, people demand updates as quickly as possible and wouldn’t want recorded footage to reach them days later. This is just one example of how big data AI could facilitate progress in unexpected ways. As it becomes even more widely used, people can expect to see more surprising and relevant uses.

“Big Data” May Become More Like “Extremely Relevant Data”

It’s too early to say for sure what the rise of big data AI will mean for the companies that decide to experiment with it. But, one likely possibility is that the time required to benefit from big data will shorten. That’s because instead of platforms merely looking through vast quantities of data and finding patterns, AI will help ensure that the evaluated data is the most applicable to a user’s needs. So, people may look through less data for analysis, but only because AI found the most appropriate information first. Big data is already much faster than humans working without it, but the efficiency may increase even more.

September 9, 2019  5:20 AM

How Has Cyber Security Evolved in the Last 10 Years

Keith Harrell Profile: SAS70ExPERT

The last ten years of cyber security have taught us a lot about hackers and their resilience to infiltrate some of the biggest companies in the world. Common mistakes continue to occur, such as Instagram account passwords being held in text format, and regular Internet users continue to fall for phishing scams or downloading malware.

Yahoo was hacked twice once in 2013 and 2014, with 3 billion and 500 million records impacted. First American Financial Corp used poor security practices, leading to 885 million records being impacted in 2019.

Facebook also had poor security practices that lead to 540 million records being accessible in 2019.

The evolution of cyber threats continues to outpace some of the world’s top tech companies. Zeus Trojan was released in 2008, and it was one of the first times security experts saw a trojan of this sophistication. The software was able to log a person’s keys pressed and grabbed information from forms. Over $70 million was stolen using this trojan.

Target was hacked as a result of a variant of the Zeus Trojan. Viruses, trojans and worms have been around for decades, but they were starting to become more advanced and complex in the last ten years.

Connected devices have also started to spread, and once a device or even automobile is connected, they have the potential to be hacked. Intruders have been able to infiltrate streaming video entertainment systems and in-car WiFi. Connected car vulnerabilities first came to light at the 2016 Black Hat security conference. Remote hacking had the potential, at the time, to access 471,000 vehicles.

We’re also seeing an expansion of the cyber security field. Information security analysts are in a field that takes less than five years to enter and has a median pay of $98,350. The field requires a Bachelor’s degree to enter and basic cyber security courses. The field is growing at a rate of 28%, which is far faster than average.

Security experts have started to put some of the responsibility in the hands of the consumer because perimeter security can always be breached.

Encryption and multi-factor authentication remain the two key most important tools in combating security breaches. Multi-factor authentication has the ability to prevent access to user accounts on banking systems, social media and other platforms. This has remained one of the most powerful tools in helping prevent single record access online.

Encryption is becoming more widespread, and we have seen some early encryption be able to be hacked. WPS, which allows devices to access WiFi, has been shown to be vulnerable, so we’re seeing that consumer ease of use can lead to an increased number of vulnerabilities.

We’re also seeing that while security experts continue to advance prevention measures, a lot of large-scale attacks are kept in the dark. The US military had 26.5 million records hacked in 2006, and it took weeks to alert the public that the attack occurred. Consumers are starting to put security into their own hands, and this has been an approach that security teams are recommending to keep data safe and secure.

September 8, 2019  10:14 AM

Going Past the Basics for Cybersecurity

Keith Harrell Profile: SAS70ExPERT

Data breaches are an all too common occurrence and there is no single measure of their impact. Aside from the adverse impact a data breach has on the affected company, data breaches also have a domino effect on the affected company’s customers. In fact, quite often the breach occurs within companies with which we’ve established much trust.

Unfortunately, many users view security as a passive endeavor that can or should be resolved simply by installing some perceived magic bullet, such as antivirus software. The reality is that antivirus software never has been and never will be a panacea. At best, antivirus software serves as a good pre-filter for a wide range of known threats.

You can bolster your defenses through the use of other technologies, such as firewalls, phishing filters, VPN’s like Surfshark, spam filters, and the like. But even bolstered, you still are left essentially with an arsenal of products adept at pre-filtering known threats.

This isn’t to say you should relax your controls or not use these products. If you can minimize your risk to the biggest majority of threats, you’ve gone a long way towards better security. It does, however, mean that you have to rethink your stance – you have to assess your own risk potential and your own risk tolerance, and then develop your own risk management plan.

For a home user with no business assets to be concerned with, your biggest concerns regarding data theft will probably be things like the risk of having your bank account compromised or becoming a victim of credit card fraud.

Once you’ve identified what your risk potential is, then determine what your risk tolerance is. Many banks, for example, will allow you to setup alerts for a wide range of activities, including things like wire transfers, drops in your balance, and the like. Take advantage of these features and setup a series of alerts that will give you early warning if your account is compromised but won’t be so intrusive that you quickly find yourself ignoring them.

Monitor your credit reports. You can do this manually or via a service such as IDWatchDog. Several free antivirus products come bundled with a free version of IDWatchDog so cost is not a factor here. You should also monitor your credit card expenses. If a breach involving your credit card has occurred, attackers will often start with small sums to check the validity of a card. In other words, don’t just look for big unexpected expenses – look for small unexpected expenses as well.

Good password management is a must-have component of risk management. Don’t share your password among different sites. If a company you do business with is breached and your username and password is stolen as a result, attackers will often try the same username and password combination on different sites. This enables one breach to have far reaching consequences across all your online accounts. To prevent this, having a unique password for each sensitive site is imperative.

Of course, you can share the same password across sites that don’t matter – i.e. sites that don’t require a credit card and which contain no sensitive personal information. But make sure your bank account password is unique and that each credit card account has a unique password as well. Your email account should have yet another unique password. Don’t use the same PIN either. There is a simple trick to making this all easier – write down the passwords.

This goes back to risk tolerance – you can’t protect against every possible scenario. Instead, focus on the most likely scenarios, i.e. someone gaining online access indirectly via the Web. So again, don’t be afraid to write down your passwords if it helps ensure you will use unique passwords on each of your sensitive accounts.

To recap, assume your data will be compromised in some fashion, even because of a company you do business with. Assess your risk by figure out what would be at stake when (not if) that occurs. Then implement smart measures that will give you an early warning of potential signs of compromise of sensitive accounts or data (i.e. credit reports). Understand your risk tolerance so these measures are pertinent but don’t cripple your day to day activities or overwhelm you with noise. And remember, your goal is not to achieve 100% security; that’s impossible. And by all means, use antivirus software – just don’t believe it’s going to stop every threat.

September 8, 2019  5:11 AM

Are Cryptocurrencies Here to Stay?

Keith Harrell Profile: SAS70ExPERT

Evolution of currency is taking center stage in the financial world. Recent reports indicate that over 70% of finance professionals are optimistic that cryptocurrencies are not going away any time soon because acceptance of cryptocurrency is gaining substantial ground worldwide. But do people know what bitcoin is? Do they know where to buy bitcoin? Such questions still make it difficult for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to gain extensive use in the world.

Several economic superpowers such as China, Canada, and India, among others, are still posing high resistance to this technological move. This opposition, however, has not deterred researchers and developers from continuing their quest to revolutionize the money industry. Users of cryptocurrency are still flooding the scene to search for more investment in the same. 

There is a thin line between deciding whether people would like to move towards crypto use or if they will refuse altogether. Various aspects come into play to support the technology and opposed in equal measure. Here we will look at two significant elements that are still causing ripples on the platforms of discussion about the future of bitcoin investments alongside other emerging cryptocurrencies.

Lack Of Regulation

Central banks in the whole world are not regulating cryptocurrencies. 

Market forces are the only controls to the free flow of cryptos in blockchain channels worldwide. Such a liberal market is viewed to be tricky because it is likely to be manipulated by superior players.

 Due to this, central banks have remained skeptical about the whole idea of buying and selling of bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies.

On the other hand, some users argue that the lack of regulation opens up the world economy and ensures fair competition. 

There is no reserve currency in the crypto-world. Nonetheless, since bitcoin was the first-ever currency of this kind, it gained much significance. To some extent, it is seen as the “virtual reserve crypto” because whenever you would want to purchase any other crypto to be it Ethereum, Ripple, Bitcoin cash, or any other, the reference is always bitcoin or the fiat US dollar. Therefore, for most transactions using cryptocurrency, you must know how to buy bitcoin since it still commands a considerable share of the crypto scene.

International Business

Participants in e-commerce and international business are beginning to accept bitcoins as a mode of exchange. 

The downside of buying bitcoin or selling it is the lack of accountability, and in no small extent, evaders of tax obligations are buying bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies so that they conceal their financial worth. Doing this hurts economies hence the reason banks avoid buying bitcoins.

That said, the cryptocurrency use is increasing day by day, and the possibility of it existing in the future is very high. This positiveness does not stop the principal economic players from engaging in the debate about its viability.

Many cryptocurrencies are coming up. Apart from the largest blockchain commander bitcoin, other smaller entrants like Ripple, Tether and other ones that are just launching their whitepapers are also gaining significant use among crypto-lovers.

In a nutshell, cryptocurrencies are here to stay. The only question we can ponder about is ‘how long, and how?’ Will the world economy sustain runaway inflations and bubble-bursts. 

The assurance is still bleak, but with technological improvements, and globalization, the hope of crypto-future is almost a guarantee. Nevertheless, due to the excessive launch of many other cryptocurrencies apart from bitcoin, the over-reliance on bitcoin will subside, and this will bring sanity and stability in the cryptocurrency arena.

September 4, 2019  3:56 AM

4 Data Sources Your Company Shouldn’t Ignore

Keith Harrell Profile: SAS70ExPERT

In an earlier age, perhaps as little as a decade ago, businesses had to rely on intuition and educated guesses to guide their spending. The situation was famously captured by John Wanamaker, who said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.”

Today, data is everywhere. Phones track our locations and our social media usage. Fitbits capture our heart rates and calorie burns. And even advertisers can see precisely who is clicking on their banner ads and content pieces. The days of guessing are over.

In the modern age, every company is a data company. Every department in your company is constantly producing digital records. Business Intelligence (BI)– the data that companies generate in the course of simply doing business – is emerging as an indispensable tool in corporate decision-making.  With effective BI, business managers can filter all those records by date, location, function, goal, or any other factor they wish, and receive precise reports.

Businesses of all types and sizes can track their own data and produce useful BI. The challenge is finding useful sources of information that other companies are not already accessing. Ironically, the solution may be closer than you think. It may be hidden in one of the departments in your own company.

Here are some overlooked areas of data value you don’t want to miss.

1. Customer Success Management

Your customers are your business, and data that helps you understand how they relate to your product is fundamental to making good decisions. You have to know what works – which features your clients are using, how often they use them, and what they are trying to achieve- in order to prioritize spending most effectively.

But it is equally important, and possibly even more so, to know what causes clients to leave. Some estimate that it costs five times more to find and develop new clients compared to onboarding old ones. So, any data advantage that can help you keep a higher percentage of clients in the fold is well worth the effort.

BI can help you discover why clients are leaving your company and what strategies are most successful in retaining them. Data from CSM could prove crucial to discovering counter-intuitive ways to bring them back. Improving retention rates even by a small fraction can make a difference to the bottom line.

BI is like having X-ray vision into your company’s operations and it can produce a goldmine of useful data. You see the difference between how enterprise clients use your product compared to small businesses. You can segment by demographics, by how much you spent to acquire the client, how long the average client stays with your company.

Big Data Advances Lead to More Optimal SEO-Predicated Hosting

The answers are often hidden in the data. Take advantage of your CSM to improve client retention rates.

2. Payroll Analytics

The payroll department has often been treated as the unwanted step-child of both the Finance and the Human Resources departments. It performs the thankless job of calculating worker pay each month and only draws attention when it makes a mistake.

But the department has the potential to turn into a BI powerhouse thanks to the ongoing shift from manual process to automation. Upstart companies like Papaya Global are leading the transformation and increasing value to their offering by adding a BI data layer to its payroll platform.

Since payroll is any company’s largest expense, the data produced by payroll provides the deepest insight available on the biggest spending area – your workers. With BI, everything you want to know about workforce spending is available at a glance, making spending much easier to evaluate and plan.

While CSM and Sales focus on the client and growth, Payroll BI focuses on the inner workings of the company, ensuring that the spending is in line with company goals.

Payroll digitization is still in its early stages, but growth could come rapidly as automation opens doors that were unthinkable with manual processing. In the future, some companies are likely to experiment with “real time” pay, which allows workers to receive their pay each day rather than monthly or bi-monthly. It also means that BI data will be updated in real time, providing the most useful information when you need it most.

3. Marketing

In the digital age, marketing is often the most data-drive department in any company. People are already accustomed to seeing the numbers of views on YouTube videos or the number of likes and shares on Facebook posts. E-mails to clients are usually delivered by services that track the open rates and click-through rates of newsletters or product updates.

Software tools and social media engagement can provide a good view of the market segmentation – which groups respond to various messages. This allows greater targeting and better messaging for specific demographics.

Virtually any marketing department will analyze those figures to discover which subjects work best in which formats and which messages resonate most deeply with potential clients. But data-based marketing insights should not be limited to outward facing projects. Those data points could also influence operations internally to make the company messaging more focused.

The BI data can be used to build the conceptual framework for the whole company based on its goals and values. When those values permeate through the company’s internal communications, it helps everyone align with the overall message, creating consistency that builds trust and credibility.

When it comes to messaging, your audience knows when you mean it and when you don’t. The deeper your values permeate into your company culture, the more authentic your message will be.

4. Sales

For many companies, BI is most effectively harnessed for the purpose of increasing sales. Indeed, that is one of the most effective uses of business intelligence. But it should not come at the expense of overlooking the BI generated by the sales department itself.

While Customer Support Management is about client retention, Sales is about growth. The data each department provides is different but equally important for decision-makers.  Together, they form a 360-degree view of the entire market for your product.

That wide view can influence decisions on product, design, user-experience, and development. Since it comes directly out of interactions with potential clients, Sales generates some of the most on-target information available. It provides the most complete picture of what the target market really thinks about your product. Is the price too high? What features should be dropped? Which elements should be added?

More importantly, it also gives you a snap-shot of the potential client himself, in real time. That makes growth easier and more sustainable.

The rise of BI takes the guesswork out of company management. Make sure you check all of the hidden corners of your company for as much useful data as possible. Your competitors are already using their own BI to make the best decisions they can, but you can beat them at their own game by mining the secret goldmines.

September 3, 2019  3:48 AM

7 cybersecurity tips for small business

Keith Harrell Profile: SAS70ExPERT

Many small business owners misguidedly feel their organization is too small to become a target for hackers however, cyberattacks on small companies are typical and they’re increasing. An effective attack on a Fortune 500 firm is likely to be a lot more rewarding, but much tougher. Small companies are rather simple and strikes can be quite lucrative.

Small business owners can’t afford to take cybersecurity softly. An effective cyberattack could prove devastating. Bearing this in mind, we’ve compiled 10 cybersecurity strategies for smaller companies that can readily be implemented to boost safety.

Make and Enforce Password Rules

You need to employ password policies that require employees to establish powerful, secure passwords. An effective, special password needs to be used for the majority of systems. Passwords should consist of capitals, lower-case letters, symbols and numbers. Educate employees on how to make secure passwords. Look at utilizing a password manager so that passwords don’t have to get recalled. 

Safety Awareness Training

Ensure that you supply the workforce with routine safety awareness training. This really is the only means which you’re able to make a culture of cybersecurity. Make sure you go over safety fundamentals, safe online usage, the way to take care of sensitive information, production of passwords, and mobile device security. You need to offer instruction to help workers prevent phishing attacks and run exercises to check the effectiveness of your training regime.

Multi-Factor Authentication

Multi-factor authentication requires using a password and also at least another process of authentication. When login credentials are compromised, then another element must be used to obtain access to the system like an SMS message to an individual’s smartphone.


It’s vital to have robust backup coverage. In case of a catastrophe, like a ransomware assault, you have to have the ability to recoup critical data. Backups also have to be analyzed to make sure certain files could be retrieved. Do not wait until disaster strikes to check whether the information could be retrieved. 

Secure Wi-Fi Networks

In case you’ve got a wireless network on your workplace, it ought to be protected. Utilize WPA2 for security (or even WPA3 if possible). Change default passwords and make certain that your wireless router can’t be obtained easily.

Employ a Robust Firewall

A firewall is a cybersecurity option that sits between a server and the external world and prevents unauthorized people from gaining access into the system and saved information. Not all firewalls are created equal. Additional investment in a next-generation firewall will be money well invested. Do not neglect to also protect remote employees. Make sure they utilize a firewall or implement VPN software for Mac.

Consider Implementing an Internet Filter

An internet filter offers protection against internet strikes by preventing workers from seeing websites that utilize malware. A DNS-based filter may protect wireless and wired networks and even remote workers. It’ll block malware downloads and also stop users from viewing harmful sites and the ones that serve no function purpose consequently improving productivity.

September 3, 2019  2:38 AM

How HR Tech Has Changed Employee Recruiting

Keith Harrell Profile: SAS70ExPERT

HR technology is changing the face of employee recruiting. Artificial intelligence (AI) is helping to manage data overload, which is a major part of the recruitment process. Businesses are compiling data at large rates that cannot be analyzed quickly enough without the use of AI.

AI-powered systems are incorporating resume examples into the process, helping sift through candidates that do not meet the position’s requirements. The AI systems are still advancing, and it can be difficult to assess the risks of unique candidates that have unusual experience, but may be a good fit for the job.

Systems are in place that will help identify which candidates to interview and which to deny based off of keywords, experience and other key data points.

Amazon’s Recruiting Tool Shows Issues With AI-Powered Recruitment

Amazon created its own recruiting tool that was designed to rate candidates for a position with star ratings. The best candidates received a 5-star rating and would be the first in the pool of candidates to be interviewed. The development of the system took place between 2014 and 2017, but the company eventually closed the tool down.

The platform was closed because it utilized the last 10 years of resumes sent to Amazon, which were sent primarily from men. Hiring at Amazon, in the past, had been routinely bias, with men accounting for 63% of employees and 75% of all managers. The AI platform, designed to learn which candidates were best over time, started to prefer men over women due to the tradition of hiring men.

AI platforms are in the works that have the potential to identify the right candidates for a job with greater ease, but they’re not as advanced as Amazon had hoped for their company.

Recruitment on a Global Scale

Recruiters are working in a global market now, with the ability to reach candidates across the globe. It’s estimated that 20% to 25% of US workers telecommute in some capacity. Recruiters are using collaboration tools and conducting interviews online for some candidates that cannot be found locally. 

Large recruitment departments are no longer limited to local ad distribution to promote open positions. Large talent pools are offering higher diversity and allowing companies, small and large, to remain more competitive than in the past.

Employee recruiting can also be less expensive due to the global hiring scale. 

Employees are finding that it’s harder to land jobs due to increased competition. Recruiters and the companies that they work for are speeding up the recruitment process due to technology. Sharing data between companies allows for faster background and drug testing to be performed. Data is also being shared internally between HR departments and payroll to ease the process for new hires.

Innovation in the industry has also allowed for fast response times, quicker application submission via mobile devices and application-tracking systems that help companies meet compliancy demands. Technology, despite advancing the recruiting process, has shown that HR departments are still needed, with the human element remaining an integral part of the hiring process. 

September 3, 2019  1:31 AM

How Social Media is Shaping Education

Keith Harrell Profile: SAS70ExPERT

Younger generations are undergoing a massive change in education. Connectivity, and the use of collaboration tools, has transformed the classroom. Google Docs, for example, is widely used in classrooms across the world, with many schools offering Chromebooks to students to bring technology into the classroom.

It’s estimated that 9 out of 10 students have at least one social media account.

Social media may be used as a tool for entertainment purposes, but these platforms are also being widely utilized for education.

Facebook’s private groups and messaging apps have allowed for the formation of classroom groups. Students that were once tied to collaborating only in person are now using social media to work on projects together and finish their homework assignments.

Students that need help from their teachers or other classmates can often find this help through social media where they’re allowed to ask questions and receive answers. The widespread adoption of file sharing has further allowed students to upload assignments to friends or teachers on social media.

We’re also seeing students share their essays or other documents with friends who will provide feedback or proofread the documents for their friends or classmates.

But social media goes beyond Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. We’re seeing a new birth of social media companies that are designed specifically for students and teachers.

We’re seeing a widespread introduction of these tools, and we’re also seeing new features utilized by teachers on social media. Facebook Live has started to be used by teachers to connect with students and even provide supplementary educational resources when needed. Tools that were once made for businesses that use Facebook ads are now being used by teachers to better understand engagement on groups and videos.

Stronger communities are being built with student-teacher relationships flourishing and stronger bonds with classmates.

Reaching experts and breaking out of comfort zones is also possible on social media. Experts in fields are often more than happy to respond to students that have questions for them. Students are able to go outside of their comfort zone and contact professionals that they had been otherwise reluctant to reach out to in the past.

Quora, which one can debate is not a social media site, is also available and allows students to ask questions online and receive highly accurate answers. You also have YouTube and LinkedIn which are being used by students who need to go over a subject an additional time using a different approach to increase their comprehension of the subject matter.

Of course, social media is also having a negative effect in classrooms. We’re seeing schools implement no phone usage rules because of students being on Snapchat in the middle of class. This is a negative aspect of social media, and it is shaping education in the wrong ways. Students that are on traditional platforms in the middle of class are often unengaged and missing out on key subject matter.

September 3, 2019  1:21 AM

How to Improve Order Fulfillment

Keith Harrell Profile: SAS70ExPERT

As a business owner, you want to achieve as much success as possible. To do that, making sure your customers are satisfied is essential. If your business ships goods, making sure that the right products are shipped – and that those goods arrive in a timely fashion – are paramount to your success. 

Consider Amazon, for example; there’s a reason why the company is the largest online marketplace in the world. They offer free 2-day shipping for their Prime customers (and currently, there are more than 100 million Prime members in the US alone), in 2017, they delivered more than 5 billion items to those members. Why do so many people rely on the mega eCommerce site? – Because they are masters of order fulfillment. 

Of course, you may not be able to reach Amazon status, but you can certainly bump up your success by improving your order fulfillment process. Here are some tips that will help you do just that. 

Improve Slotting 

In order fulfillment, slotting refers to the process of where goods should be located in the picking location so that the most commonly ordered items are situated both near each other and near the beginning of the picking process. By improving slotting, you can substantially improve the picking process – and the entire order fulfillment process – as pickers will be able to easily access the most popular items, thus, your overall fulfillment process will improve. 

Implement Scanning Devices

An important component of the order fulfillment process is being able to identify the precise location of every product in your warehouse. If you don’t know where items are located, when orders come in, you’ll be left looking for a needle in a haystack. Use scanning devices to determine exactly where your products are located. Barcode and wireless scanners can save a tremendous amount of time, mitigate errors, and save a great deal of money; all things that can dramatically improve fulfillment. 

Enhance Warehouse Communication

If you want to improve delivery, effective communication with your warehouse is vital. With proper communication, an order can be processed at your warehouse within a matter of seconds. To improve communication, instead of relying on email alone, physically speak to your warehouse managers. Doing so will allow you and your warehouse to stay current with the goings on of your operation. For example, you’ll be able to receive notification regarding the importation of more stock as soon as it’s needed, and you can arrange to up your warehouse staff when there’s an increase in orders and cut back on staff (and costs) during lulls.  

Consider Outsourcing 

Instead of self-fulfillment, consider outsourcing the process to an order fulfillment service provider. Doing so offers a myriad of benefits. You’ll see a reduction in your operating costs, be able to take advantage of lower shipping rates, and improve your reach so that you can expand your operation. Plus, outsourcing your order fulfillment will allow you to concentrate on other important elements of our business so you can continue growing. 

Team Up with the Right Courier

Using the right courier for your needs is essential. If you aren’t using the right shipping service, the final phase of order fulfillment – package delivery – can falter. Working with a courier located within close proximity to your warehouse and one that can guarantee fast delivery. When you work with the right shipping service, order fulfillment will dramatically improve. 

Communicate with Customers

Customers want to know when they’re going to receive their packages. Make sure that you communicate information regarding the status of your customers’ orders. Tracking technologies will allow customers to keep tabs on their packages so that they know exactly where they are and when they can expect them. 

Improving order fulfillment will improve customer satisfaction, and when your customers are satisfied, your success improves.  

August 17, 2019  5:08 AM

How Technology is Changing the Real Estate Market

Keith Harrell Profile: SAS70ExPERT

Technology has changed every facet of our lives. We use it to communicate, find products and services we’re looking for, and make informed decisions. The widespread use of technology has fundamentally changed the way consumers and businesses connect.

While all industries have been impacted by technology, one market that has experienced a significant change is real estate. Today’s homebuyers have a deep connection with technology, and as a result, they demand instant gratification; and thanks to the Internet, smartphones, and tablets, they can receive that instant gratification they seek. Buyers can simply open up their browsers, enter a search, and find properties that meet their criteria in a matter of seconds. It’s estimated that more than 70 percent of those who are homebuyers use the Internet to look for properties, and more than 50 percent of property tours are scheduled via real estate websites. 

In order to stay ahead of the competition, staying current with the latest advances in technology is essential. By incorporating the following latest technology trends into their businesses, real estate professionals can connect with more prospective homebuyers by satisfying their needs and advance their success. 

Customer Relationship Management

While it’s important for businesses in all industries to develop relationships with their customers, in the real estate industry, it’s absolutely vital. Customer relationship management, or CRM technology, allows real estate professionals to better manage their interaction with current and prospective customers. 

CRM for real estate agents collects data about customers from a variety of channels, such as a real estate company or agent’s website, email, and social media. This information gives agents the opportunity to gain a better understanding of their target market so that they can better meet their needs. 

Virtual Reality 

Virtual reality (VR) has opened up a world of opportunities for both customers and real estate agents. This technology gives buyers the chance to browse through properties in a way that pictures simply can’t. Virtual walkthroughs allow customers to “enter” a property from the comfort of their own homes so that they can determine if they are truly interested in pursuing them. Based on the information buyers collect from a virtual walkthrough, they can decide if they want to schedule appointments to do a real walkthrough. In fact, the use of VR can even eliminate the need for traditional walkthroughs, which presents major opportunities for buyers and agents. For example, a house hunter can tour a property that’s thousands of miles away, decide if she wants to put an offer in, and start the entire buying process before she ever steps foot inside. 

Blockchain Technology 

Blockchain technology supports digital currency and has the potential to be a big game changer for the real estate industry. Bitcoin, they most commonly used form of digital currency that’s created by the blockchain, can be used to complete transactions across the globe. In fact, the use of bitcoin has already been seen in luxury real estate, and there’s no reason to believe that it won’t be used to complete all types of property purchases. This technology offers opportunities for both buyers and sellers, as contracts between the two can be totally encrypted and funds can be transferred without the use of traditional banks, which can speed up the rate at which transactions are completed and make the buying and selling process faster and more convenient than ever. 

If you’re a real estate professional and want to stay on top of the game, making use of these technologies will help you stand ahead of the competition, as you’ll be better equipped to meet the needs of today’s (and tomorrow’s) technologically-savvy consumers.

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