The Future of Payments Hinges on IoT and Machine to Machine Interface

The Future of Payments Hinges on IoT and Machine to Machine InterfaceEarlier this year, Amazon made quite a stir when it opened a new brick-and-mortar store. It doesn’t sell anything unusual but there is something special about the store itself. There are no cashiers or checkout counters! Customers have to just walk in, grab anything they want and leave, that’s it.  No, the products aren’t free, they will be later billed to their Amazon account. More than anything, what this futuristic store strongly reaffirms is that “the new age of IoT” isn’t coming anymore, it’s already here.

Then there is also the much talked about M2M that has quietly attained the pole position in virtually all areas of our lives. When was the last time you manually paid the toll on an expressway? Or remember that PoS you used for card payment? Hope you got the picture. And while these technologies have varying applications ranging from smart homes to smart cities, we will be here focusing on one key aspect- digital payments. In fact, it’s much more than that but will come back to it later.

Before we dive into specific applications, there is a shred of doubt that needs to be clarified- M2M and IoT are not the same but still are often used interchangeably. The reason they are different because they use different methods to communicate with their server- M2M uses standard cellular or wired connection while IoT is based on IP connections. Plus, data collected and shared by M2M modules are limited to the point-to-point interface while those collected by IoT are often shared with multiple enterprise applications and are subjected to a whole scrutiny under data science including Big Data, data mining, predictive analysis, and much more.

Then why do we use them interchangeably? 

There are two reasons- 1. It’s all the same for consumers; 2. They are gradually converging. Let’s try an example- a traffic light that sends data to a central control-room is an M2M but when that data is processed to get various metrics of traffic, it becomes an IoT. Now if you are the consumer, it’s all the same to you and as IoT application development progresses to incorporate new domains, that barrier between the two is only going to de-escalate.

Now coming back to payments, deploying IoT and M2M solutions do not only make them digital but when fused with AI and ML, can also make them autonomous- just like Amazon Store did. It is a proof of concept that can easily be applied to all offline transactions- when you make your purchases, merely you presence will authenticate the payments.

But what about security? If merely possessing your phone or your smart watch gives access to your bank account, isn’t that a security nightmare? Plus, there is also the skepticism regarding how do you know you are billed correctly if the payments are happening without even you knowing about them? While both of these are genuine concerns, of which there is no airtight solution, there are still enough safeguards in place to push the transformation further.

As the Bible would say for these problems, the technology giveth and the technology taketh away. If you know anything about digital transactions, you must be aware that there are billion such cases every day amounting to trillions of dollars and we have created intelligent systems that detect fraudulent activities to near perfection. That is, if you walk into a store one day, you have never been before to buy something you generally don’t buy or are spending out of your general habit, the system would automatically flag such payments and ask for additional authentication.

On the closing note, it won’t be an overstatement we say that we are currently underway a seismic transformation in terms of payments, primarily fueled by IoT and M2M. And as mentioned before, the more IoT app developers converge these technologies with those related to artificial intelligence, these systems would only become more practical, robust, ubiquitous, and after a while, a new normal.

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6 Things, Other Than Marketing, You Need to Spend on in 2018

Being a marketer means constantly being in tune with the latest industry trends — but it can be easy to forget that marketing your business is not done in a vacuum. 

Have you given your business a thorough audit this year? Are there elements of your business, other than marketing, that need some concentrated attention?

After all, marketing only really works when you have a compelling brand and message to put out there in the first place— or an effective business framework that means campaigns are meeting commercial targets.

Here is how you can take an integrated approach with your company strategy this year, ensuring that your marketing budget will go towards conversions, sales, and tangible business goals.

Improve your brand, improve your value proposition

First and foremost, let’s talk about branding. Now, for the uninitiated, branding may not seem much more than trying to get the snazziest, simplest, most memorable logo since Apple’s quarter eaten… apple. Spending on a reliable and innovative designer purely for your logo may seem like a good idea, but a good foundation is still just a foundation.

You need to ensure that everything from your website copy to your e-shots, from your Facebook cover photo to your Instagram profile, are alight with brand messaging. Otherwise, you run the risk of wasting marketing budget on a brand that simply isn’t a reflection of what you can actually do.

It’s easy to become ‘brand blind’, so it’s advisable to open up the conversation with your network to see how they feel about your brand. Be ready to have some difficult conversations.

  1. If you’re not a proficient writer, it’s important to hire people that are. Bad brand copywriting is not something you want to become famous for.
  2. Another great way to get your brand out there is by forming connections with influencers. They have a wide range of influence with the public, aiding with your PR targets  as well. Choosing the relevant one(s) for you is all about knowing your target audience and customer demographic. So, make sure that you choose wisely and don’t risk wasted time. Be true to your brand!
  3. Make sure that your brand has an inherent value proposition, so that your audience can quickly and easily form an accurate picture of what you’re offering them.

Strategy & data planning

A strategy is key for anyone wanting to get ahead. It’ll guide your thought processes for the year(s) to come; laying out clear steps for you and your team to follow.  It’s at the core of a healthy marketing plan, but should also take into account elements that fall outside the remit of marketing.

Data processing should be a big part of your strategy — as it’s largely insights based on facts and figures that should go into a business strategy. By all means, theorize and hypothesize, but don’t lose sight of the actual customer and market data that’s pouring in.

Writers & content creators

Generating traffic to your website is probably one of, if not the most important factor to think about when allocating your business funds. Traffic leads to the essential inquiries and sales that keep your business running.

In order to generate quality web traffic, you need a stack of high-quality, relevant online content. Not only do you want quality content that’s representative of your brand, you want it to be consistent across all your business channels (including any printed literature).

Hiring people that are both reliable and good at copywriting is the secret behind compelling content creation. Don’t try to fob it off to a junior team member, or squeeze it in yourself between dealing with customer orders. You need to invest in good writers if you want to see a return from your content efforts.

Luckily there are loads of high quality writers and content creators out there that you can contract on a freelance basis.

Outsourcing your business

Don’t be afraid to delegate! Source photographers, HR professionals, designers, developers SEOs etc who are professional and timely.

There is always going to be somebody who can do a job better than you can, so don’t shy away from leaning on expertise when it’s clearly needed.

Hiring those with more experience than yourself can benefit you two-fold. Firstly, they will undoubtedly give your business a necessary boost in quality. Secondly, you can use their expertise to expand your own knowledge whilst also saving time.

And outsourcing doesn’t stop at people. You can also outsource things like logistics via dropshipping or customer service via chatbots. Use the latest tech to help you scale your operations and, ultimately, improve your margins.

Financial services

The importance of a great financial structure is sometimes underestimated in the small business world.

Having your finances handled properly is the crux of any good business. While you use your time to focus on directorial things, your accountant can deal with the monetary side of your work. This can save you both valuable time and money.  A knowledgeable accountant or part-time financial director can be deep wells of high-quality advice.

You should also look into whether financial cloud apps like Receipt Bank or Quickbooks could help you save processing time. The better financial data you have, the better decisions you’ll be able to make for your business.

Travel & networking

Traveling it is a great way to increase the size of your network. Going further afield to meet a client and/or would-be business partner can help solidify rapport – showing how far you’re willing to go to connect.

Ultimately, you can’t put a price on human interaction. While emailing is efficient (and free), it’s nothing compared to the experience of physical interaction; especially if you’re planning to work together long term. Instead of your words being misconstrued, time being wasted and not being able to properly gauge your relationship – take a trip, and see how much further you get… together.

Don’t be afraid to show your face at local networking events, meetups, and conferences either. There are plenty of offline opportunities out there waiting for you.

 

Marketing works best when it’s part of the wider conversation concerning your business. Look to outsourcing and financial management as ways to run a more efficient business, and branding and content as ways to supercharge your sales. Don’t fall into the trap of running after vanity metrics or running your business in restrictive silos.

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2017 – Corporate Changes Your Business Needs

Get your company ready for the new year by making sure it can fulfill everything you want it to. There are so many things you need to look out for and so many opportunities you have to transform the business. Making changes that will adjust the company for the new year is really important. Make 2017 the year your business ascends to the top of the tree. Here are some of the best things you can do that your business needs to succeed in 2017.

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Switch to Green

You have to look at some of the best ways of making savings and making sure your company is more sustainable. You can make your brand more attractive by switching to go green. There are a few ways you can do this, and it’s good to start off small with something like recycling and conserving power. Then you can start working up to more ambitious and wide-reaching ideas. Things like eco-friendly LED lighting and solar energy are really crucial for the future of the business. And they make you a more attractive prospect to clients as well as saving you money at the same time

Update Your System

You've got to make sure you do as much as possible to update and modernize your company. And the way to do that is to look at bringing the whole business onto a digital platform. Is there anything that isn't yet virtual that could or should be? It’s likely that there are a few extra things you can do that will make your company more contemporary. For instance, you might think about implementing Cloud computing or document conversion services for the business. These give you the chance to improve all the digital aspects of the business. Update your system and you will learn to enjoy the benefits of a well-run digital business.

Revamp the Website

Your website is one of the most important aspects of running a company. This legitimizes the company and allows you to attract clients. A poorly designed website is going to result in failure, so you have to focus on what you can do to improve the company as much as possible. Revamping the website at the turn of a new year is always a good idea. There is nothing worse than having a website that looks tired and outdated. You have to present the best possible site for your business in order to attract customers as often as you can. Hire a web design team to make sure your website is always as good as it can possibly be.

2017 is a time of change. The world is going to be hugely different so you should make changes to your company as well. There are so many things you could do, and it depends on what you want to achieve for the business. So, consider the areas that you feel need to be worked on, and you can start to implement changes here. Your company will benefit from it, and you will become a much more successful brand.     

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Do You Really Need To Do That? 4 Tasks You Can Outsource

Do You Really Need To Do That? 4 Tasks You Can Outsource

When you are setting up your own business, you will find that you have a lot of things on your plate! In the first few years of your new business, you will be responsible for pretty much everything that needs doing. Especially if you aren’t in a position to hire any full-time staff just yet. But that’s no reason to start getting stressed out. After all, you can always outsource some of these tasks. In fact, there are many important tasks that you may well be better off outsourcing from the beginning. Interested to know which tasks are worth outsourcing? Read on to find out about the four most common ones!

Do You Really Need To Do That? 4 Tasks You Can OutsourceFinance

There isn’t much point trying to take care of your business’s finances entirely on your own. If you don’t have much experience in this, there is a good chance you could make a mistake and end up getting in the tax man’s bad books! Thankfully, hiring an accountant shouldn’t cost you too much. And they will be able to keep your books in perfect order. You also won’t have to worry too much about filing your taxes. Simply send your accountant all your information and they will do the difficult sums for you!

Digital Marketing

These days online marketing is everything. Unfortunately, if you don’t have all the right IT and computer skills, this may seem like a very daunting task indeed! But don’t worry, there are plenty of people who can take care of this for you. For instance, if you outsource all of your online tasks and marketing jobs to an ecommerce agency, web designer, and social media specialist to help you get even more traffic to your website. You’ll soon find that once you hand over your digital marketing to the experts, your online presence will start to increase and become very influential!

Legal

Some firms try and handle all their legal stuff on their own. This is perfectly fine if you have plenty of legal experience. However, if you don’t, this is a surefire way to give yourself a huge headache! Why not take the easy route, and simply hire a legal expert to take care of this? They will be able to provide you and your business with professional legal protection and will also be able to step in if you need any quick legal advice or action.

Human Resources

Finally, you should also consider outsourcing all the HR processes in your company. An HR contract worker will be able to take care of your entire recruitment process. Not only that, though, but they will also be able to draft up any potential documents that you may need. You will also find that outsourcing your HR tasks will work out a lot cheaper than hiring an entire team to make up a human resource department.

Outsourcing can really revolutionize your business. Once you start outsourcing all of the above, you will certainly notice the benefits and may want to start outsourcing even more areas in your business!

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Try Chromebook for a Look at the Future of Computing

If you only buy one gift for yourself or others this holiday season, make it a Chromebook to stay safe online. They’re going to be the future of computer use. Educational institutions are shifting to Chromebooks and no longer investing in Windows or Apple computers. They have the advantage of being simple to use, while offering a very secure operating system. Chromebooks are revolutionizing the way we think and use computers.

Chrome OS was launched six years ago and the system has steadily been gaining converts. The cost and price point make them perfect for schools. Users have access to the Share to Classroom extension that connects all students in the classroom to the same webpage.

They’re equally at home in the office, featuring the best of Google and an array of apps for creating documents, spreadsheets and presentations. At home, users can stream in crystal clarity, download music, play games and engage in all their normal activities at blazing speeds.

The OS integrates exceptionally well with existing technologies and provides a superior level of security on multiple levels. The company says the OS is so secure, users can eliminate antivirus software. That’s particularly important in a time when hackers everywhere, not just in cosmopolitan cities. Even those in rural areas must safeguard against the unscrupulous.

Chromebooks come in all sizes and styles to accommodate anyone. They’re light, thin, portable, and offer extreme versatility. Depending upon the chosen model, they flip from a tablet to a laptop. Prices begin at as little as $149 and the operating system is available on multiple brands, ranging from Acer and Dell and to Samsung and Toshiba.

The computers utilize the Chrome OS with cloud storage so you don’t need as much RAM, which significantly increases operational speeds. The hard drives are smaller and you get 100 GB of Google Drive storage free for two years.

The security measures alone make Chromebooks a prime choice. They combine all the computing power of a bulky desktop or laptop in a small, compact machine that can go with you anywhere. They’re fast, affordable and equally applicable for home, work and school use, while offering state-of-the-art security across multiple levels.

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