How Will Mobile Apps Make Business Easier

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The field of mobile apps is growing as we speak, mostly in two different ways. One way is the app development market that employs millions of people globally. The other way mobile apps affect the modern business realm is their use and application (sic!) for various business purposes. As new technologies are being developed, they’re also finding their way to mobile implementation. So, let’s read a bit more about the further potential of mobile apps in the world of AI, AR and other tech innovations.

 

1) Artificial intelligence and mobile apps

Smartphones, tablets, and wearables already function via smart software tools that can learn some of the patterns established by their users. However, this is only the tip of an iceberg. In other words, AI will change the market of mobile apps.

For starters, our living and work habits will be memorized and gathered by the means of AI. In turn, this will enable their creators and mobile providers to prepare various ready-made offers for our daily routines. Since many of our decisions and actions will be anticipated, all these tech innovations should lead to a more productive work day and well-organized free time.

Apart from that, app developers will have a chance to use these AI-collected data to do QA testing. As a result, they’ll save more time that can be invested in solving complex UX and functionality problems. AI features will be here to do the tiring coding tasks and analyze the UX-input gathered from customers.

Nevertheless, all these innovations could have negative effects on our privacy if our private data aren’t collected and stored in accordance with the legal guidelines. That’s why every app developer will need to take into consideration the GDPR act. Still, if you follow these rules, you’ll benefit from these tech innovations, including the AI-features.

 

2) Augmented reality in business apps

The growth of eCommerce industry has taken the global retail market by storm. Most renowned vendors already use apps, in addition to their business websites, to make their products available for shopping on the go.

Things are moving even faster today, especially with the introduction of augmented reality in eCommerce.

The greatest benefit of AR in this context is the ability to use its features to make shopping even simpler and less expensive for customers. For instance, Amazon has introduced AR-features in their app. What you can do here is simply project the item you’d like to buy on this website in the space you’d like to place it.

Similarly, car dealers are also taking the plunge into AR in their everyday work. Car buyers don’t have to go round countless car shops these days. They can simply use AR-features via dealers’ mobile apps to try new vehicles. Read more about these AR-trends in the article on The Drum website.

The downside of AR is that it’s still expensive for many SMBs. However, this will change sooner than we might expect, which will enhance the productivity of smaller business enterprises.

 

3) Accounting benefits of mobile apps

Small business owners often have issues with accounting demands. From their in-house books to bank accounts, to tax returns, more often than not they omit to process some data. These mistakes can result in inaccurate accounting data and financial penalties from the tax authorities.

The good news is that there are literally thousands of accounting mobile apps that will make your business life easier.

Still, this large number of apps calls for caution. Naturally, the best way to avoid any risks in this field is to use the mainstream apps, such as QuickBooks or FreshBooks. Both these tools have top-notch apps, plus they also have distinguished cloud features which makes them perfect for new business owners.

Apart from that, you can use modern accounting tools on your phone to simplify the payment procedure. In line with that, it’s wise to keep an online invoice maker at the touch of a finger. Every time you need to cope with larger orders or payments, you can issue an invoice in no time and speed up the purchase.

 

4) Increased productivity with mobile apps

Mobile apps have already improved our work productivity. Take only the accounting apps described in the previous paragraph. If you can use them on your mobile on the go, they enable you to deal with the business paperwork when commuting home from work or when you’re waiting in line in a supermarket.

Moreover, mobile apps enable SMB-owners and their workers to constantly communicate about their projects. What’s more, many project management tools come with mobile apps, as well. So, you have all-in-one solutions for work organization, time management and data share. Now imagine how advanced all these tools will get when AI, AR and other cutting-edge tech features become fully implemented in them.

Also, using mobile apps in various business ventures enables their owners and employees to collaborate remotely. This option opens an immense number of possibilities for employment, cooperation and better connectivity in terms of business productivity and operability. In the future, these features will lead to further improvements when it comes to work conditions and efficiency.

 

Conclusion

The number of mobile users is already counted in billions. The advancements in the production of smart devices and apps will lead to further growth in these figures. The improvements of mobile apps develop simultaneously with the number of mobile users. The combo of these two trends will produce a more engaging and inspiring work environment in the future, which will yield benefits for business owners, their employees, and, finally, the users of their services. That’s why we should all be looking forward to the app-enhanced business future.

 

This blog post was written by our guest,  Mark who is a biz-dev hero at Invoicebus which you can also follow on Twitter

Prediction Markets- How Can They Affect Us?

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Every time you enter a contract where you have to buy something in the future, you are entering a ‘futures contract.’ Where you agree to sell an item in the future because you think it will be more valuable, that’s a prediction market. Lately, prediction markets have been on the rise in both stocks and cryptocurrencies, and different investors have had divergent opinions.

How Prediction Markets work

In the stocks and commodities industry and even with Bitcoin as well, prediction markets are standardized. Each prediction contract made is specific to all the parameters involved. In a typical prediction market, the contract must specify the following:

  • The unit being traded
  • How the settlement will be made
  • The currency to be used
  • The quality of items being traded and the amount being traded

In the cryptocurrency sector, futures have been changing the way investors approach the cryptocurrency. Prediction markets allow investors to predict Bitcoin’s prices without even owning it. While this may be good news for traders who want to avoid the hassles involved with owning the cryptocurrency, it lowers Bitcoin’s liquidity.

Cryptocurrencies naturally increase in value as their demand goes up. However, if investors are able to invest in a coin without ‘physically’ owning it, this means that Bitcoin is actually not having increased adoption.

Do Prediction Markets Affect Cryptocurrencies Negatively?

Bitcoin prediction markets became popular late in 2017 after the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) introduced the concept on their exchange. One day after the announcement, Bitcoin’s price surged by 10%.

Within two weeks, top cryptocurrency exchanges like GDAX, Kraken, HitBTC, and Bitstamp also introduced prediction markets, driving Bitcoin’s value upwards to hit an all-time high of $19,000. When the futures contracts matured, something expected happened: Bitcoin’s value dropped by 72% within the first two weeks of January 2018, settling at $6,000.

Today, Bitcoin’s price is valued at the same range it was prior to the introduction of futures, $7,700. The introduction of prediction markets may have driven Bitcoin’s value upwards, but the price later underwent a market correction.

Although prediction markets affected Bitcoin’s price and a correction later happened, forces other than futures seems to have more impact on the price of Bitcoin. Read this article to learn more about prediction markets in the cryptocurrency industry.

Effects of Prediction Markets in General

Short-term Rise in Value

One of the most consistent changes noticed after the introduction of prediction markets in any industry is that the value of commodities involved increase suddenly. When gold futures were introduced in 1974, the price surged from less than $300 for a kilo of gold to $400 in just three months. Three months later, gold’s value went down again, probably because people dumped the asset.

In nearly all markets, the introduction of futures almost always leads to more demand for the commodity. However, after investors sell their futures contracts, a market correction occurs.

Demand for Commodities

Prediction markets may be a specialty of the experienced investor, but they always tend to drive demand for commodities to a great extent. Investors love to make predictions, and if they are certain they could make money out of it, they will purchase the commodity involved.

Bitcoin, for example, was valued at just above $7,400 when rumors emerged that the Chicago Board Exchange would introduce Bitcoin futures. Within a week of the rumors, Bitcoin’s value had risen to more than $10,000. Many institutional investors, who previously have always been wary of cryptocurrencies, quickly adopted the cryptocurrency.

High Volatility

With extremely high demand for any product comes a market correction. This has occurred and reoccurred in different stock markets, commodities and with Bitcoin as well. Last year, when Bitcoin moved from just $7000 to $19000 in one month, its price suddenly moved down to $6000 in the next 30 days.

If today a cryptocurrency exchange announces that they will offer prediction markets for a less popular coin like Zcash, its demand will suddenly increase. However, once they buy contracts and they mature, the coin’s value is likely to go back once again, leading to huge profits or losses to those on the wrong side of prediction markets.

Greater Convenience for Investors

Prediction markets are a breath of fresh air for many investors. For one, futures are conducted in the most convenient manner for investors. If the markets are made for commodities like gold, investors only need to sign contracts using their cash. They don’t have to own physical gold to enter futures contracts.

With more investors feeling confident about trading, demand for the commodities definitely increase. In the long term, prediction markets tend to improve the liquidity of commodities and assets. However, as studies have often shown, they don’t have a great impact on any industry on their own. Traditional forces of demand and supply have the biggest impact on the prices of commodities and digital assets.

Disrupting Industries

Like most financial instruments, prediction markets keep on evolving. In sports and casino gambling, it’s now possible to make predictions of live events so that your contract matures within minutes or hours. For example, you can bet the outcome of a basketball game while it happens.

In the blockchain industry, prediction markets are evolving by eliminating the intermediary companies. Instead of making predictions on a website, different investors can predict the outcome of games, events or market prices directly on a blockchain platform. Their funds are held by smart contracts, and winners get their rewards automatically after the outcome of the event is determined.

Information Gathering

One of the most underrated impacts of prediction markets is their ability to influence people’s decisions. If a market asks people to bet against the outcome of a football game and 70% of the investors predict team A will win, other investors are likely to place the same bet.

If 80% of investors make a prediction that certain crypto will drop in value, a lot of investors are likely to short sell the same coin because of the influence of prediction markets. On a broader scale, prediction markets have always been used as the benchmark of making financial decisions by lots of companies, governments, and investors.

In Conclusion

Prediction markets, like any financial instruments, may have an impact on trading markets from time to time. However, on their own, these markets don’t have such a huge impact as to affect the long-term price movements of stocks, assets or commodities.

 

This blog post was written by our guest, Ronny Martelli from Exposureland.com

How AI Can Improve Customer Engagement

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How AI Can Improve Customer Engagement

Success in business can be measured in happy customers. Aside from your product or service offerings, showing consumers you appreciate them, hear them, and are interested in providing them with the best customer service possible, will not only help you retain current customers but also gain new ones. This, in short, is called good “customer engagement”. Various methods and tools have become available in recent years to best optimize customer engagement. The most recent game changer has come in the form of artificial intelligence. Because AI can provide tremendous benefits with minimal effort, businesses of all sizes, in various fields, are taking full advantage of what it has to offer. In fact, according to a Pegasystems survey on customer engagement, one hundred percent of top-performing companies are currently using AI in some fashion. For those interested in following that lead, we’re outlining ways in which AI can improve customer engagement.

Though the general public may not be entirely aware of it, use of AI is already incredibly common. While only thirty-four percent of people think they use AI, the reality is that eighty-four percent of us are interacting with some form of artificial intelligence on a daily basis. This statistic is good news when it comes to placating consumers who fear or negatively view the use of AI in business. Considering the technology can hugely benefit a consumer’s experience, education is key. From better product offers to faster response times and more relevant messaging, AI’s power to anticipate and meet customer needs is a win for us all.

Properly engaging with your customers begins with understanding them. Knowing the answer to a few simple questions such as: who they are, what they want, what they can afford, their pain-points, and what platforms they communicate on; gives you a running start to improved connections. Through machine learning and AI technology companies are capable of collecting and analysing enormous amounts of data that can provide the answers to these questions to create better customer experiences with each interaction.

An increasingly popular tool for bettering customer engagement is the chatbot. These virtual assistants go hand-in-hand with customer service as more and more companies recognize their value and begin implementing them.

Rapid Response

Unlike human customer service representatives, chatbots can work 24/7 and are capable of handling a high volume of requests without the need to spend time searching for answers. This helps reduce service time up to fivefold, improving customer support, and reducing operating costs by as much as sixty six percent.

Proactive Interaction

Typically, companies engage with customers passively, responding to inquiries rather than starting them. Chatbots reopen the gates of communication by beginning conversations on their own, and share useful information with customers. Things like new product offers, blog entries and so on. Over time, this leads to greater personalization as Chatbots take in personal information on a customer, and offer them more targeted suggestions.

Another aspect of improved customer engagement is hyper-personalization. Consumers today want to feel connected to the brands they buy from and you can meet that request by leveraging AI. Capturing data on prospects is nothing new for businesses, however with AI and machine learning marketers can analyze current and historical facts to perfectly structure the most relevant message to each individual. Knowing what customers are thinking and saying about your brand creates opportunities for engaging those consumers on the topics they’re interested in, while communicating through the platform they prefer.

Particularly with a younger audience, positive customer engagement is essential. Well-educated on technology, the younger generations know what businesses are capable of, and because of that, they expect authentic, meaningful, and responsive interactions. AI can help you meet these needs effectively and efficiently resolving complaints and inquiries 24-hours a day.

 

The guest post was written by Sara a.k.a. Digital Diva, Co-founder of Enlightened Digital who you can follow as well on Twitter.

What will be left of Bitcoin when the hype ends

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There is a great deal of real value in some cryptocurrency technology

There are a number of overlapping technologies involved in understanding cryptocurrencies. Currency itself is a concept which people deal with every day but may not have considered more deeply than the level required to transact a purchase. Behind cryptocurrencies lie blockchains, a second level of detail. There are now cryptocurrency phones, which connect to standard phone networks using standard data plans and can help you conduct your next generation currency trading from wherever you happen to be. These things are all happening at the same time as other technological marvels – from The Internet Of Things, to 5G, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and beyond. It can hardly be a surprise when people turn off from considering these things, given the overlapping complexity they present.

Few doubt that much of the talk in the media and industry is based on hype around these new technologies. The question is, where does the real value begin. And sitting underneath Bitcoin and its competitors (the 1500 or so direct alternative cryptocurrencies that Bitcoin has.)

The real value when Bitcoin is done is in Blockchains

A Blockchain is simply a distributed ledger  a list of who owns what asset, which is stored in multiple places – on multiple computers – at once. The distributed nature of the chain is what give them their value. At a principal level, Blockchains serve many of the purposes that banks currently do, they provided a medium both ends of a transaction can trust to act fairly. They also neatly sidestep many of the problematic aspects of banking, however. They can perform a host of useful functions beyond recording who owns what Bitcoin. They are hard to hack, for example – because hacking them would require multiple parallel successful attacks (on every blockchain miner in the system at once.)

Blockchains can have intelligence and decision making built in to them, in a way that current asset ledgers do not. Since they are computer and therefore algorithmically based, ‘IF / THEN’ statements can be built in to them – so called ‘smart contracts’. For example, once a Blockchain received a reliable notification that ‘money has been paid’ and ‘identity is confirmed’, they could transact legal ownership of an asset such as a house. This sort of facility cuts out a collection of middlemen, within the housing chain, and provides transparently reasonable terms, which cannot be interfered with and with which everyone involved can agree, before the process starts.

Blockchains then are more useful than cryptocurrencies and are likely to be around long after Bitcoin has been relegated to the bubbles of history. Cryptocurrencies require a Blockchain to survive, but a Blockchain does not require a cryptocurrency to function.

Where could I invest in Blockchains?

Ripple is the most successful Blockchain company in the world at the moment. The publicly traded company has seen its share price grow even more than Bitcoin’s value, following successful trials of their technology. It’s not hard to imagine Ripple, or another Blockchain product being used to store and provide reliable proof of some of the most valuable and currently difficult to manage aspects of our lives.

A Ripple Blockchain could be used, for example, to provide proof of identity with a digital passport, digital birth certificates or digital driving license. Other assets, like car ownership, could also be stored in a Blockchain making them easier to transact and cheaper to administer. Governments will be particularly interested in lowering the cost of overseeing these key life documents.

Blockchains are not, however, a panacea. As they stand have one major drawback – the enormous amount of energy and reasonable amount of time required to transact something through them. Solutions are being worked on.

Bringing it all together

Even Warren Buffet has called Bitcoin ‘Rat poison squared’. Buffet is one of the world’s smartest and most consistently successful investors but he is saying something which is common sense. Cryptocurrencies essentially amount to private companies printing the sovereign currencies of the countries of the world. When Bitcoin sells $3bn of cryptocurrency, they are effectively adding that amount to the money supply. Bitcoins are also much harder to tax than existing currencies. Governments simply will not allow private companies to produce currencies which undermine their ability to usefully influence the

Given the huge profits made by many of the world’s banks, regulators in key countries are closely watching Blockchains to offer some long needed innovation in the field. Long after Bitcoin has crashed, Blockchains will be around and providing real, measurable value, to the economy and us.

 

This guest post was written by Ralf Llanasas from What Phone.

How App Developers Are Planning To Employ AI To Enhance Mobile App Development

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Despite being regarded as an emerging technology, it is quite interesting to see how artificial intelligence (AI) is influencing mobile application development, impacting the way people communicate, affecting the society, and probably changing the world. Obviously, the growth of artificial intelligence is already causing a transformative change in the application development space. No doubt, if everything that this emerging technology development is believed to accomplish turns out to become a reality, then it will surely have a huge impact on human lives.

It’s no secret that despite the giant strides achieved in the mobile industry with app development, Indian app developers are still having a hard time meeting internal demands for building applications. In a bid to effectively streamline programming and meet business needs and demands, several application development teams in India are already augmenting their efforts with co-developers of AI to not only enhance growth and development in the industry but to also ensure effective data cleansing and organization, agile product management, and quality assurance.

As part of efforts to enable Indian app developers to focus on design and development tasks that are more closely related to users’ needs, artificial intelligence co-developers are stepping in to handle low-level routine tasks like infrastructure and other peripheral tasks. However, there is every tendency for this new emerging technology to take on much higher-level work in the nearest future. Here are some common areas of app development in which artificial intelligence (AI) would flourish in years to come.

 

Application development

Just so you know, many Indian app developers are already getting involved with the use of AI to enhance application development. Basically, this new initiative is helping to transform the way and manner most app development companies run their development processes. Though they’ve not gotten there yet, it is obvious that mobile application developers are on the right path to employing AI to automate quality assurance (QA).

This implies that in the nearest future, apps will be able to run tests on themselves, identify bugs and get them fixed with very little direct input from users. Some Indian app developers opine that this new technology will allow apps to be able to modify and run updates that can better suit any changes or updates regularly performed by an operating system (OS). Basically, this will help to cut down costs significantly as such self-optimizing apps will be able to transform themselves to function efficiently with the firmware updates of any mobile device.

 

User Experience (UX)

It may interest you to know that for several years now, artificial intelligence (AI) have been available. However, the technology had not attained the level of impacting lives directly until now. Nevertheless, there is still much to achieve with AI as this is not exactly how it is expected to function. Until it gets to the true next-gen version there is still very much for developers to achieve.

Apart from impacting the development of apps, AI is also affecting user experience. Though at the moment, achieving this is still not close possible, however, there is so much developers can do with AI particularly when it comes transforming user experience (UX). Before now, tech devices such as PCs were designed to work on users’ instruction – i.e. they can only perform based on what they are commanded to do. But when AI begins to identify those things humans want to do and does them without any intrusion then things will begin to turn around.

Imagine an AI-powered app that watches a user’s privacy actively. While it is not overly intrusive or strict, it is capable of monitoring events and actions of other applications on a device and can even get to know when these apps are trying to retrieve the information they do not want to share. In a bid to get other devices in the know as to what services are currently ongoing, artificial intelligence will enable other applications installed on a user’s device to ascertain what the user wants to do such as searching for a location to visit so that push notifications about special destinations and hotels can be necessarily forwarded for consideration.

 

Automation

Since people are more concerned about making a living, automation of jobs has been on the job radar making headlines. With AI, Indian app developers will be able to effectively integrate machine learning into the app development process to automate code preparation, validation, and generation. With this development, developers and designers will spend quality time solving difficult tasks rather than spending time on coding. Basically, it’s all about making smart devices think by getting them integrated with sophisticated artificial intelligence.

No doubt, there seem to be much to expect from artificial intelligence and with such promises, achieving these does not appear any easy for Indian app developers. First and foremost, mobile application developers need to understand clearly what AI-enabled apps have to offer both from the structural and marketing standpoint. In today’s competitive world, it is highly significant for app developers to meet the users’ requirement or demand to ensure adequate compliance. To this end, there is every need for programmers to be highly flexible in developing these apps.

 

What does the future hold?

Though AI can be said to be currently out of the state of infancy, as there is already an overwhelming interest from many companies looking to develop their apps with it, however, it is important for Indian app developers to know that the emerging technology is still on the process of maturing. Programmers can expect the use of chatbots to mature relatively quickly in the coming years as they are better constrained and deal more with text interactions than interactive voice response (IVR) that deals with voice recognition.

Ultimately, it is the dream of every modern app developer to write apps for smart devices with algorithms that adjust based on observed behavior. Though there is still very much work to be done on this, it is good to know that the turning point or point of change is near, as developers are not relenting in any way to create efficient AI-driven apps.

 

This guest post was written by Kenneth Evans from Top App Development CompaniesYou can follow more on Twitter from Kenneth and Top App.

Earth Hour 2018 and going green at work

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Started in Sydney, Australia in 2007, 24th March marks the annual event of Earth Hour. Founded by WWF and now a global movement, which brings millions together across the world to call for greater action on climate change. Everyone is asked across the globe to turn off their lights at 8:30pm (local times) for an hour to show they care about the future of our planet. From the Sydney Opera House and the Eiffel Tower to Buckingham Palace and Edinburgh Castle, cities, towns, and communities like yours across the world switched out their lights and came together for an hour, to join a global show of support for action on climate. You can see some of the extraordinary photos and videos captured this year on their hashtag #EarthHour.

This infographic shows the highlights from Earth Hour this year, 2018.

Earth Hour 2018 - Infographic highlights

 

We asked a guest of ours, Barbara Herring to give us some tips to being more environmentally friendly and green in the workplace.

 

10 Effective Tips to Go Green at Work

Over the past couple of years, people have mainly been emphasizing so much about the need to go green mostly at home. Nothing has been said about the offices where most of us spend a good amount of time in. However, in recent times, a new trend is developing.

More and more people are being encouraged to put measures at their workplaces that reduce the carbon footprint. Any typical office is able to provide numerous opportunities for being green. This is something that will be very friendly to the ecosystem.

It could be adjusting the lighting system or using different supplies. There are these and much more. When doing so, you end up saving on operation costs while being more environment-friendly. If you are wondering where to start from, here are 10 tips to go green at work.

 

1. Switch Off Lights Not in Use

The lighting in most offices accounts for a bulk of the total energy consumption. Your workplace should therefore not have lights left on unnecessarily. There is absolutely no point in leaving the lights in the washroom or staffroom on the whole day.

Better still, you could use energy saving bulbs or the LED ones to conserve more energy. During the day, you can as well utilize the natural light by using light colors for the wall paints. These are glossier and reflect more light.

 

2. Use Green Printing Practices

This is one practice that is mostly ignored. If you want to go green in the office, insist on using recycled papers when printing documents that are not very official in nature. Alternatively, always print on both sides of the paper when it is possible to do so.

Another issue you can avoid is printing unnecessarily. If the work can be handled on-screen or online, then do so. Additionally, strive to print more screens per page. This saves on more paper as compared to a single screen. Lastly, if possible, use a multifunction printer that performs other tasks as well.

 

3. Turn Off Any Peripheral Not Being Used

Besides turning off the lights, devices and peripherals also need to be turned off when not in use. Scanners, speakers, video cards, printers, etc. continue to use power when on but not being used. Make it up to you to unplug these so as to save on energy.

Power adaptors, battery chargers all use power even after the devices have completely been charged. For a more efficient switching off and on, you can use a power strip to act as the centralized turn off point.

 

4. Manage the Office Supplies

For your office supplies, purchase green supplies such as pens that can be refilled in place of those that go straight to landfills after use. Another great tip would be to use the so-called staple-less staplers.

If it is possible, buy products made from recycled or post-consumer materials. You also need to eliminate those supplies without any green alternatives. Alternatively, recycle as many supplies as possible.

 

5. Manage Your Computers in a Green Manner

Turning off your computers when you do not need them will not hurt anyone in any way. And if you are not going to use the computer for a while, then you need to ensure they are in a standby mode.

This mode minimizes the power usage while saving you the time of switching them back on. Always strive to keep your computer components up to date with the latest technologies. Monitors that use less power continue to be regularly produced.

 

6. Go Digital When Possible

In the office, you need to ask yourself a couple of questions before producing printouts. Ask yourself this question; is it really necessary to print out copies of the meeting agenda for every member? Not really. Simply incorporate all these in a slideshow.

Or you could simply send it via mail. Manuals and any other materials could be posted online rather than being distributed as hard copies. Generally, strive to make the office paperless.

 

7. Allow for Telecommunication Once in a While

Is there any reason why employees cannot work from home? In the spirit of going digital, employees can have an opportunity to work from home and still be just as productive. Technologies such as video conferencing come in handy here.

By not commuting to work, various environmental benefits are realized. For instance, the air quality will be improved, employees will incur fewer expenses, and the roads end up requiring less maintenance. Alternatively, employees could travel green by avoiding cars and buses, plus the depressing traffic jams.

 

8. Consider Using Renewable Sources of Energy

Solar panels can be a little expensive to set up for your office needs, or they could be insufficient in a number of ways. However, once you have set the panels and the whole system is up, your office will enjoy the benefits of a green and environmentally safe operations.

Renewable energy provides your office with a long-term saving plan, and you will in no time realize returns on your investment. Better still, certain localities provide incentives to solar users as well as being able to sell their excess power to power companies.

 

9. Go Portable with Air Conditioners

In your office’s pursuit to keep temperatures down in summer, most people go for the centralized air conditioning system, which technically uses more power. Instead, you can use less money by saving on power by using the portable alternatives.

These options allow employees to control the temperatures of their workplace to a temperature of their choice. They can as well switch them off when not needed.

 

10. Incorporate Office Plants

Having a plant on your desk does not only make your workstation more appealing, but it also makes your work area greener quite literally. Research has shown that plants absorb pollutants around them and release oxygen into the area.

Office plants will, therefore, help to improve the air quality around you and make you breathe fresher air at work while in your office. This will make you more productive in the process. Just ensure you do not over water these plants, as you would be beating their purpose in the first place.

When choosing a plant, ensure it is office appropriate and would not look awkward after a while.

Conclusion

Going green is very possible in your office, as long as you have everybody in the office on board. The directive does not have to come from the boss. Even as an employee, you can set out and put these measures in place. If you are boss, ensure you get everybody on board and green the universe together.

 

The guest post was written by Barbara Herring, The Flix.

Storytelling: From Discovery to Delivery

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Are you setting the “visions, values and agenda for an entire generation that is to come”?

I grew up in rural Africa with a rich culture of storytelling and Steve’s words in the quote above resonate deeply with me.

A good storyteller will have a vast tapestry of anecdotes to draw from in order to weave a powerful narrative that will open the hearts and minds and change behaviours of their listeners, incrementally shaping the future with every story.

In my youth, the storytellers would roam from village to village, observing activity, collecting anecdotes and retelling tales in order to help the village elders achieve the behaviours and outcomes they desired. Tales of tragedy would be used as a warning of the dire consequences associated with a certain path of action while stories of hope and prosperity achieved by other villages would motivate new behaviours and actions in an attempt to imitate the same.

I am the current day incarnation of the storytellers of my youth.

I scan the world for TIPS – Technologies, Innovations, Patents and Start-ups and I  contemplate the consequences and implications that these will have on the future of society, industry and the individuals within.

But my villages where I harvest the anecdotes from are vastly dispersed and while I do my best to visit as many as I can in person by attending conferences and exhibitions across the world and speaking to academics and thought leaders and participating in discussions and panels, there is no way I could find and keep track of the stories and snippets from which to weave my narratives without a little help.

OK – without a LOT of help.

 

I have previously made use of a plethora of tools, folders, ad-ins, widgets and whatnots in an attempt to curate order from chaos but was frequently overwhelming and required far too much overhead to sustain.

And then – in May 2016 I overheard a brief snippet of a pitch being delivered to a potential customer browsing an exhibition stand at The Next Web (TNW).  It was something about “content curation” and the fact that they were using my language stopped me in my tracks – I had to investigate further!

The diminutive stand belonged to Cronycle – a platform I’d not yet heard of which was surprising to me as I thought I had tried them all. I moved in closer, steeling myself for the inevitable disappointment associated with much of the “vapourware” I was used to coming across at events like this. I could hardly contain my excitement as the exhibitor stepped me through the capabilities of the fledgling app. It was already a more capable tool than the combination of three or four of the tools I was using, all put together! Of course, in such situations, the correct response is always to act cool and probe for more – you wouldn’t want a start-up to think they had nailed it one now do you?

I eventually left the stand with a casual “I’ll give it a try” and walked off.

At first, I did simply “give it a try”. You must understand that I had already invested hundreds (more like thousands) of hours building up a repository of information from which to create my stories that I tell across the globe to audiences of all sizes. There was a LOT at stake here – my reputation being the most important factor taken into consideration!

The first shock came when I was almost instantly contacted by the COO, Jeremy. He wanted to know if I would be willing to come into their offices in London to explain how I did what I do and how Cronycle could play more of a role in helping me achieve my goals. Then came the second shock – this wasn’t just a customer platitude! Jeremy genuinely listened to what I said and he shared with me his vision of where they were headed.

He had a great story – I bought into it completely!

 

Over the next couple of months the feature drops and enhancements came at a pace I’ve rarely seen in any start-up – and I’ve mentored my fair share of them over the last couple of years.

My days now start with a journey through my digital villages to catch up with the latest happenings – content feeds curated around major topics by Cronycle themselves and those that I have created using a combination of my own sources and a myriad of previously unknown sources surfaced via the Cronycle interface. If I am researching a brand new industry or topic I know I will have relevant content pouring into my feeds within seconds. Cronycle is now my primary discovery tool that I consult before tapping into any other source.

Storytelling discovery on CronycleDiscovery – showing Wired article on board

But discovery is only part of what I do. Curation is arguably of greater importance to me and for the first time ever, this is effortlessly achieved in a single interface. I can “pin” articles, documents and images to “boards” and even upload my own, tagging them for cross-referencing using my own taxonomy. If I worked in a larger organisation as opposed to on my own, I could invite others to comment and discuss and add their views and opinions to enrich the information snippet (yes, I do use this to argue with myself on occasion but we will gloss over that for now).

I later use these boards when I’m invited by a company or event to stand up and tell stories to an audience – drawing from a vast tapestry of anecdotes in order to weave a powerful narrative that will open the hearts and minds and change behaviours of their listeners, incrementally shaping the future with every story I deliver.

Storytelling at a client workshopDelivery – showing Wired article on screen at Customer Experience event

These guys are on a mission to change the way relevant content is uncovered, socialised, curated and repurposed and they are now woven inextricably in my own work from discovery all the way through to delivery.

Go on – give them a try – and see for yourself how you can set the “visions, values and agenda for an entire generation that is to come”.

 

The guest post was written by Andrew Vorster, Innovation Catalyst. You can follow Andrew further on Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

 

 

How to Boost Brand Awareness Using Social Media

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Social media has become a new sub-genre of digital marketing and one of the most effective marketing tools of today. If you own a business and are trying to build the best marketing campaign for your company, including social media marketing is a no-brainer. It will help you extend your audience reach and boost your company’s brand awareness. However, not all platforms are best for promoting your business, which is why you need to determine the most suitable social media channel before you start creating profiles for your company.

The type of services and products you offer affect the social media platform you should focus on, as well as who your target audience is. Understanding each platform’s reach is essential to your social media strategy. Whether you want to gain subscribers, sell products or services, or persuade your audience to a point – they first need to know who you are. So, here is what you can do to leverage the power of social media and boost your company’s brand awareness.

1. Who are the users of each social media platform?

The site Social Media Examiner provides an insight into the type and number of active users of each social media platform: Facebook – 1.86 billion active users; Instagram – 600 million active users; LinkedIn – 500 million active users; and Twitter – 319 million active users.

On Twitter, 22.5% of users are between 25-34 years old, while on Facebook, there’s no dominant age group. When it comes to Instagram, 28% of users are 18-29 years old, 80% of them are outside the U.S., and more than half are women. If you’re on LinkedIn, know that 61% of users are 30-64 years old (people with the most buying power).

With these statistics at hand, businesses looking to target Millennials should create Instagram and Twitter accounts, while those who want to target all-age audiences, or particularly those over 35, should get active on Facebook.

As for LinkedIn, it’s a platform used sporadically. People use it to look for businesses or jobs, or when they’re looking to hire. For most B2C companies, it comes after Instagram/Twitter/Facebook, while B2B companies should focus more efforts on LinkedIn.

2. Provide shareable and relevant content

The Internet is oversaturated with content, and as social media continues to increase rapidly, users get flooded with information and content. In order to stand out, you must create and post content that is relevant to your audience, interesting, informative, and shareable. This will make your brand reputation stronger.

Every piece of content you send out there should support your brand image. Articles, images, videos, and infographics often resonate greatly with audiences. On the other hand, if your audience is over 35, creating memes might reflect poorly on your brand.

Find out which content is likely to gain visibility on social media by looking at your research data. Also, look at your competitors’ content that received good social traction. Instead of trying to build content around unproven topics, create stronger content on the same or similar subjects that goes into more depth.

Also, be sure to use visual content, because articles and posts with images receive a lot more attention than just plain text content. You can use your own custom photos or quality free stock photos, and see the attention they’re able to attract.

3. Connect with influencers

Customers buy from brands they trust the most, in order to choose the best for themselves and be sure that they’ll get the most value for their money. Dozens of brands are advertised to them daily, so how can a small company draw their attention? One of the best options is turning to influencer marketing.

Influencers are people with a large base of followers and are respected in their niche. Depending on your industry, they can be celebrity influencers (with more than a million followers) or micro-influencers (10-100 thousand followers). They invest a lot of work to create quality content in order to build a large community of their brand advocates.

According to a joint study by Annalect and Twitter, about 40% of participants say that they’ve bought a product online after having it recommended by an influencer. Today, customers tend to trust influencers nearly as much as their peers. Influencer marketing allows you to target a specific audience, it provides you with excellent content, is affordable, and easy to track.

4. Promote content through social campaigns

Paid campaigns are another viable option for boosting your company’s brand awareness through social media networks. Campaigns, such as contests, are used by a growing number of brands for gaining visibility. To encourage user participation and ensure that your social media campaigns offer value to all participants, make sure to provide them with valuable incentives.

5. Track, analyze and learn

Finally, you need to track your social media campaign results, study your analytics, and learn how to improve your promotion efforts. Trial and error are one of the best ways to learn what does and what doesn’t work for you, and there’s plenty of room for that on social media.

 

Social media can be a waste of time if not used properly, but when done the right way, it can greatly benefit your business. It is one of the most powerful and tested ways to attract new leads, give your audience a way to connect with your organization, increase your website traffic, provide valuable insights on your customers, and eventually – help strengthen your brand. An effective social media strategy is not set in stone, and you have to learn how to adapt and evolve in order to leverage social networks to boost your company’s brand awareness.

 

 

My name is Raul, editor in chief at Technivorz blog. I have a lot to say about innovations in all aspects of digital technology and online marketing. You can find me on Twitter and Facebook.