Apeel Sciences, the developer of a new technology that makes fruits and vegetables more resistant to spoilage, and Nature’s Pride, one of the largest vendors of avocados and mangos in Europe, are partnering to bring longer-lived avocados to market.
Subject to regulatory approval in the EU, Nature’s Pride said it will integrate Apeel’s plant-based preservation technology into its avocado supply chain — bringing avocados with double the edible shelf life to European homes.
Apeel’s technology takes the naturally occurring chemicals found in the skins and peels of plants and applies it to fresh produce, providing what the company calls “a little extra peel” that slows the rate of water loss and oxidation — which cause vegetables and fruits to spil.
The company says that its produce will stay fresh two to three times longer than untreated produce. Apeel touts that its technology can lead to more sustainable growing practices and less food waste.
Across Europe, 88 million tons of food is thrown out every year, at a cost of 143 billion euros (or roughly $163 billion dollars).
As part of the agreement with Nature’s Pride, Apeel Sciences is introducing a co-branded label with the European fruit supplier.
Founded in 2012 with a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help reduce post-harvest food loss in developing countries that lack access to refrigeration, Apeel Sciences is backed by a slew of marquee investors including Andreessen Horowitz, Viking Global Investors, Upfront Ventures, S2G Ventures, Powerplant Ventures, DBL Partners, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, UK Department for International Development, and The Rockefeller Foundation .
Apple has filed an appeal to overturn a court decision that could ban iPhone sales in China, the company said on Monday, adding that all of its models remain available in its third-largest market.
The American giant is locked in a legal battle in the world’s biggest smartphone market. On Monday, Qualcomm announced that a court in Fujian Province has granted a preliminary injunction banning the import and sales of old iPhone models in China because they violated two patents owned by the American chipmaker.
The patents in question relate to features enabling consumers to edit photos and manage apps on smartphone touchscreens, according to Qualcomm.
“Apple continues to benefit from our intellectual property while refusing to compensate us. These Court orders are further confirmation of the strength of Qualcomm’s vast patent portfolio,” said Don Rosenberg, executive vice president and general counsel of Qualcomm, in a statement.
Apple fought back in a statement calling Qualcomm’s effort to ban its products “another desperate move by a company whose illegal practices are under investigation by regulators around the world.” It also claimed that Qualcomm is asserting three patents they had never raised before, including one which has already been invalidated.
It is unclear at this point what final effects the court injunction will have on Apple’s sales in China.
The case is part of an ongoing global patent dispute between Qualcomm and Apple, which saw the former seek to block the manufacturing and sale of iPhones in China over patent issues pertaining to payments last year.
Qualcomm shares were up 3 percent on Monday. Apple opened down more than 2 percent before closing up 0.7 percent. Citi lowered its Apple price target to $200 a share from $240 a share, saying in a note to investors that while it does not expect China to ban or impose additional tariffs on Apple, “should this occur Apple has material exposure to China.”
The Apple case comes as the tech giant faces intensifying competition in China, which represented 18 percent of its total sales from the third quarter. The American company’s market share in China shrunk from 7.2 percent to 6.7 percent year-over-year in the second quarter as local competitors Huawei and Oppo gained more ground, according to market research firm IDC.
The annual drop is due to Apple’s high prices, IDC suggests, but its name “is still very strong in China” and “the company will fare well should it release slightly cheaper options later in the year.”
Scott Andes is the program director for the National League of Cities City Innovation Ecosystem program.
The more than year-long dance between cities and Amazon for its second headquarters is finally over, with New York City and Washington, DC, capturing the big prize. With one of the largest economic development windfalls in a generation on the line, 238 cities used every tactic in the book to court the company – including offering to rename a city “Amazon” and appointing Jeff Bezos “mayor for life.”
Now that the process, and hysteria, are over, and cities have stopped asking “how can we get Amazon,” we’d like to ask a different question: How can cities build stronger start-up ecosystems for the Amazon yet to be built?
In September 2017, Amazon announced that it would seek a second headquarters. But rather than being the typical site selection process, this would become a highly publicized Hunger Games-esque scenario.
An RFP was proffered on what the company sought, and it included everything any good urbanist would want, with walkability, transportation and cultural characteristics on the docket. But of course, incentives were also high on the list.
Amazon could have been a transformational catalyst for a plethora of cities throughout the US, but instead, it chose two superstar cities: the number one and five metro areas by GDP which, combined, amounts to a nearly $2 trillion GDP. These two metro areas also have some of the highest real estate prices in the country, a swath of high paying jobs and of course power — financial and political — close at hand.
Perhaps the take-away for cities isn’t that we should all be so focused on hooking that big fish from afar, but instead that we should be growing it in our own waters. Amazon itself is a great example of this. It’s worth remembering that over the course of a quarter century, Amazon went from a garage in Seattle’s suburbs to consuming 16 percent — or 81 million square feet — of the city’s downtown. On the other end of the spectrum, the largest global technology company in 1994 (the year of Amazon’s birth) was Netscape, which no longer exists.
The upshot is that cities that rely only on attracting massive technology companies are usually too late.
At the National League of Cities, we think there are ways to expand the pie that don’t reinforce existing spatial inequalities. This is exactly the idea behind the launch of our city innovation ecosystems commitments process. With support from the Schmidt Futures Foundation, fifty cities, ranging from rural townships, college towns, and major metros, have joined with over 200 local partners and leveraged over $100 million in regional and national resources to support young businesses, leverage technology and expand STEM education and workforce training for all.
The investments these cities are making today may in fact be the precursor to some of the largest tech companies of the future.
With that idea in mind, here are eight cities that didn’t win HQ2 bids but are ensuring their cities will be prepared to create the next tranche of high-growth startups.
Austin just built a medical school adjacent to a tier one research university, the University of Texas. It’s the first such project to be completed in America in over fifty years. To ensure the addition translates into economic opportunity for the city, Austin’s public, private and civic leaders have come together to create Capital City Innovation to launch the city’s first Innovation District at the new medical school. This will help expand the city’s already world class startup ecosystem into the health and wellness markets.
Baltimore is home to over $2 billion in academic research, ranking it third in the nation behind Boston and Philadelphia. In order to ensure everyone participates in the expanding research-based startup ecosystem, the city is transforming community recreation centers into maker and technology training centers to connect disadvantaged youth and families to new skills and careers in technology. The Rec-to-Tech Initiative will begin with community design sessions at four recreation centers, in partnership with the Digital Harbor Foundation, to create a feasibility study and implementation plan to review for further expansion.
The 120-acre Buffalo Niagara Medical Center (BNMC) is home to eight academic institutions and hospitals and over 150 private technology and health companies. To ensure Buffalo’s startups reflect the diversity of its population, the Innovation Center at BNMC has just announced a new program to provide free space and mentorship to 10 high potential minority- and/or women-owned start-ups.
Like Seattle, real estate development in Denver is growing at a feverish rate. And while the growth is bringing new opportunity, the city is expanding faster than the workforce can keep pace. To ensure a sustainable growth trajectory, Denver has recruited the Next Generation City Builders to train students and retrain existing workers to fill high-demand jobs in architecture, design, construction and transportation.
With a population of 180,000, Providence is home to eight higher education institutions – including Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design – making it a hub for both technical and creative talent. The city of Providence, in collaboration with its higher education institutions and two hospital systems, has created a new public-private-university partnership, the Urban Innovation Partnership, to collectively contribute and support the city’s growing innovation economy.
Pittsburgh may have once been known as a steel town, but today it is a global mecca for robotics research, with over 4.5 times the national average robotics R&D within its borders. Like Baltimore, Pittsburgh is creating a more inclusive innovation economy through a Rec-to-Tech program that will re-invest in the city’s 10 recreational centers, connecting students and parents to the skills needed to participate in the economy of the future.
Tampa is already home to 30,000 technical and scientific consultant and computer design jobs — and that number is growing. To meet future demand and ensure the region has an inclusive growth strategy, the city of Tampa, with 13 university, civic and private sector partners, has announced “Future Innovators of Tampa Bay.” The new six-year initiative seeks to provide the opportunity for every one of the Tampa Bay Region’s 600,000 K-12 students to be trained in digital creativity, invention and entrepreneurship.
These eight cities help demonstrate the innovation we are seeing on the ground now, all throughout the country. The seeds of success have been planted with people, partnerships and public leadership at the fore. Perhaps they didn’t land HQ2 this time, but when we fast forward to 2038 — and the search for Argo AI, SparkCognition or Welltok’s new headquarters is well underway — the groundwork will have been laid for cities with strong ecosystems already in place to compete on an even playing field.
Skelter Labs was founded in 2015 by founded by Ted Cho, the former engineering site director at Google Korea. It started out developing apps and services that made use of AI but then it pivoted to focus fully on AI tech, which it licenses out to companies and corporations that it works with. Now it is eying opportunities in Japan and parts of Southeast Asia — which has a cumulative population of over 600 million — with Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia specifically mentioned.
The startup raised a $9 million seed round earlier this year, and Golden Gate has added an additional check to that round which came from KakaoBrain — the AI unit of Korean messaging giant Kakao — Kakao’s K-Cute venture arm, Stonebridge Ventures and Lotte Homeshopping, the TV and internet shopping business owned by multi-billion dollar retail giant Lotte.
More specifically, Seoul-based Skelter Labs works on AI in the context of vision and speech, conversation, and context recognition, while it goes after customers in areas that include manufacturing, customer operations, device interaction, and consumer marketing.
The startup doesn’t disclose customers, but it previously told TechCrunch that its vision is to bring its machine learning technology to daily life and schedules. Possible examples of that might be could include “intelligent virtual assistant technology that can be widely applied to various areas including smart speakers, smartphones, home appliances, automobiles and wearable devices.”
In a statement, Skelter Labs CEO Cho paid tribute to the VC’s strong footprint in Southeast Asia that he said could open doors for the company. Startups in Golden Gate’s portfolio that might be of particular interest could include mobile listings startup Carousell, auto portal Carro, fashion commerce site Grana and online furnishings seller Hipvan.
Note: The original version of this article has been corrected. Skelter Labs has announced an extension to its previous round not a new round. Apologies for any confusion caused.
We’re not going to suddenly see a robot takeover in 2019. However, we will see the continued improvement and application of artificial intelligence in marketing.
As software gets better, the strengths of AI remain: taking in and processing large amounts of information very quickly and performing tedious tasks without complaint. Next year, we will see marketers ramp up the integration of the application of artificial intelligence in marketing.
Here are some of the areas you can expect to see AI gain ground in marketers’ everyday routines:
Was this article written by artificial intelligence? Would you even be able to tell if it was?
No, the current and near future of AI does not allow for writing fully creative and narrative pieces. However, many of the sports and finance articles you read are already authored by artificial intelligence. AI is helping marketers speed up and optimize many areas of content creation.
As video takes over your Facebook newsfeed, AI is helping speed up the process of creating videos in a major way. Antonio Otalvaro, CEO of Raw Shorts, sees the value in automation and efficiency and knows that creators are mainly looking for a way to cut down on tedious tasks in their workflow. With video creation becoming faster and easier, he says we’re going to see people in all industries gravitate towards video as the communication medium of the future.
In 2019, you can expect to see a lot more marketers adopting AI for testing ad campaigns. There are a lot of pieces to an ad campaign, like slightly different wording, layout, and background images. An AI program can be given a handful of variables and can test them to see which ones perform best.
One of the more tedious parts of any marketer’s day is creating and writing internal communication. This includes summary reports and descriptions of their projects. This can be automated fairly easily, as they typically follow a set format and need minimal input from the creator.
Marketers can use AI to collect and analyze tons of data from email campaigns, ads, website visits, and so much more. All of these data help to create much more specific and targeted customer segments.
AI will assist marketers in understanding their customers’ behavior better than ever before. Marketers will start utilizing AI to engage existing customers better by tailoring their experience with the brand.
AI can process information much faster than any human. It can take in tons of data about a visitor in no time at all. Then, it can use that information to present the visitor with what he or she is more likely to interact and engage with.
Marketers will also begin applying AI to retain customers. They can implement intelligent software that can learn when a customer is about to leave the page or abandon the brand for a competitor. When this happens, marketers can instruct the software to implement strategies that will help keep the customer engaged and discourage them from leaving. These steps can increase retention.
The knowledge AI provides about customers will help marketers target them across all channels more effectively. In ad campaigns, AI can help with targeting viewers based on huge amounts of data, like location, demographics, and what device they are using.
It can help optimize mobile marketing and make it easier for marketers to do the difficult job of demographic research. By showing them a specific, personalized, targeted message based on that information, they have a better chance at optimizing that interaction.
These insights lead to better-targeted segments:
Instead of a 22 to 35-year old female, she’s a 26 to 29-year old female who uses Facebook, loves cats, and is shopping around to invest in quality pieces to create her capsule wardrobe.
The Future of AI
We’ve seen the future of AI. It’s faster, more efficient, and more personalized than ever. Marketers will have more time to be creative as they spend less time doing boring and tedious tasks. Targeted and personalized messaging will become easier and much more common as AI helps marketers get to know their customers better and improve interactions between customers and brands.
Japan-based semiconductor firm Renesas — one of the world’s largest supplier of chips for the automotive industry — is scooping up U.S. chip company IDT in a $6.7 billion deal that increases its focus on self-driving technology.
Renesas produces microprocessor and circuits that power devices, and automotive is its core focus. It is second only to NXP on supply, and more than half of its revenue comes from automotive. IDT, meanwhile, includes power management and memory among its products, which focus on wireless networks and the converting and storing of data. Those are two areas that are increasingly important with the growth of connected devices and particularly vehicles which demand high levels of data streaming and interaction.
The acquisition of IDT — which is being made a 29.5 percent on its share price — is set to expand Renesas’ expertise on autonomous vehicles. The firm said it would also broaden its business into the “data economy” space, such as robotics, data centers and other types of connected devices.
Renesas has already demoed self-driving car tech, which puts it into direct competition with the likes of Intel . Last year, the firm paid $3.2 billion to buy up Intersil, which develops technology for controlling battery voltage in hybrid and electric vehicles, and IDT deal pushes it further in that direction.
The IDT deal has been on the table for a couple of weeks after Renesas first revealed its interest in an acquisition last month. It is expected to close in the first half of 2019 following relevant approvals.
What happens when you add AI to food? Surprisingly, you don’t get a hungry robot. Instead you get something like PixFood. PixFood lets you take pictures of food, identify available ingredients, and, at this stage, find out recipes you can make from your larder.
It is privately funded.
“There are tons of recipe apps out there, but all they give you is, well, recipes,” said Tonnesson. “On the other hand, PixFood has the ability to help users get the right recipe for them at that particular moment. There are apps that cover some of the mentioned, but it’s still an exhausting process – since you have to fill in a 50-question quiz so it can understand what you like.”
They launched in August and currently have 3,000 monthly active users from 10,000 downloads. They’re working on perfecting the system for their first users.
“PixFood is AI-driven food app with advanced photo recognition. The user experience is quite simple: it all starts with users taking a photo of any ingredient they would like to cook with, in the kitchen or in the supermarket,” said Tonnesson. “Why did we do it like this? Because it’s personalized. After you take a photo, the app instantly sends you tailored recipe suggestions! At first, they are more or le
ss the same for everyone, but as you continue using it, it starts to learn what you precisely like, by connecting patterns and taking into consideration different behaviors.”
In my rudimentary tests the AI worked acceptably well and did not encourage me to eat a monkey. While the app begs the obvious question – why not just type in “corn?” – it’s an interesting use of vision technology that is definitely a step in the right direction.
Tonnesson expects the AI to start connecting you with other players in the food space, allowing you to order corn (but not a monkey) from a number of providers.
“Users should also expect partnerships with restaurants, grocery, meal-kit, and other food delivery services will be part of the future experiences,” he said.
We are a nation of gadget addicts and knowing how to disconnect from technology isn’t easy for most of us.
These days, it seems if we’re not quadruple-screening with the television, iPad, laptop, and phone, we’re checking relentless WhatsApp pings in meetings, snatching furtive glances at our iPhone’s glow in darkened cinemas and live-tweeting the births of our own children. It’s like the country – in fact, the whole planet – has hit peak internet. While the magic of the world wide web is undeniable, more and more of us are realizing that it might be time to switch off.
Considering a digital detox? Wondering how to disconnect from technology?
There are a few key stages you’ll need to work through if you’re going to survive this challenge but the benefits could be overwhelming. Here goes…
Admit you have a problem
If you’re considering an electronic detox, you’re obviously aware that your level of screen-time is getting ridiculous. It’s truly admitting that you’re an addict that will set you on the path to digital detox success.
While apps like Moment can help you monitor how much time you spend on your phone and how often you pick it up, a simple hand-written list of what gadgets you rely on, and which apps your eyes dart to again and again will help you see just how much technology rules your life. It gives you a chance to fall back in love with a pencil and paper.
Get away from it all
If seriously ousting your gadgets from daily life is a prospect too terrifying to deal with, a tech-free holiday might be your perfect compromise.
Grab some cheap and cheerful throw-away cameras so you won’t be tempted to reach for your phone. Head off to some place where the air is fresh and your biggest distraction will be the moo-ing of cows or the rustle of the breeze.
This digital detox guide by holidaycottages.co.uk gives some serious insight into the potential benefits of powering down.
Kick it old school
On the subject of a notepad and pen, one of the best ways to gently ease yourself from the clutches of gadgets is to rediscover the chilled-out, back-in-the-day alternatives to these apps.
The ‘Notes’ app on your phone can be one, for a start. There’s no purer joy than scribbling yourself a ‘To Do’ list and proudly ticking off the day’s essential tasks.
If Candy Crush is your happy place, a crossword or Sudoku may feel like hard work but after a day or two, your iPhone’s garish screen will seem painfully harsh.
Be ruthless with your rules
Set yourself some clear, manageable boundaries and work from there.
Always checking your messages? Push notifications have to go. At first it’s tough and you may find yourself checking just as much to see what’s going on inside your suddenly silent apps.
Set a time of day when you can catch up on your correspondence. If your Snapchat and Whatsapp are clogged with Kardashians memes or friends using the Impossibly Perfect filter, consider deleting the apps altogether.
Leave your phone in one place and only use it when you need to. It’s better than keeping it with you for every tea-break and toilet trip like some buzzing, bleeping security blanket.
Switch off long before bedtime
Scrolling aimlessly before bedtime is a habit many of us are guilty of, but it’s also a dangerous one.
If you need your evening Instagram fix, post or search with the lights on and then put your phone away. Take twenty to thirty minutes to read, meditate, write a diary or shower with your phone out of the way until morning.
A proper old-fashioned alarm clock or a wake-up light will get you up and at ‘em without leading you into a Youtube vortex before breakfast. Imagine!
As televisions evolve, so do all of the equipment that go with it. You bought a 4K television because you wanted a crystal clear picture with bright and bold colors. It follows that your sound quality should also be top-grade. This is why many people have started to buy soundbars for their home entertainment system.
What is a Soundbar?
A soundbar is a one or two-piece system that functions as speakers for your 4K television. They’re specifically designed for people who are not able to install freestanding speakers for their television. Additionally, the sound output quality of just about any soundbar is infinitely better than you’d get with your traditional television speaker system.
These devices are designed to fit seamlessly into a very compact and slender space. Soundbars generally only use two cords when you hook them up to your television. This eliminates the problem of clumsy cords hanging out the back and around your entertainment system.
Most soundbars also play the sound back to you in surround sound. This allows you to immerse yourself in your show without taking up the usual space that a traditional surround sound system would. There are several speakers built along the entire length of the soundbar. You can set them and choose which output you want to use.
Deciding Between a Soundbar and a Sound Base
When you start searching for a soundbar, you’ll notice very quickly that there is a subcategory called a sound base. Both of these devices perform the same action. They give you crystal clear and uninterrupted sound quality. However, a sound base is designed to sit on a shelf or TV stand. They’re durable enough to support your television’s weight. Additionally, a sound base can’t be mounted on a wall as a soundbar can.
Why Get a Soundbar?
If you’re thinking about buying a soundbar, you obviously want better sound quality than your typical television speaker will give you. You’ll get greater clarity, a richer sound, and an overall better experience when you use a soundbar. Additionally, soundbars also support:
Dolby Studios released Dolby Atmos to take their viewers listening experience up to the next level. They added layers and layers of sound to a traditional listening experience. This layering was made possible because the rich sound comes from above the listener. Any sound you hear can travel in a variety of directions. In turn, you get a surround sound experience that’s better than ever before.
To get the most out of your 4K television, you want to be able to experience the sound that comes with your UHD-Blu-rays. This is known as DTS:X sound. A soundbar can take this clear audio and magnify it, so you get full room-filling sound. Additionally, it can help to project it around the room. It turn, you’ll get a viewing experience that matches your 4K television.
Types of Soundbars
There are generally two different types of soundbars available. They both perform the same task of enriching your audio experience. The mounting system is what makes them different.
A traditional soundbar is designed to sit right in front of your television. Some companies are designing them to blend right in with your television to increase the overall aesthetic appeal. They’re very slender in build. This makes them easy to set on a smaller television stand without a problem.
The second type of soundbar available is the wall-mounted soundbar. This is a great alternative for people who want to hang their 4K television up on the wall. Mounting your soundbar on the wall creates a clean and sleek look. You get mounting hardware included when you buy your soundbar. This allows you to install it yourself quickly and easily.
Reasons to Invest in a Soundbar
There are several reasons why people choose to purchase soundbars for their home entertainment systems. They include:
Aesthetics: A soundbar can add a clean and modern look to your entertainment system. They’re designed to be sleek, space-saving, and they appeal to people who like the more modern design.
Audio Projection: As we mentioned above, soundbars can project the audio up toward the ceiling of your room. This will cause the audio to come from all angles when you use the soundbar. You’ll be able to immerse yourself with clear, room-filling sound.
Sound Quality: People want their sound quality to match their new 4K television quality. A soundbar gives a sound quality that is unmatched by traditional television speakers. This includes the speakers on your new 4K television.
Subwoofer: If you’re after that deep bass sound, you can purchase a subwoofer to add on to your soundbar. You can also find a soundbar that comes with an additional subwoofer included. This will let you experience the entire range of sounds each time you use it.
When it comes to buy soundbar, there are several important benefits that come with this purchase. It’s important that you shop around and compare various options, so you’re sure that you find the correct soundbar to suit your needs. If you do this, you’ll get a sleek addition to your home entertainment system that gives you sharp, clear, and rich room-filling sound quality.
If you’re not on time with your bills, it’s important that you stay aware of the latest debt collection technology. From your smartphone to Ringless voicemails, debt collectors have gone high-tech to help increase payments.
While agencies argue that their methods benefit customers and allow collectors to complete their mission, debtors are left surprised and consumer advocates are beyond angry.
Here are the latest updates on debt collection technology:
Ringless Voicemail Drops
A lot of debt collectors are excellent in finding ways to test and defy the laws that put a limit on how often they can call their clients. One of those ways allows them to send voicemails directly to phones without causing a ring.
Due to a technicality, these messages don’t appear as calls but messages that show up as voicemails.
The Consumer Protection Firm’s attorney Billy Howard doesn’t fall in line with companies like Stratics Networks who argue that no violations of regulations occur because auto-dialed collections technically are not phone calls. “They’re trying to torture the language of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act,” says Howard.
Senior sales vice president Paul Gies of VoApps Inc. believes differently. Gies argues that customers prefer ringless messages to standard calling because it creates less pressure to respond immediately. Consumers can return when they’re able to without feeling forced. He adds that collectors believe the system works too well.
And it’s not only the consumer Gies believes he’s looking out for. Even clients tell them that they overwhelm their call centers with inbound volume.
Friendly avatars can increase the likelihood of payment from debtors than when they visit typical sites. That is according to Tom Gillespie Jr. who works as the chief executive of BeGuided Inc.
His collection company, Access Receivables Management Inc., works under the idea that “nice people collect more”. They aim to turn around traditional interpretations of debt collectors by moving away from practices like threat and insults with characters like Zoey. This animated avatar appears in borrowers’ inbox and guides them through the debt repayment process.
Zoey and avatars like her have a wide range of character traits. From access to multiple languages to the ability to smooth-talk borrowers into repaying debts, these avatars offer a personal approach. They also have access to credit histories to allow for better payment plans for debtors.
“In the last year, we’ve sent out millions of emails” notes Gillespie, “We’ve had zero consumer pushback” when using avatars.
Cursing during conversations with debt collectors will be met with prompts provided by CallMiner Inc. software. It helps direct discussions back to where they need to go. These programs evaluate keywords used during conversations to identify emotions.
The color-based box system used by Supervisors incorporates the company’s speech-analytics system. Colors communicate the agent’s standing while interacting with a debtor. Green means that the conversation is typical and the agent is providing necessary information like “mini-Miranda” rights for debtors to understand their rights.
If a box changes color to red, it signifies a problem. Maybe an agent is experiencing difficulty or there’s profanity.
“A supervisor can consider barging in and taking over the call, or whispering into the agent’s side of the call,” CallMiner marketing vice president Scott Kendrick explains.
The Eureka program of CallMiner has multiple functions. It can provide a ranking system for agents and guide the negotiations for valid results. It can even step in and give better responses when an agent struggles to make an emotional connection with the borrower.
Debt collection agencies like FidoTrack LLC in Vermont use video game tactics to motivate agents to compete against each other to improve performance. This shouldn’t be surprising, considering collection agencies are known for not caring or being reachable.
The president and founder Brett Brosseau justifies these tactics saying that “you figure a lot of people who are actually collecting are maybe on the other end of the phone in their personal life. It sucks to ask people for money.”
Agents at FidoTrack improve their sales by 19% according to Brosseau through these types of regulated games. He adds that consumer complaints are down as well with shorter calls and a better response.
The game-like competition between collectors may make work more enjoyable but debtors surely aren’t enjoying them.
Skip tracing makes it difficult for debtors to hide from collection agencies because agents look through various social media to locate them.
While some collectors will merely use social media, others are taking more aggressive approaches. An agency in Texas, for example, links the Social Security Numbers of their clients to their social media accounts, causing upset among specific groups.
Spoofing, on the other hand, is a tactic employed by agents who change their area code to match the debtor’s local one. This tricks the debtor into responding. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau advocates for canceling this practice.
If consumers feel they have been mistreated, they have options. They can either complain to the right government agency or they can sue the agents. This opens them up to something called scrubbing.
Collectors look through lists of databases when they are scrubbing to remove potential hazards. These “banana peels”, as they are called in the industry, are people who have litigious records and are seen as unnecessary hazards.
This week, both Microsoft and Google made moves to woo Hollywood to their cloud computing platforms in the latest act of the unfolding drama over who will win the multi-billion dollar business of the entertainment industry as it moves to the cloud.
Google raised the curtain with a splashy announcement that they’d be setting up their fifth cloud region in the U.S. in Los Angeles. Keeping the focus squarely on tools for artists and designers the company talked up its tools like Zync Render, which Google acquired back in 2014, and Anvato, a video streaming and monetization platform it acquired in 2016.
While Google just launched its LA hub, Microsoft has operated a cloud region in Southern California for a while, and started wooing Hollywood last year at the National Association of Broadcasters conference, according to Tad Brockway, a general manager for Azure’s storage and media business.
Now Microsoft has responded with a play of its own, partnering with the provider of a suite of hosted graphic design and animation software tools called Nimble Collective.
Founded by a former Pixar and DreamWorks animator, Rex Grignon, Nimble launched in 2014 and has raised just under $10 million from investors including the UCLA VC Fund and New Enterprise Associates, according to Crunchbase.
“Microsoft is committed to helping content creators achieve more using the cloud with a partner-focused approach to this industries transformation,” said Tad Brockway, General Manager, Azure Storage, Media and Edge at Microsoft, in a statement. “We’re excited to work with innovators like Nimble Collective to help them transform how animated content is produced, managed and delivered.”
There’s a lot at stake for Microsoft, Google and Amazon as entertainment companies look to migrate to managed computing services. Tech firms like IBM have been pitching the advantages of cloud computing for Hollywood since 2010, but it’s only recently that companies have begun courting the entertainment industry in earnest.
While leaders like Netflix migrated to cloud services in 2012 and 21st Century Fox worked with HP to get its infrastructure on cloud computing, other companies have lagged. Now companies like Microsoft, Google, and Amazon are competing for their business as more companies wake up to the pressures and demands for more flexible technology architectures.
As broadcasters face more demanding consumers, fragmented audiences, and greater time pressures to produce and distribute more content more quickly, cloud architectures for technology infrastructure can provide a solution, tech vendors argue.
Stepping into the breach, cloud computing and technology service providers like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft are trying to buy up startups servicing the entertainment market specifically, or lock in vendors like Nimble through exclusive partnerships that they can leverage to win new customers. For instance, Microsoft bought Avere Systems in January, and Google picked up Anvato in 2016 to woo entertainment companies.
The result should be lower cost tools for a broader swath of the market, and promote more cross-pollination across different geographies, according to Grignon, Nimble’s chief executive.
“That worldwide reach is very important,” Grignon said. “In media and entertainment there are lots of isolated studios around the world. We afford this pathway between the studio in LA and the studio in Bangalore. We open these doorways.”
There are other, more obvious advantages as well. Streaming — exemplified by the relationship between Amazon and Netflix is well understood — but the possibility to bring costs down by moving to cloud architectures holds several other distribution advantages as well as simplifying processes across pre- and post-production, insiders said.
The cryptocurrency market has grown. It has gone far compared to its status when it was just starting way back 2009. According to the updated list of Investing.com, there are 1,890 cryptocurrencies available in the market.
By now, you’re probably wondering what those cryptocurrencies are. Guess what?
If that’s the case, then this article is for you. This will give you a better understanding of cryptocurrency and the following:
The main types of cryptocurrency
The top cryptocurrencies and their differences
Pros and cons of each cryptocurrency
What is Cryptocurrency?
The prefix “crypto-” originally stands for cryptography. It is a technology that stores information to keep attackers away from malicious undertakings.
If you will connect cryptography to your history class, Allied Forces in WWII used to apply it to send and receive confidential and secret messages. Nowadays, computer technicians utilize cryptography in a lot of different ways. One of them gave birth to cryptocurrency.
You can’t examine the history of cryptocurrency without first beginning with blockchain. It was started by Satoshi Nakamoto for Peer-to-Peer (P2P) transaction using Bitcoin. Blockchain gave the response to digital trust since it records imperative data publicly and doesn’t enable anybody to expel it. It’s transparent, time-stamped, and decentralized. Everyone can access it with the use of the internet.
With cryptocurrency, people don’t have to entrust their wealth to a single company such as a bank to handle their money. Banks are centralized while cryptocurrency is decentralized and runs by blockchain technology. Blockchain serves as a public ledger which enables tracking transactions while maintaining the anonymity of the parties involved.
Three Main Types of Cryptocurrency
It is the first one to use blockchain in 2009. A person under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto started it as a way to digitally and anonymously pay for goods and services between two parties without the use of third-parties to verify transactions. Several years passed, Bitcoin’s primary role is for goods and services trading. In 2013 to 2014, it boomed. It slowed down its pace and soared up again in 2017 until today. Bitcoin is the most well-known cryptocurrency made in history.
“Alternative Coin” to Bitcoin, it means that any cryptocurrency aside from bitcoin is considered as altcoin. And there are thousands of it available in the market. Altcoins came after the success of Bitcoin. More often, it presents as a better version of Bitcoin. Numerous altcoins are endeavoring to focus on any apparent constraints that Bitcoin has and thought of coming up with newer versions and competitive advantages.
Some people find tokens generally fascinating. In contrast with the other two, tokens are special because they don’t have a particular blockchain. They are used to make purchases on Decentralized Applications. They also provide specific advantages like discounts. The dApps are built for the use of smart contracts which is why they use tokens.
Tokens have a value and that is the reason why people get them. Some purchase tokens to offer them later at a higher cost rather than get and utilize them right away on a dApp.
To transact using dApp, you must have Ether or NEOto make the necessary purchases. Other dApps are built on other blockchains like ETH or NEO. The nodes on the said altcoin blockchains still verify the token transactions. This means that the transaction fee is still paid using ETH or NEO and not with the token itself.
There are only 21 million bitcoins to be mined in total. Since 17 million is already in circulation, the remaining 4 million bitcoins can be seen as a shortage for crypto enthusiasts.
This is actually a good thing. If there’s a lot of Bitcoin fans who want more of it despite the low supply, they’ll have to pay more just to get their hands on them. This can dramatically increase the price of Bitcoins.
It is easier toexchange than the other types.
It means that Bitcoin is easier and faster toconvert into cash.
Bitcoin is acceptable in almost all stores than any other cryptocurrencies.
Hundreds of online sellers accept payments in the form of bitcoin. It is good for larger transactions because there is no charging on taxes. It also has lower transaction fees. Bitcoin has already established its name and that is why the trust and acceptance rating from the market is high.
It’s the biggest cryptocurrency.
Bitcoin is the king of all kings. It’s in charge of about 40% of the market. This domination means that Bitcoin has a huge liquidity and it has already established its name to public knowledge. Users do not have to worry about the malicious activities concerning cryptocurrency.
Fluctuation happens a lot. The price of Bitcoin changes almost every day. Actually, Mt. Gox, a Bitcoin exchange based in Shibuya, Japan collapsed and filed for bankruptcy due to Bitcoin’s price falling up to 50%.
A better cryptocurrency may replace Bitcoin. Hundreds of altcoins and many are still coming up. Bitcoin has been in the market for 10 years and any of the newer and advanced cryptocurrency may eventually replace the king crypto since there are other cryptocurrencies researching for advanced features than Bitcoin can offer.
It’s being used for crime. Many scammers are using the identity of popular celebrities or personalities to mislead others. Some fans of the artists are being victimized because they don’t know that accounts used for solicitation are fake ones.
Ethereum allows people to create dApps, tokens, and even smart contracts.
People who useEthereum-built dApps will constantly require Ether. They’ll need it for the transaction fees as dApps run on the Ethereum blockchain.
There are newer projects on Ethereum.
Arcade City, an app for P2P ride sharing where drivers and users are matched together, is being built now under Ether. An application, just like torrent, a file-sharing software called IPFS, will be launching soon. Ujo Music, a decentralized music platform where artists are being paid directly is also under construction. More projects concerning Ethereum will come soon and crypto fans shall stay tuned.
Speed. It only takes a couple of seconds to complete a transaction process in Ethereum. That is in contrast to Bitcoin which takes a minimum of 10 minutes.
Ether coins supply is greater than Bitcoin.
This means that the scarcity for ETH is far from reality due to the fact that there’s a huge availability of the coins compared to Bitcoin.
Ripple makes bank payments quicker which is why it’s considered as the banker’s coin.
Well-known companies have confidence in Ripple. There are financial organizations that have developed a partnership with Ripple. This is why it can be considered as a better alternative for you in the finance world. Gaining trust from the government, it has already manifested its power and influence.
Ripple is not decentralized. Ripple Labs, the company behind it, owns the majority of the tokens (XRP). They have power over it and if ever they want to, they have the power to sell all the tokens they have. Thiswill definitely send the price down.
The blockchain for Litecoin was once apart of the Bitcoin blockchain. It split up when the update of Litecoin came. It has similarities with Bitcoin but Litecoin has distinct features.
It’s the first cryptocurrency to utilize the Lightning Network. It fixes issues concerning cryptocurrencies like scalability. It can process a lot of transactions in a matter of seconds.
Much faster and costs less than Bitcoin. Litecoin transactions only take seconds, just like Ethereum.
It’s only slightly better than Bitcoin. Litecoin won’t be that useful if Bitcoin improves into cheaper and faster transactions.
Lastly, taking the time to get a better understanding of cryptocurrencies is one way to know what you can get and what you can risk from using them.
The multi-billion dollar real estate developer and property manager JLL is getting into the tech investment game with the launch of a new $100 million fund run by corporate subsidiary JLL Spark.
Initially envisioned as a technology-focused business unit of the multinational real estate company, the firm eventually turned to the more traditional venture capital investment model as a way to get more exposure to all of the new technologies that are coming to market, according to JLL SPark’s co-chief executive Mihir Shah.
For Shah and his co-founder Yishai Lerner running the real estate company’s investment firm is the first foray by either executive into the world of real estate or property technology. But both men have been working in the startup world of the Bay Area for at over a decade.
In fact, the two serial entrepreneurs launched one of their first companies from the TechCrunch 50 conference way back in 2007 (it was a mobile app that mimicked Yelp).
The two eventually sold their mobile review business to GroupOn and began doing some angel investing. It was during that venture into the wild world of seed stage prospecting that Shah got bitten by the real estate bug while trying to buy some commercial real estate.
“I was looking at the process and was thinking ‘Wow! That is not a modern process,’” Shah said.
Unbeknownst to Shah, at the same time he was looking for commercial real estate, the commercial real estate industry was looking for someone like him.
JLL had put out feelers and hired head hunters to find someone who could take the lead at the firm’s burgeoning technology practice, Shah said.
“They had all sorts of internal initiatives bringing in new technology companies and services to their existing clients,” Shah said. “They understood that technology was going to transform all aspects of the industry.”
One of the first steps that JLL had taken was to acquire Stessa, which developed and sold asset management software for the real estate industry. But Shah and Lerner quickly realized that the buy and build strategy wouldn’t be robust enough for JLL’s needs.
“Over the last six months we saw how much innovation was happening in the proptech space and we thought it made more sense to launch a venture fund,” Shah said.
The firm will invest anywhere from a few hundred thousand dollars to a few million into seed stage or Series A companies with the option to dabble in later stage deals, according to Shah. The firm has made two investments so far — neither one of them in startups.
The commitments have been in one accelerator program, the New York-based Metaprop, which focuses on real estate tech investment, and Navitas Capital, which is billed as a later stage investor in the same space.
Both investments appear to be geared toward educating the firm’s two principals on the market and what’s already happening in the space.
The benefit that a corporate firm like JLL can provide to startups is the access to pilot projects where companies can deploy their technologies and, indeed, that’s the pitch that Shah makes to potential portfolio companies.
“Money is not enough,” he said. “There’s a lot of products out there, but they’re struggling with distribution.” JLL has designated a few buildings in top cities around the world to fast track new technologies and provide trial spaces for them to develop, Shah told me. “Our value as a strategic is to build that bridge and make that connection.”
“Creating this $100 million venture fund through JLL Spark allows us to continue to lead the real estate industry in bringing the best proptech ideas to reality,” said Christian Ulbrich, JLL’s Global chief executive. “It complements and expands our substantial ongoing investments in innovative, cutting-edge digital solutions, which is a core part of our Beyond strategic vision and commitment to achieve ambitions for our clients.”
If you want your business to succeed in the modern world, you’re going to have to think long and hard about how to establish your online presence.
The first thing you should do is put yourself in the shoes of the client that you are trying to win over. Ask yourself: where’s the first place they’re going to look?
You guessed it – Google.
Searching on the Internet is by far the fastest way to get access to information about anything. This is why most people don’t look anywhere else.
Technology is quickly changing the way we do business. With that, our perspective also needs to change if we want to stay on top of our marketing game.
Your Online Presence
If you want your business to be found by your clientele, you have to establish a presence in the very place that they’re going to look – the world wide web. This is what having an online presence means.
If you don’t have a website or a page on social media yet, you need to ask yourself – what exactly is stopping you from doing so?
Is it your time or budget? Or are you simply clueless about what a good website is and what it should be able to offer to your clientele?
Many people think that they aren’t tech savvy enough to start with it. However, the truth is that you don’t really need to be proficient about technology at all. The tools we have access to these days are so advanced.
I assure you that establishing an online presence and building a website is not as difficult as it used to be in the past. One of the main reasons for that is the fact that we have access to artificial intelligence.
What is Artificial Intelligence?
Artificial intelligence is a computer’s ability to think instead of just being told what to do.
When you open a browser and type in a web address, your computer takes you to that address. Basically, it is just following orders and you’re the one doing the actual thinking.
AI is the next step. It can improvise and come up with solutions independently.
In other words, with AI, you don’t have to be extra specific. It can think for itself.
An AI website builder is a piece of software that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to listen to your input and create something based on that. It listens to you and then it takes some extra steps to build your website.
The best thing about it is that AI guides you throughout the process. It doesn’t need you to be tech savvy at all.
There are plenty of advantages of using artificial intelligence to build your website.
But first, let’s look at the alternatives.
One of them is doing the whole thing yourself– designing your page, adding functionality, and fiddling with databases. It’s a very complex process that requires skills you can’t just pick up in a day or two.
Another alternative is paying someone to do it for you. But even an experienced web developer needs time to work on your website before it can go live. Dedicated web development companies will take a month or two and they can be quite expensive.
Using an AI website builder solves both of these problems. It’s much cheaper and you can have your fully functional website available within the day.
Will my website be unique?
A common misconception with AI website builders is that your website won’t be as unique as it needs to be. And while it is possible to see where this kind of concern comes from, it really isn’t as much of a problem as most people are led to believe.
Your website won’t just be built by a computer. It will be built by you and the computer together.
There’s a big difference. And as I mentioned, the results you’ll receive will directly depend on the input you provide.
Can AI optimize my website?
Most modern website builders do a lot more than just build up a web page that looks good and works well. They can also help you with SEO (search engine optimization) and your site’s user-friendliness.
A lot of those things will be up to you but the good thing is that it is pretty hard to mess up when you’re using AI. All the options that you have at your disposal will already lead you to a fairly optimized website that is ready to go.
Artificial intelligence is slowly taking ground in modern society. As technology evolves further, we’re bound to see more of it in almost every aspect of our lives.
Just the fact that AI has come far enough to aid us in a process as complex as web development is already amazing. It is definitely something you should be taking advantage of as a small business.
So, if you need a website pronto and aren’t overstocked with time and money at the moment, AI is the way to go.
As technology continues to develop, the same should happen to your IT skills. Employers only seek out the best IT specialists and the only way to get ahead of your competition is to keep learning and refining your skills.
Becoming complacent is the worst thing any professional could do as this makes you less likely to progress towards your ultimate goals.
As a guide, here are sure ways to consistently improve your IT skills.
Establish Weak Points
If there are specific weak points that are dragging you down, consider doing something about them.
If, for example, coding is not your strongest point, figure out why this is the case. It may be that you need extra mentoring.
Reading technical books is hugely beneficial, too. They typically contain helpful information and step-by-step guides which can help you grow as an IT specialist.
Overcome Fear of Automation
Firstly, to self-improve, you must feel confident about yourself and your position in the IT world. Regardless of the industry, the development of automation is inevitable but this should not impact your career potential.
In a report by CompTIA, they stated that an estimated figure of 5.4 million US individuals was hired in the information technology sector. Compared to previous years, this reflects an increase of 2.1%. In 2018, people should expect to see the same growth.
Knowing this, IT professionals can feel safe that their jobs will not be replaced by automation anytime soon.
Consider Further Certifications
You might already have a resume filled with qualifications but these can quickly become outdated and irrelevant in the IT industry.
Certain certifications hold value for IT pros and are more meaningful than others. These include the CAP (Certified Analytics Professional), MCSE (Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert) and more.
As identified by Indeed.com, the most in-demand IT jobs include Java Developer, Network Engineer, and Software Developer. Therefore, adapting your resume to suit these types of jobs will give you an advantage over others.
Work Part-Time or Find Freelance Opportunities
Education is one of the best ways of learning more of what you enjoy. However, work experience is even better. Taking what you learn and putting it into practice not only improves your IT skills but your transferable skills, too.
Boasting great initiative, problem-solving, and decision-making skills will look fantastic on your resume and give you a well-rounded profile.
Regarding work opportunities, it is great to get more exposure by taking up opportunities you would not normally accept. By doing different projects and jobs, you are learning a variety of things, whether it is a new computer programme or application.
Keep Up-To-Date with Cyber News
A brilliant way of staying fresh with new tech is to keep on top of tech news. Do it even if you have a really packed schedule. Read discussions, watch the news, and join forums so you can stay updated with the latest technology.
Take Advantage of the Free Stuff
Keep on the lookout for industry conferences and webcasts, which happen all year round. There are plenty of online guides which can keep you informed of worldwide tech events.
Typically, these events give inspirational talks, information about new technology, and heavy debates about political changes. Attending these are also a brilliant way of networking and promoting yourself to IT firms.
Online resources, like webinars, articles, podcasts, and videos, are great, too. By using online resources, you have the benefit of learning during your free time whilst choosing specifically what skills you want to focus on.
The key is to stay one step ahead of the game, especially in a world where technology has no limits. With dedication and hard work, you can go from professional to elite and feel confident about your place in the IT world.
The streaming video service iQiyi, a business owned by China’s online search giant Baidu, dropped 13.6% in its first day of trading on the Nasdaq — closing at $15.55, or down $2.45 from its opening price of $18.
The company still managed to pull off one of the largest public offerings by a Chinese tech company in the past two years raising $2.25 billion — the only Chinese technology company to make a larger splash in U.S. markets is Alibaba — the commercial technology juggernaut which raised $21.5 billion in its public offering on the New York Stock Exchange in 2014.
“It’s a special day and an exciting day for iQiyi, and I will say it’s also an exciting day for the Chinese internet,” said Baidu chief executive Robin Li of the iQiyi public offering.”Eight years ago, when we got started, we were not the first one, we were not the largest one, but we gradually worked our way up, and caught up and surpassed everyone. It has been not an easy journey, but finally we are public. We surpassed everyone. That’s because we have a very strong team. I have a full confidence on Gong Yu and on the whole iQiyi Team.”
Over its eight year history there’s no doubt that iQiyi has gone from laggardly to lustrous in the Chinese streaming video market. Baidu’s offering and Tencent’s video service have both managed to overtake the previous market leader Youku Tudou, which was acquired by Alibaba in 2016.
Tencent leveraged its 980 million monthly active users on the WeChat mobile messaging app, the 653 million monthly active users on its older QQ messaging platform and the company’s attendant social network (think Facebook) to juice growth of its video streaming offering, according to analysis from The Motley Fool.
For Baidu, the company’s pole position for online search became critical to the growth of iQiyi — along with a partnership to China’s ubiquitous hardware manufacturer and technology developer Xiaomi . The company also locked in early content licensing deals with big Hollywood studios like Lions Gate and Paramount — and a deal with Netflix to juice its subscriber base in China. By the end of 2017, Baidu was claiming more than 487 million monthly active users for the service.
The former leader in China’s video streaming market, Youku Tudou, seems to have wilted under the weight of its acquirer’s platform. Alibaba’s ecommerce was never a natural fit with online video streaming.
For all of their massive user bases each of China’s leading video streaming services face a profitability problem. For its part, iQiyi went to market with substantial losses of $574.4 million for the last fiscal year.
There are plenty of people who prefer going to movie theaters to see new movies. There are still lots of folks who enjoy a live musical performance over listening to the radio.
But more and more people are choosing to download digital copies instead of standing in line to buy physical copies of books, music, and movies. And that’s not even the most seismic shift to digital content we are seeing at this point in time.
There is a ton of data out there that is finally starting to be used for something and they are going to change everything about our lives.
How Much Digital Content Is Out There?
90% of today’s data were generated in the last two years and that’s really not surprising. Smartphones have only been around just over a decade. Users have only recently embraced their ability to generate data pertaining to their everyday lives.
Two and a half quintillion bytes of data are created every single day worldwide. Considering that internet usage worldwide is only at 50%, that figure is going to continue growing exponentially in the future.
What Else Is Going Digital?
One major example is currency.
We see this a lot with cryptocurrency. Even though news of cryptocurrency’s volatility, carbon footprint problems, and security problems are making headlines daily, digital currency is still getting more popular. In fact, it increased 43 times in just one year.
That speaks volumes about the trust people put on digital currencies and content.
Businesses Are Leveraging All That Digital Content To Innovate
Think about all the data generated about you when you go online and interact with people there. That’s the same way companies get an idea of who their target audience is.
Think of it this way:
When you call a call center with a complaint or customer service issues, the other party asks for your details. That includes who you are, where you live, how much money you make, your education level, and more.
Those data can tell a company a lot about who its target audience is. They can also provide valuable insights on how its employees and products are doing in terms of customer satisfaction and retention.
Some of the ways that big data is being leveraged to improve businesses include:
Cost-benefit analysis and decreasing expenses
Making decisions based on data
Discovering new avenues for innovation
Speeding up current innovation efforts
Launching new products and services based on what customers want
Transforming business into a sustainable model that will work in the future
We’ve seen places like Puerto Rico get slammed with hurricanes that have wiped out the entire power grid. Replacing that power grid is slow and costly.
Of course, in that situation, you wouldn’t be worried about accessing your digital movies, books, and music.
But what if you’re relying completely on digital currency and there’s no electricity to connect you to the Internet? How can you use it?
Digital Marketing for Businesses
At this point, it no longer makes sense for your business not to adopt and utilize digital marketing. It’s the hottest thing right now and it’s what can give your business the boost it needs to improve its sale.
Here’s a list of what you need to do:
Post videos of special events and see how the public will react to them.
Post photos regularly on Instagram and see which ones get the most interaction. This is often where you will find your next big idea.
Use social media as a means to interact and build relationships with your customers.
In today’s society, people are used to getting a taste of products for free. When a product or service is so high-quality that its creator is confident enough to give it away, that tells audiences it’s truly valuable.
Take Chance the Rapper, for example: He has risen to stardom over the past seven years — performing for President Barack Obama at the White House, hosting “Saturday Night Live,” and winning three Grammys in 2017 for his rap album “Coloring Book.” If that’s not impressive enough, he managed it all while giving fans his music for free. He’s taken the road less traveled, and zigging when everyone else is zagging, drawing attention from his fans.
I’m certainly not a rapper, but I have relied on a similar method for success in the 17 years I’ve led a gift strategy and logistics company, and I wrote about it in my book “Giftology.” I’ve built a personal brand based on giving and authenticity, and I can show you how to do the same. Here’s where to start:
Give back to your collaborators and supporters
When building a brand, most people focus on scrounging for every penny to help them rise to the top. But like Chance, I focus on what I can achieve alone, then collaborate with others to let them shine. In my case, that means partnering with the people providing me gifts, then putting the spotlight on them. A core value of my business is relationship-building because even if I can give only a little at the start of a relationship, my partners and I will grow together over time.
Build a giving mentality into the fabric of your personal brand to help set it apart. As often as you can, donate time or resources to give back to the people or companies that helped you get where you are. Chance, for example, champions causes and invests time and money into revamping Chicago and its public schools. Ensure the messaging you create to market your personal brand focuses on how you’ve helped others, not on how you’ve helped yourself.
Be gracious early on
I follow the Gary Vaynerchuk mindset of playing the long game, which Chance demonstrates with every album he releases. While giving his music away for free might seem crazy at first, he’s really just building good faith with his audience, which pays off in spades. It’s the same reason I ask anybody I’m engaging whether I can comp a gift on his behalf to help him look good. This freemium model has helped us land a number of clients, including pro sports teams like the Orlando Magic, and it builds goodwill.
Make the first move of generosity by giving your connections something on the front end. It doesn’t have to be an extravagant gift, either. Maybe you can only afford to take someone out for coffee at a trendy local shop while you network and send him a handwritten thank-you note after your meeting — that’s OK. That act of kindness can be enough to keep you top of mind the next time an opportunity comes along that should have your name written all over it.
Any time you can surprise and delight by blazing your own trail is a chance to impress those around you. Just because society has set a standard doesn’t mean you can’t change it. Chance the Rapper doesn’t bow to the pressure of $10 million offers from record labels; he pursues his own vision. Technology has made it easier than ever to build a brand that bucks the status quo, regardless of your credentials.
It’s also a great opportunity to set yourself apart from competitors. Going off the beaten path can be a powerful indicator of who you are and what your brand is. Breaking patterns gets noticed, so whether you’re simply changing the way you present yourself on social media or pulling stunts in your community to generate buzz, don’t be afraid to stand out from the crowd.
Chance the Rapper is known not only for offering his music for free and for his charitable work, but also for becoming a lifestyle icon. No matter your industry, chances are good your personal brand will benefit if you take a page from his book. Take it from me: A personal brand built with authenticity will take you far.
The UK is one of the leading countries in the world when it comes to technology and in 2017, the tech sector saw a record amount of investment at nearly £3 billion. This was almost double the amount that was spent in the previous year.
At a time of great uncertainty and with Brexit looming in the background, this just goes to show how powerful and infallible the tech industry is. As the tech industry continues to evolve at a rapid pace, 2018 promises to be another massive year.
Tech events are great if you want to keep up to date with all the latest trends and developments in the industry. They’re also a great opportunity to network with peers and learn from the most influential thought leaders around.
Whether you’re interested in cybersecurity, artificial intelligence or digital marketing, there’s an event out there that will help you and your business to grow.
Here are the top tech events in the UK that you need to attend for your business this year:
Wearable technology has been soaring in popularity over the last few years, with many brands recognizing its huge potential. It has been used in sports, fitness, healthcare and augmented reality.
The Wearable Technology Show will be held at the ExCel Centre in London over two days. It will showcase the latest and most innovative wearable gears to date. There will be a range of different speakers and workshops that you can participate in.
As our reliance on the digital world grows each year, so too does the need to improve cybersecurity. The threat of fraud, hacking, data theft and other nefarious activities online remain more prevalent than ever. This is why cyber security is so important.
Cyber UK will take place at the Manchester Central Convention Complex for three days. It will play host to thousands of delegates and online security experts from around the world.
The event is organized by the National Cyber Security Centre. It will include a number of different workshops, briefings, and talks from thought leaders, government representatives, and many more.
London Tech Week is the largest festival of tech in Europe, attracting more than 55,000 attendees from over 90 countries. The event is an all-encompassing celebration of all things tech-related. There, you’ll see techs linked to virtual reality, artificial intelligence, 3D printing, and cybersecurity.
As a business, you have the opportunity to exhibit some of your work. You’ll also be able to network with and learn from some of the most creative minds out there. The Prince’s Trust Gala Dinner and the Leaders In Tech Summit will both be in the lineup while you’ll also have the chance to watch some exciting F1H20 Powerboat Racing take place.
The Turing Fest in Edinburgh this year promises to be the biggest one yet, with six conference tracks providing an insight into how the most successful businesses use technology to grow and stay relevant. The event will be attended by some hugely successful CEOs, such as Eric Yuan of Zoom, Des Traynor of Intercom, and Samantha Noble of Biddable Moments.
You’ll have the opportunity to network and share tech insights with like-minded peers and participate in a range of panel workshops and keynotes. There’ll also be some additional informal fringe events.
While DigiMarCon Ireland is one of the largest Irish digital marketing events, it actually takes place in Heathrow, London. This event is not only ideal for digital marketing companies and startups but also for any brand that wants to grow and expand their reach.
You’ll be able to find out about all the latest developments in terms of generating traffic, boosting brand awareness, and improving lead generation. You will also know more about content marketing, SEO, and geotargeting during this two-day event.
It’s also worth noting that there are many other outstanding tech events that take place internationally, particularly in Australia and America. So, consider heading overseas to expand your tech knowledge- a perfect excuse to spend some of that business trip budget!
Groundbreaking steps are happening in the technology industry all the time. In the past couple of years alone, leaps and bounds have resulted in better augmented reality, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, speech recognition, and more. This year, you can expect more tech innovations to enhance our lives.
Here are the top technology trends you need to watch out for this year.
We’ve already seen what today’s AR mobile apps can do and games like Pokémon Go are a far cry from it, to say the least.
The AR technology from companies like the startup DAQRI, however, extends well beyond a mobile game experience. Its technology is found in other products, like its $15,000 AR helmets.
You can wear those helmets entirely hands-free and it can work for hours. A requirement for its primary users: industrial workers, sailors, and soldiers.
Take note that these headsets aren’t quite full-scale AR because they suffer from the common problem of most AR headsets. It’s the narrow rectangular view that cuts off images when the user moves.
Now, as the company has partnered with Two Trees, a holography specialist, and is working on developing new dynamic holography technology, it could possibly revolutionize AR.
One of the biggest contributors to the advancement of search algorithms in recent years has been Google’s machine learning Artificial Intelligence (AI) system, RankBrain.
Since its inception over two years ago, Google continues to embrace RankBrain, using it to return the best results that match a Google user’s query. It has gone from being used in 15% of Google search queries to now being used in all of them.
Google has also been dabbling in other AI interests. This includes the development of a Cloud Vision API, which has the capability to recognize a huge number of objects. Plus, its Google Brain division has reportedly been developing an AI that can build AI better than humans can.
Google RankBrain aside, artificial intelligence isn’t only found in data. It’s in just about every industry. Journalism, financial services, video gaming, gambling, automotive, the military, and even healthcare are just some examples.
Currently, the vast majority of AI systems function as a supportive tool that can make certain processes more simplified, effective, and faster.
That said, as AI enters more and more fields, people like Jack Ma question what impact the future of AI will have on society as a whole. The concerns of Alibaba’s founder and Executive Chairman were made known earlier this year during the World Economic Forum (WEF) at Davos.
“The AI, Big Data is a threat to human beings. The AI and robots are going to kill a lot of jobs because, in the future, these will be done by machines,” Ma stated during a discussion panel.
He believes that AI should be used to support people and added that tech giants, like Alibaba, Amazon, and Facebook, need to be responsible and “should spend money on technology that enables people, empowers people, and makes life better”.
Forget about talking to your smartphone. The future is all about voice-controlled smart speakers now.
This technology perfectly fits into the ecosystem of a smart home as smart speakers can function as the main control hub. They can answer questions, set timers, play music, and control other devices at home.
As you might imagine, there is a fierce competition between market leaders. Amazon, Google, Apple, and Microsoft aim to develop and sell the most sought-after smart speakers.
Today, the competition is tight between Amazon and Google. These companies are leading the market with smart speakers that are affordable, accessible, and superior to Apple’s Siri.
And once Apple’s smart speaker (HomePod) is out later this year, fans will still flock to buy it despite the high price tag. That only reflects people’s desire to always get their hands on the latest technology.
Speech recognition is another tech that has recently advanced both in its capabilities and its use. Whether you’re asking your smartphone a question or your smart speaker, speech recognition is at play.
While there has always been a lot of kinks to work out when it comes to this technology, last August, Microsoft claimed a new speech recognition record. It was able to reduce its error rate to an amazing 5.1%.
This percentage matched the error rate of multiple human transcribers in a well-known accuracy test.
Microsoft’s continued improvements in speech recognition technology are a part of its wider effort to advance state of the art AI and bring these new innovations to the market.
Of course, no one really knows what the future holds for these top technology trends. Maybe full-scale AR will eliminate the need for mobile phones. Perhaps, speech recognition may prove to be superior to human transcribers- or maybe not. Only time will tell where these innovations might take us next
The top line is that Nike is rolling out some membership related updates to its app for iPhone and Android today. The updates will come in the form of new unlocks with partnerships like ClassPass, Apple and Headspace. There will also be a bunch of new unlocks coming for exclusive shoes and clothing. NikePlus Unlocks, the official name for these cards that appear in the Nike+ app Members… Read More
There’s really no such thing as the most secure browser.
In a poll in 2013, Firefox was voted as the most secure web browser. However, in a hacking contest in March of 2014, Firefox was deemed as the least secure after it went down to four zero-day exploits.
Because you can’t really rely on one browser to protect you and your data, it’s critical that you know how to make your favorite browser the most secure browser for you.
Here are some steps you can follow:
Check your browser’s default setting
The most convenient way to start using any device, including browsers, is by its default setting. It is, however, not the most secure way.
In fact, it can expose you to a lot of potential threats.
With your browser’s default configuration, hackers can easily access your program and even make internal changes without you knowing.
The best solution to that is to configure all your browsers as well as your operating system before use. Doing that can greatly increase your security.
Use only one browser when dealing with sensitive activities
Your computer probably has multiple browsers installed and that’s actually a good thing. It means you’ll be able to dedicate one browser for one activity only, limiting the risk of compromising your sensitive data.
Think of it this way:
You can use one browser to pay your bills or purchase something online. You can use a separate browser for researching and random browsing.
This way, if someone hacked the one you are using for general web browsing, the other browser won’t be compromised.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that using separate browsers will automatically protect your data. You also have to play your part to make your browser the most secure browser.
Security holes will keep on popping up as more and more security threats emerge. One of the few ways you can protect yourself is by updating your browser.
Make sure to follow your vendor’s instructions when updating your browser. If your operating system no longer supports newer browsers, it’s time to get that updated as well.
Browsers like Chrome and Firefox have an auto-update feature by default. If yours isn’t enabled, check if your computer’s firewall is preventing the auto-update or someone else has configured it the way it is.
Get an antivirus installed
A good anti-virus remains one of the best ways to stay protected on the internet. Just make sure that the one you are using is real as a fake antivirus software is already a security threat on its own.
And if you already have one, keep it up-to-date. Using an expired antivirus is more likely to put your security at risk.
Now, listen closely.
While you might think that the antivirus that came with your computer is enough to protect you, it actually isn’t. You see, free antivirus programs aren’t that comprehensive.
It can only provide limited protection and it can only detect certain threats. It has lower and slower scanning performance, too.
The bottom line?
Don’t skimp on your antivirus program and be sure to keep it updated.
Be careful in installing plugins and extensions
Extensions and plugins might look harmless but they can be extremely dangerous. They have access to your every move online. And because they know everything, you can just imagine the damage they can create.
They know what you’ve been searching and they can capture your passwords. These extensions can even insert advertisements in the pages you visit.
One problem with extensions is that they frequently require access to everything. For example, an extension that’s meant to make changes in Google.com will require access to everything related to Google.
Most of the time, that includes your email and Google account.
To stay safe, use fewer extensions and plugins as possible. If you aren’t using the ones already installed on your computer, uninstall them and stick with the ones you use frequently.
If you are planning on adding more, make sure to read the permissions they require.
Use pop-up blockers
Ads and pages that pop out of nowhere aren’t just annoying; they can also be dangerous.
By using a pop-up blocker, you’ll be able to prevent those ads from installing harmful malware on your computer. They can also prevent your screen from cluttering.
Now, if the website you are trying to access needs you to temporarily disable the blocker, remember to reactivate it once you are done.
Turn on fraud protection
There are tons of untrustworthy websites on the internet. If you aren’t careful, you can inadvertently visit one of those phishing sites and expose your sensitive information.
Phishing sites are sites that are made to look legit and trustworthy so that they can get your personal details. This includes your credit card number and password in your cached data.
To stop that from happening, always turn on fraud protection. It can blacklist known phishing sites so you won’t be able to access them.
Being able to log into your email or any of your accounts without typing your login details sound convenient. However, in terms of safety and security, it’s a totally different story.
Just think about what can happen when your laptop or device gets stolen or lost. It’s like giving away your personal login information to everyone.
For protection, always turn that feature off. You can do that by accessing your browser’s setting.
If you are using Chrome, for example, you can open its Setting window, select Advanced, and make the necessary changes in the Manage Password section.
In case you are using Firefox, access the Options window, select Privacy, and look for History. Once you are there, select Firefox will: Use custom settings for history and disable the Remember search and form history option.
These changes don’t take a lot of time. In fact, you can complete them in less than a minute.
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In today’s business world, it is important that business have access to what they need when they need it. Whether through phones, tablets or computers, there is a need for convenience and reliability as far as access to information is concerned. Cloud computing facilitates all these. Without a doubt, it has transformed how several businesses operate.
For those who are entering the arena for the first time, it is important to note that cloud computing is an umbrella term that includes:
Software as a service
By migrating the cloud, your business can use this technology to enhance your operations in a couple of ways. In essence, cloud computing guarantees several benefits.
Provided there is reliable internet access, it is possible to access cloud-based programs any time using a couple of devices. For a business with remote employees, nothing facilitates greater collaboration than this.
In today’s economy, we have a substantial number of small and medium-size businesses which rely on remote productivity as a critical aspect of their operation. Using various cloud-based software, different teams in various locations can collaborate on the same documents without the need to email attachments, schedule calendars, and share task lists.
This reduces the need for physical meetings. Participants only need to sign up for the services and pick up their tasks online without the need to install new programs or download other software.
Secure data backup
Businesses have always relied on data. The only difference is that businesses are more dependent on data now than before.
Losing essential data can be detrimental to a business or an organization. For smaller businesses, you might not have the resources or time to implement an effective backup strategy.
With cloud computing, you can easily retrieve the latest version of your data in case of an onsite system failure. Such system can also come handy in case of a disaster, such as fire.
Remember, you have the option of using cloud-based services to back up your business data automatically. In case of any unforeseen interruptions, your business will be back up and running in a couple of minutes.
Several firms offering cloud services provide geo-redundant backup. That implies that your data is saved in multiple centers across various locations to enhance data security.
We all understand that cloud-based services are often more reliable compared to promised services. This is particularly true in instances where the servers and other hardware components used in service delivery are aging.
Cloud service providers boast of dedicated and highly experienced IT staff. When it comes to resolving various IT issues, you can rely on such team to provide better services in terms of reliability and speed.
For any business, nothing is more important than knowing that there is a team you can always rely on in case of anything. With the kind of support offered by cloud service providers, you won’t always have to worry about your data.
Better resource management
When you opt for cloud service, one huge burden lifted off of your shoulder is that of hosting the servers. Since the servers will be located off-site, you can sit back knowing that their management is an experienced IT staff.
Since there is easier access to resources as needed when dealing with the cloud, there will be less time involved in starting these services. It is also clear that several smaller businesses have limited IT experts and resources.
Outsourcing cloud computing services give them an opportunity to concentrate on the other aspects of their business while cloud service providers handle the rest. For smaller businesses that are out to edge or rival the big names in the market, cloud computing provides an opportunity to be more competitive and claim their fair share of the market.
Don’t ignore the details
While it is true that cloud computing comes with multiple benefits, it will not be fair to ignore the possible setbacks that can come with this technology. Just like any other technology, it takes time to set up and adapt to a new system. You will need to train your personnel, even in the slightest ways possible.
In addition to that, there is also the need to establish a very effective troubleshooting system during and after the system is launched. Always remember to never ignore security risks when considering cloud computing services. The rate of cyber crimes is at an all-time high.
If you are going to use any cloud service provider, make sure that they have all the answers to any security concerns you have. Try to understand the contingency plans they have in place in case of a security breach. Only after that should you sign on the dotted lines.
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If you are aware of the developments in technology, then you have probably heard about Artificial Intelligence (AI). For a lot of people, it’s too complex or high-tech so they don’t really pay a lot of attention to it.
In fact, even small businesses don’t think much of AI. They believe that only big tech companies like Apple and Google can utilize it. However, that’s not true.
AI has numerous benefits for small businesses. It’s something you cannot ignore if you want to stay ahead of your competition.
Today, open-minded businesses have started using AI to create a business logo, respond to emails, comb the Internet for leads identification, help customers with chatbots and a lot more.
If you have not seriously considered AI automation for your business yet, then the following 5 reasons can surely convince you.
There are plenty of AI tools designed specifically for bookkeeping that you can use. While many offer help with the basic data entry tasks, some are more advanced and can easily perform many roles. You can use it in reading and preparing invoices, set invoice reminders, release payments on schedule and more.
So, instead of expanding your accounting department, you can invest in an AI bookkeeping program which is more affordable and highly useful.
No matter how skilled your sales reps are, they will always have limitations.
For starters, one can handle only a certain number of leads at a time. Secondly, they need a certain amount of time with every lead to learn about their personality, pain points, opportunities for connection building and many other aspects that are required for their nurturing.
However, with AI automation you can take the entire process to the next level and benefit from increased productivity.
An AI program designed for lead nurturing can read and respond to the emails of your prospects using a list of set messages and the Natural Language Processing technology. It can also go through the past conversations you have had with your leads to pinpoint important bits of information. Most importantly, it can work 24/7 since it can function without human intervention.
Online Customer Support
A number of studies have found that customers find it more comfortable to inquire about the services or products of a company through messaging, especially via online chat as opposed to voice calls. However, hiring a full-time customer executive can be expensive for a small business. Again, this is where AI automation can be a great option.
Not only AI-powered chatbots are highly popular today, you can also find some highly affordable options easily. You can install one of these on your website so that when your customers need some information, it will be readily available. In addition to that, having AI-powered chatbots can also make your website more attractive.
Usually, it’s hard to find quality and affordability at the same place. However, AI automation seems to have changed that.
This is because it can help you with your company branding in many ways and at modest pricing. There are companies like Tailor Brands that offer an entire suite of branding tools- from logo creation to social media banner creation at a fraction of the price that you would pay to a graphics designer.
Intelligent Personal Assistants
You are probably already familiar with virtual personal assistants, such as Apple’s Siri or Microsoft Corona. Today, a new range of similar assistants is emerging and they are even more intelligent and more suitable for businesses. For instance, there is Amy from x.ai that can arrange meetings for you or Pana that can arrange your travel.
AI has matured enough today that it can be utilized in different ways in every industry. It’s now easily available at affordable costs, too. If you haven’t considered using one for your business, it’s probably the right time to reconsider your strategy.
If you want to protect your online privacy and prevent unwanted people, such as government agencies and advertising companies, from tracking you and using your private information to their advantage, there are a few ways as effective as VPNs to do it.
However, not everyone is really aware of what they really are and their advantages. To help you out, we’re here to discuss how to set up a VPN and how you can start using it.
How do VPNs Work?
As the term suggests it, a Virtual Private Network or VPN is a network of servers you can connect virtually (using the internet instead of a physical connection) to enhance your privacy. It does this by encrypting all the traffic that comes from your device and then rerouting it through one of the servers that compose it to mask your online trace.
Each part of the process presents a benefit for the user. The encryption of communications between the user and the VPN makes it impossible for Internet Service Providers and other eavesdroppers to snoop on your online activity. On the other hand, tunneling your connection through a VPN server makes websites think it is the server that’s accessing them when it’s actually you who’s doing it.
That offers you two benefits:
First, this prevents the website from tracking information about you coming from your device. You’d be accessing every website as if it were the first time you’re doing it and advertising companies would be unable to tailor ads for you.
The second benefit of tunneling is tied to the location of the server. Servers located in different countries allow you to access web content as if you were connecting from the same location of the server. This lets you access content from websites that isn’t available in your region.
Clear and Easy Way to Set Up a VPN
To use a VPN, you have to find a provider of the service online. This is perhaps the hardest part of the process since there is a very wide variety of VPN services available online. Not all of them are equally good and some of them may even end up doing more harm than good.
We recommend you use one of the following providers. We have already tried out and verified the quality of their service.
After you’ve made your pick between them, all you have to do is follow these steps:
Purchase a Subscription
The first thing you have to do after you’ve picked a VPN service provider is to buy one of the subscription plans they offer. Keep in mind that the longer the subscription time you buy, the more value you’ll get for every penny you spend.
Download and Install the Software Client
Most VPN providers will ask you to download their software in exchange for letting you connect. This software client contains all the options you need for a safe connection that suits your needs.
Adjust the Settings
After you’ve installed the software, you have to open it and configure your connection to your specific needs. Most of these settings will come preconfigured for the most common and convenient settings, but you might want to tweak it a little bit.
Particularly regarding communication protocols and encryption algorithms, you’ll want to use OpenVPN and 256-bit AES encryption, respectively. These are the most reliable settings you could wish to have on a VPN, so they are the ones we recommend you to use. If you’re curious, you can look up any other settings online before messing with them but do this with extreme caution.
Choose a Country
After you’ve dealt with the technical details, it’s time to choose the location of the server you’ll be connecting to. This is important if your goal is to bypass the region lock of a website.
For instance, if all you want is to be able to access Netflix’s full library, then you’ll want to connect to a server in the US. VPN services usually let you decide this using a drop-down menu on their software.
Connect and Enjoy
After all this, you’re ready to hit the connect button and start browsing the web as you’d normally do. You’ll now be completely anonymous to the websites you visit. Your ISP won’t be able to monitor your online activity, too.
It’s only responsible for us to spread the benefits of VPN usage to contribute to a safer internet. They are a very powerful tool that helps you protect your online privacy and that of your loved ones.
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The app apparently uses machine learning to crawl your Facebook activity to determine what memes it thinks you want to see. It also surfaces different trends based on your activity within the app. Read more…