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These 6 tech trends are key to your brand keeping up in 2016

There are plenty of technology trends businesses need in order to stay relevant, but these six are the most important as they are the most unique, and revolutionized. Businesses should definitely take notes, and begin strategizing on how they can incorporate these practices.

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Looking ahead to a money-filled year

I’m in line the other day at Starbucks to get my fix, when I notice the woman in the very front holding the line up showing off her watch to the cashier. I, and a bunch of other Starbucks addicts got annoyed with the woman – I mean, who’s insane enough to hold up a group of friends to talk about some watch?

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But soon after, our frustration turns to awe, when we watch her pay for her entire Starbucks order with this watch. I watched first hand as technology bridged the gap between new tech and business processes or, The Apple Watch and Starbucks. Imagine had she attempted to pay, but Starbucks didn’t support the technology yet; that could’ve been a potentially lost customer.

Knowing that makes it critical for businesses to stay up to date and on top of the new tech developments. Some have done an excellent job developing their processes just as quickly as technology develops, while there are still some entities struggling to evolve and stay informed on what’s going on in the tech world. These are the businesses that risk being forgotten or replaced.

But, if they can embrace and incorporate the following six technology trends then they have a chance of keeping their customer base and staying afloat.

Trend #1: Embrace new forms of payment

Easier payments: remember when some businesses didn’t even accept credit cards? Now, such a business would be considered primitive. Especially now that you can walk into businesses like Best Buy, target, and Starbucks to pay for electronics, groceries, paper, egg nog lattes and whatever else you need.

Businesses everywhere are embracing this trend, making payments as simple as a watch swipe, and providing invoices/receipts to your email before you can even blink.

While only 17 percent of consumers say they pay using a smartphone, according to a study by creditcard.com, industry experts still have high hopes for the mobile pay industry. Research firm, Gartner, predicts the industry will be worth $270 billion in transactions by 2017, up from $235 billion in 2014. This is understandable when you consider Google just adopted Softcard, Samsung provides Samsung pay, PayPal has Padiant, and Apple of course offers Apple Pay. Merchants accepting these options are also growing beyond just Starbucks and Best Buy.

That billion dollar prediction, along with the abundance of technologies and merchants investing in the mobile pay industry, makes easier payment a huge upcoming trend.

Trend #2: Security is a must

Security becomes nonnegotiable: remember in October when Experian accidentally exposed the private data of 15 million T mobile users? They aren’t the only ones slacking in the security department. Nearly 5,000 other company data breaches have compromised over 800 million records, including medical histories, Social Security numbers, and bank day; all since 2005.

These massive security breaches keep happening because email is not really that secure, employees mobile devices aren’t really that protected and systems are not always as encrypted as they’d like to believe. White Hat, a security company, released a report back in 2015 that revealed 86% of all websites tested had at least one serious vulnerability (and sometimes more).

With the huge liability breached information presents; businesses are now developing more secure websites, making sure there are no vulnerabilities, no holes, and no chance for customer information (or any information, for that matter) to leak.

Therefore, one of the biggest and latest trends in business right now is making sure all systems are appropriately protected. This has started to happen with better encryption, new cloud solutions, and enterprise mobility management for mobile devices.

Trend #3: Your brand needs to be on mobile

According to a study done by comScore, 11.3% of all Internet users rely on their mobile device to surf the web and that number is only growing.

Because of this we will start to see more click – to – call buttons embedded directly into apps.

Now, when a customer is using a particular app and they have a question, instead of leaving the app to find the customer service number, they can just click a button and be connected directly to a customer service rep. So any troubleshooting questions, user issues, products inquiries, and anything else you use customer service for can be accessed directly from the app.

The best example of this trend can be observed from Amazon Kindle devices that offer its customers what’s called “mayday”. With “mayday”, users can simply click a button for an almost instant connection with a customer service rep,  at anytime of the day. Bank of America has also followed suit, and now offers customers a “teller assist” Option on their ATM machines. This service allows consumers to connect with a bank teller via live video chat if they have any problems at the ATM.

Initially this embedded communication technology was reserved for large corporations that could afford it. However, new companies are starting to develop embedded communication at more affordable and accessible prices.

Trend #4: Smart devices and the Internet of Things

Rolls-Royce, along with other aircraft manufacturers have begun building aircraft with sensors embedded within them.

These sensors take the guesswork and time out of physically searching a plane for malfunctions.

They can detect if anything has started to break down and gives aircrafts the ability to avoid possible accidents and fatalities by sending these updates directly to the ground station.

This kind of real-time update from the actual device is becoming more popular as technology develops. Now, inventory can self-report on its levels, trucks can self-track, and products can notify the company when there’s a problem.

In order to stay relevant, businesses should figure out how to take advantage of these real-time update devices, and see how they can incorporate them into their current technology infrastructure.

Trend #5: Employees with wearables

What about the employees who receive these real-time updates from the aforementioned devices? How do they receive the information? It certainly wouldn’t be right if they were receiving these updates on a basic, technologically ancient computer. No, instead businesses are testing out wearables to receive the data, so employees can have real-time access to real-time updates. Some companies use them for inventory updates while others use them internally for employee interaction; the options for wearables within a business setting are endless.

If a businesses values accurate feedback and real-time updates, complying with this trend is critical.

They need to start figuring out which wearable device is best for them, how to incorporate it, and the best way to synchronize it with their existing software.

Trend #6: Keep it in the cloud

Business clouds allow seamless and constant connectivity and can be seen functioning in about 93% of existing business, according to a cloud survey conducted by Right Scale. The 7% who haven’t adapted are expected to incorporate this trend no later than this year – or else they risk being left behind.

There are plenty of other technology trends businesses need in order to stay relevant, however these six are the most important as they are the most unique, and revolutionized. Businesses should definitely take notes, and begin strategizing on how they can incorporate these practices.

#DontGetLeftIn2015

Lauren Flanigan is a Staff Writer at The American Genius, hailing from the windy hills of Cincinnati, with a degree in Marketing from the University of Cincinnati. She has escaped the hills, and currently resides in Atlanta, where you can almost always find her camping at a Starbucks strategizing on how to take over the world.

Business News

This web platform for cannabis is blowing up online distribution

(BUSINESS NEWS) Dutchie, a website platform for cannabis companies, just octupled in value. Here’s what that means for the online growth of cannabis distribution.

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A small jar of cannabis on a desk with notebooks, sold online in a nicely made jar.

The cannabis industry has, for the most part, blossomed in the past few years, managing to hit only a few major snags along the way. One of those snags is the issue of payment processing, an issue compounded by predominantly cash-only transactions. Dutchie, a Bend, Oregon company, has helped mitigate that issue—and it just raised a ton of money.

Technically, Dutchie is a jack-of-all-trades service that creates and hosts websites for dispensaries, tracks product, processes orders, keeps stock of revenue, and so much more. While it was valued at around $200 million as recently as summer of 2020, a round of series C funding currently puts the company at around $1.7 billion—approximately 8 times its worth a mere 8 months ago.

There are a few reasons behind Dutchie’s newfound momentum. For starters, the pandemic made cannabis products a lot more accessible—and desirable—in states in which the sale of cannabis is legal. The ensuing surge of customers and demand certainly didn’t hurt the platform, especially given that Dutchie is largely responsible for keeping things on track during some of the more chaotic months for dispensaries.

Several states in which the sale of cannabis was illegal also voted to legalize recreational use, giving Dutchie even more stomping ground than they had prior to the lockdown.

Dutchie also recently took on 2 separate companies and their associated employees, effectively doubling their current staff. The companies are Greenbits—a resource planning group—and Leaflogix, which is a point-of-sale platform. With these two additions to their compendium, Dutchie can operate as even more of an all-in-one suite, which absolutely contributes to its value as a company.

Ross Lipson, who is Dutchie’s co-founder and current CEO, is fairly dismissive of investment opportunities for the public at the moment, saying he instead prefers to stay “focused with what’s on our plate” for the time being. However, he also appears open to the possibility of going public via an acquisition company.

“We look at how this decision brings value to the dispensary and the customer,” says Lipson. “If it brings value, we’d embark on that decision.”

For now, Dutchie remains the ipso facto king of cannabis distribution and sales—and they don’t show any plans to slow down any time soon.

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Business News

Ford adopts flexible working from home schedule for over 30k employees

(BUSINESS NEWS) Ford Motor Co. is allowing employees to continue working from home even after the pandemic winds down. Is this the beginning of a trend for auto companies?

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Woman in car working on engineering now allowed a flexible schedule for working from home.

The pandemic has greatly transformed our lives. For the most part, learning is being conducted online. At one point, interacting with others was pretty much non-existent. Working in the office shifted significantly to working remotely, and it seems like working from home might not go away anytime soon.

As things slowly get back to a new “normal”, will things change again? Well, one thing is sure. Working from home will be a permanent thing for some people as more companies opt to continue letting people work remotely.

And, the most recent company on the list to do this is Ford Motor Co. Even after the pandemic winds down, Ford will allow more than 30,000 employees already working from home to continue doing so.

Last week, the automaker giant announced its “flexible hybrid model” schedule to its staff. The new schedule is set to start in the summer, and employees can choose to work remotely and come into the office for tasks that require face-to-face collaborations, such as meetings and group projects.

How much time an employee spends in the office will depend on their responsibilities, and flexible remote hours will need to be approved by an employee’s manager.

“The nature of work drives whether or not you can adopt this model. There are certain jobs that are place-dependent — you need to be in the physical space to do the job,” David Dubensky, chairman and chief executive of Ford Land, told the Washington Post. “Having the flexibility to choose how you work is pretty powerful. … It’s up to the employee to have dialogue and discussion with their people leader to determine what works best.”

Ford’s decision to implement a remote-office work model has to do in part with an employee survey conducted in June 2020. Results from the survey showed that 95% of employees wanted a hybrid schedule. Some employees even reported feeling more productive when working from home.

Ford is the first auto company to allow employees to work from home indefinitely, but it might not be the only one. According to the Post, Toyota and General Motors are looking at flexible options of their own.

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Business News

Unify your remote team with these important conversations

(BUSINESS NEWS) More than a happy hour, consider having these poignant conversations to bring your remote team together like never before.

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Cultivating a team dynamic is difficult enough without everyone’s Zoom feed freezing halfway through “happy” hour. You may not be able to bond over margaritas these days, but there are a few conversations you can have to make your team feel more supported—and more comfortable with communicating.

According to Forbes, the first conversation to have pertains to individual productivity. Ask your employees, quite simply, what their productivity indicators are. Since you can’t rely on popping into the office to see who is working on a project and who is beating their Snake score, knowing how your employees quantify productivity is the next-best thing. This may lead to a conversation about what you want to see in return, which is always helpful for your employees to know.

Another thing to discuss with your employees regards communication. Determining which avenues of communication are appropriate, which ones should be reserved for emergencies, and which ones are completely off the table is key. For example, you might find that most employees are comfortable texting each other while you prefer Slack or email updates. Setting that boundary ahead of time and making it “office” policy will help prevent strain down the road.

Finally, checking in with your employees about their expectations is also important. If you can discuss the sticky issue of who deals with what, whose job responsibilities overlap, and what each person is predominantly responsible for, you’ll negate a lot of stress later. Knowing exactly which of your employees specialize in specific areas is good for you, and it’s good for the team as a whole.

With these 3 discussions out of the way, you can turn your focus to more nebulous concepts, the first of which pertains to hiring. Loop your employees in and ask them how they would hire new talent during this time; what aspects would they look for, and how would they discern between candidates without being able to meet in-person? It may seem like a trivial conversation, but having it will serve to unify further your team—so it’s worth your time.

The last crucial conversation, per Forbes, is simple: Ask your employees what they would prioritize if they became CEOs tomorrow. There’s a lot of latitude for goofy responses here, but you’ll hear some really valuable—and potentially gut-wrenching—feedback you wouldn’t usually receive. It never hurts to know what your staff prioritize as idealists.

Unifying your staff can be difficult, but if you start with these conversations, you’ll be well on your way to a strong team during these trying times.

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