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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.

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Business News

Leadership versus management: What’s the difference?

(Business News) The two terms, leadership and management, are often used interchangeably, but there are substantial differences; let’s explore them.

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Some people use the terms “leader” and “manager” interchangeably, and while there is nothing inherently wrong with this, there is still a debate regarding their similarities or differences.

Is it merely a matter of preference, or are there cut and dry differences that define each term?

Ronald E. Riggio, professor of leadership and organizational psychology at Claremont McKenna College, described what he felt to be the difference between the terms, noting the commonality in the distinction of “leadership” versus “management” was that leaders tend to engage in the “higher” functions of running an organization, while managers handle the more mundane tasks.

However, Riggio believes it is only a matter of semantics because successful and effective leaders and managers must do the same things. They must set the standard for followers and the organization, be willing to motivate and encourage, develop good working relationships with followers, be a positive role model, and motivate their team to achieve goals.

He states that there is a history explaining the difference between the two terms: business schools and “management” departments adopted the term “manager” because the prevailing view was that managers were in charge.

They were still seen as “professional workers with critical roles and responsibilities to help the organization succeed, but leadership was mostly not in the everyday vocabulary of management scholars.”

Leadership on the other hand, derived from organizational psychologists and sociologists who were interested in the various roles across all types of groups.

So, “leader” became the term to define someone who played a key role in “group decision making and setting direction and tone for the group. For psychologists, manager was a profession, not a key role in a group.”

When their research began to merge with business school settings, they brought the term “leadership” with them, but the terms continued to be used to mean different things.

The short answer, according to Riggio is no, not really; simply because leaders and managers need the same skills to be productive and respected.

This editorial was first published here in June of 2014.

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Business News

Does Raising Cane’s have the secret to combatting restaurant labor shortages?

(NEWS) Fried Chicken Franchise, Raising Cane’s, has turned to an unusual source of front-line employees during the labor shortage- Their executives!

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I wouldn’t call myself a fried chicken aficionado or anything, but since chains are designed to blow up everywhere, I have experienced Raising Cane’s.

I’m pretty sure the Cane’s sauce is just barbecue mixed with ranch, but hey, when you’ve got a good idea, keep with it.

In the further pursuit of good ideas, the company has resorted to an intriguing method of boosting staff in a world where the lowest paid among us are still steadily dying of Covid, and/or choosing to peace out of jobs that they don’t find worth the infection risk.

Via Nation Restaurant News: “This is obviously a very tough time, so it was a joint idea of everybody volunteering together to go out there and be recruiters, fry cooks and cashiers —whatever it takes,” said AJ Kumaran, co-CEO and chief operating officer for the Baton Rouge, La.-based quick-service company, from a restaurant in Las Vegas, where he had deployed himself.”

The goal of this volunteer mission, which involves 250 of the 500 executives deployed working directly in service roles, is to bolster locations until 10,000 new hires can be made in both existing locations and locations planned to open.

It’s obvious that this is a bandaid move – execs exist for good reason, and in terms of sheer numbers (not to mention location and salary changes), this is hardly tenable long-term. But I can say this as someone who’s gone from retail to office, and back (and then forth…and then back again) several times – if this doesn’t keep everyone at the corporate level humble, and much more mindful of employees’ needs, nothing will.

The fast-food world is notorious for wonky schedules only going up a day before the week begins, broken promises on hours (both over and under), horrendous pay, and little to no defense of employee dignity in the face of customers with rank dispositions. With the wave of strikes (Nabisco, John Deere, IATSE) making the news, and lack of hazard pay/brutal physical attacks over mask mandates still very fresh in workers’ minds, smart companies are hipping themselves to the fact that “low level” employee acquisition and retention needs to be much more than the ‘work here or starve’ tactics that have served since the beginning of decades of wage stagnation. The best way for that fact to stay front-of-mind is to go out and live the truths behind it.

In Raising Cane’s case, the company also announced that they’re upping wages at all locations — to the tune of an actually not totally insulting $2 per hour, resulting in a starting wage of $15 and a managerial wage of $18.

Ideally, paying people more to cook, clean, and customer service all in one job will actually attract people back to fast food work. Seriously consider the fact that the people cleaning fast-food toilets are the same people making the food that goes into your mouth. The additional fact is that it’s better for everyone’s health when they’re paid enough to care about what they’re doing and stay healthy themselves.

Of course, one does also need to consider how much inflation has affected the price of goods and housing since the ‘fight for $15’ began almost a decade ago in 2012. Now, raising wages closer to the end point of multiple goods still might not be enough!

AJ Kumaran continued, “The chicken prices are through the roof. Logistics are very hard. Shipping is difficult. Simple things cups and paper napkins — everything is in shortage right now. Some are overseas suppliers and others domestic suppliers. Just in poultry alone, we have taken significant inflation.”

That’s global disruption for ya.

It remains to be seen whether this plucky move can save Raising Cane’s dark meat, but I’m very pro regardless. Send more top-earning employees into the trenches! No more executives with 0 knowledge of how the sausage sandwich gets made.

No more leading from behind.

Why not? What are ya? Chicken?

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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.

This story was first published in November 2020.

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