Communication is key
Effective and efficient communication has always been a key in business, and soon communications capabilities will exceed what most never thought was possible.
Nobody knows exactly when it will happen, or what it will look like, but we do know this — 5G technology is coming. At this point, it appears private companies will play an instrumental role in defining 5G standards. Some are already working on the technology.
Here is a look at what 5G technology is, the challenges involved in rolling it out, and what it will mean for businesses going forward.
What exactly is 5G?
Put simply, 5G technology is the fifth generation of wireless communication. The major wireless carriers currently work on a 4G standard called LTE Advanced, and 5G will be the next natural progression. It will use coding that’s not all that different from 4G, but its latency will be much lower.
Generally speaking, 5G will mean faster wireless internet speeds, and that is the main difference between 5G and 4G. It’s a bit difficult to explain what 5G is beyond that, because the truth is nobody exactly knows the technology that will be implemented and define 5G.
That said, the Federal Communications Commission got the 5G ball rolling with a proposal from chairman Tom Wheeler, under which portions of high-band spectrum would be made available for 5G communications.
The FCC won’t be the one that decides what the 5G standard is, however. If the proposal is passed, the agency will leave it up to wireless carriers such as Verizon or AT&T to design and develop 5G, a similar process to how the rollout of 4G played out. Wheeler has said the FCC will make available parts of the spectrum and then rely on telecoms to figure out which frequencies should be used.
5G technology: Still developmental
The most immediate and obvious challenge of 5G is defining what it is in the first place. The goal is to create wireless networks that are up to 50 times faster than what we currently know, but how we get there will be left up to the private sector.
Once the wireless companies come up with a standard for 5G, their next challenge will be rolling it out on a national scale. That will include building cell towers capable of harnessing 5G signals, a costly and time-consuming process.
Another challenge is developing new devices such as smartphones or tablets that are compatible with 5G. As technology gets faster, components such as semiconductors get smaller, which is another challenge. This technology continues to miniaturize with a focus on increased pixel density on smaller screen real estate, meaning lasers and sensor dimensions must also decrease.
What will be the benefits of 5G?
The most obvious advantage of 5G will be faster wireless internet, and it goes well beyond being able to download a movie or app in a shorter amount of time.
The implications of 5G are numerous. For businesses, it could mean the ability to host employee video conferences from any location with minimal latency. For doctors, it might mean the ability to perform complex procedures remotely in real time.
Faster internet and reduced latency will also be a cornerstone to the so-called “internet of things,” in which all manner of cars, home appliances and other devices are connected to the internet and have the ability to communicate with each other. The rise of 5G will also be a key to the burgeoning virtual reality market, where top-level internet speeds are vital for a superior experience.”
All of those benefits are great, but for now it’s a waiting game. Even the most optimistic of forecasts say true 5G networks won’t roll out until 2018, while more reserved predictions say the technology won’t be here until at least 2020.
Still, for anyone who has ever experienced lengthy download times and spotty service with 4G, the wait will be well worth it.
Foster communication from the search bar with Google business messaging
(TECH NEWS) Google added business messaging options on Google Maps and Google Search to make it easier for businesses and customers to have communication.
Connecting with and understanding your customers is important in keeping your business thriving. So, to help streamline that communication, Google is adding business messaging options to the Google Maps app and Google Search.
To start using this, your business will first need to be verified by Google. If you haven’t verified your business yet, you can get more information on how to do so here. If you’re already verified, you simply need to turn messaging on from your Business Profile.
Once it’s on, customers will see a “Message” button on your Business Profile, and they will be able to message you at any time. From the business messages section in the “Updates” tab on Google Maps, you can start replying to customers. Also, via the Customers menu on your Business Profile, you’ll soon be able to see your messages straight from Google Search.
Google said, “When people look for information online, they want to find the answers to their questions quickly. This is especially true for people browsing nearby businesses. Business Profiles help merchants share information like how late you’re open and what safety measures are in place. But sometimes people are looking for answers to more niche questions such as: ‘Do you make gluten-free cakes?’ or ‘Is there covered parking?’”
To help make it easier for customers to ask their questions, Google isn’t making customers head back to your Business Profile to click the “Message” button every time they have a question. In addition to that button, customers can initiate a conversation with your business on any post you’ve created. Also, when a customer’s call goes unanswered, they will be prompted to send you a message.
And, besides making communication easier, Google will soon be “rolling out more metrics to give you a deeper understanding of how customers discover your Business Profile.” You’ll be able to see Insights on what queries customers used to find your business. You’ll be able to tell whether they saw your business on Google Maps or Search, and if it was on a computer or mobile device.
“We’ve continued to invest in new ways to make it easier for you to bolster your presence on Google. With these updated features, we hope you have more of the tools and information you need to connect with customers and grow your business in today’s ever-changing environment,“ Google said.
Easing the pain between business and customer is always a plus. What do you think about Google’s new messaging options?
Tired of transcribing screenshots? Put this Chrome extension to work
(TECH NEWS) This new Chrome extension takes out the tedium of transcribing all your necessary screenshots into your writing and does it for you.
My favorite part of being a writer is getting to interview people from various walks of life. My least favorite part of being a writer is transcribing those interviews.
Slightly easier, but still annoying, is transcribing information from a screenshot, photo file or PDF. Sometimes you have to get this information in a rush and retyping all of it slows you down.
Docsumo is making that process into a breeze. The tool allows for users to grab text from a screenshot for easy copy and paste.
So how does it work? First, it has to be downloaded as a Google Chrome extension. Once it’s part of the browser’s extension, it can be put to work.
A video on Docsumo’s website demonstrates the easy transcribing process. The developer does a Google image search for a shipping label as they need to quickly copy and paste an address. When the necessary label pops up, they click the Docsumo tool that allows them to drag and select the part of the label they want to transcribe (the movement of the mouse is similar to taking a screenshot on a Mac computer).
Then, the text that they’ve highlighted is transcribed into a box where it can be copied and pasted. Simple!
In addition to copy and paste, users can extract, edit, and share data. After that, all of the related information is removed from Docsumo’s server. Examples of when this tool is useful include: Invoices, bank statements, insurance documents, bills, and tax forms.
The tool is made possible through Optimal Character Recognition (OCR) which, according to Ducsumo’s developers, is something that comes in handy in many situations.
“Organizations often receive crucial information and data in image form of documents. These images can be a photo of a document, scanned document, a scene-photo, or subtitle text superimposed on an image. The real challenge for the operation team is to be able to extract information and data from these photos. It can take hours to manually pull out this data and assemble it in a structured way for record-keeping and processing. This process is hugely error-prone too.
OCR technology comes to rescue in this situation.
Optical character recognition or optical character reader (OCR) is the electronic or mechanical conversion of images of typed, handwritten or printed text into machine-encoded text. This technology is suitable for photos of text-heavy documents and printed paper data records such as passports, invoices, bank statements, receipts, business cards, and identity verification documents. OCR technology is the way of digitizing printed texts so that they can be electronically edited, searched, and stored more compactly.”
In a world where pen-to-paper has slowly been fading away, Docsumo is here to give it another push further away.
Scoring productivity: Is this Microsoft tool creepy or helpful?
(TECH NEWS) Microsoft launched a new tool that helps monitor user data, but it’s not a work monitoring tool – it’s trying to judge productivity.
Just recently into the work from home movement, Microsoft launched their new tool, “Productivity Score”. According to Microsoft, this tool helps organizations understand how well they are functioning, how technology affects their productivity, and how they can get the most out of their Microsoft 365 purchase.
But to do all of this, the tool will keep track of how each employee is using Microsoft products. For instance, the tool will monitor how often video or screen sharing is enabled during meetings by employees.
It will keep a metric of how employees are communicating. It will show if employees are sending out emails through Outlook, sending out messages through Teams, or posting on Yammer. It will also keep track of which Microsoft tools are being used more and on which platforms.
So, Microsoft’s new tool is a scary work surveillance tool, right? According to Microsoft, it isn’t. In a blog post, Microsoft 365’s corporate Vice President Jared Spataro said, “Productivity Score is not a work monitoring tool. Productivity Score is about discovering new ways of working, providing your people with great collaboration, and technology experiences.”
Spataro says the tool “focuses on actionable insights” so people and teams can use Office 365 tools to be more productive, collaborative, and help make work improvements. And, while this all sounds good, privacy advocates aren’t too thrilled about this.
Microsoft says it is “committed to privacy as a fundamental element of Productivity Score.” To maintain privacy and trust, the tool does aggregate user data over a 28-day period. And, there are controls to anonymize user information, or completely remove it. However, by default individual-level monitoring is always on, and only admins can make any of these changes. Employees can’t do anything about securing their privacy.
So, user data privacy is still a large issue on the table, but privacy advocates can breathe a sigh of relief. Yesterday, they got a response from Microsoft they can smile about. In another blog post, Spataro responded to the controversy. “No one in the organization will be able to use Productivity Score to access data about how an individual user is using apps and services in Microsoft 365,” he said.
Although Productivity Score will still aggregate data over a 28-day period, it will not do so from an individual employee level. It will do it from an organizational one as a whole. Also, the company is making it clearer that the tool is a “measure of organizational adoption of technology—and not individual user behavior.”
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