If you think 2019 hasn’t had enough twists and turns already, think again: Apple, Google and Amazon have decided to work together. No, not to save the world – though think of how much could be accomplished through combining that much talent and resources – but to help standardize smart home devices and technology.
The idea is to ensure that no matter what device users own, they will be able to connect it to the technology and software of their choice. For instance, customers could access Amazon’s Alexa through a Google device. While there are already devices that allow you to do something like this, not everything has this capability.
To tackle the issue, Google, Amazon and Apple have created a group called Project Connected Home over IP, which is also joined by production companies like Ikea.
The three main corporations plan to combine their technology to create a new standard for smart home devices. Not only should this elevate the tech as a whole, but having one standard will reduce costs and make producing devices easier. Plus, the group has promised to develop the tech to work with existing connections – think WiFi or Bluetooth – rather than creating something new, which should make implementing smart home technology even easier.
Of course, for many, the problem with these smart home devices isn’t their lack of universal access, but the security risks posed to homeowners. A smart thermostat could inadvertently record when you’re away from your home, a smart fridge can record what products you consume and a voice activated speaker like the Amazon Dot could record…well…everything you say.
Even if the company isn’t using your data, having your devices connected to the internet could leave you very vulnerable to hackers.
Judging by Project Connected Home over IP’s initial focus, which is safety devices like locks, smoke alarms and security systems, ensuring secure homes is a high priority. What will happen next is currently unknown, though it’s likely the companies will aim for the creation of an entire smart home system that is interconnected.
On the one hand, the goal is admirable. Creating a standard for smart homes can make it easier for consumers to implement top notch equipment at a lower price. That said, while an increasingly connected home might be more convenient, it may also be a more convenient way for more nefarious sources to access your data.
Offer customers a frictionless online experience with these updates
(MARKETING) Companies of all sizes still have clunky, hard-to-use websites – here’s how to fix that and offer a quality online experience.
The internet has clearly done wonders for retailers and businesses that sell physical products. Ecommerce is exploding and the evolution of various platforms makes it possible for even the smallest of companies to create their own global supply chains with very little upfront investment or cost. But don’t forget about service-based businesses – such as beauty salons, yoga studios, gyms, chiropractors, and massage centers. These types of businesses have benefited tremendously as well.
The internet has given service businesses the opportunity to increase exposure, drive leads, and better engage modern customers in a convenient manner. However, with great opportunities come incredible responsibilities.
If you want your business to be competitive in today’s landscape, you have to offer customers and clients a frictionless online experience, or a so-called omnichannel solution.
Smooth user experience (UX) is what separates successful businesses from average ones when it comes to online marketing and lead generation. If you want to offer frictionless UX to your customers, here’s where you need to start:
1. Understand buyer journeys
“Today, customer interactions are continuous, contextual, highly personalized and ever-changing, no matter if the customer is on an iPad, talking to Alexa, or entering a subway station,” digital marketing expert David Aponovich points out.
The problem a lot of businesses encounter is a misunderstanding of the customer buyer journey. They view it in isolation, instead of as a long-term play.
“When you start to build digital experiences around your consumers’ actual lives and stop thinking in one-time purchases, you’ll be one step ahead of your competitors,” Aponovich continues. “Removing friction? It starts by being where your customers want you and need you to be.”
2. Offer convenient scheduling
No more asking customers to call the office or send an email in order to schedule an appointment. Rarely will a customer remember to do this. And if they do, it creates an unnecessary hitch in the buying process. You need to offer more convenient scheduling options.
An online appointment scheduling resource will help tremendously with this aspect of UX. A tool like SimplyBook.me makes it easy for smaller businesses (with minimal resources) to streamline the scheduling process for customers and clients. Customers can seamlessly move from interest to purchase/scheduling in the same step.
3. Present plenty of visuals
Nobody likes clutter. As you know, minimalism is the best policy in modern web design. If you want to give your visitors what they’re looking for, ditch the superfluous elements and meaty paragraphs. Instead, opt for high-quality visuals that say more with less.
4. Increase website functionality
Your website should be more than a receptacle for content – or even a platform for scheduling appointments. While these are important aspects, the site itself needs to be functional. This could look like selling physical products directly from the site (if you have them) or offering interactive content that addresses key customer pain points.
5. Make yourself discoverable
It’s easy to believe that UX is all about your website experience, but it actually encompasses a lot more than that. If you want to keep your customers happy, they need to be able to find you. Today, leading brands are putting a huge emphasis on social media, online word of mouth, SEO, and PPC advertising. Prioritize discoverability and you give yourself a pretty big head start.
The internet gives your business an opportunity to reach your target market in a manner that few who went before you would have ever dreamt possible. But it’s not enough to simply reach your audience. Once you engage them, you have to expose them to the frictionless online experience in order to drive conversions and grow your brand. Take some time to think about how you’re doing in this area.
Microsoft to become 3rd largest gaming company after Blizzard acquisition
(TECHNOLOGY) Microsoft will not be left behind in the Metaverse. The tech giant plans to fully acquire Activision Blizzard by 2023 for $68.7 billion cash.
Microsoft announced plans to acquire the video game publisher, Activision Blizzard, on January 18, 2022, in an all-cash transaction reported to be valued at $68.7 billion.
The deal gives the tech giant popular game franchises, such as World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, Overwatch, Diablo, and many more to add to its arsenal. This acquisition sets Microsoft up to be the third-largest gaming company by revenue. Microsoft expects the deal to close in the 2023 fiscal year (which begins in July of this calendar year) once the customary closing conditions have been completed along with the regulatory review and Activision Blizzard’s shareholder approval. Both Microsoft and Activision Blizzard’s board of directors have already approved the deal.
This deal comes in hot on the heels of an avalanche of issues surrounding sexual harassment where 37 employees have reportedly left Activision Blizzard according to this article on The Verge. Microsoft states that Bobby Kotick will continue to serve as CEO of Activision Blizzard, and he and his team will maintain their focus on driving efforts to further strengthen the company’s culture and accelerate business growth. Once the deal closes, the Activision Blizzard business will report to Phil Spencer, CEO, Microsoft Gaming.
Phil Spencer, the CEO of Microsoft Gaming, posted both Activision and Microsoft Gaming will continue to operate independently until the deal is complete with Activision Blizzard then all business will be reported to Spencer.
“Gaming is the most dynamic and exciting category in entertainment across all platforms today and will play a key role in the development of metaverse platforms,” said Satya Nadella, chairman and CEO, Microsoft. “We’re investing deeply in world-class content, community, and the cloud to usher in a new era of gaming that puts players and creators first and makes gaming safe, inclusive, and accessible to all.”
Maybe you noticed the not-so-subtle hint regarding the Metaverse by Microsoft’s chairman and CEO Satya Nadella, but it seems everyone is quick to mention to the public and or other companies listening that they are gearing up to bring their A-game to the Metaverse. Whatever that ends up being.
In the meantime, we can predict some of the possible changes to come from this buyout. Microsoft currently has Game Pass, their subscription-based model for Xbox, which recently hit 25 million subscribers. Now’s the time to sign up for the Game Pass subscription before prices go up to match the revamped gaming inventory. Microsoft could potentially lock down new releases and not deliver them on other platforms, i.e., PlayStation, giving them exclusivity and driving subscription sign-ups.
Whatever ends up happening, Microsoft is making big moves to not be left behind in the gaming world or the Metaverse.
Want to save snippets of a Zoom meeting? Listener makes it possible!
(TECHNOLOGY) Listener lets you screenshot or bookmark important sections of live meetings, as well as curate a playlist of snippets, to share or playback.
We live in a very computer-mediated world where the bulk of communication is done virtually. Many of us spend a great deal of time – whether for work or pleasure – on video calls connecting with people that we’re unable to meet with in person.
Zoom became the unofficial mascot for the pandemic and has shown no signs of going anywhere. So naturally, people are looking for ways to put this to even more of an advantage – like by creating messaging extensions to utilize in lieu of live meetings.
Now the folks behind Listener are getting in on the action by creating Listener for Zoom.
The new tool allows users to bookmark important moments of Zoom calls in real-time and easily turn long recordings into bite-sized video clips.
As founder Nishith Shah puts it, “Zoom meetings just got more productive!”
Listener allows users to do a myriad of things, including live bookmarking to create short video clips; ability to transcribe your entire meeting; edit video clips by using transcripts instead of struggling with video editing tools; share video highlights with your team; create playlists from video highlights across different Zoom meetings to tell powerful stories; use projects to organize your meetings and playlists.
Founders say that Listener is designed for pretty much anyone who uses Zoom. In early testing, the founders found that it is especially helpful for product managers and UX researchers who do customer interviews.
They also reported that early-stage founders have been using Listener to add powerful customer videos to their investor pitch decks. It is also helpful for recruiters and hiring managers who search transcripts across hundreds of hiring interviews to remember who said what and to pass on important clips to other people in the interview process.
The tool is also beneficial for teams and hiring, as customer success and sales teams create a knowledge base with Listener to train and onboard new employees. They also use it to pass on customer feedback to the product teams.
This could also be great for clipping video elements that are appropriate for social media use.
On January 11, 2022, Listener was awarded #3 Product of the Day on Product Hunt.
Listener for Zoom is free while in Beta. The tool works only with licensed (paid) Zoom accounts.
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