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The top tech trends every business must know

You may have a grasp on what the top tech trends are, but do you know what to do with them in your business? Let’s dig deeper together.

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tech trends

Tech trends that affect every business

You’re already on email, probably on Twitter or Facebook, you probably have smartphone, and the “cloud” is no longer an elusive concept. There are five major trends right now that every business must know, no matter the industry: mobile, social, big data, apps, and the cloud. In the following presentation, ten stats are revealed for each trend:

What in the world should you do with this information?

So now you know the stats, the trends, and the direction we’re heading, but you may still be scratching your head (or maybe you’re just overwhelmed).

So what if everyone’s on a mobile device? So am I

The stats reveal the purchasing power of mobile device users, so as a business, you should be sure that your site is mobile-friendly, but guess what? That doesn’t mean that you have a site that opens on a phone, because if people have to manually zoom in and out and try to click on the one pixel wide button, they’re moving on and you’ve lost out on business. While some brands have entire apps developed, your web developer can less expensively design a responsive version of your site which means it changes sizes based on the device being used and buttons become bigger on smartphones, etc.

So what if people use a mobile device in a store?

Do you offer a product? If it’s in stores, most people are showrooming (whipping out their phones to price compare with competitors, while in the store looking at your product), so they may be inspired to leave to find a competitor’s product elsewhere on the cheap. Conversely, if your site is mobile and easily found in search engines, people that are showrooming in stores may end up finding you and coming to you. That’s a huge win and why you should love mobile technologies.

So what if everyone’s gaga over social media?

Yes, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube may all be overwhelmingly noisy and crowded to you, but the reach is far more powerful than print or television media, and lead generation opportunities abound. As we’ve said for over half of a decade now, your brand should study the social networks, choose one where your clients congregate, and get really good at providing a value to that social network before adding another. YouTube is the second most popular search engine next to Google, and video is on fire, but poor quality video is sliding in popularity – putting effort into video, making sure the description is complete and the transcript is accurate and uploaded properly, you’ve landed yourself in a second form of a search engine. But if typed word is more your speed, remember that most people are using social media as a recommendation engine, asking their networks who/what they should use – so if you’re not present, how will people remember to refer to you?

So what if the cloud keeps documents safe and saves me money?

If those two reasons aren’t enough, think about the new paperless office – the ability to hold out your tablet, have a document reviewed and signed by a client, then a copy emailed to all parties – no more filing, no more lost papers, no more faxing crap back and forth and re-faxing when someone missed a signature. When you’re in the cloud, your entire office is at your fingertips – no more having to go back to the office for that presentation on your desktop, no more going back and forth to get a book of your products/services that you forgot to put in your car. You get the point – it’s a time saver in addition to the stated benefits of being a cost saver and safety net.

So what if big data is a big deal? I don’t get it.

We hear that a lot. Big data is just a fancy way of saying “you have massive amounts of digital data,” and the chances of you having done anything with it is slim – just like the majority of companies collecting data across the globe. The truth about big data is that there are now programs that make sense of all of this massive data you have, making it actually useful. Do you have spreadsheets of clients and data going back to 1983? You’ve got big data. Have you tracked sales in a software program since 1996? You have big data. So add on a layer of programs that can tell you trends about that data, and you’ve got legitimate business intelligence – something that used to cost brands millions to decipher. No more.

Here are two fascinating examples two companies making sense of big data:

  1. Polygraph analyzes brands on Facebook
  2. gazeMetrix captures visual mentions of brands online

So what if everyone has an app?

If your brand is one person and you’re doing something millions of others do (insurance sales, real estate, graphic design), you probably don’t need an app, especially in light of the high abandonment rate, even for paid apps. But if you offer something unique that an interactive experience would enhance sales, an app might be the answer. One of the huge benefits of an app is that you can send push notifications to users, so let’s say you operate a food truck company and you have three trucks running around Seattle during lunch – if someone has your food truck app, perhaps they can get an alert on their phone every time one of your trucks is parked within a mile of where they currently are, based on location awareness.

Maybe you sell vegan energy bars, and while popular, they’re not in every store, so why not have a simple app built that alerts users when they’ve entered a store where their favorite product (yours) is sold? Perhaps you’re a real estate broker and you want your clients to be able to hold up their phone in a neighborhood and see all homes listed on the MLS through their camera, with a price tag hovering over homes for sale in real time – augmented reality apps already exist, but with some twists, yours can be unique and useful (like listing below the price the distance to the nearest store, bus stop, public park, or its walkability score or heck, the last sale date of the property if available). Stand out, add value, and you have a reason to have an app, otherwise, stick to your website.

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius and has been named in the Inman 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders several times, co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

Tech News

The top 10 most ridiculous job titles in tech

(TECHNOLOGY) The tech industry is an interesting sector – diverse, open-minded, beautifully nerdy, and sometimes trying too hard, especially when it comes to job titles.

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ridiculous job titles

When it comes down to it, the Internet is all about memes and people constantly getting mad about one thing or another. I’m usually playing on the side of memes, but I joined the other group when I stumbled upon a CB list of the 25 Most Absurd Titles in Tech.

Absurd doesn’t even begin to cut it.

This list is a perpetual head-shaker and there’s clearly some stuff going on in the world of tech that needs to get a reality check.

All 25 of these titles are terrible, but I challenged myself to narrow it down to the 10 worst. Let’s work our way backwards.

10. Full Stack Magician – First of all, a small typo in the second word could really change your profession. Second of all, my concept of a Full Stack Magician is the guy walking around Denny’s playing card tricks for a few extra bucks on a Saturday night. How in the world am I supposed to know that “magician” is shorthand for “engineer”? Two very different things, friends.

9. Humbly Confident Product Designer – I don’t know about you, but humble and confident are often times two traits that don’t sit at the same table, let alone work together to describe a job title. As you might guess, it’s someone in product design who is self-assured. And humble about it. To me, this is something that should be determined in an interview personality test and a reason behind why one gets the job of product designer. It should just be included without having to be part of your LinkedIn title.

8. Chief Heart Officer – What comes to mind here is Dr. Webber on Grey’s Anatomy. This title was developed for Claude Silver of VaynerMedia in 2014. “Being Chief Heart Officer means being in touch with the heartbeat of every single person at this agency,” she later wrote. A nice concept, but, come on.

7. Galactic Viceroy of Research Excellence – This one, developed by Microsoft (really, y’all?), has Star Trek written all over it. Apparently it was developed for Microsoft’s researcher, James Mickens, due to his personality. Should your personality really influence your job title? This Staff Writer votes “nope.”

6. Meme Librarian – I put this on here because I’m both jealous and confused. Getting paid to archive memes? Sign me up! But, also, what the hell? According to CB, this title was invented at Tumblr to describe the role occupied by Amanda Brennan, who researches fandoms and trends. The Tumblr team uses the data collected by Brennan’s team to better understand the unique communities, languages, and relationships that emerge on the platform.

5. Remote Funnel Marketing Ninja – Am I supposed to be going to work with this title or mastering a game on Super Nintendo? Responsibilities apparently include “architect[ing] funnels based on customer goals” and “creat[ing] & connect[ing] ActiveCampaign lists to Gravity Forms in landing pages.” Neat job description, but the job title is trying too hard.

4. Tax Wrangler – This is funny to me because I’m picturing getting audited by John Wayne. What it actually means, according to Automattic is, the in-house tax wrangler is in charge of “researching multi-state sales and use tax regulations” and working on “sales, property, excise and VAT taxes” for a company of 600+ people. Ok, sure.

3. Security Princess – Okay, but do I get to wear a beautiful gown and crown? Why the gendering of a role!? This title was designated to Parisa Tabriz at Google where she was formerly a security engineer. Her job was to find holes in the Chrome browser. I’m confused where Cinderella comes into play, but, whatever.

2. Weekend Happiness Concierge – In my travels, this title belongs to whoever owns the couch I’m crashing on any given weekend (I kid). This is simply a customer support agent, with concierge derived from the powerful role in 18th century European courts. To me, it just sounds like someone who brings you an extra pillow at a hotel.

1. SVG Badass – It was hard to pick number one, but I had to go with this. You mean to tell me that you’re going to walk into a networking event filled with other professionals and hand out business cards that say “badass”? In tech events, that will fly, but not outside of that bubble. Change the ‘bad’ to ‘dumb’ and we’ll be on the same page.

In order of #1-25, the original list consisted of: Innovation Evangelist, Dream Alchemist, Weekend Happiness Concierge, Happiness Engineer, SVG Badass, Time Ninja, Innovation Alchemist, Security Princess, Retail Jedi, Software Ninjaneer, Tax Wrangler, Remote Funnel Marketing Ninja, Content Hero, Meme Librarian, Happiness Manager, Conversion Optimization Wrangler, Galactic Viceroy of Research Excellence, Innovation Sherpa, Digital Prophet, Chief Heart Officer, Brand Warrior, Wizard of Light Bulb Moments, Direct-Mail Demigod, Full Stack Magician, Humbly Confident Product Designer.

FFS.

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Tech News

Make it harder for Facebook to track you around the web

(TECH NEWS) Facebook remains in hot water, but you can make a simple choice that puts you in control of your data. Check it out.

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facebook container

Firefox has long been an industry leader in security, which is why it’s no surprise that they’re the first large browser to roll out an anti-tracking add-on geared toward making life difficult for everyone’s favorite social media platform: Facebook.

Facebook Container is a deceptively powerful add-on, allowing you to prevent Facebook from tracking and analyzing your browsing behavior while you navigate around the Internet. After installing it in Firefox like any other add-on, you log into your Facebook account inside of the container; from that point on, any Facebook tracking will be confined to the Container tab in which you’re using FB.

The primary purpose of the add-on is, of course, to limit the amount of information that Facebook can extrapolate from your browsing history. There’s still plenty of information that you can give to Facebook simply by scrolling through your News Feed page, but at least they won’t know what size of underwear you’re buying.

Another obvious ramification of using Facebook Container is its ad-blocking capabilities. Unlike a traditional ad-blocker, it won’t force-hide ads; instead, it will hide your activity, meaning you’ll see fewer targeted ads based on your browsing activity and habits. This is likely to cut down on frustration from users who feel inappropriately targeted or singled out by the social media giant’s often-invasive ads.

In addition to its numerous qualities, it also comes with a few downsides—though for the privacy-minded, they’ll probably not feel like game-changers. The main issue is that sharing buttons and those cute little “Like” buttons you see all over the Internet won’t work when you use the add-on since you’ll be logged out of FB everywhere else in Firefox.

Naturally, using the social media buttons outside of the Firefox add-on kind of defeats the purpose of using the add-on to begin with, so this shouldn’t be a huge problem.

You also won’t be able to log into websites that use your FB login information as a credential automatically, which—as Mozilla puts it on the product page—is “to be expected.”

If you’re the kind of person who says “I’d delete my social media accounts, but I need it to stay in contact with so-and-so,” at least once a week, this add-on for Firefox may be for you—and, even if you aren’t a Firefox user, their browser updates over the past six months make switching worth a try.

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Tech News

Anti-surveillance mask – creepy, ingenious, or potentially illegal?

(TECHNOLOGY) Advances in surveillance tech have impressed the masses, but as our cultures consider the risk and reward, some are preparing to protect themselves from overreaching technologies and governments.

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anti-surveillance prosthetic

How many surveillance cameras do you pass when you walk down the street? Most of us don’t know and prefer not to think about it. We know that public and private entities, from social media sites like Facebook, to law enforcement agencies, are using facial recognition software. In most cases, we haven’t actively consented to this surveillance, and we don’t know what will be done with information – but it also seems like there’s not much we can do about it.

Enter artist Leo Selvaggio, who is interested in “increasing the amount of public discourse about surveillance and how it affects our behavior in public space.” Selvaggio has launched a venture called URME Surveillance, whose focus is “protecting the public from surveillance and creating a safe space to explore our digital identities.”

URME is doing this is in an unusual, and admittedly kind of unnerving way. The site provides masks, in the likeness of Selvaggio’s face, that you can wear in public to protect your own mug from ending up on file. These “Personal Surveillance Identity Prosthetics” are sold at cost – Selvaggio isn’t in it for the profits. There’s a $200 resin prosthetic, a set of 2D paper masks for large groups (protestors?), and a downloadable PDF paper mask that fits together like a 3D puzzle, giving the mask more dimension than the flat, 2D version.

paper anti-surveillance

“Our world is becoming increasingly surveilled. For example, Chicago has over 25,000 cameras networked to a single facial recognition hub,” explains the URME website. “We don’t believe you should be tracked just because you want to walk outside and you shouldn’t have to hide either. Instead, use one of our products to present an alternative identity when in public.”

Is this product a genuine solution to non-consensual surveillance? Or is it simply an artist’s attempt to make a statement? The 3D resin mask is fairly realistic, but with the wearer’s eyes peeking out of the mask’s holes, it’s creepy, to say the least.

anti-surveillance face

While the mask may thwart surveillance cameras, it will probably attract attention from other people nearby – so perhaps anonymity isn’t the goal.

It’s more about making sure that your face doesn’t end up in a databank; or at the very least, inspiring conversation about the topic of public surveillance. Potential customers should also be advised that many states and cities have laws against wearing masks in public.

Regardless of the ultimate intention, the fact that Selvaggio is willing to sacrifice his own likeness to Big Brother means that he takes the issue seriously. Cameras linked to facial recognition software will identify and track Selvaggio, regardless of who is under the mask. URME has actually tested the product using Facebook’s “sophisticated” facial recognition software.

Selvaggio even acknowledges that people could use the mask to commit crimes, which could land him in hot water. However, he has “come to the conclusion that it is worth the risk if it creates public discourse around surveillance practices and how it affects us all.”

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