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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

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.

Tech News

Clubhouse finally made it to Android, but has its time passed?

(TECH NEWS) Social media felt the impact of Clubhouse, but the internet moves fast, and even though it is finally on Android, it’s time may be waning.

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Woman holding book and a phone, with headphones, participating in Clubhouse.

Clubhouse finally got an Android release, and while many people clamored for such a thing months ago, others argue that it’s too little, too late.

If you aren’t familiar with Clubhouse, it’s an audio-only “social platform” that encourages discussions through live chat rooms. Users can drop into various rooms and listen to people talk, request the option to chime in, and follow a variety of rooms (or “topics”) to stay engaged over time. Users can even create their own rooms that feature them as speakers.

Clubhouse also has a certain allure to it in that the app requires new users to put their names on a waitlist that creates an “invite-only” culture of exclusivity.

But while iPhone users have had access to Clubhouse since its inception, Android users have been not-so-patiently waiting for their own release—and, now that Clubhouse for Android is available, it may have outstayed its welcome.

Part of the problem is the launch itself. The Android Clubhouse app launched with limited functionality; Android users weren’t able to follow the topics they like, change their account information, and so on. This made the release feel underwhelming, further highlighting Clubhouse’s affinity for Apple users.

A more complicated problem is the prevalence of audio options in other social media services. Slack, for example, recently released their audio-only rooms, and services such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram have placed a spotlight on voice-only mediums of expression.

Initially, Clubhouse was the only app to incorporate audio as a strong central focus, but the ubiquitous fascination with voice-posting has expanded to comprise most major communication platforms. As such, Clubhouse’s sought-after exclusivity is no more—something that was also arguably damaged by expanding to Android.

It should be noted that interest in the app itself is decreasing, and not just on Android. Social Media Today reported that, in March of 2021, Clubhouse downloads were down 72 percent from February’s 9.6 million downloads. The publication also pointed out that difficulty finding rooms was a substantial issue that is unlikely to do anything but worsen with a surge of Android users, necessitating some back-end fixes from the owners.

As it sits, Clubhouse is still very much in use, and Android users are poised to reignite interest as iOS users stagnate. Whether or not that interest will persevere in the current social media ecosystem remains to be seen.

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Tech News

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.

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Google search bar open to communication with businesses.

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?

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Tech News

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.

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Logo for Docsumo, a transcribing Google Chrome extension

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.

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