E-Invoicing Presents Opportunities for Businesses to Save

Invoicing is an important process in any business. Unfortunately, it’s also a laborious process that requires accuracy. With technology advances, businesses have tried to use various means to ease the invoicing process. Some outfits send scanned invoices; others might transfer PDFs through email; and some still use manual invoices. In this technology age, businesses are choosing to automate functions in a bid to increase overall business productivity and efficiency. E-invoicing is a technology that promises to help entrepreneurs add value to their businesses.

What is E-Invoicing?

E-invoicing is the exchange of an invoice between a buyer and seller using an integrated electronic format. This allows the buyer to pay online through a card payment, direct debit or other option after receiving the e-invoice.

E-invoicing is not a new technology; it’s already used by large scale businesses and governments. Some governments have already mandated the use of e-invoices from their suppliers and even for taxpayers. These programs have been running onsite, making it expensive for small and medium businesses (SMB) to use. Another challenge for SMBs has been dealing with multiple providers who have different platforms and technologies. This is a challenge because it requires a business to support extra business processes when sending or receiving invoices.

However, the rise of cloud computing and Software as a Service (SaaS) technologies has become an enabler for SMBs to implement e-invoicing.

Making e-invoicing available as SaaS eliminates complicated system installations and integrations that have previously been a challenge to SMBs. The SaaS systems come with features that allow you to automate the invoicing process, send reminders, accept online payments and generate reports, among other things.

Benefits of E-Invoicing

Here are some reasons that businesses are moving to e-invoicing:

  • Eliminates the manual process of sending invoices between a buyer and seller.
  • Prevents human error with the use of a template. The automated e-invoice ensures correct data is used with a validation process. This ensures there is no mistyped information, no data entry errors, no double entry, missed details or wrong data. Therefore, it improves accuracy.
  • Low cost of processing, since it helps to cut down on administration costs and printing invoices. It also saves a business from the task of sending emails back and forth concerning an invoice.
  • Maintains a more predictable cashflow as e-invoicing facilitates the seller receiving payment faster.
  • Enables ease of tracking invoices as you can track and trace the entire document journey. This means better accounting.
  • Enhanced convenience. Businesses create a different number of invoices depending on their transactions. E-invoicing provides a convenient way to store the invoices and easily retrieve them when needed.
  • Saves on time so you can concentrate on other business activities. There is no need to waste time looking for client information and entering data every time you need to send an invoice.
  • Improves the accounting process. When a business integrates e-invoicing with an accounting system, the invoicing function is faster and easier to handle.
  • Enhances invoice security and guaranteed delivery. There is no risk of invoices getting lost in the mail or landing in junk email. Encrypted file transfer and digital signatures are used to enhance security.
  • Real-time processing, which allows one to view the live delivery and processing status of an invoice.
  • Remote handling as SaaS can be accessed from anywhere. This makes it possible to send an invoice anytime and from anywhere as there is no need for printers or scanners.

Conclusion

The business environment is becoming increasingly competitive and the adoption of technology that automates processes can only help. E-invoicing provides an opportunity for business owners to effectively use their time on growing their business instead of spending it on a labor-intensive administration process. This service also helps SMBs align themselves with large corporations.

Finally, as with any technology, business owners should take time to research which e-invoicing service provider will best serve their unique business needs.

How Cloud Accounting Helps Small Businesses Gain Competitive Edge

Cloud AccountingIn a continuously changing business environment, small businesses have a challenge to keep up. It’s especially expensive to keep pace with ever changing technology. Luckily, with affordable cloud accounting solutions, small businesses can maintain a competitive edge.

What is Cloud Accounting

Cloud accounting involves moving your business books online. Unlike desktop accounting systems, cloud accounting permits you to access accounting software from a web browser without the need to install it on your personal computer.

Companies that offer cloud computing provide their services on remote servers and applications. For a fee, you gain remote access to the services that fit your business needs.

Cloud Accounting Benefits for a Small Business

Here are benefits offered by cloud accounting that enable small businesses to gain a competitive edge:

  • No need to invest in expensive software and hardware
    With cloud accounting, you need only subscribe to a company offering cloud accounting services. This removes the need to purchase the actual software and necessary hardware. It also means there are no extra costs for maintenance, allowing a business to focus on core business activities. 
  • Save on upgrade costs
    Software keeps changing and needs frequent patches and upgrades. This is expensive for a small business running a traditional accounting software, and most end up using outdated software.

    Subscribing to cloud accounting means the service provider takes care of the upgrades, and you have access to new features instantly.

  • No need to hire an in-house accountant or bookkeeper
    If your business is small and running on a tight budget, subscribing to a cloud accounting solution will save you the cost of hiring a person for manual accounting and other bookkeeping processes. By connecting the system with your bank account, the transactions will be updated automatically, thereby saving you time and ensuring accuracy.
  • Easy to scale
    With cloud-based services, you can easily scale your business as it grows by adding to the services you subscribe to. At the same time, if your business is experiencing a slowdown and you need to reduce expenses, you can scale down by reducing the number of subscribed services.
  • Data accessibility
    You can easily access your financial status at any time, unlike when you run a traditional desktop accounting system. This is possible from any device that has an internet connection.
  • Access to various functions, features and support
    Cloud accounting enables a small business to have access to different accounting features and functions, such as project estimates, finance, billing, invoicing, tax summary, and stocks, among others. This is because of the ability to select services depending on the needs of your business and your budget.
  • Enables remote working and collaboration
    Cloud accounting allows for remote working, which is especially important with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and recommendations to work from home. This enhances collaboration with your team and financial advisor because you can all work on the same system at the same time, regardless of your location. The accountant also needs not go through the trouble of importing client data.
  • Financial reports
    Cloud accounting allows for access to regular reports that include insights about the financial state of your business. This enables a business owner to have an up-to-date picture of how the business is performing anytime, whether at home, at work or on the go.
  • Data security
    Data on the cloud is more secure than data stored on a hard drive, which can be accessed if it is stolen. In the case of a natural disaster, your business productivity is not greatly affected because you can still access your data. This is because it’s the responsibility of the cloud provider to ensure data security, make regular backups, scan servers for vulnerabilities and use the latest technology.

Final Words

Cloud accounting enables small businesses to enjoy business efficiency and increased productivity while reducing costs. Businesses of all sizes, even small ones, have to keep up with changing technology. Any business that wants to maintain a competitive edge has the option to do away with traditional accounting desktop software.

How AI Chatbots are Transforming Businesses

When a business moves its services online, it runs the risk of losing the close connection it had with customers. This affects customer loyalty and sometimes means lost revenue. Thanks to technology, some businesses have deployed artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots to keep customers engaged in a two-way conversation. 

What is an AI Chatbot?

An AI chatbot is a piece of software powered by artificial intelligence that is placed on websites and other applications to interact with humans.

Chatbots are not a new technology, and it’s worth noting that there is a difference between AI chatbots and flow chatbots. Flow chatbots follow a pre-determined path defined by a developer; AI chatbots are self-trained, meaning they give feedback depending on the information supplied by the customer. They use natural language processing and machine learning technology to turn complex business interactions into simple conversations through text or voice.

This makes AI chatbots smarter because they learn over time.

According to a report by Markets and Markets, the conversational AI market is expected to grow from $4.8 billion in the year 2020 to $13.9 billion by 2025.   

AI Chatbots in Business

AI is no longer reserved for large enterprises only. Small businesses can now leverage conversational chatbots on applications such as Facebook.

The demand for chatbots has been driven by customers who need round-the-clock assistance from businesses. In most cases, businesses are slow to adapt to new technologies – especially because of the related costs. But the many benefits of AI chatbots make it worth adopting. Below are some of the ways that AI chatbots are being used in businesses:

  • Customer inquiries – The bots help reduce customer service workload and can serve customers outside typical working hours. This means there is no need to struggle to manually respond to inquiries as the AI chatbots can be used to automate customer feedback, including in emails. The customers also no longer have to wait a long time to connect with a customer care representative.
  • Personalizing interactions – conversational AI helps personalize interactions relevant to each user. AI chatbots learn the behavior of a client to provide personalized conversations.
  • Data analysis – Businesses have a greater understanding of their clientele once the conversational data is analyzed.
  • Sales representatives – they offer product suggestions for customers who are not sure what they are looking for.
  • Lead qualifying – instant feedback helps keep a prospect interested and eventually turn them into a paying customer.
  • Candidate vetting – Interested applicants converse with the AI chatbot, which then helps to filter for new hires.
  • Free HR staff time – for businesses that have many employees, the conversational chatbots help answer employee questions depending on their job function, geographical location and date. It’s also useful in reminding employees of tasks that need to be completed. This frees time for the HR staff to concentrate on other tasks that help improve job satisfaction and reduce staff turnover.
  • Increased engagement – the ability to answer emails and queries instantly helps keep the customer engaged. This enhances a business brand differentiation.
  • Fast information retrieval – a human can take a long time to retrieve information, especially for an e-commerce or real estate business. AI chatbots easily connect to the database and provide feedback in real-time as they serve as an internal knowledge base.
  •  Integration with other applications – AI chatbots are integrated with robotic process automation, enterprise resource planning or customer relationship management systems to carry out further tasks. Such tasks include booking appointments, filling out forms and making recommendations.
  • Easy scalability – chatbots handle multiple conversations simultaneously. This means that even when a business grows, the bots still handle large volumes of chats without affecting business costs.
  • In digital marketing – businesses are using AI chatbots to support the collection of customer data, new product launches, lead generation, and to increase brand loyalty.

Conclusion

AI technology is continuously progressing and no doubt chatbots will also keep changing.

As with every technology, there are some limitations, such as lack of emotional intelligence that affects the depth and scope of a conversation. This means that there are still complex communications that will require humans.

Nonetheless, having AI chatbots as an additional resource to run a business is a sure way to help boost revenue, improve customer experience, and provide a competitive advantage.

However, before jumping on the bandwagon, it is best to first identify areas in your business where you can deploy AI chatbots.

Business Process Management Systems Provide Variety of Benefits to Owners

All businesses have one thing in common, and that is processes. Business processes – whether direct or indirect – are crucial when it comes to providing products or services to customers.

Business process management (BPM) plays an important role in enhancing processes and offers numerous benefits to businesses. But imagine what greater benefits can be achieved if you choose to implement a technology product that supports your specific business process management.

Why BPM Software?

First, a little bit about BPM. Business process management was introduced to help accomplish workflow quickly and easily. Simply put, BPM enables users to design, model, implement, automate and analyze business processes of a company or an organization.

Some businesses have been doing things manually or with a number of different software applications. However, the invention of BPM software that came about with the technology evolution allows business processes to be digitized.

With the growing adoption of artificial intelligence, BPM systems are able to offer more. This is because analytics and data can be turned into actionable insights to offer optimized processes. Through machine learning, it is also easy to detect and learn patterns, organize unstructured data, and enhance the user experience with upgraded interfaces that allow voice commands and chatting.

All this is necessary due to high competition, the need to reduce costs, and the need to increase productivity.

Implementing BPM software helps a business design and analyze processes such as employee onboarding, account management, expense reporting, invoice management, customer requests, compliance management, project management, and much more.

Benefits of BPM Software

Apart from the obvious benefits, such as gaining a competitive edge, reducing costs, and improving business agility, BPM software also can provide:

  1. Business process modeling: a visual process design tool that enables you to create and test multiple processes and workflows within your business.
  2. Business rules engine: design business rules and conditions for each business process.
  3. Workflow management: design, test and implement advanced workflows by integrating team members, robust communication, other systems, and data.
  4. Overall visibility of business operations and performance: enhance process automation, allowing you to track how different processes function as well as how they are performing in real-time. This enables necessary improvements.
  5. KPI Monitoring and Measurement: easily monitor and track the performance of different processes.
  6. Integrations: combine various systems from different business domains (both internal and external).
  7. Collaboration: social collaboration software that facilitates effective communication within a company.
  8. Data Analytics: define metrics, get insights in real-time, and run reports on demand.
  9. Produce faster: due to high demands and competition, businesses are required to produce more and at a faster rate. Digitizing your business processes allows for more efficiency.
  10. Scale quickly and easily: as your business grows so do the tasks, causing your workflow to get complicated. A BPM system will help you make necessary adjustments to accommodate the growth.

Considerations Before Purchasing a BPMS

Before purchasing a BPMS because it is popular, it’s important to consider the following: first, define and analyze your business’ key processes. You should also consider your business goals, your budget, return on investment (ROI), future scalability, and deployment options whether on-site or software as a service.

A good BPM system should include a workflow, ease of use, ability to customize and collect data, regulatory compliance, and enhanced business agility.

Final Word

Business process management in any business is vital, and BPM systems are meant to make your business more efficient.

Some business owners might shy away from investing in these systems for fear of high costs. Luckily with cloud computing, you don’t need on-premise solutions – especially if you are a small business. You can choose from available software as a service option.

Businesses today have no option but to work with real-time data that will help in speed, agility, and innovation. This has been especially evident with the global COVID-19 pandemic that has affected many businesses, demanding they have systems in place to deal with unexpected situations.

Standalone 5G Networks: Potential Vulnerabilities that Could Result in Denial of Service for Customers

5G networks promise high speeds, lower latency, and more robust security compared to its predecessors – and this has created a lot of buzz. As a result, there is a lot of competition among operators to roll out the network while manufacturers are already producing 5G devices.

The deployment of 5G around the world has also been facilitated by a need for always-connected computers, widespread internet of things (IoT), and dependence on smartphones. All of this is constraining the 4G LTE technology.

With the current uptake in remote working due to COVID-19, 5G is expected to see more deployment.

However, despite the promised benefits, there are varying concerns about the potential vulnerabilities of this network. Since there are various security concerns, this article will highlight those involving the standalone 5G networks.

What is 5G Standalone Network?

5G stands for the fifth generation of networks that are designed to address gaps and errors existing in the architecture of previous generation networks. However, its implementation is through a gradual phasing out of the existing networks.

Note that the 5G network involves two streams, which include the standalone (SA) and non-standalone (NSA). The NSA relies on the existing 4G infrastructure because 5G standards are not fully finalized.

On the other hand, the standalone is a completely new, end-to-end 5G network. To offer ultra-low latency and high capacities, service providers will have to fully implement the standalone 5G infrastructure.

Despite the radical and beneficial transformation promised by 5G networks, there are concerns that it might become a multidimensional cyberattack vulnerability.

Vulnerabilities for Subscribers and Mobile Network Operators

Unlike previous networks, 5G is a software-defined network and involves network function virtualization, which makes it more vulnerable.

The previous networks implement hardware choke points because they are centralized and hardware-based; whereas 5G digital routing lacks inspection and control chokepoints.

This new architecture has seen various research carried out to check its viability. As a result, industry professionals and government officials have already raised concern over the network’s security and overall architecture.

An investigation by global cybersecurity firm Positive Technologies focused on 5G standalone core in terms of its architecture security, the interaction of network elements, as well as subscriber authentication and registration procedures.

The examination revealed that “the stack of technologies in 5G potentially leaves the door open to attacks on subscribers and the operator’s network. Such attacks can be performed from the international roaming network, the operator’s network, or partner networks that provide access to services.”

The vulnerabilities were discovered in two protocols that are, PFCP and HTTP/2, which are used in 5G standalone networks.

Exploitation in Packet Forwarding Control Protocol (PFCP) would result in denial of service. This is because the PFCP is used to manage subscriber connections. A PFCP session includes three procedures: session establishment, modification, and deletion. It’s at this point that denial of service can be carried out by attackers through a session deletion request, a session modification request, or redirection of data through a session modification request.

For the HTTP/2, the Positive Technologies research found that an attacker could obtain the network functions profile and impersonate any network service. This is because the HTTP/2 protocol is responsible for vital network functions that register and store profiles on 5G networks. The attacker then would have access to authentication status, current location, and subscriber settings for network access. It’s also possible that an attacker would be able to delete NF profiles, which could result in a financial loss as well as damage subscriber trust.

If not handled correctly, the 5G standalone network security issues will place critical infrastructures such as hospitals, transport, and utilities at risk.

Solution and Conclusion

According to the report, the vulnerabilities would appear due to misconfigurations. With vendors competing to launch 5G networks, attackers will take advantage of poor configurations.

Therefore, it calls for proper configuration of the architecture to stop these types of attacks. Unfortunately, errors still might occur. To detect configuration errors in the networks, regular security audits should be performed.

It’s also vital that apart from ensuring proper equipment configuration, security monitoring, and enhancing the implementation of firewalls are also top priorities.

In conclusion, 5G’s high speeds, low latency, and high bandwidth will be highly beneficial. However, potential security holes could cost more than the cost of implementing this technology. As a business owner considering the 5G network, do not let your guard down just because the new network promises to address gaps and errors in previous generation networks.

Will StarLink be the Next Disruption to the Telecommunication Industry?

With every new project comes expectations, uncertainties, questions, opposition, and more. Elon Musk’s StarLink internet is one such project.

Just last month, on Nov. 24, SpaceX launched 60 StarLink internet satellites – making a total of more than 900 of its flat-panel satellites already on low earth orbit (LEO). This also marked the company’s 23rd space launch since the start of 2020.

But just what is StarLink; why is it a big deal; and will it replace existing internet infrastructure?

Follow along for information already in the public domain that will help answer some of these questions.

What is StarLink?

StarLink is an initiative by SpaceX that aims to provide internet from space. Its goal is to do this through a low earth constellation of micro-satellites that promise high speed and low latency internet access to all parts of the world. What this means is that you can access fast internet from any corner of the world, whether in the forest, in the middle of the ocean, or anywhere else.

How Does StarLink Internet Work?

First, a little history. Product development started in 2015, and by February 2018, two prototype test flights were launched. In May 2019, the first large deployment made up of 60 operational satellites was launched. Since then, it has been a continuous process to send more satellites into space. SpaceX intends to have launched 12,000 satellites by 2028, with an ambitious target of 1,440 per year.

So how does StarLink internet work? Unlike other satellites that are placed in higher earth orbits, StarLink satellites are placed in low earth orbits. The high-placed satellites have to travel long distances, which leads to high latency – and this is what SpaceX intends to solve.

Will StarLink Replace ISPs?

Currently, service providers like Verizon and AT&T are already spending millions to reinforce their fiber infrastructure reach to cover more ground. In addition, 5G is already available in many areas and promises superior reliability, negligible latency, and high speeds. Yet more StarLink satellites are being sent to space.

In fact, if the project is successful, there will be a constellation of satellites surrounding the earth as Musk plans to have an additional 30,000 added to the initial approved 12,000 (although this doesn’t go well with astronomers, who have raised concerns that this will ruin the night sky).

So, will StarLink replace other ISPs? There is no telling the long-term plan that SpaceX has, but one thing that Musk has given an assurance on is that he intends to serve only remote areas and mobile applications, such as in planes, trains, and ships.

If we were to compare StarLink and 5G, you would find that they do have different characteristics. However, it would cost a lot more for 5G to cover large areas, while StarLink would be able to cover most of the world if all satellites are placed correctly. Nevertheless, the two may work together. For example, in situations where there is no internet connection, StarLink could provide internet backhaul to 5G remote towers.

If you are in a densely populated city, you will still need your ISP. According to Musk, StarLink can’t work in cities with dense populations due to bandwidth limitations.

When Will StarLink be Available to the Public?

On Oct. 26, 2020, a public beta test was launched in select areas in the northern United States and Canada. StarLink internet is expected to be available in more regions in 2021.

One of the few instances of when StarLink has publicly been reported on is by Washington emergency responders in early August when the organization offered the internet to areas devastated by wildfires. Following an interview with CNBC, emergency telecommunications leader Richard Hall praised StarLink as being quick to set up and reliable.

As we wait for the internet to go public, one sure thing is that there are a lot of interested people. In March 2020, SpaceX got a license for up to one million user terminals from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). By August, there were already more than 700,000 people registering interest across the United States, and so the company asked for expansion for up to 5 million user terminals.

Final Thoughts

As already pointed out, the StarLink internet might not initially disrupt the monopoly of the telecom sector. Instead, it could be a beneficial project and even complement the telcos.

Keeping in mind that the internet has played a great role in improving economic opportunities and easing communication, StarLink could be the bridge to help solve the digital divide by providing internet to remote areas.

Exploring Brain Computer Interface: Tech That Connects to Your Brain

Imagine using your mind to control machines, or your employer reading how you feel in real time from a dashboard? This is the future of BCI technology.

Do we really need this technology? What are the potential benefits and possible implications of this emerging field?

What is BCI?

Brain Computer Interface (BCI) is also referred to as Brain Machine Interface or Neural Interface.

Wikipedia defines BCI as a direct communication pathway between an enhanced or wired brain and an external device.

The brain is said to process billions of bits of information per second and runs on electrical signals that could control electronics, and BCI attempts to create this connection.

The BCI technology that connects internally (invasive BCI) or externally (non-invasive BCI) to the brain is meant to read brain activity and process it to information and even transmit information back to the brain.

Although this research began in the 1970s, the first neuroprosthetic device to be implanted in humans was done in the mid-1990s. Currently, large tech firms and a good number of startups are already working on producing cheaper, safer and more accurate BCIs.

The hype around BCI has been pushed by advanced modern computing, data science, machine learning and neural networks. A combination of the brain and artificial intelligence would surpass human capability.

Applications of BCI

BCI is already used in medicine to measure brain signals for medical applications such as cochlear implants, which are used by individuals with hearing deficits. These implants translate audio signals to electric pulses that are sent directly to the brain.

Other uses in medicine include detection and diagnosis, such as forecasting and detecting abnormal brain structure and other brain disorders such as epilepsy.

According to researchers, BCI could even replace lost functions, such as speaking or moving and general control of the body. This is beneficial to people with different forms of longstanding paralysis, such as that caused by a stroke.

BCI would also help improve quality of life for elderly patients, especially due to changes in memory and brain function as a result of aging. Assistive BCI would help those suffering from motor control impairments to control home appliances in a smart home.

BCI in Business

Although initially meant to help in medical issues, other applications of BCI are emerging. Several companies and startups are exploring application of BCI not related to medicine. These fields include:

  • Marketing – to help measure attention levels of commercial and political ads, with an intention to optimize the ads. Companies will benefit from brain data as it will help increase product or service personalization.
  • Workplace analysis – to help improve performance at work. This is possible using headbands that measure mental fatigue, the cognitive state, stress levels and focus levels. As a result, the work environment would adapt to employee stress levels and thoughts. For drivers operating dangerous machines, BCI will help analyze signals of drowsiness and give an alert or stop the machine to avoid accidents. Employers could use BCI when evaluating, monitoring and even training employees.
  • Education – to help teachers personalize their interaction with students depending on the students’ ability to grasp concepts.
  • Entertainment – BCI offers an immersive experience with the ability to control avatars in video games using thoughts. It would be possible to produce games that respond to the mood of players and their attention level, thus creating a personalized experience.
  • Military – to help in controlling or piloting a swarm of drones.

BCI Challenges

It is reasonable to have technology that improves the quality of lives for people who have disabilities. But when it comes to augmenting functions of a physically fit human, this technology raises ethical concerns and debates.

First, who will own the data produced by our brains? We already have cases of personal data generated on the internet that is being sold. How safe would the data be that is generated by BCI; especially considering that BCI is invasive and involves sensitive personal information such as feelings, moods and emotions.

The thought that a third party can access your personal data without your knowledge brings up questions of privacy. Another person would know exactly how you feel at a given time; and if companies were to roll out the use of BCI, what rights would employees have?

What would happen if the BCI device is hacked? Brain data could be intercepted by hackers who would then know more about you than you’d want to share.

Human augmenting will also give unfair advantage over those who cannot afford BCIs; and at some point the efforts to transcend human limitations could be a disaster.

More potential risks include people being controlled, misuse by rulers, psychological harm, unknown long-term mental effects, and physical harm such as brain damage or hemorrhaging in cases of invasive BCI.

The Future of BCI

The BCI technology offers many benefits. But before actual BCI systems reach the market for consumer application, the risks and unknowns can’t be ignored. This begs for a plan on ethical and policy issues. Business leaders also should start considering a BCI strategy as well as new BCI business models to balance the potential benefits and address the risks.

Avoid Wasting Money on Digital Marketing with These Tips

In last month’s article titled “How to Make the Most of Digital Marketing,” we examined how digital marketing can help your business grow. Unfortunately, this involves more than waving a magic wand. You can either choose to do it yourself or hire an agency to do it for you. Either way, if it’s not well done, you could end up wasting a lot of money with no return on your investment. 

Indeed, any business will want to implement a system that promises to grow revenue. But the biggest mistake is to dive into a scheme that you don’t understand well. Understanding the potential of digital marketing and how you can deploy it effectively will significantly help meet your revenue goals.

Tips to Avoid Losing Money in Digital Marketing 

Here are some tips to help you effectively target your audience and eliminate wasteful spending in your digital marketing efforts:

  1. Create a Strategy
    A digital marketing strategy serves as a guide to what you should and shouldn’t do. Invest in marketing that is in line with your mission and goals. And then be ready to make improvements and adjustments because the digital market is always changing.
  2. Understand Different Platforms
    Each platform has its strengths and weaknesses, whether you’re looking at LinkedIn, Facebook, Google ads, etc.
  3. Use Good Content
    People will easily trust the content that is engaging and adds value in some way. No matter the quality of your product or service, terrible content will cause you to lose potential customers. Always remember your content is a direct reflection of your brand. 
  4. Ads 
    When you run ads, they will be displayed when there are searches on the internet relating to what you have advertised. This costs money. To avoid paying on unnecessary clicks or views that don’t convert to leads, run targeted ads. You can also use negative keywords, geo-targeting, or influencers. Keep in mind that any platform offering paid promotion options has as its default to spend your budget as fast as possible (they are in business, too).
  5. Track Your Results 
    Track your results on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. This is the best way to know if you are wasting money. Measure and track your campaigns to understand how much you are making off any campaign. For every single $1 spent, if you are not making any returns you need to rethink your strategies. Note that it could take 60 to 90 days to get enough data for proper analysis.
  6. Avoid Buying Fake Followers
    This is simply a bad idea because you will get little or no return on your investment. The fake accounts will be inactive, and hence no engagement or sales.
  7. Test 
    Carry out A/B testing for anything you want to put out there to your target audience. Be it content, emails, newsletters, social media posts, campaigns or ads, testing will save you from marketing with low or no returns.
  8. Add a Call to Action 
    What do you want an interested reader or viewer to do: make a call; fill out a form; subscribe; make a purchase; or visit a website?
  9. Don’t Ignore Existing Customers
    Approximately 40 percent of business revenue is from returning customers. Specifically target this group with offers, new products or services, or just wishing them well on holidays. 
  10. Don’t Hire Bad Marketing Consultants
    Finally, you might decide to outsource the marketing if your business doesn’t have employees with the necessary skills, or if it’s overwhelming for your staff. Whatever the reason, don’t make the mistake of hiring bad consultants.

How to Make the Most of Digital Marketing

Digital marketing is not a new phenomenon. However, new realities imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic have highlighted the importance of digital marketing for businesses. Basically, digital marketing revolves around using digital channels to advertise. Such channels include mobile devices, search engines, social media, websites, email, and others to help reach consumers. The purpose is to create a relationship with potential online customers to influence their buying decisions.

Why Digital Marketing

For starters, with digital marketing, you are able to personalize your marketing and target your ideal audience. It offers the ability to target an audience based on location, age, preference, and other specific details that define the intended consumer of your product or service. In the end, you don’t waste money on audiences that might not even buy your product or service.

With the availability of artificial intelligence, it’s easy to identify trends, carry out competitor research, and accumulate data that aid quick decision making. This kind of marketing is data-led. Considering that five to 10 hours of a person’s day is spent on the internet, this creates an opportunity to familiarize consumers with your brand and create relationships that lead to sales.

What’s more, chatbots are available on business websites or social media accounts to answer customer questions even when the business is closed. This means a customer visiting your page does not leave without some information that could help in their purchasing decision.

In addition to being able to expand your reach at a lower cost, your business can enhance brand loyalty by maintaining personal contact with clients even after making sales.

The best part of digital marketing is the ability to track the results of your marketing in real-time. 

How This Can Help Grow Your Business

First, digital marketing gives all businesses a fair share of the market. Today, a business can connect with customers cheaply over posts on social media.

What this means is that a business can instantly communicate with customers to inform them of their products or services and get instant feedback.       

Don’t ignore the fact that people today get information from the internet. A lot of purchase decisions start with an online search. A potential customer expects to find information regarding your products on a website, social media, or from reviews by other users.

Customers also want to determine if your business and products are a good fit for their needs.

In the event that they cannot locate your business, you will lose a potential client to a competitor.

A good online presence can help potential clients find you and possibly even become customers.

How to Get the Best of Digital Marketing

The good thing about digital marketing is that it will exist as long as people are using technology. The trick is to use strategies that help you stay ahead of the competition.

Digital marketing has been proven to be the best strategy to acquire new customers as well as maintain a relationship with existing customers.

One of the hard and fast rules about digital marketing is that no one strategy fits all businesses. Digital marketing is constantly changing – meaning that businesses have to make frequent changes to their strategies.

In order to stay ahead of the competition, you can take advantage of referral traffic as it gives credibility to your brand. This is possible by connecting with industry leaders in your niche.

You can’t afford to ignore analytics. Analytics help you discover what is working and what is not working.

Use high-quality content to draw the interest of potential customers. Sacrificing quality for volume can cost you potential leads.

Select social media platforms where your potential customers are likely to be. Understanding your target market will help you reduce the time and cost spent on digital marketing, as you will be able to follow your clients where they hang out.

Digital Marketing is the Way to Go

As long as the internet continues to grow, businesses have little choice but to get involved in digital marketing. Gone are the days when social media was considered merely a place to pass the time.

For some business owners, it might be challenging to know where and how to start, considering that digital marketing is quite an extensive field. The most important thing is to establish a goal for what you want to achieve. If not well done, it can cost your business a lot of unnecessary expense.

Robotics Carves Out Niche in Various Businesses

Away from the movies, robots are becoming a reality in everyday life.

Robots have played a major role in manufacturing industries to perform basic tasks that are either dangerous or laborious for humans. As technology becomes relatively cheaper – through the availability of components such as processors, sensors, batteries, and cameras – robots are now making an entrance in industries apart from manufacturing, such as in marketing, inventory, telecommunications, and entertainment.

Why Robotics in Business?

To avoid confusion, it’s important to mention at this point that robotics often refers to software configured to carry out tasks done by humans, so it’s not always about physical robots.

Businesses are under endless pressure to be more efficient and reduce costs. As a result, many are turning to robotic process automation (RPA) to take up repetitive and routine tasks that don’t require frequent updates. RPA has been useful to take care of things such as call center operations, help desks, customer service chatbots, expense management, data entry, onboarding employees, and scheduling systems, among other tasks that are repetitive, rule-based and structured.

This is important for businesses as it frees employees from mundane tasks so they can focus on high-value work.

The unexpected COVID-19 pandemic cannot be ignored as an accelerator for robotics in the business environment. Consider businesses such as restaurants, retail stores, and all others seeking alternatives that will withstand disruptions and at the same time are durable and adhere to hygienic operations.

An Exciting Yet Worrying Phenomena to Some

Many people accept the use of intelligent systems and small robots such as robotic vacuum cleaners. But when it comes to the workplace, employees often don’t accept such systems as they are considered threats to their jobs. However, there is little difference between the robot used for household aid and the intelligent production system.

Financial institutions have been on the frontline in implementing robotic process automation. This has enabled them to automate and build platforms for the front office, back office and support functions. For a business, this means reduced costs while achieving efficiency and accuracy.

Another interesting concept is: robot as a service (RaaS). This is aimed at enabling small- and medium-sized businesses to enjoy the benefits of robotic process automation when they lease the services of a robot rather than incur the cost of purchasing one and handling maintenance for the system. It also helps businesses experiment with different robotic solutions.

With such innovations, businesses have no option but to adapt to technological advances. As a matter of fact, the possibility of robots taking up full process tasks is feasible with big names such as Bill Gates voicing support for a robot tax (a levy on work done by robots in a bid to replace tax that collected from work done by humans).

Be Prepared

So how do businesses handle this trend? Both employees and employers have no option but to be prepared. For an employer considering robotics, this should be done gradually with clear guidelines that the systems are only to assist and not replace the employees. At the same time, employees should be involved in the early stages of developing the new systems so they get accustomed to the format and avoid later resistance.

As businesses seek to improve their processes, employees should be ready to learn new skills as some duties are replaced by robots. It also goes way back to the education system, where students should be encouraged to take up subjects that will help enhance their digital competence. It will also prepare them for new job structures.

A Word of Caution

RPA has enabled business processes to evolve. Its results provide better accuracy, lower cost, efficiency, and high productivity. However, entrepreneurs should not rush to implement the robotic process automation without proper research. Although it is praised to reduce labor costs and other benefits already mentioned, the implementation – if not well done – will fail.

A big mistake would be to assume that the installation of robotic systems is easy. This is especially true when a business concentrates on ROI rather than solving actual problems.

Robotics for businesses involves time, cost, and complexity. It is not about moving processes into RPA as they are; only with lean techniques can this be successful.