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10 Surprising Ways Cloud Computing Can Help a Small Manufacturer

Sponsored Post While small manufacturers have processes and systems which are manual — and labor and time intensive — this business model must evolve to stay efficient and competitive. As a result, small businesses are integrating a range of technologies to optimize the resources they have, which is where cloud computing comes in. Small manufacturers and specialized fabricators are using cloud computing in surprising ways. The technology is allowing them to view their company comprehensively so they can keep track of every aspect of their operations. Cloud Computing for Small Manufacturers According to the National Association of Manufacturers, the vast majority of firms in the United States are small. Of the 251,774 manufacturing firms in 2015, all but 3,813 firms could be classified as small businesses — a total of 248,000 firms in all. So how can cloud computing help these small manufacturers innovate? Reliability As more of the processes small businesses use become automated and connected, any downtime will be costly. When a system is deployed on premises, the capital and operational expenditure are high. With cloud computing, virtually all of the IT can be hosted remotely. This ensures your system will always be up and running because cloud providers have multiple redundant systems. And if there is a disaster at your facility, business continuity solutions will have you up and running right away by replicating your IT environment. Agility According to the 2017 Propel Manufacturing Cloud Survey, 60% of the respondents said business agility rose dramatically because of cloud adoption and it was among the top cloud benefits for the year. Agility is extremely important for manufacturers because the industry as a whole is in a constant flux. The price of supplies, shipping, customer delays and more play a role. With cloud ERP and MRP (enterprise resource planning and material requirement planning), operations can run effortlessly with complete visibility of the entire process, from raw supply to delivery of completed product to the customer. Tracking and Monitoring One of the biggest challenges small manufacturers with manual processes face is tracking and monitoring the progress of different projects. With…

Android Messages Introduces PC Texting for Small Businesses

When it comes to being able to chat on an entire ecosystem, Apple delivers. With iMessage, you can chat on the iPhone, iPad and Mac. Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL) is looking to do the same with the rollout of Android Messages to run on your computer. While Google does have other applications, such as Hangouts and Allo for instant messaging and SMS support, it is not the Android operating system used by billions of people around the world. Google has been slow in bringing Android into the PC chat world, but other apps have developed alternative options. Small businesses use Skype, WhatsApp, Viber, WeChat, Telegram and others to get the job done. But being able to do so within the Android ecosystem means not having to ask what app the other person is using. Moving forward, it is just going to be Android or iOS for full mobile integration. This will make chatting much easier for small businesses who want to quickly communicate with their customers, employees and everyone else with instant messaging and SMS. Android Messages App As a Rich Communications Services (RCS) text app, Android Messages will allow users to send documents, text, stickers, emoji and image attachments. On its official Google blog The Keyword, Product Management Director Sanaz Ahari posts five new features users can now try in Messages. It starts with being able to send and receive texts on your computer, which is currently available. The other four features, rolling out in the next week include searching and sending GIFs, using smart reply to respond with a tap, previewing links within your conversation, and copying one-time passwords with one tap. Send Texts from Your Computer Using Android Messages If you want to use Android Messages on your computer, you need to visit this site where you will see a QR code. On your phone, open messages, tap the More options menu, and select Messages for the web. You then scan the QR code and you are done. You can now start using your computer to chat in the Android ecosystem. Images: Google This article, “Android Messages Introduces PC…

Zelle Forecasted to Soon Be Most Popular P2P Payments App, But Can It Help Your Business?

According to eMarketer’s latest US mobile payment forecast, Zelle will be surpassing Venmo as the most popular peer-to-peer (P2P) mobile payment app in 2018. But will the new app be useful to your small business? As one of the newest P2P mobile payment platforms, Zelle has made some impressive gains in a short time. This is primarily due to the owners of Zelle, some of the leading financial institutions in the world. They include Bank of America, BB&T, Capital One, JPMorgan Chase, PNC Bank, US Bank, SunTrust and Wells Fargo. Meanwhile Venmo is owned by PayPal alone. The forecast from eMarketer has Zelle growing more than 73% this year reaching a user base of 27.4 million people in the US. This is ahead of Venmo’s 22.9 million and Square Cash’s 9.5 million. According to eMarketer forecasting analyst Cindy Liu, the growth of Zelle can be explained by the trust it has gained from its users. In a press release, Liu says, “One of the main hurdles new apps face is building trust and a sizable audience. But Zelle has leapfrogged the early stages of adoption by having the benefit of being embedded into the already existing apps of participating banks.” This is driving the total number of P2P mobile payment users in the US to grow around 30% to reach 82.5 million people, which is 40.5% of US smartphone users. When it comes to the transaction value of this segment, it is going to grow at an impressive 37% this year to $167.08 billion. And eMarketer is predicting it will go beyond $300 billion by 2021. The Lack of a P2P Type of Mobile Payment for Business Although P2P mobile payment systems are used by freelancers and workers in the gig economy, there is not a solution in place for businesses. As René Lacerte reported on Forbes, there is not a Venmo or Zelle for business because the rules which apply for business payments are much more complicated. Lacerte explains, “The whole process of initiating and making payments is extremely high-touch, with many moving parts, from sending the invoice, honoring your…

Zoho Show Aims to Provide Intuitive Presentation Tool for Small Business

When you’re making a dynamic presentation for a client, you need software tools to help you express your ideas simply without the need for a lot of technical expertise. The new Zoho Show has been designed to simplify this process with an intuitive interface allowing you to create your content simply instead of spending your time trying to master the software. Zoho Show The goal of Zoho Show, according to the company, is to let users create, collaborate, present, broadcast and publish presentations with a tool that simplifies the process in a much smarter way. With the new Show, you can create and make your presentations anywhere. Zoho Show offers small businesses a presentation tool accessible on mobile and able to broadcast on a variety if other platforms and devices. The company says it has also focused on making this tool as easy to use as possible. The official Zoho Blog explains, “How many of us struggled with a poorly designed interface? When the tools you need most, and most often, are buried in drop-down menus or down under counter-intuitive options, we found ourselves spending more time and effort just navigating the software rather than telling the right story.” Simplified Story Telling Zoho started with a contextual interface so users can craft their stories without the software getting in the way. A clean interface with an intuitive formatting pane quickly responds to the actions of the user without you having to search for the right tool within the application, the company says. The tools that are available within Show include custom text boxes, silhouettes, image filters, pre-defined layouts for charts and tables as well as more than a dozen animation options for elements within a slide. While you are in the process of creating your presentation, team members can collaborate and brainstorm using the commenting system in Show. Team members can provide suggestions, add rich text comments to highlight ideas and even attach images to make a point. And if you need to import PowerPoint files, Show can do it without any formatting issues while letting you work on them…

Interview with HipHopGamer: Cracking the Code on Livestreamed Games For Your Small Business

Confused about the trend of livestreamed video games and esports? You’re not alone. Advertising and sponsorships in esports are on pace to account for $533 million (58 percent) of the projected $906 million industry revenue for 2018, according to market intelligence firm Newzoo. Livestreamed Games Business Opportunities The other 42 percent comprises tickets, fees from game publishers, ‘merch’, and media rights. Esports have grown so much official leagues exist, and leagues are paying salaries to gamers and offering them retirement plans. For example, Blizzard Entertainment’s Overwatch League will host a $1 million tournament next month in Brooklyn, New York. The expected attendance is 19,000 people. More Hours Viewing Esports Means More Eyeballs Esports are video game competitions where prize money is often awarded, though not always. Viewers watch professional global teams compete on the Twitch.tv livestreaming platform, owned by Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN). Facebook is now gearing up to compete with Twitch through its new FB.gg esports hub, with “gg” meaning “good game.” According to CDN Limelight Networks, American gamers spend 3 hours and 26 minutes per week watching people playing video games online. Mind you: these gamers aren’t playing — they are watching and interacting. In an email to Small Business Trends, Twitch said “a snapshot of some of the brands that we’ve worked with: Dell, Duracell, T-Mobile, Coke, Pepsi, Bud Light, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, Totino’s, Red Bull, GEICO, CW, FX, Foot Locker, Jack’s Links, Speed Stick, Old Spice, Toyota, Honda, Netflix, and every major Hollywood studio (FOX, Lionsgate, Paramount, Sony Pictures, Universal Pictures, and Warner Bros.) Due to Twitch’s social video features, its strong community, numerous influencers, and hard-to-reach demographic of Millennial cord-cutters, brands also work with our Custom Solutions team to offer unique activations that can’t be replicated on other platforms.” With all this buzz, it’s easy to imagine the rainmakers at Facebook and Amazon competing in real life for these brand dollars. Businesses With Gamer Audiences Look to Twitch.tv Small Business Trends spoke with Gerard “HipHopGamer” Williams, a New York gamer and media personality entrenched in the gaming world for most of his life, to get…

iOS 12 Preview! 10 Facts Small Business Users MUST Know

Apple has announced that iOS 12, the latest version of its mobile operating system, will be available in the fall, giving a significant performance boost to older iPhones. iOS 12 is bursting with many new features, designed to improve functionality, responsiveness and performance. iOS 12 Preview If your small business relies on iPhones to carry out business tasks, take a look at the following 10 facts small business users should know about Apple’s impending iOS 12 update. It’s Faster When running a small business, time is of the essence and you don’t want to be kept waiting to do everyday tasks like sending emails or downloading apps. The iOS 12 update will make your iPhone faster and more responsive, with up to a 70% faster swipe to camera, 50% faster keyboard display and 2 times faster app launch under heavy workload. It Gives You Better FaceTime with More of Your Team FaceTime is a great way for teams to communicate with one another — particularly if they work remotely. Thanks to the iOS 12 update, you will be able to meet with and talk to up to 32 colleagues simultaneously. You can even start a group FaceTime meeting from a group thread in Messages. It Let’s You Share AR Objects with Clients and Team Members Small businesses are starting to realize the huge potential of Augmented Reality (AR), especially as a marketing tool. iOS 12 capitalizes on the demand for AR, enabling users to send AR objects with Messages and Mail, so clients, colleagues or employees can view AR creations, bringing greater immersive AR experiences to your small business. It Reduces Interruptions During the Day with Notification Management An iPhone that is beeping and buzzing all day can be incredibly distracting when you are trying to get on with work. With iOS 12 you will be able to manage your notifications in real time from the Lock screen. What’s more, Siri will make intelligent suggestions about your notifications based on how you interact with them, helping your alerts become less distracting. It Gives You Greater Control of Do Not Disturb…

71% of Millennial Small Business Owners Use Tech to Keep Employees Safe

When it comes to safety and the many regulatory compliances companies have to abide by, it can be challenging, especially for small businesses. The Nationwide fourth annual Business Owner Survey, reveals 71% of millennial small business owners are using connected technology to keep their employees safe. Technology to Keep Employees Safe The rate at which millennial’s are using connected technology is more than double the average business owner, which is at 32%. According to Nationwide, a Fortune 100 insurance and financial company, this demographic is using the technologies to ensure and improve the safety of their workforce. For small business owners using connected technologies, new levels of efficiency in cost savings, regulatory compliances and a more accountable and safe working environment have been seen. But like Mark McGhiey, associate vice president of Nationwide’s Loss Control Services, says on the official Nationwide blog, this doesn’t solve all safety problems. McGhiey adds, “There’s always going to be an element of human-driven effort to ensure workers can do their jobs safely and efficiently. That’s why it’s so important for employers to follow best safety practices that are tailored to their specific business — and it’s why our experts provide individualized risk management consultation and safety training to business owners across the country.” Technologies Millennial Small Business Owners Use The connected technologies millennial small business owners use dramatically reduce manual processes. This allows them to use their workforce more efficiently and collect valuable data which can be analyzed to improve workplace safety. Thirty-six percent of millennial’s use building sensors for detecting humidity, temperature, water leaks and equipment failure, while less than half or 16% of all business owners use the same technology. Wearables are equally popular with millennial business owners with 32% saying they are using these devices compared with 13% for everyone else. Watches, belts and other wearable sensors are used to detect physical strain. Drones, which are being used in many different industries, have been used to inspect sites that can pose danger to workers.  In this case, only 7% of regular small business owners use drones, while 21% of millennials have deployed…

New LG Q Stylus Smartphone Provides Small Businesses with a Budget Alternative to Samsung

When it comes to smartphones with a stylus, there is one standard bearer, and it is the Samsung Galaxy Note. The new LG Q Stylus is a midrange smartphone equipped with premium features doesn’t try to compete directly with the Note but still delivers the features at a more affordable price point. The Q Stylus is going to be available in three different configurations. The regular Q Stylus, the Q Stylus+ and the Q Stylus a will also see different price points, making the lower end model even more affordable. A small segment of small business users rely greatly on the stylus but don’t want to dish out the nearly $1,000 price for a Samsung. For this group, the LG might just be the right midrange alternative. As Ha Jeung-uk, senior vice president and head of LG Electronics’ Mobile Business Division, explains in a press release, “The LG Q Stylus adds another dimension to our series of exceptionally-priced midrange phones that deliver amazing value to consumers. This phone is another example of LG’s promise to deliver a wider selection of devices this year with premium features designed to meet the diverse needs of today’s evolving smartphone users.” Features of the LG Q Stylus Smartphone The Q Stylus is part of LG’s Q series midrange of smartphones. The stylus can recognize and record handwritten notes even with the display off. And beyond taking notes, it can also be used to annotate images and videos to create animated GIFs. Here are the specs all the models share: Processor – 1.5GHz Octa-Core or 1.8GHz Octa-Core Screen – 6.2-inch 18:9 FHD+ FullVision Display (2160 x 1080 / 389ppi) Battery – 3,300mAh OS – Android 8.1.0 Oreo Size – 160.15 x 77.75 x 8.4mm / weight 172g Network – LTE / 3G / 2G Connectivity – Wi-Fi 802.11 b, g, n / Bluetooth 4.2 / NFC / USB Type-C 2.0 (3.0 compatible) When it comes to the memory, storage and camera, the Q Stylus+ has the higher end specs with 4GB RAM / 64GB ROM / microSD (up to 2TB) / rear 16MP camera with PDAF…

Recon Sentinel Seeks to Protect Your Home Office from Attacks at the Router

The FBI recently warned home and office routers and network devices were the targets of foreign cyber actors. This news comes just as Cigent Technology announced the launch of a product it calls Recon Sentinel designed to be plugged into a router to add endpoint security for Small Office and Home Office users. Cigent says Recon Sentinel will fight back by detecting and blocking cyberattacks and other nefarious activity, including the malware use leading the FBI to issue its warning. In that case, the agency said owners should reboot their routers. This simple act will temporarily disrupt the malware so infected devices can be identified. The FBI also recommended owners disable remote management settings on their devices. Otherwise, authorities suggest creating a strong password and encryption as well as upgrading to the latest firmware on your network device. John Benkert, senior vice president of strategic products at Cigent Technology, addressed this very issue in a press release. Benkert said, “The latest FBI warning is a reminder to SOHO users to protect themselves against attacks. Recon Sentinel quietly keeps your PCs, mobile devices, and smart/IoT devices safe from malicious attacks at all times.” He added, “Recon Sentinel solves major cybersecurity issues for small businesses, home office, and remote office workers by immediately detecting hacking activity and preventing loss of data.” ? So What Does Recon Sentinel Do? Once you plug Sentinel into your router, it adds an endpoint security system for all of your connected devices. This includes everything from your computing devices to smart TVs, security cameras, home assistants, other IoT devices and more. The device is able to detect signs of intrusion on your network without expert installation or maintenance. When it is connected it finds every connected device on your network and it works with all existing routers and firewalls. Recon is connected to the cloud, and along with a mobile app, it will provide you with up-to-the-second information about your network. It also allows Managed Service Providers, IT organizations and Internet Service Providers to manage multiple devices. Security Challenges for Small Businesses Small businesses, whether they have…

The new ASUS ZenBook Pro May be Perfect – if Somewhat Costly – for Creative Businesses

The new ScreenPad feature on the ZenBook Pro has essentially placed another screen where the touchpad is supposed to be, one-upping Apple’s TouchBar with many more features. And this could be perfect for small businesses in the creative field. 2018 ZenBook Pro Series Asus announced its new ZenBook Pro series along with other more affordable laptops at Computex 2018. But the headliner was the Pro series and its ScreenPad. This is a computer for professionals specifically designed for creators. While Asus has not set the price, the fully packed device is expected to go well beyond $2,000. For small businesses in the creative field, the specs may well be worth the price as the ZenBook Pro really packs a punch. You can get the 15″ version with up to 8th Gen Intel Core i9 CPU, gaming grade graphics including NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti with 4GB, up to 1TB PCie x4 SSD storage, 16GB DDR4 RAM, a 4K UHD resolution touchscreen with ASUS Pen support and more. The connectivity includes two Thunderbolt 3 USB-C and two USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A connnections, one HDMI port and 12x 802.11ac WiFi with a fast charging battery system lasting up to 9.5 hours. It also includes a fingerprint sensor support for signing in with Windows Hello. ? The ScreenPad becomes an extension of your screen when the Screen Extender mode is turned on. This gives you another screen for previewing functions, viewing emails and social media, Office 365 functions, music player, calendar, numeric keypad, calculator and more as developers get their hands on it. The ZenBook Pro is slated for global availability beginning July 2018. The Rest of the Lineup The ZenBook S is a 13.3-inch ultraportable laptop with a MIL-STD 810G military standard rating to make sure it can take being lugged around all day. This includes passing testing in extreme altitudes, temperatures and humidity. It is also very light and thin coming in at 12.9mm and 1KG or 2.2 pounds. The specs are equally impressive including 8th Gen Intel Core CPUs, up to 1TB PCIe SSD, up to 13.5hrs battery life,…

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