Why You Should Use Smart Tech in the Workplace

You’ve heard a lot about smart tech options for businesses but may have wondered if it’s worth the hassle to switch. Even though it can seem overwhelming to shift certain business functions to a new format, it is worth the effort. This article will detail three key benefits of using smart tech in the workplace.

Better Communication

In order for your team to work effectively, they need to be able to communicate instantly. Email can be an efficient method of communication when teammates need to transfer large files or long messages. But in order to enable your team to communicate with each other in real-time, other platforms are often better options. Using different smart tech options that are best positioned for video chats or instant messages can give your teams multiple options for communication that can help each team-member be able to communicate in a way that best suits his or her needs.

Efficiency

Upgrading to smart tech can initially seem like a large upfront cost for a growing business. But the facts show that more than half of electricity is wasted by businesses. By utilizing smart tech in the workplace, you will be able to minimize electricity waste and drastically reduce the utilities cost per month. There are a variety of different smart tech options that manage everything from parking and building space to individual room temperature. Additionally, as your business grows, you will inevitably have a growing number of devices. All of these devices need to be effectively connected to the network and need to use relative amounts of electricity. Smart tech solutions help manage this growth in order to ensure that your utility bills stay low.

Cloud Technologies

Cloud technology allows businesses to forgo the hassle of managing on site software and services and instead shift that role to an outside provider. Team-members can access important materials and other online applications through the cloud in order to do their work. In addition to reducing upfront cost, cloud technology can provide a multitude of other benefits. It takes your company’s data, the different projects that various team-members are working on, and other important materials and puts them all in the same place online. Doing this can greatly improve the productivity of your employees by eliminating the necessity to jump through hoops to access needed information. At the same time, cloud technology boosts cooperation between team-members.

Moving your business to a smart tech workplace can seem intimidating at first. Transferring paper files to an online format, training team-members in a new process, and paying for the upfront cost of new tech can seem daunting. But, in the end, making the switch is worth it.

Read this next: What’s Going to Be the Next Facebook?

How to Communicate with People Using Encrypted Channels

Privacy is a big issue with the digital age. There are so many services available that advertise instant or near instant communication, but how well is your data protected? Encrypted channels are a better option as they are secure and maintain confidentiality. But it can be difficult to know what channels to use that do encrypt your information. Here are three channels that can be encrypted and how to use them.

Email

One of the most important channels that should be encrypted is email. It can be easy for someone to read your email, which can be big trouble for your company. There are email services, like ProtonMail that let you encrypt your emails. You can also use encryption services on most email accounts. Encrypted emails protect your information and make sure that only the intended recipient can read the information in the email. Without encryption, anyone could read the email and confidentiality can be breached. When sending out confidential information, it’s important to make sure the email is encrypted.

Messaging Apps

Messaging apps are another channel that should be encrypted. Text messages are one of the most widely used forms of communication. More than 90 percent of text messages are read within 3 minutes as people check their phones frequently. Messaging apps offer a quick and easy way to stay in communication with your employees and many of them come encrypted. Messaging apps simply require the phone numbers of those you want to message and then you create an individual group with just those numbers. The service provides encryption to keep your information safe and secure so that only your group can read the information that you send.

Video Calls

Video calls are another channel that should be secure when meeting with people. Some video services come with some sort of encryption and can be further protected by passwords, which give secure access to the meeting. However, there are platforms that are better at protecting your privacy than others. Some provide end-to-end encryption and are very secure, while others record information in a cloud that can be accessible to others beside yourself. There are many options for secure and encrypted channels, but ultimately is up to you what kind of protection you’ll get.

There are many options available that encrypt your data and provide privacy protection. It’s important to know what is available so that your information can stay protected.

Here’s another article you might like: How to Know if a Website Is Secure

How to Protect Your Private Medical Data Online

With technology becoming a key tool in many practices, patient data is being stored digitally more and more. It’s important to keep your medical information safe, which can be increasingly difficult to do in the digital age we live in. Here are three ways you can help keep your online medical data protected online.

Be Proactive

Since most of your medical information will be stored and handled by your doctors, it’s very possible your data might be in danger and you wouldn’t even know it. While not always intentional, medical fraud through the mishandling of patient data isn’t as uncommon as most people would expect. Do your research when switching to a new doctor, check to see if there were any recent data breaches that made headlines or any medical fraud cases. Doctors should protect your confidential information, and if they fail to maintain a proper doctor-patient relationship, it is probably time for a new doctor.

Be Wary of Apps

Medical apps can seem to be very helpful at a glance in keeping track of your medical information, but with the large number of apps to choose from it can be difficult to know what’s safe to use. There’s a surprising lack of regulation regarding what apps are allowed to do in terms of data collection, especially when it comes to the Android platform. Always read through the terms and conditions, and see what exactly the app requests permission to access. Many free apps purely exist to leech your information for marketing and sales purposes, and not just your medical information either. Apps offering medical advice can also be an issue, as many straight-up take advantage of the user and provide some serious misinformation.

Protect Your Internet

With appointment scheduling, record requests, and many other services transitioning to online availability, ensuring your internet and computer remain spyware-free is another way you can protect your medical records. At a minimum, you’ll want both a strong antivirus software as well as malware protection software on your computer, since these will generally prevent attacks on your computer and your data. You’ll also want to make sure that your web browser is always kept up to date, and use a browser known for its security. Newer versions of web browsers have fixes for security loopholes that malicious software can take advantage of.

By keeping these things in mind, you can help keep your private medical data safe, as well as other personal data. While these tips are specifically geared towards protecting your medical data, they can be applied to your personal data in general as well.

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How to Effectively Use Technology to Manage Remote Employees

Today more than ever, people are choosing to work remotely. Having a remote workforce is a positive thing because it allows for flexibility, both in working hours and lifestyle. But sometimes, remote employees can be difficult to engage and manage because you’re not in contact with them as frequently as in-office employees. Thankfully there are many technological tools available these days that can help. Here are a few ways you can use technology to make the process a little bit easier.

Take Advantage of Online Communication Platforms

There are countless platforms available for different sorts of digital and online communication. Video chats, instant messaging, project management tools and much more are abundant. Using online messaging platforms enables remote employees to stay connected with you and each other easily. The benefit of this modern technological age is that you can connect with remote employees all the time, regardless of anyone’s physical location. Take advantage of the ability to chat with other coworkers even if they’re halfway across the world, and you can shrink the bubble of your company even though you are physically separated.

Schedule Video Meetings

A great way to get consistent feedback and check in with your employees is to schedule occasional video meetings. This is something you don’t want to overuse because the benefit of being a remote worker is that you can work at any time, regardless of the time zone. So, offer your workers flexibility while maintaining the freedom to work how and when they want. Once again, communication tools like Skype, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams allow you to do this instantly, as well as sharing your screen and any important information.

Maintain Shared Work Logs

Another way to ensure consistent progress is to share work logs between the team. While you don’t want to constantly get on someone’s case about a deadline, having a written record of where they’re at and what they’re working on is an important accountability measure and ensures that they are on task and proceeding in the right direction. With a shared work log, you can get feedback without having to pester your employees, and you can still direct them appropriately. If they are lagging in a certain area, these logs let you know how to direct them and what help they may need.

If you manage a remote workforce, consider finding a project management platform to strike up chats and keep up to date on the projects your employees are handling. Necessary digital technology will keep you in better contact and help direct and guide your remote staff whenever necessary.

Here’s another article you might like: 5 Technologies that Could Solve Your Company’s IT Problems

4 Ways You Can Use Technology to Protect Yourself From Hackers

One of the most prevalent threats in the cyber-world are hackers. They can cost you dearly in downtime and can put you and your business at risk of theft. To keep yourself and your business data safe, there are technologies you can put in place to shield your information and to keep your client data protected.

Virtual Private Network

A virtual private network, also known as a VPN, is a way to share encrypted information between computers as though you were functioning on a private network. Passwords are required to make sure that anyone logging into the VPN is authentic. A quality VPN service will verify each computer to access the network. Additionally, you can subscribe to a VPN service with a kill-switch. Any suspicious activity shuts down the network to avoid data loss.

Personal and Business VPNs

A quality VPN service will not be able to view your data or any information specific to your client. It provides an envelope in which your business can function safely by connecting with other verified computers. A VPN can be set up on your personal computer and is a good choice if you work remotely, especially if you choose to connect to public Wi-Fi services.

Two-Factor Authorization

Two-factor authorization is initiated when your client sets up an account. The client will need to create a password. In addition to the password, the client will likely need to enter a code that is sent by your VPN service to another device, such as a cell phone. Once your new client is able to verify who he or she is on both devices, the account is activated. Without such verification, the account setup can’t be completed. It’s generally advised that you should learn to protect yourself from cyber extortion. In addition to including this verification step during the initial setup, your clients will need to undergo this same process if they change their passwords.

Stay Vigilant

Hackers are always looking for new ways to tap into data. While two-factor authorization is a great start, the data you store online is vulnerable. The theft of a customer list can put you and your business at great legal risk. If you’re feeling suspicious of something, you’re probably correct in your thinking. It doesn’t hurt to look into something just to make sure it’s not the sign of a data breach.

Whether you’re an independent contractor or a business owner, shielding information is key to your job. Your clients deserve and should expect your discretion. If you travel, consider setting up a personal VPN. Be prepared to collect the data needed to set up a two-factor verification system.

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How to Set Up an Outdoor Video Game Tournament

Almost everyone loves the outdoors; however, with everyone loving gaming just as much, getting outside can be a bit of a task. Hosting your very own outdoor gaming tournament is a great way to combine the best of both worlds. You can catch some much-needed sun and spend time with friends, all while maintaining your high score. Here are a few tips to help you set your game day off the right way.

Setting Up

Of course, the first thing you need to do when setting up your tournament is to declare a designated area for the event. You want to take into account the number of people who will be in attendance and to make sure you have enough sitting room as well as walking space. You should set up the area in such a way that it is cozy yet still spacious, such as in a nice-sized backyard. Some cities have centers that are already equipped for gaming, so if you want some of the set-up work to be done for you, that can be a great option.

Getting the Gear

Since this is a gaming tournament, the very first thing you will definitely need is a gaming system. One is your minimum, but depending on how you plan to hold your tournament, you may need multiple devices and controllers. Of course, some of it can be rented if you don’t want to put it in storage. You will definitely need to have a reliable power source that can be accessed from the gaming area, but make sure that the wiring is out of the way so that your guests are not tripping over cords.

Hand Out Prizes

If you are going to host a gaming tournament, then you definitely should have a prize for the winner. You can get really creative and choose things like gift cards, free games, et cetera. If you really want to be the talk of the gaming community, handing out a trophy to the winner is a good way to go. Although this may not be a huge tournament and may be just something for the local community, everyone still loves to win a trophy.

This is your event, so you can put it together any way that you see fit. However, if you want your guests to have a great time and to come back to your next tournament, then make sure you keep it fun. With the mixture of the outdoors with good food and great company, everyone will be a winner at your video game tournament party.

Here’s another article you might like: 3 Cities Esports Have Taken Off In

Updating Your Digital Security: 3 Places You Might Not Think About

When it comes to digital security, the first thing that usually comes to mind is protecting your computer. You’ve heard the horror stories about hackers getting into personal data and stealing people’s personal information, and so, like most people, you make sure that your computer is protected. However, there are other devices that are vulnerable to breaches that you may not be aware of.

Your Phone

Phones are one of the main targets of hacking other than computers. Yes, phones can be tapped and conversations intercepted. However, many people use their phones virtually the same way they do their home computers if not more. With so many business transactions taking place online, it is common for people to use their phones to make purchases. That means that your phones store just as much of your personal information as your computers and should be protected as well. If you notice that your phone is running very slowly, that your data usage has increased, or that you have unfamiliar apps, you should change your passwords immediately.

Gaming Servers

When choosing to play games online, it is important that you only deal with trusted sites so that your digital security isn’t compromised. Hackers can pose as anything nowadays in order to obtain access to your personal information. Hackers can use phishing techniques as a means of accessing your account passwords and other information. A lot of times, they will send bogus emails that appear to be from the company so that they may get your information. Some hackers go above and beyond the consumer and aim right at the company through methods such as denial-of-service, where they prevent customers from accessing the site. According to Host Havoc, Denial-of-Service (DoS) and Distributed-Denial-of-Service (DDoS) style of network attacks are more common than you’d think on unprotected game servers. Server hosting is a good way to help online gamers eliminate these attacks by keeping your server protected and running efficiently.

Smart TV

While this may be one of the last places you would think is vulnerable to cyberattacks, remember that Smart TVs are basically computers. Any device that you use to access the internet can be susceptible to cyberattacks and needs to be protected. Just like with your phone or computer, you should keep your Smart TV protected as well. If your TV has a webcam, make sure to keep it covered when it is not in use. This will keep hackers from being able to spy on you through the lens of your Smart TV. According to Thomas-Fenner-Woods Agency, Inc, you can also sometimes get special insurance that protects you from liability from cyber attacks through Smart TVs or other devices. It’s important to do things like these to protect yourself or your business from digital hackers.

As technology becomes more advanced, unfortunately, so do the hackers. Properly securing your devices and information requires you to be proactive so that you can prevent any issues from occurring. Covering device cameras, disabling your Bluetooth, and not accessing unfamiliar sites are all things that can help keep you and your devices hack-free.

Here’s another article you might like: Why You Need to Monitor Your Applications More Closely

5 Alternatives to Ozmobiles

By 2022, the number of smartphone users in Australia is expected to be under a staggering 20 million. The rising importance of smartphones is due to the limitless solutions and the feature rich models that are hitting the stores. It is hard to imagine life in the digital era without the power of a smartphone. From hailing a ride, paying utility bills, checking out products with AR, remotely checking CCTV coverage, to a range of fitness apps, smartphones offer users endless options. However, customers are often spoilt for choice, having to pick a suitable model at a price band that fits their pockets. 

Online sites offer customers the options of choosing the right product from a selection of the most suitable ones, at reasonable prices. This makes sites popular, servicing a large number of buyers with offers, accessories and warranties. Ozmobiles is one such online store that is popular among buyers. There are similar sites that rival Ozmobiles with offers and services that are as good as, if not better than the site. Multiple advantages include secure payment, warranties, reasonable pricing, and a very impressive collection of models that cater to the requirements of all buyers.

Here is a look at 5 alternates to Ozmobiles

1) Amazon Australia – The ecommerce giant offers the same superior level of services that are available worldwide. An impressive inventory of the best models makes this a buyer’s choice. The tie-up with local delivery partners for shipments ensures that deliveries are on time. The ability of buyers to check out the reviews of verified buyers and the various specs gives buyers the information necessary to make the right decision. The products that are sold on amazon.com.au are new or certified refurbished, and as a result the cost is on the higher side. 

2) Gumtree – Another popular online classifieds site has a load of options  for buyers. The site is more of an aggregator where buyers get to buy used phones at reasonable prices. The range of phone models that are available makes this immensely popular and comes of the listings offer buyers the options of negotiating the prices. By virtue of enjoying a reputation as a reliable online classifieds site, buyers find the site useful for purchasing phones. Users who wish to buy used and refurbished phones will find gumtree.com.au convenient to make a quick purchase.

3) Phonebot – This is one site where buyers get full value for money. The hassle free buying options, the extended warranties and the quick deliveries make this site hugely popular. Phones are available in three different categories – new, ex-demo and used. The ex-demo phones are sparingly used models that have been used for display and for demonstrating functions to prospective buyers. The phones are as good as new, without any giveaways that it was a demo phone. The used phones undergo rigorous tests to check the condition of the models, and then refurbished to look as good as new. All phones come with different warranties, making the deal sweeter. Convenient payment options, hassle free customer service and superfast deliveries makes phonebot.com.au a smashing success.

4) Kogan – A popular marketplace, kogan.com.au offers buyers an extensive inventory of mobiles. The number of brands and the models available on the site make it popular. The site deals in all products and services and is similar to Amazon and eBay, though on a different scale. Unlike Phonebot, this site does not specialize in phones and phone accessories alone, but deals in all products. The deals available on the site are good – with a simple interface to search for desired models and accessories. As it happens to be a site that deals in al products, the focus available on sites that only deal in phones are lacking here.

5) eBay Australia – The international ecommerce giant that was one among the first off the block offers the same professionalism and ease of transactions on the site. The massive inventory of all products and the department-wise listings makes this a good choice. The availability of used phones and refurbished phones gives buyers the options of getting products within the desired price range. The bidding options  available on ebay.com.au make deals sweeter, though it can sometimes be a damper for individuals who have also bid but lost to a better sale.

What do you think? Have you used any of the alternatives? Did we miss anything? Be sure to let us know in the comments!

What’s Going to Be the Next Facebook?

The social media landscape can change rapidly. In less than a decade, most of what we think of as social media sites have come into being and captivated the modern world. So, what will be the next big thing, and will it replace Facebook? It may seem like Facebook has such a large share of the market that it will never be unseated, but that is probably not the case.

The Current State of Facebook

Facebook dominates the social media market. There is little debate about that. The company is worth almost $100 billion and has spent over $20 billion acquiring competitors since 2012, according to Forbes and Brandwatch. What’s more, 30 percent of internet users log onto Facebook at least once a day, according to venture capital firm Bond. 

Businesses also find that Facebook greatly increases their marketing power. Almost 40% of users will follow a Facebook page to get a special deal; over half of consumers say social media influences their spending habits; and Facebook hosts 80 million small business pages, according to Kentico, Marketing Dive, and Facebook, respectively. What’s clear is that Facebook is a marketing and business listing titan.

Competition

That being said, Facebook certainly doesn’t have a monopoly, especially when it comes to business listings. Bing and Google compete for listings, as do some smaller but still robust sites like Foursquare and Whitepages. Foursquare for businesses has 93 percent of businesses listed on their site, though not all are claimed. This means that the data on Facebook is available from many business listing services that are also competing for rank on search engines and developing their own apps for businesses to engage with customers. With questions about privacy, bias, and regulation looming over tech giants, Facebook may be less secure than one might think.

How Facebook is Vulnerable

Of course, privacy and regulatory concerns are important ways Facebook could lose its grip on the market, but there are also other vulnerabilities. A key reason that Facebook has grown so much is that it combines social media with business listings, closing the gap between businesses and customers. This model is powerful, and it is replicable. Facebook could rapidly decline if another company becomes prominent in the social media market and develops the tools to let businesses take advantage of the pool of people there. There are plenty of companies that have one piece or the other but not both. If the other piece of the puzzle ever gets made by one of these companies, Facebook’s market share will shrink rapidly.

Companies to Watch

There are several companies that could be poised to make just such a transition. Foursquare and Thumbtack are the two frontrunners in this category. Each of them has the great advantage of focusing heavily on their user interface and customer experience. They prioritize the way a user would interact with their products and then build business tools to suit that experience. Their primary focus is still on business development rather than social networking, but a shift could be easily made—at least, easier than it would be for competitors.

What Are the Signs?

There are a few things that would indicate a coming end to Facebook’s dominance. First, any further privacy or regulatory problems Facebook faces would mean not only a hit to their bottom line but a demand to adapt in ways a larger company may find difficult. Second, even if usage metrics for Facebook continue to rise, pay attention to the quality of interactions reported. If they start to fall, Facebook will become more like the Yellow Pages: used strictly for informational purposes. Third, watch for another platform that has what Facebook has with a slight twist. Just as Myspace was replaced, Facebook can be as well. Facebook tends toward longer formats with both posts and time, which Twitter and Snapchat cannot accommodate. If another platform comes around, it will have the great advantage of being new and not having Facebook’s problems. It could catch on very quickly.

What to Expect

In general, any company with a real chance to replace Facebook will have to give users the ability to post in both long and short form. It will also have to be able to entice users with real social value, such as being able to connect to people who matter. A good strategy would be to roll out these features in a highly metropolitan area first before spreading into more rural parts of the country or other countries at large. You can also bet that if Foursquare or Thumbtack starts expanding into this area that their business listing services will be leveraged to attract more users. However, you’ll be able to notice changes in their marketing strategy. Rather than messages that encourage users to join so that they can interact with businesses, users will be encouraged to join so that they can interact with each other. That shift is a key element in building the social features of a platform.

Ultimately, any predictions about the next ‘big thing’ are subject to error. The goal here is to try and show what parts of Facebook make it most vulnerable, which alternatives could be in the works and what features the new platform will likely have. However, if history is any indication, Facebook will not be on top for too much longer. It will be interesting to see who fills the vacuum that will be left.

Here’s another article you might enjoy reading: Put Facebook In Your Control With These Four Features

How Technology is Improving Safety Equipment

Technology continues to improve safety equipment keeping employees safer and, in some cases, removing them from danger entirely. Improvements to eye and hand protection have made it easier for workers to complete projects seamlessly. Improvements to machinery allow them to operate without a driver physically in the seat. They operate via remote control using wireless systems to operate their electronic systems.

Protective Eyewear 

Technological improvements to protective eyewear have positively impacted employee productivity and safety. The latest pairs of safety eyeglasses feature enhancements that track biometrics, enable voice and video calls and a small visual display capable of scanning barcodes. Use of these technologies does require training and processes for distraction management. Tech Funnel says that other improvements in eyewear include anti-fog and anti-scratch coatings, as well as improved clarity lenses with reduced glare.

Protective Hand Gear

According to Creative Safety Supply, technological advances to safety gloves have improved dexterity and allow users to utilize touchscreen devices while being worn. The enhanced precision these gloves allow encourages workers to wear them all the time since they do not have to remove them to do finite work.

Other glove designs improved the ability to protect the wearer from chemicals or enhanced the durability in other ways. Material improvements have resulted in enhanced dexterity. Better latex keeps dangerous fluids from piercing the protective layer to better protect those in the medical fields from bodily fluid contamination.

Remote Controlled Machines and Vehicles

One enhancement has completely removed the worker from the field. The development of remote controls to operate vehicles and heavy machinery has increased worker safety. The technologies include drone technology, remote control vehicles, and robotics. In particular, using a drone can mitigate risks by having machinery survey and build in unsafe areas. As DroneRush points out, commercial drone can be used to check progress on job sites, inspect infrastructure, survey environmentally hazardous locations, map worksites, perform search and rescue, and much more.

The approximately 115,000 robots operating in US businesses complete repetitive tasks that would injure a human. They also conduct operations that would be impossible for a human, like micro applications. Remote controlled vehicles besides drones also benefit employee safety and costs. Vehicles operated remotely require less fuel. They have been integrated into operations for mining and highway construction already.

You can improve your company’s bottom line, productivity, and safety by integrating the latest safety devices into your workplace activities and operations. All of these technically advanced safety equipment makes for safer construction, mining and environmental service industries. Stay up-to-date on the latest safety equipment, so you can keep your workers out of harm’s way.

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