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How Businesses Are Using AI Cloud Services

AI world

Artificial intelligence in business is far-reaching and accessible. With cloud-based services that include AI for chatbots, Machine Learning Models for Natural Language Processing and more, businesses of all sizes can get a lot done via SaaS without using human resources.

Freeing people from mundane, repetitive tasks empowers businesses to deploy their staff to higher-value, more rewarding tasks.

Change is necessary, albeit worrisome for workers fearing they will struggle to stay employed if their employer starts using AI cloud services. Businesses, though, must remain competitive, reduce costs, improve efficiency and grow, so how can they do it all and keep their existing staff?

While emerging tech has seen the demise of the first line support operator in favour of AI for chatbots, new roles have eventuated, including data scientists, data analysts, and hybrid roles that require humans to work alongside robots.

Big Players in AI Cloud Services

With the affordability of cloud-based services, which are the big players in AI Cloud Services?

Datamation say there are a handful of technology enterprises leading the way forward in AI cloud services, including:

  • AWS (Amazon Web Services)
  • IBM Cloud
  • Microsoft Azure
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Alibaba Cloud

There are many AI vendors too using AI, and now it’s present in industry-specific services.

For example, SalesForce, the renowned enterprise CRM and marketing platform, has acquired AI companies and honed its services for more automation and deeper use of machine learning to manage repetitive tasks like customer data acquisition and reporting.

Which Industries Are Using AI?

Here is the A to Z of sectors using emerging tech from autonomous driving to online advertising and much more.

BusinessInsider reports a list of sectors embracing Artificial Intelligence.

Healthcare

General Practitioners (GPs) have improved their customer reach with online consultations using AI chatbots to diagnose health issues. AI is also used in imaging analysis and personalized medicines.

Finance, Banking, Insurance

Professional service providers use AI chatbots plus data analysis to determine customer credit histories quickly. Plus, AI speeds up fraud detection and money-laundering activity.

Marketing

Customer discovery and data insights are big business for service providers. Companies want to focus their sales and marketing campaigns on target audiences. Google is the leader in data analysis, and they use AI in their algorithms for Adwords, google analytics, and marketing insights.

Big Data

Managing personal data is more complex now, and there are laws on what a business can and can not do with it. For example, Europe’s GDPR compliance requires all businesses resident or doing business in the EU to comply with its data protection and privacy rules.

How is your business capturing, storing and using personal data?

DigitalGuardian has a comprehensive guide to GDPR compliance.

Where You Can Use AI In Your Business

There are many more uses for AI in business beyond capturing and analysing data. Forbes has a list of five uses for AI in the business, including:

Product Control

Ensuring your customer is getting what they paid for is time-consuming if your business uses people to assess each product that comes off the conveyor belt. AI is valuable, using machine learning to analyse and detect product flaws before reaching the customer. Plus, AI is also part of delivery, i.e. transport and logistics.

Work Scheduling

Managing large teams of people scheduling work is not a task you’d wish on anyone, and now you don’t need to as AI can do it more efficiently than a human. Flattening out peak times and spreading the workflow to quieter periods is easy to work for AI.

Security

Cybersecurity is top of mind for all businesses using the Internet. AI is improving cyber threat detection and quarantining viruses and ransomware, to name just a couple of its actions. Constant surveillance and better endpoint detection, i.e. how a hacker infiltrated a system is easier using AI-powered security systems.

Summing Up

AI is everywhere, with many vendors and big tech service providers. Plus, experts in emerging tech are in high demand.

Businesses can get greater operational efficiencies using AI to improve customer services, manage products and delivery, schedule work, reach their targeted audience and manage systems security.

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Innovation

How To Avoid Being A Casualty Of Disruption

Movie sign

No industry is too big to fail! Technology disruption leaves a trail of casualties, i.e. businesses that can not change or are too slow to recognise the need and do it.

We may think we’ve been tested with the pandemic, but the reality is disruption started way before it, and it will continue indefinitely. The pandemic was the final nail in the coffin for many businesses. For example, in the USA alone thousands of retailers have hit the wall and will never reopen their doors.

The pandemic has been a big test for many industries, and it’s changed how consumers buy and sell. For example, a business that can not survive via remote working and contactless sales knows its future is less certain.

Empty workplaces like department stores have struggled in post-lockdown recovery, with many enterprises knowing the inevitable end. For example Macy’s a firm favorite department store but with too much invested in foot traffic sales 125 stores will be gone by 2024.

Pandemic The Start Of Disruption?

The pandemic was not the start of business disruption, and it just sped up the necessary transition from contact to contactless trading. The companies that had already completed their transition to trading online or were well on their way with it have probably survived.

Unfortunately, thousands of retailers have hit the wall in the USA alone and will never reopen their doors.

Putting off change is more likely the real cause of business failure for traditionally offline industries but can operate online. Of course, some sectors were riding into the sunset for as long as it lasted, knowing that eventually, their time was up.

Disruption Caused Failure

For businesses in these sectors, the end was swift and ruthless.

Movie Theaters

What’s been the death of the movie theater industry has been the rise of another – in-home entertainment.

Home entertainment is now the norm. Experiencing the latest movie releases on the big screen has all but gone for good. There was a delay between when the latest release was screened at movie theaters and when it was available online. Now new movies are released in tandem, which has been a huge hit to box office sales.

Coronavirus may have all but put the final nail in the coffin of movie theaters, but that’s all it did. Tech disruption has been all over this industry for years. Think online streaming providers who have been gaining ground for some time, including:

Netflix

streaming online

Do you remember renting videos from Blockbuster? Renting movies on video was the start of the demise of movie theaters, and while Blockbuster disrupted the big screen industry, it failed to innovate further and has since failed.

Whereas the creators of Netflix started as a DVD rental service in 1997 and kept innovating as soon as it realised the future of entertainment was online. With a mission to ‘entertain the world,’ Netflix moved to a streaming service and now has some stiff competition from other streaming providers.

Disney

Producing content for the big screen and then the small screen and now online with Disney Plus, here is not only a survivor, now a market leader. Arguably it’s the biggest threat to Netflix and other streaming providers like Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Hulu, HBO Max and many others.

Booksellers

Another sector that has been desecrated by tech disruption is the big brand bookseller. Think Borders Group, who didn’t spend time browsing in one of their stores? However, enter the eBooks and Amazon Kindle, and the rest is history.

There is a feel-good ending for the humble small booksellers who recognised their niche could do well with a ‘local’ audience. While the franchises like Borders went out of business, the local village bookseller survived.

Using the fundamentals of marketing 101 to become a leader in a new category, boutique booksellers have thrived using online local marketing strategies like Google Adwords and List My Business and Reviews to drive customers into their stores.

Summing Up

To avoid being a casualty of disruption, adopt change and, if possible, let your business become the disrupter. If this is not viable, change anyway using innovation and marketing basics to remain relevant with your targeted audience.

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Tech

Use Real-Time Captions for Your Business Zoom Sessions

Zoom call

Live captioning has made the virtual world connect in more profound ways with their captions and event recaps in the form of transcripts.

When hosting virtual events and sessions on Zoom and other platforms, the need of the hour is real-time captioning to make your session accessible and inclusive.

Earlier this year, Zoom rolled out closed captioning support to even free accounts to make the service more accessible. For those working from home, attending virtual events and conferences, and figuring out newer ways of collaborating in the pandemic era, this was a boon.

Accuracy in subtitling and inclusivity via multi-lingual captions have made captioning the go-to service for virtual events. In this article, we delve into the world of real-time captions.

What Are Live Captions?

Everything that is spoken during a live event, a virtual event, a seminar, or a hybrid event (real-time + virtual) can get captured in live captions.

They are powered either by human captioners or by AI technology such as ASR (Automatic Speech Recognition) and accessible via internet-enabled devices e.g. smartphone, a computer, or a tablet.

Positives for Media File Transcribing

Basically, a media file (audio, video, or podcasts) gets transcribed to satisfy several end goals:

  • Better comprehension for the hard of hearing
  • Maintain records of the event in a simplified text format
  • Downloadable transcripts for those unable to attend live
  • Add another layer of accessibility for those who might want to consume the content in their native/preferred languages

Why Use Live Captions for your Zoom session

With Zoom’s roaring success in the past year, it has become even more critical for companies that enjoy a global presence to activate captions and translations for their live events.

Translating a Zoom event into specific languages opens up the world further, allowing people to consume and witness these events in the languages closest to home. From a business perspective, this makes sense from a comprehension and application standpoint.

Plus, content consumption has pivoted to vernacular in the digital space, with regional content players ruling the roost, so this is another reason to use live captions in your video content.

More Accessibility

Now that Zooming had become the de facto verb of the year, it necessitated a next logical step. This step was a huge advantage for multitaskers who have to participate in the meetings while also taking notes.

Remote working

While it may seem strange to some to consider reading through captions during a Zoom event, you’ll be surprised at how imperative it becomes in the context of the home office. It can, in fact, be a lifesaver to those whose attention may be divided while juggling both office and home responsibilities from home.

Plus it is easy to activate the captions during a Zoom call, via the meeting controls so there’s no interruption to the live event.

The captions allow you to scroll through to the parts you may have missed. You can also download transcripts of the session, a feature that closed captioning services provide.

AI Captions Are Catching Up

Human captions versus AI live captions which is more accurate? (Hint: Not AI)

Google introduced its Live Captioning in 2019. While automatic speech recognition has many advantages in logistics, there is still that little gap to consider between the human versus AI. For example, machines don’t understand languages, inflexion, tone, nuances in speech, and humans.

Human captioners

Human captioners have greater adherence to accuracy in capturing speech. Human captioners are skilled at deciphering human speech and precisely reproducing the words they hear. Human-generated captions have greater accuracy, up to 99%, compared to AI-generated captions for this very reason.

AI

AI technology works on bridging that gap between speech and captioned text and it is the future – just not yet!

Summary

Zoom now only allows users to send one language to their platform. Before the event begins, the host can determine if which language captions to use.

However, rather than just one language, you can get multi-lingual captions with a captioning service like SyncWords. Plus their blog has a guide to activating captions for Zoom: Zoom Real-Time Captions.

So, if you’re thinking Zoom, think real-time captions and what they can do for you and your business.

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Tech

3 Common IT Challenges Small Businesses Face

security

Technology is the enabler for most businesses today, and SMEs rely on IT apps and systems in most departments, from finance to sales. There are a few common challenges with technology, and in this post, we review what they are and how to turn them into strengths for your business.

Top Most Common Tech Challenges

Thankfully there are a lot of sources online to assist with the accuracy of our content. Starting with TechCrunch. They rank IT security as the top challenge.

IT Security

The pandemic did not pause cybercrime, and reports say cyberattacks increased with malware, phishing, and ransomware being the most common cyber threats to businesses. Remote working has added to the stress.

Companies need to ensure devices and apps used to share data and access business systems are secure. Staff at home are less accessible. The need for ongoing knowledge transfer and user training requires planning and resources, which is an added cost SMEs would prefer to do without.

Malware Attacks

Out of all types of data attacks, malware is among the most common. Malware attacks are simple and happen when a piece of malicious software is installed on someone’s computer or a network. The malware will then perform specific actions as desired.

Some malware is there to disrupt. Other malware can do things such as catching admin credentials for financial information, for instance. These can be very serious and put your whole organization at a standstill, so they cannot take them lightly.

Another thing you should know is that malware attacks are rarely made without the cooperation of a human in your organization. And, in most cases, they weren’t even in on it.

Attackers will often use social engineering techniques to pose as someone in authority. The receiver will have no idea as everything will be made to look like it’s coming from that person.

But this isn’t the only case where humans can become a liability. As a matter of fact, humans are the single biggest IT vulnerability.

You may have a remote or hybrid workplace, and one of your employees loses a device that could be found and accessed by a hacker. From the device, your whole network at risk.

It’s in the Cloud

Getting your head around cloud computing and how to adopt it company-wide is challenging. Vendor agreements are different, and the model is user pays, which is a far cry from buying a server and having it in your office.

Lack of In-House Skill

This is one of the biggest challenges for any business. Finding people who have IT skills and the type of skill you need can be complicated. Someone may understand certain things, but if you have an issue that needs a particular set of expertise, you might find your business stuck and hitting a dead end.

This is why many businesses decide to outsource their IT department. This way, they have a team at their disposal that can deal with everything that they need. They can also do things such as maintaining your licenses to make sure that they’re in order and that your patches are all up to date. Or they might be able to help you recover your systems quickly if there’s an unexpected error or breach.

Emerging Tech

Getting to grips with AI, robotics, Natural Language Processing, and matching learning is challenging to most businesses. When do you adopt systems that may replace your staff? There’s no escaping change and technology evolution. Some apps already use AI, and automation is used in many mundane tasks within the business.

Chatbots use AI and machine learning are the norm on many websites that offer services and online purchases, i.e. eCommerce stores. 64% of users say the 24-hour service is the best feature of the chatbot. As a consumer, you rely on instantaneous response, especially when you’re in the midst of an online purchase.

Summing Up

These are just some of the most common IT issues small businesses have to deal with every day. If you are one, make sure that you protect yourself against these risks and consider hiring an expert team for assistance.

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