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How tech is transforming three traditional industry sectors

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When it comes to tech transformation, you only need to look at what the smart investors are funding to see that it’s not just the dynamic, emerging sectors such as fintech that are benefiting. Investors such as Tom Chapman, co-founder of MatchesFashion; Sanjeev Krishnan of S2G Ventures, and Donald Lucas of Lucas Venture Group are focusing on the traditional industries too.

While we’ve all been watching the dynamic, and often consumer-facing, end of the tech market, activity is growing at a rapid pace in some of our most traditional sectors. Here are just three that are coming up on the rails by using tech to power the next generation of companies.

1. Logistics and shipping

Established industries don’t come much more traditional than shipping or as profitable as freight forwarding, a sector worth some $2 trillion at the last count. Freight forwarding companies ensure the smooth movement of goods around the globe but, up until recently, the industry has not seen anything like the kind of tech transformation you would witness elsewhere.

This year that’s set to change. A number of new tech businesses have sprung up to service the sector, dragging it into the 21st Century. Possibly the most high-profile is San Francisco-based startup Flexport, which in February received another $1bn in investment taking its valuation to a whopping $3.2bn. Started just five years ago, it now employs more than 1,000 people from 11 offices worldwide and is building warehousing facilities at many major ports. Flexport has seen such stratospheric growth because it understands the industry’s biggest problems and has got the tech right.

For the first time, Flexport has created a holistic cloud-based software platform that connects all the parties together in one place: importers, exporters, shipping carriers, truckers, airlines, plus the customs agencies and ports, allowing real-time interaction and document transfer. This might not seem so groundbreaking but in freight forwarding, where to date mountains of paper documents have been the norm, it really is.

2. Agriculture and food

Farming is another sector that’s slowly being transformed by tech innovations. For the last few years we’ve seen a big growth in agtech, fueled by a rapid rise in investment on the back of concerns about food security and environmental regulation. In fact, last year agtech deal activity hiked 11 per cent year-on-year worldwide; according to agtech funder Sanjeev Krishnan: “We have never seen the tectonic plates shifting as much as they are now, from the farm gate to the fridge.”

If there is one company that encapsulates the ethos and innovation of the new agtech revolution it’s Farmwise. Based out of San Francisco, Farmwise aims to solve some core issues in farming: the elimination of weeds and the need to optimise the amount of crops grown on a farmer’s land and the need to reduce the use of harmful pesticides.

Founded in 2016, Farmwise is just about to launch its first generation automated weeding system. The vehicle provides information about the crops in real time, giving farmers a more accurate early warning system and pointing to areas that need their attention. But more than this, using a combination of AI and robotics, the onboard tech captures images of each plant, analyses the data and identifies whether it’s friend or foe. Then it removes the weeds, even around individual crops. In time it’s hoped that this tech will drastically reduce the need to spray chemicals on the land and increase the productivity of each individual field.

3. Construction and housebuilding

Regarded by many as the last tech-free bastion, the building industry is highly traditional and up until recently was resistive to change. But over the last couple of years we’ve seen a growing number of startups coming on stream determined to transform this determinedly old-school sector.

One company focused on the building industry that has hit the headlines is Katerra, a startup focused on increasing collaboration, productivity and speeding up the construction process using tech. Driving them forward is the challenge we all face: creating more and cheaper housing as global populations boom. It’s a company with big ideas and big ambitions that has attracted high-profile investors.

Katerra is set to transform the sector because they are creating a one-stop building shop. They handle everything: architecture and design, specification, construction and fit-out, all powered by a heavy use of the latest tech including AI, robotics, apps and customer software interfaces. If there was ever a company that demonstrated the future for traditional industries, its Katerra. As Katerra Chairman and co-founder Michael Marks says: “Progress won’t come with incremental measures, we are pursuing transformational change on a massive scale.”

Today, tech is driving every industry sector, transforming everything, including where we live, how we’ll ship goods and what we will eat. The next five years will see traditional industries play catch up and you can bet the results for us all will be startling.

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IT Security

Take These Steps And Protect Your Business From A Cybercrime

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You might have read the news story surrounding the events that happened at Mal A Largo. The prestigious club favoured by the president was recently breached by a woman who claimed she was a member. She wasn’t. When she was inside, she suggested she was there for a conference.

There was no conference taking place and the woman entered the club with multiple pieces of tech. One of which contained malware data. The president was in the club at the time and it is not currently known what the woman’s intentions were. It is however clear, that she almost succeeded.

This shouldn’t come as a massive shock. After all, recent reports have suggested that by 2021 there will be a cyber attack on a business every twenty seconds. That’s crazy and it won’t just be big businesses that are exposed either.

Indeed, experts suggest that smaller companies will be targeted because criminals won’t expect them to have the latest protection measures in place.

This leaves an important question: Is your business secure and prepared for the threat of a cyber attack?

Truthfully, the answer is probably no. But you can take steps and make changes to ensure that your business is protected.

Let’s look at some of the ways you can do this, plus here’s a quick recap on what you need to know about cyber crime and malware.

What is Malware?

You don’t need to know the history of malware but it’s kind of interesting so here’s a short summary.  Its beginnings are thought to be in 1949, with  computer scientist John von Neumann, however the first documented viruses were in the 1970s.

There was the creeper worm by Bob Thomas and in the eighties the man credited as the father of viruses, Fred Cohen really developed the computer virus as we know it today.

Not all viruses are bad, though malware is and it’s thought that a third of all computers world-wide have been infected at some time.

Hard-hitting viruses

There have been some very hard hitting computer viruses over the years including:

  • 2013 – Cyptolocker. This is one of the early ramsonware programs. Ramsonware in itself is interesting insofar as it denies the user access to their computer with threats to publish the users’ data unless a ransom is paid.
  • 2014 – Backoff. Known for hitting the Point of Sale (POS) machines to steal credit card data.
  • 2016 – Cerber. One of the most infective viruses according to Microsoft.
  • 2017 – WannaCry Ransomware. Appropriately named as many companies attacked by it did ‘want to cry’.

Source – a brief history of malware

What is Cybercrime?

Simply put, cybercrime is the term given to describe any criminal activity online, i.e. uses the Internet. It’s far-reaching, insofar as it includes everything from ramsonware and other viruses, to hacking, phishing and spamming.

So, what can you do to make sure your business is protected?

Installed And Up To Date

It’s important to make sure that you are installing anti-virus software. Once it is installed, make sure that you are updating it regularly. Many people think that once you have installed anti-virus software on your tech, your issues are over. This just isn’t the case. Indeed, it’s instead possible and even likely that you fall behind on updates and suddenly there’s basically no protection for your business.

This is usually because people are relying on free antivirus software. Free software is better than nothing, but it’s definitely not the ideal solution. If you want the highest level of protection, then you need to invest in the best software on the market. This isn’t free but it does provide fantastic value for your company.

Choose Strong Passwords

Passwords are incredibly dangerous if they are easy to guess or if they include information that people could quickly access. As such, there should be no personal information used to create your passwords. It should be a random string of numbers and letters. These are almost impossible to guess or hack and as such will keep your sensitive data secure.

The Latest Tech

Do make sure that you are investing in the latest technology and equipment. The latest tech will usually have preventive measures in place to ensure that software is protected. Particularly if they are running the latest programs and systems.

You should be careful of methods for saving money as well such as BYOD initiatives. While this can cut costs down, you can’t guarantee that the devices that employees are as secure as they need to be. Investing in the latest technology yourself will always be the best option.

We hope this helps you understand how to secure your business from a potential cybercrime.

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Innovation

How Is AI Being Used In Business?

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Artificial Intelligence is bandied around the office, and there’s plenty of information online but is your business using it and if not yet, where could it be using it, sometime soon?

Machine Learning, Biometrics, and Robotic Process Automation are in use right now and growing in popularity, not just with the big businesses but also startups, SMEs and everything in between.

Adext’s report includes 19 AI Technologies to look for in 2019 and it’s well worth a read. In this article, we consider three types that mainstream business can no longer live without.

Listed in no particular order, you may have heard of these AL technologies, but you’re not aware of what they do, or how businesses use them.

Where Business Is Using AI

Digital marketing & advertising, research and administration, are key areas of business that are seeing massive change with AI, and specifically these AI techs: RPA, Biometrics and ML.

Machine Learning

A branch of AI, this tech has been around for a while.

Machine Learning (ML) develops techniques so computers can automatically learn and improve from experience. It’s used right now to predict and classify data; hence it’s been a game changer for advertising platforms like Google Ads.

Analysis of vast quantities of data, in quick smart time, all the while delivering accuracy has relieved many of us from jobs that involving mundane, repetitive tasks.

ML gets its data from APIs, algorithms, of course, other machines as well as big data tools; to name a few sources; but not all machine learning algorithms are the same.

Machine learning algorithms:

  • Supervised – can apply what’s been learned to new data
  • Unsupervised – explores data and describes hidden structures within datasets
  • Semi-supervised – somewhere between the two mentioned above
  • Reinforcement – allows software and machines to pick the optimum response within specific context to improve performance.

More detail found here: ML algorithms definitions

There are many platforms available now, and you’ll know many of the companies in this space: Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and a few you may not know that well including Adext, and Skytree.

Biometrics

This AL tech is focused on improving communication and understanding between us and machines. It uses measurements and analyses human behaviour. Interactions, such as touch, speech, images and even body language are in its sights.

Just like ML, this is a big field of AI with huge potential, particularly in the area of market research.

Robotic Process Automation

Think AI workers, that’s this technology. Robotic process automation (RPA) is another area of AI that’s a game changer for employment, and many of the jobs we used to do, still do and will no longer do. Already RPA has found its way into many industries, and AI workers (machines) have replaced humans in the workforce.

The prosaic and repetitive tasks, humans used to do, are now done in part or in full by machines. In areas of the business such as accounting, administration, customer support and help desks but also on websites, AI has found its place.

Chat Bot

The ‘chatbot’ is now ubiquitous on websites for products and services and online sales support. Here is a good read on how using a chatbot could benefit business and change the customer experience.

Live Chat is a more human form of the chatbot, and when you’ve experienced it, as a customer, your level of appreciation goes up a notch or two.

There is a flip side for businesses using live chat and chatbot tech. Customers now used to it will expect your business to delivery immediacy and efficiency every time.

With RPA, businesses see lots of upsides, with reduced overheads and improve productivity.

There have been some clever marketing for it, mainly to dissuade negative reaction from workers fearful of job displacement. Business and workers are encouraged to see it as a solution that promotes better use of human workers; though new roles that are infinitely more interesting, and fulfilling, while also doing wonders to the company’s bottom line.

Summary

AI is everywhere and depending on how you view your business, career and life; the future is either exhilarating or maybe a bit scary.

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Tech

5 Benefits of Custom Business Software Applications

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As companies continue to invest in their technology and processes, it is becoming apparent, one size does not fit all. The same goes for investing in business applications through out of the box software packages, software consultancies or application frameworks. While business owners may choose generic software applications, there are many benefits to developing custom programs. In this post, we will cover how those custom applications can drive growth for your business.

Flexible Applications

Surely, custom applications have the maximum amount of flexibility. You can program everything just the way that you work. With a completely custom business solution, you have the ability to create any process, workflow or application that your company needs. Moreover, an off the shelf application will have a hard time meeting the level of flexibility of applications design specifically for your processes.

Improved Security

Especially if you have a good team, a custom program will have higher levels of security. Since custom applications are unique to your organization, there is a much lower chance of hackers learning the ins and outs of your software. Compared to mainstream business solutions that cyber criminals can test against, the unique development of your software is less likely to get targeted. Absolutely, a security conscious business that wants to prevent hackers could benefit from custom built applications.

Direct Integration

Moreover, custom business systems directly integrate with your existing processes. If you already have other software running for various company departments, it’s easy to keep them. Your custom applications can pull and push data as needed to create the perfect solution for your organizational needs. This makes the integration process easier, giving your company time and resources to grow.

Web Based Management

In addition to integration benefits, custom built systems allow you to build fully web based management tools. According to Unim – Business management system, custom web applications are replacing bloated project management and CRM tools. Best of all, they are accessible to your team members, partners or clients from any web browser. With a custom web-based application, you have full control over what is accessible online.

Custom Is Scalable

Over time, the needs of your business will change. A custom software will support your business growth rather than limit it. Compared to “one-size fits all” software, the capacity to change, automate and scale your software is critical to organizational growth. It will meet the needs of your current business processes while adapting or evolving to the needs of the future as well.

Growth should be a major priority for your business. If so, then integrate custom business systems into your future plans. The flexibility of the technology will allow your employees to work smarter, not harder. Your systems will be more secure while integrating with existing processes. On top of that, custom business apps offer the option for web based access or limitations. Finally, your custom business system will help your business grow now and then adapt to the new needs in the future. Positively, a custom business application can give your company the added resources to accelerate growth.

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