5 Ways to Increase Productivity Using Technology

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Do you ever feel that your business is not doing as well as it could? Are you scared to innovate and adopt new technologies? If so, you are holding your business back. There is nothing you can do to avoid slipping further and further from the top…. Except one thing:

Adopt technologies that will increase your team’s productivity.

There are many, ways your organization can increase productivity using technology. With the advances in computing, data management and automation, we are inching closer to the world that Star Trek envisioned 50 years ago. While we might not have Holodecks, instant transportation, or replicators, the technologies we do have can have a monumental impact on the world as we know it. Instead of focusing on distant, future technologies, let’s take a look at a few ways we could potentially be as productive as the crew of the Enterprise today.

Here are 5 aspects of your business that can be improved with technology solutions.

1. Access to Information

Providing employees access to the necessary information their job requires is an integral part of every business strategy. There are many reasons to ensure your employees have easy access to information. Imagine: you have a corporate intranet, but due to a network malfunction, nobody had access to it. Then, a very important customer calls, needing immediate confirmation of information within your system. What do you do? Tell the client you can’t give them the information because you don’t have it? That’s a bad look for your business.

To avoid that scenario, you need to invest in a more reliable network. This involves a multifaceted approach, investing in security measures, backing up data and constantly improving processes. Your network stability is one of the most important features ensuring your employees have access to essential information.

Access to information will also increase employee engagement and satisfaction. It is frustrating when you can’t access something that you know you need (say, at an offsite meeting, where a potential client asks for something offhand), but the system is not giving you access. Investing in a secure, high-quality VPN will ensure that no matter where your employees are, they have access to the network.

In addition to ensuring employees have the ability to access information around the clock, you can reduce frustration (and save time) by having all your systems in one secure location. They will no longer be bouncing between systems, trying to find the information they need. Everything they need to do their jobs will be right at their fingertips.

Your employees will be able to better service your customers, have an easier time being mobile and avoid frustration if you invest in technology that makes it easier to access information. Your customers will have a better experience and overall productivity will increase.

2. Availability Anytime (and Anywhere)

The knowledge economy is robust. Many jobs can be done from anywhere. Technology has allowed us to turn anywhere with Wifi into an impromptu office.  By investing in a VPN, you may allow employees to work from wherever they will be most comfortable, if you so choose. This can lead to a huge increase in productivity, simply because employees are more satisfied when given the option to work where they want.

Another way you can make your employees more accessible, regardless of where they are, is by not tying them down to a specific, company provided piece of hardware.

A popular policy regarding technological devices is: “Bring-your-own-device” (BYOD). BYOD enables your employees to use their own computers, phones or tablets for work. This will increase your employees familiarity with their devices, allowing for more efficient work. Employees are more likely to be productive if they have access to their own phone, tablet, or computer. 49% of employees say they are more productive using their own devices. People are also more likely to be able to successfully troubleshoot their own devices, reducing the amount of work IT needs to do. Added productivity, plus the savings from not having to purchase devices, makes this solution worth pursuing.

Technology can make employees more readily available is by offering a video conferencing solution for their phones and computers. This will reduce the amount of travelling needed for business purposes. A video conferencing solution can eliminate any offsite meetings. Travel is often expensive and inefficient. Simply by upgrading your video conferencing solution will increase your productivity, keeping people in the office, being productive.

3. Collaboration

A third method to increase productivity in the workplace using technology, is by boosting productivity with a collaboration suite or software. A collaboration suite, such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, or G-Suite, are meant to provide an all-in-one environment where team members can discuss, plan and execute workflows. These programs have all the necessary tools in one place, where all relevant parties have access to them.

These tools can increase productivity in a number of ways. First and foremost, they help employees communicate about projects. Some people are uncomfortable speaking up in person, but in a chat-like environment, they will be less anxious about sharing their thoughts. Another way these collaboration suites can increase productivity are by minimizing meetings. Meetings are one of the biggest drains of time in business. 15% of an organization’s total time spent attending and preparing for meetings.

By introducing collaboration suites to your business, you can eliminate unnecessary meetings where an email (or short conversation) would suffice. You can save plenty of time (and money), while motivating employees to communicate more, even if that communication is online.

4. Customer Service

The fourth way you can increase your organization’s productivity is by linking your CRM solution to your employees devices. By giving your employees easy, automatic access (when needed) to customer information, it reduces time wasted searching for that information. This, in turn, increases customer satisfaction because they now have to wait less time to have their problem solved. Several methods to link your CRM to your network exist, through an intranet, a company portal or other custom solutions.

Over 60% of CMOs admit that they aren’t utilizing available data to its full potential. A CRM can change that. The more an employee knows about a customer, the better (and faster) they can solve their problem. This will naturally increase your productivity, with the added bonus of happier customers..

5. Long-Term Plan

Another way you can increase productivity using technology is by creating a long-term technological plan. Some businesses call it a roadmap, others call it an evolution. Simply the effects of having a succession plan for technologies in use can greatly increase productivity.

As hardware becomes obsolete, and software stops being maintained, technologies can quickly become useless. That’s why it’s important to have both a long-term and short-term plan for replacing and updating technologies.

The first benefit of planning a technology change is that it minimizes the chance that the change grinds everything to a standstill. People need to be trained on new machines, they need to get used to using them and the new machines take time to install. By planning out the change, you can begin to train people on the new technologies, implementing the solution piece-by-piece until it is fully in place. This planning and slow implementation ensures that if there are any issues, they can be sorted out before fully implementing the new solution. Having a long-term plan also raises employee excitement about the technology, as they have to wait for it to be slowly rolled out, creating a level of suspense.

If there is no succession plan in place, two things will happen:
  1. Hardware will begin to malfunction and lose its usefulness to your business before it gets replaced.
  2. When the change does come, it will involve forcing everybody on to new technology at the same time. If it does not work, your entire business will be impacted.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of ways you can use technology to increase your business’ productivity. The topics covered today are suggestions as to how you can use technology to make your business more productive.

What do you think of our list? What would you add to it? Let us know on Twitter @VeridayHQ or connect with us on LinkedIn here.

6 Open Source Technologies That Changed The World

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When something is referred to as “open source”, it means that people can modify and share the code because its design is publicly accessible. Anybody can modify the code to suit their own needs. Open source technology has been around for quite some time now. In the early days of software development, code was shared among developers so they could learn from each other and advance the sector. As the industry began to become more commercialized and competitive, developers began to advocate the idea of free software. Some developers felt that software should be accessible to all, not restricted to those with deep pockets.

In 1997, Eric Raymond published a reflective analysis of the hacker community and free software principles. This lead to the Netscape Communicator internet suite becoming open source. Such a big player in software development joining the open source movement helped gain the idea traction. The fact that any developer can alter the software makes the systems more secure, affordable, transparent and flexible. The more diverse your development group is, the more innovation you can pack into a product. Open source software can be locally changed to save costs, making it very popular for many purposes. It is often used for local applications where only a specific task needs to be accomplished.

Overall, the world of software would be much different without open source software. Below we will take a look at 6 things that the world be missing if it wasn’t for the Open Source Initiative.

1. Linux

Linux is significant to the open source community thanks to its early adoption and use in creating (and running) much of the modern internet. It is an operating system built in 1991, by Linus Torvalds, a Finnish student at the time. His goal was to create an operating system that takes into account user feedback into its development cycle. It was based off Unix, an open source system. While I don’t want to get into the history of developing these systems, simply due to the amount of technical knowledge included, the subject is very interesting. For a very (very, very, very) thorough explanation check out The Linux Documentation Project.

Today, Linux is one of the most popular operating systems in the entire world. Around 98% of the world’s fastest supercomputers are Linux based. As seen in the chart below, 68% of tablets and mobile operating systems are Linux based.

Open Source technology dominates the mobile OS market

Worldwide Mobile OS Market Share

By W3Cook’s analysis of Alexa’s data, 96.3 percent of the top 1 million web servers are running Linux. The remainder is split between Windows ( 1.9 percent) and FreeBSD (1.8 percent).

Without Linux, it is nearly impossible to imagine where the world would be in terms of computing ability today. Web search would not exist and, the usefulness of the internet could be diminished greatly. The stability, standardization and security, all at a low cost, is the reason the OS has survived and thrived. These features would not be available if not for the open source origins of Linux.

2. Android

84.82% of smartphones worldwide run on the Android operating system. It has been growing exponentially since 2009, back when it only had 3.9% of the smartphone OS market. One of the reasons that Android is so popular is due to the open-source nature of the software. Google, Android’s parent company, makes deals to provide the software to hardware vendors for use with their devices. This opens access to Google services and marketplace to those using the devices.

Open source dominates Smartphone OS market

Smartphone OS Market Share

This strategy is completely opposite to that of their biggest competitor, Apple. Apple only puts iOS on Apple products. iOS is a closed-source system. Since it is restricted to Apple products, the adoption rate of the iOS is limited simply due to market constraints.

The open-source initiative that Android is based on has allowed the operating system to thrive in a competitive smartphone market. Google has become a major player in the smartphone environment, in less than a decade, due to their excellent implementation of open-source fundamentals. Without open source software, the smartphone market would look very different today.

3. Geographical Information Systems (GIS)

A Geographical Information System (GIS), is a computer system used to capture, store and analyze geographical and location-based data. GIS allows researchers to recognize patterns and relationships in geographic data. They are commonly used in industries that involve natural resources such as forestry, oil & gas, water management and in a variety of transportation-heavy sectors. GIS, when used in conjunction with GPS and logistics control solutions can help businesses become more efficient.

While not every GIS solution is open source, many of the early pioneers in the technology were proponents of free software. The original GIS solution MOSS (Map Overlay and Statistical System) was developed by the U.S. Department of Interior in 1978. Nearly all systems built since then, from GPS to location services, have built on the original open source solutions. Without these open source fundamentals, a large number of logistics control systems and location-based services would either not exist or still be in their infancy.

4. WordPress

WordPress, one of the world’s most popular blogging and web content management systems, is based on open source fundamentals. Without the Open Source Initiative, the software script that supports 27% of the web would not exist. The fact that WordPress is open sourced means that anyone can alter the code or create plugins. There are over 30,000 of these plugins, which add additional functionality to the website or blog. The plugins are responsible for things such as SEO, security, analytics and e-commerce functionality. All of these plugins are open source as well. Without the Open Source Initiative, one of the most functional CMSs in the world would not exist.

5. Firefox

Without Firefox, the browser market would be extremely different. Instead of a relatively competitive four solution battle, it would be reduced to three. Once you factor in that Safari is only available to Apple users, that becomes a two solution battle. You would have to pick between two technology giants, Google (with Chrome) or Microsoft (with Internet Explorer). The fact that there is a third option (for non-Apple users) completely changes the market. It forces the proprietary systems to be continually improved upon, or risk losing market share. Open source technologies like Firefox push innovation.

6. Liferay

Liferay Inc. is a technology company that is based on open source fundamentals. Their platforms are all offered in an open source format. The platform allows you to change the software so it can meet your specific needs. Liferay 7 is an open source version of their newest platform, Liferay DXP. The only differences between the open source version and the enterprise version is the level of support provided by the company.

Without Liferay, many corporate intranets and extranets, as well as a variety of portals would not exist. Costs associated with proprietary, black box systems would discourage many companies from adopting a portal, intranet or extranet. Liferay can provide a cost-effective solution that developers KNOW will work, simply based off being able to dive into the code.

The foundations of Liferay were developed over the years by a variety of developers. These efforts lead to the creation of various features of Liferay products, the system would not be the same (if it even existed) without the Open Source Initiative.

Conclusion

Without these technologies and platforms, the world would be an extremely different place. While there are closed source alternatives available for some of these technologies, the entire landscape would be completely shifted if open source software was not a thing.

The world would be a very different place if it was not for open source technology. Everyone would be using an iPhone, or maybe Blackberry would never have taken a tumble in market share. Internet Explorer and Chrome would be the two dominate web-browsers, never facing any external competition for non-Apple users. The internet would be dramatically altered because there would be no Linux or WordPress. Finally, we would not have any of the Liferay solutions. The world would be lacking top-of-the-line portal, intranet, and extranet solutions.

Open source technology has dramatically altered the world around us, nearly everything would be different. We would have no search engines, and the functionality of the internet would be significantly different. Proprietary solutions would be the only options, restricting who can even afford to use their technologies due to price. I for one, am thankful for the Open Source Initiative.

What did you think of our list? Would you have changed anything? Did we miss any big-name open source technologies? Let us know on Twitter @VeridayHQ. #OpenSource

Why Your Marketing Technology Isn’t Impacting the Bottom Line

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This post was authored by Christine Reyes originally appeared here on Liferay.com

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What’s the Number One Priority for Marketers Today?

Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? The number one priority for marketers today is to lead the company in finding new revenue and business opportunities.

The majority of business leaders would say they agree, according to a recent survey of CMOs from the CMO Council and Deloitte. Nearly 70% of those surveyed stated that they expect marketing’s primary role to be driving growth. This means that, in addition to attracting new customers and managing the brand story, CMOs are now tasked with opening new markets and optimizing the customer experience in ways that directly help the bottom line.

Given the explosion of MarTech products over the past few years, it’s fair to say that most CMOs see these technology stacks as a key part of their new roles. If CMOs can identify the best technology for their context and use it to constantly optimize customer experiences, they can find opportunities to improve customer service, make marketing processes more efficient, glean new insight from analytics, and ultimately use all of this as a foundation for strategies that contribute to new business growth.

Most CMOs Aren’t Taking Full Advantage of Their MarTech Stack

Unfortunately, when it comes to executing this vision for marketing technology, many companies are left disappointed. Even with the implementation of new products, brands aren’t seeing the impact they expect from MarTech. Other research has shown, for example, that technology is only marginally improving marketing performance at most companies. Even more concerning, as of 2015, only 9% of marketers believe that they are fully utilizing their MarTech stacks.

The insight from the CMO Council’s report suggests that much of this disconnect is due to the CMO’s struggle to translate their new role as business drivers into their daily work. Here is how CMOs say they currently spend their time:

  • Reviewing and approving marketing plans, budgets and campaigns (45%)
  • Defining and shaping the brand (44%)
  • Executing campaigns to attract customers (42%)
  • Evolving the brand narrative (37%)

Based on this list, it seems like CMOs are still focused on being brand ambassadors and managing campaigns, rather than optimizing the customer experience.

Part of the reason could be the normal momentum of their roles. Traditionally, marketing has focused on the promises it makes to customers early on in the sales funnel. This is reflected in the technology investments most CMOs make, such as campaign tracking and reporting software. What they need instead is marketing technology that improves customer experience, produces revenue and optimizes business solutions.

CMOs Need to Start Using MarTech to Impact the Entire Customer Journey

It seems like MarTech has impressive ROI around areas that have traditionally been part of marketing’s role (such as CRO), but isn’t necessarily impacting the bottom line in new ways, like business leaders expect.

With 63% of marketers today using some kind of journey mapping, we know that most CMOs have a customer journey map already created. Connecting marketing technology to different points in the journey can help CMOs identify opportunities for improvement.

One great example of this comes from Deborah Wahl, the CMO at McDonald’s. She staffed her team with 200 tech specialists and used the digital insights they gathered to assess pain points in the customer journey specifically for millennials. They found that millennials disliked that the breakfast menu ended at 10:30am and advised switching to an all-day menu. After the change, 78% of millennials said they visited McDonald’s at least once a month, which is the highest percentage McDonald’s has seen from this group in three years. This is the kind of impact CMOs can have when they use technology to improve performance, especially at moments in the journey that have typically been outside of marketing’s scope.

This change in scope is the difference between customer experience optimization and campaign optimization. While campaign optimization focuses on individual marketing plans in order to bring in new customers, customer experience optimization tracks and evaluates the performance of every single customer interaction. Those who excel at the latter spend their time tracking the performance of each channel, measuring customer satisfaction at each touchpoint, and pulling data from later purchase and post-purchase stages.

Customer experience optimization is what CMOs need to start using their MarTech stacks for, ideally with the help of a smart analytics team that understands how to uncover meaningful, actionable data. This will have a higher impact on the bottom line than campaigns, and it will uncover gaps in the customer journey that CMOs are in the best position to see.

CMOs Have More Influence Than Ever

In the CMO Council’s report, 27% of respondents said that the CMO is the primary chief revenue driver, trumping the CEO at 22%. This means that CMOs now have opportunities to act as trusted members of executive management and influence the decisions that make or break customer experience, provided they find ways to step out of the comfort zone of business-as-usual.

It’s time for CMOs to shift focus away from pre-sale and discovery interactions, where marketing has been traditionally focused. If CMOs want to impact growth and revenue, they need to look at the full customer lifecycle and become experts at using technology to achieve their business goals.

Business Uses and Benefits of Intranets & Extranets: Part 1

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According to Axero, “an intranet is a network where employees can create content, communicate, collaborate and get stuff done.”  In this 2-part series, we will discuss intranets and extranets, how they are used, their benefits for businesses, and how they differ.

What is an intranet?

Intranets are private, secured networks that are used to share information effectively within a company. The goal of an intranet is to ease communication, collaboration and document sharing for people within an organization. Intranets provide a virtual space for employees to work together, which is great for when people are spread out geographically.  Overall, an intranet optimizes exiting business processes to centralize information, reduce complexity and maximize productivity.

Businesses can use intranets for a variety of reasons:

  • Streamline day to day activity by making repetitive tasks easier to complete
  • Improve internal communication with employee directories, company news and organization charts
  • Increase employee engagement by minimizing and centralizing “locked up” information
  • Collaboration is made easier as employees can share information across the board
  • Provides personalized information and content to users based on role
  • Provides easy access to important information including policies, benefits and company updates
  • Centralize and organize company data into a single database

Why should I consider an intranet for my business?

As companies continue to become more and more decentralized, intranets are becoming increasingly important in the business landscape. Secure intranets are the fastest growing segment of the internet because they are less expensive to maintain compared to private networks. Harvard Business School conducted an ROI-engagement study that revealed for every 1% increase in employee engagement, the return on investment (ROI) for a social intranet increased 1000%.

Investing in a corporate intranet can benefit your business in many ways:

  • Increase your bottom line by engaging your employees
  • Increase employee productivity by reducing unnecessary email use by 25%
  • Gives you a competitive edge by increasing your profitability, productivity and customer happiness
Competitive edge statistics from having an intranet

Research done by Jive Software indicates that 90% of companies using social technologies report business benefit from them including:

  • 5x increased likelihood of outperforming the competition
  • 18% higher revenue per employee

Many organizations have adopted corporate intranets and saw measurable results:

  • Cisco accelerated its time-to-market by 12-18 months through global collaboration in engineering. They were able to increase their innovation speed with the use of an intranet.
  • 52% of employees at IBM were more satisfied because of how accessible information was on their corporate intranet. Because of this, they were able to better retain their employees.
  • McAfee created a collaborative online community for its customer support staff. By doing this, they were able to cut call handling costs by $2.6 million.

In a constantly evolving and innovative digital world, you always want to be searching for the next best thing. If you want your business to gain a competitive edge and keep your employees engaged, an intranet may be for you. After all, a happy worker is a productive worker and that keeps your business moving forward.

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In part 2 of this series, we will discuss extranets.

Liferay DXP vs. Liferay 6.2 : Interview with VP of Solutions, Nick Quach

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In this exclusive interview, Nick Quach, VP of Solutions at Veriday and resident Liferay expert, sits down with Veriday CEO, Marc Lamoureux, to discuss Liferay DXP (Digital Experience Platform), the latest and greatest Liferay platform. In this discussion, we will hear about what’s new and innovative, what changes you’ll see from the previous versions, what new business challenges it can solve and when an organization might choose to migrate over.

Nick has extensive experience using and implementing the Liferay platforms, including Liferay DXP, for a wide range of solutions, clients, and industries.

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Marc: It’s Marc Lamoureux and Nick Quach from Veriday. We’re here to talk about Liferay DXP (Digital Experience Platform). To start off this discussion, I thought I’d ask you, in your experience, what kind of customers traditionally would be using Liferay?

Nick: I think one of the strengths of Liferay, even before DXP was introduced, is the fact that they have always prided themselves on providing a platform versus providing a product. What that allows the end customer to do is to use that platform to deliver their requirements in however many ways they need.

So, whether an organization is using it for a corporate intranet (which is probably one of the most prolific use cases for the platform out there), using it to build simple web sites, or using it to engage their customers. Whether it’s a B2B or an e-commerce type engagement, Liferay has them covered.

I think for us the diversity of the Liferay client base is probably what’s most compelling and what’s most telling about the actual platform itself.

The distribution of what we actually see clients using Liferay platforms for is quite broad compared to what we would see in the more traditional web content management system like WordPress, that are only used in situations where someone is looking to build websites. You see Liferay being deployed in a much more diverse manner.

Marc: Interesting; so traditionally Liferay has described itself as a “portal platform”, but now they’ve rebranded the product to the platform “DXP” (Digital Experience Platform). Talk to us a little bit about why they made that change and what do you think is behind the positioning of a product from portal to digital experience?

Nick: Liferay itself has always been a platform, however it was called Liferay portal because the problems that we were trying to solve 10 years ago dictated what most of the organizations were using Liferay for. A lot of the organizations that were interested in portal technologies already had a dispersed set of software in-house with information separated into different subsystems. These organizations were looking for a technology that would allow them to consolidate the data into a single touch point with the benefit of providing a more seamless customer experience, which is where the term “portal” came from.

The use case was to provide a more seamless customer experience, to provide a one-stop shop for their clients, allowing them to access everything they needed in one place. The portal was typically viewed as a system engaged with a touch point in which an organization could interact and communicate with their client.

Five years ago it was really about collaboration and aggregation, it was really about getting people onto a platform that allowed them to communicate. But the world has changed and what we’re seeing today is not so much a fundamental shift in the way people are viewing technology but the way in which people want to consume technology. I think that’s what’s really driving Liferay and the platform and where we see the marketing of the platform heading.

Before, portals used to solve the problem of “I have a lot of data and I need to be able to consolidate that data in a single touch point” but now it’s more about “I have a lot of data but I want to be able to engage with my client in whatever fashion they choose to be engaged”. It’s no longer about just aggregating the data but also using it to engage the customer. Your system is now part of a greater ecosystem of engagement, providing consistency between interactions with clients.

Marc: Let’s say I’m currently using Liferay to engage with customers. When I see that Liferay released the DXP platform, what would you want to convey to me about new tools, or features that provide better opportunities for engagement and improvement in customer experience?

Nick: Well, I think it would be naive of me to of sit here and list all the new features feature-by-feature that Liferay DXP offers but I would tell them that if you’re already using Liferay, the engagement model doesn’t need to change. What I would challenge them to do is to think about how you could extend your engagement model.

My main point in an explanation to a customer would be to consider your engagement model and think about how you could increase the number and quality of touch points in which you interact with the client.

So, for example, if you’re in a B2B context, there are a lot of different channels in which an  organization can interact with their business clients and so regardless of the channel, how do you take all the data provided by the channel, all the various engagement models and how can you use the platform to provide you with not only insight, but a richer engagement?

Liferay DXP allows businesses to increase engagement by having tools in place that can capture and analyze data and provide a more personalized experience depending on the situation, providing different offerings or information depending on their situation, whether the customer is using a desktop or a mobile device.

It’s all about engaging people in different ways, for example if the client was attending an event in which you were hosting a booth, could you interact with them in a way that lets them know “we’re just around the corner from you, come pay us a visit” and offers them an incentive to visit? You already have a good solid foundation to engage with your customer, but what else can you do to engage more seamlessly in other medium. How can you use DXP to deliver that engagement?  Then, and only then, we can start talking about some of the new capabilities that DXP is offering.

Marc: It sounds like the customer experience can change for people who are engaging with these websites or forms. A more personal experience can be provided, with real time enablement, so you can respond to all the data you have about that customer and become more engaging over time. Basically it boils down to thinking “with a digital DXP platform I’m going to get a much, much more personal experience”?

Nick: Absolutely. The idea of real-time engagement, the idea of personalized engagement and the idea of omni-channel engagement, where regardless of how you are interacting with a client, the experience is seamless and they will get the same consistent customer experience regardless of which touch point they are using to interact with your business.

I think the real key here is “what do you look for in technology and what do you look for in a platform that will allow you to engage with your client that way.”

Marc: If you’re a current Liferay customer and looking to make the move to DXP, what are some of the business or technology issues you have to be thinking through on the way to making that move?”

Nick: That’s a bit of a tricky question to answer due to the fact that Liferay is a platform with a diverse range of use cases. Not every client is going to be the same. That being said, nearly every single business is looking for ways to increase their business capacity. Whether that’s through sales, more efficient communication or by any other means, whatever their method is the Liferay DXP platform can enhance the experience of client interaction. This makes their business processes more efficient through providing a platform that allows the customer and the business to communicate and engage.

Regardless of what your use case is, what I would do is ask “what are you using the platform for?”. Whether it’s  B2B, B2C or an e-commerce situation, you must ask, “how do you engage with your customer and how can you do it better?”. How do you look at that engagement model and say, “can I provide a better experience? Can I provide a more seamless experience?”

Whatever you were using Liferay for in the past you can continue to do it. You’re going to get a lot of new features so even if you choose not to look at engaging your customer differently, you’re going to get new features, new capabilities and you’re going to get a product that is going to be able to meet the standards of web technology today.

Marc: So from a business consideration the first recommendation is just to think through your engagement model, your strategy, what you want the customer experience to be and then plan those components against the new platform?

Nick: Absolutely, and then also look at how to utilize the platform in your greater ecosystem.

Typically we used to think about platforms (and Liferay in general) as an engagement system but we always typically looked at Liferay being THE engagement system, i.e. “this is where you go to engage”.

What we’re seeing in the industry today and what we’re seeing with DXP is now the platform has the capability to be part of a greater ecosystem, a component in the Internet of Things. It allows you to look at Liferay DXP as not solely just the primary engagement model but a component of the greater engagement model.

However, what you’re getting from the platform is the ability to use a consolidated capability. You’ret not losing the ability to consolidate data and the ability to have a lot of systems underneath that you need to interact with.. You still get a lot of benefit in that sense however, you can start to challenge your thinking about what engagement means. DXP doesn’t stop at DXP. It has the potential to be used in a greater ecosystem as part of the Internet of Things.

Marc: So in preparation for this conversation I was reading a little bit about Liferay DXPs technology platform and it seemed to me that there are opportunities for some technologists to make some improvement in the way they build and deploy these engagements/experiences. Talk a little bit about the opportunities that exist in the technology.

Nick: Of course, we already discussed Liferay DXP and what business challenges the platform is trying to solve and one of the things we haven’t talked about so far is the trend in the industry: that development is moving faster than we’ve ever seen before. The internet is constantly changing now, whereas before it used to change maybe once per year. What we’re seeing as a result is a greater need for modularity, platforms that will allow us to change capabilities, add, remove and update features in a safe way so that we can meet business goals quicker, cheaper and more efficiently.

I think that ability to change and evolve is fundamental to any platform that you’re looking for. So we’re not just looking at how to engage but how to select a platform that allows you to stay current with how quickly things are moving in the industry.

One of the key features of Liferay DXP is it’s move to modularity. Liferay spent a considerable effort to re-architect the platform. They’ve introduced a technology called OSGI which is very technical but put simply it’s a framework for modularity that allows Liferay (the platform) to be separated into separate components.  Everything that you do and interact with on the platform is a component in itself and you can add (or remove) components into the platform without having to disturb the platform itself.

The modularity brought to Liferay DXP by OSGI means users are looking at an increased agility, allowing you to quickly and easily develop new features and capabilities to your end customer.

Marc: So are the implications of the modularity that if I’m using DXP as a technologist, that I have a chance to make it extremely light (for a technology platform) and able to run really fast, really only using a small number of features?. On the other side, I am also able to turn on lots of robust features and drive a different kind of model. Would I have that kind of flexibility?

Nick: Absolutely! The ability to customize the platform is unparalleled to what was in Liferay 6. Having said that, Liferay has always been the strongest vendor in terms of providing “hooks” or “extension points” into their platform that allow you to customize the platform to your desires.

Liferay DXP has taken that flexibility and has increased it a hundred-fold so that now with modularity you can run a much slimmer, or heavier version of the platform, whatever you choose.

You can add new capabilities and alter what is provided out of the box much easier than you ever could before and in a very safe manner where it protects your code, your intellectual property which you are deploying or creating on the platform. It also allows Liferay to be able to update its system more readily so that it can provide new features and capabilities to the market in ways that it never could before.

While there is a steeper learning curve than previous versions of Liferay, the technology only shifted, not changed completely. Having said that the product is relatively new and is only now starting to be fully understood. I think the learning curve will solve itself over time.

Marc: Let’s talk a little bit about the reputation of Liferay. Traditionally, Liferay has been viewed as a really strong technology platform that is extremely cost-effective because of their business model and how they deliver a combination of open-source fundamentals but for an annual subscription model. How does the DXP release preserve that value?

Nick: I think if anything the DXP release increases that value proposition for customers. The cost hasn’t changed between DXP and Liferay 6. Materially you’re still looking at a platform that delivers a much lower cost of ownership than any of its competitors.  

Compared to Transfer Portal by IBM, compared to WebLogic, compared to Adobe Experience Manager, Liferay DXP is still a fraction of the cost of onboarding when compared to other competitive products. The ROI doesn’t stop there. Outside of the cost of acquisition I think what you’re going to see is the cost of ownership further reduced due to modularity. The ability to provide new capabilities, develop, extend and test the platform, with modularity, in a very safe manner is going to increase your ROI. Outside of the original cost of acquisition of the product, you’re going to see that the ROI benefits of DXP are going to be greater than what we’ve traditionally seen in the past.

Marc: Interesting, so if we wanted to recommend to the audience how to learn more about DXP, what would you suggest they do? With the technical community? With the business community?

Nick: From a technical perspective, Liferay provides resources online. Dev.liferay.com is a great resource if you enjoy reading code. Liferay is still a proponent of open source so there is a Liferay 7.0 which is the open-source version of the DXP offering. For the most part the two are very close. The code base is 99% the same so Liferay doesn’t hide anything. You can look at the source code, you can read the documentation and forms online. The community is still strong and so there are a number of ways to get information and tangible experience; play with the product if you so choose. You can also get trial versions of DXP as well.

From a technology perspective, I think being open source and the vibrant community that Liferay offers really maximizes your ability to learn and engage with Liferay, which is largely unchanged from previous generations.

From a business perspective I think there are a lot of ways to engage with Liferay. You can reach out to partners like ourselves, here at Veriday, to walk you through the thinking in terms of where we may be able to help you view your current offerings differently, how you can potentially engage your clients better, and how you can leverage what Liferay DXP offers in a way that is going to provide you with a greater ROI.

You can also always engage Liferay and their sales channel, or look at the plethora of literature available online (blog posts, podcasts, ebooks etc). There are a lot of different ways that you could get information from a business perspective

I believe that one of the things you’ve got to look at before you even think about a platform is: how do you want to engage with your clients today? How do you want to engage with your clients tomorrow? How do you look for a platform that gives you all the tools you need to engage with your customers in a way that provides you with all the benefits we previously mentioned?

Marc: Good stuff. I think that’s enough for one day. As Nick mentioned, you can reach us at Veriday.com if you’d like more information. You can also drop us a line on Twitter (@VeridayHQ). We’d be happy to answer any questions that you may have regarding Liferay itself or Liferay DXP. We look forward to talking to you again on our next podcast. Thank you very much!

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That wraps up our interview with Nick Quach. Stay tuned for more interviews, with our Liferay experts, about Liferay DXP, the newest digital experience platform.

In the next part of our series, we will be sitting down with Sam Hyland, Service Delivery Lead here at Veriday, to discuss the new technological features that you can expect to see in Liferay DXP. As always, if you want to continue the discussion, you can reach out to us on Twitter @VeridayHQ.

The Internet of Things Will Explode by 2020: Focus on the Internet of Experience

In a past article, we said, “by the year 2020, there will be 24 billion Internet of Things (IoT) devices installed around the world.” Internet of Things is a network of internet-connected objects that is able to collect and exchange data.

An extension of IoT is its ecosystem. The IoT ecosystem enables entities to connect to, and control, their IoT device.

Now, since there will be 24 billion devices, there has to be a focus on the ecosystems and the experience with them. We can all agree that with that many devices, there is going to be a whole lot of data – a lot of which may be in limbo between digital and traditional (pen and paper).

Experience when it comes to data analysis is key for workplace productivity.

All the data that is rapidly being created is next to impossible for humans to process traditionally, without any form of automation. Even more, it’s not valuable unless there is some type of conclusion extracted from it. The next logical step is creating artificial intelligence programs that can learn and perform predictive analysis.

In addition to knowing what is next, the smart program can learn from past trends to offer a better prediction of future trends. Has a specific workflow happened over and over? Was the user at a certain location and using a certain workflow? The simplest example of this is an email service creating automated replies according to the content of the email. These things can be accounted for and instantly predicted by a program to improve efficiency.

The experiences can also translate into improved inventory efficiency. Machine learning, the process of artificial intelligence learning from various input/output, can track usage of a product and predict when to purchase more to ensure there is no shortage in inventory.

The best example would be a smart printer.. They are fully integrated into the IoT ecosystem in which it tracks usage and predicts when the ink cartridge will run out. Then, if the settings are active, the printer can order more ink by itself, which minimizes time and effort on the administration. Expand this to more aspects within the workplace and the IoT greatly increases employee experience.

Similarly, use all the data to improve customer experience.

With all the data, companies can build programs that will understand and predict a customer’s preferences. As opposed to a general strategy, implementing this type of strategy will keep the customers engaged and satisfied.

A positive experience and relationship with the customer greatly impacts ROI. Accurately targeted predictions lead to a more successful campaign and customer experience. The best part is that this experience occurs with fewer recurring expenses due to automation. 

The best example of this is Google’s platforms. The search, geolocation, and usage details of their search engine, maps, and Chrome browser all compile together to gain insight to what their consumers are like. This knowledge in turn, allows programs such as Google Now to curate products, articles, and useful information for the best type of consumer experience.

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The IoT ecosystem is a vast array of intermingled devices that connect through the internet. The immense amount of data that is being created, and will continue to be created, is jaw-dropping. Every day, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data is being created – that’s about 2.5 billion gigabytes. There are plenty of devices that create the abundance of data, though the processes that parse through the data and create a great experience are still being developed. Integrating these processes into the workplace expands the ecosystem into a full fledged IoT Experience.

10 Technology Trends & Predictions You Should Pay Attention to in 2017 (Part 2)

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Welcome to Part 2 of our 10 Trends To Watch: 2017 series. In part 1 we talked about some technologies that have the potential to disrupt markets and a business model that appears to be on the rise. In this article, we’re going to talk about a few more technologies and business models that might change the world, a growing trend to be concerned about, and the ongoing trend of shifting demographics across the consumer market.

6. Voice Search

Voice search technology has been around for a few years now (can you believe Siri is about 5 years old?) but with developments in Artificial Intelligence and machine learning, as well as evolving consumer habits, voice search is becoming more common. In turn, it is becoming more integral to Search Engine Optimization. Major tech companies are realizing this trend, especially with the proliferation of mobile device use and the convenience of an accurate voice search bringing value to users, not only to the “mobile-centric” millennials and Generation Z but also to older generations. 55% of teenagers and 56% of adults use voice search daily and the trend is not showing signs of slowing down.

Amazon, Microsoft and Apple each currently have their own digital assistant, Alexa, Cortana and Siri respectively. They allmake voice search a more pleasant experience for theuser by communicating results back verbally, limiting the amount of focus the user needs to put on their screen. Other technology companies are not far behind, either developing their own digital assistant or working out a deal with one of the 3 companies previously mentioned in order to use their digital assistant.

These developments in voice search and digital assistant technology are occurring in large part due to advances in AI and voice recognition which makes the search more accurate and user friendly, providing them with the results they wanted.

With Alexa being introduced by Amazon, continual improvements in AI and voice recognition, there is very little doubt that voice search will continue to be a major focus for technology companies in 2017. Marketers also need to embrace the trend, tailoring their terms and SEO strategy to embrace voice search.  After all, it’s the future of mobile in a mobile future.

7. Cybersecurity

2016 was a year where several high-profile cyber attacks dominated the news cycle. Anyone, from private individuals, to businesses, to government organizations; it seems that nothing is safe from hackers.

With the huge amount of personal, confidential, or strategic business information online even the least technologically inclined people are aware of online threats and that they have information that could be lost to hackers. The risks of lax cybersecurity are there for everyone using the internet and while security experts and long-time internet users have been aware of the problem for decades, it seems as a result of highly publicized events that everybody and their grandmother is aware of risks online.

Nefarious groups and individuals attacking businesses with a variety of ransomware, phishing attacks and other methods of breaking online-security is nothing new. 2016 brought a new level of attention to the subject thanks to cyber attacks on power companies, hospitals and most notably the attack on the Democratic National Convention and the many email controversies surrounding the last Presidential election.

In 2017, organizations of all kinds should reconsider the defenses and systems in place to deal with a potential cyber attack. While there is very little anyone can do to preemptively strike against potential hackers, you can can invest in top of the line security, use cloud storage and maintain high employee awareness about potential threats. There must be a protocol in place for when a hack does occur to limit the damage and protect confidential information as much as possible.

In a report sponsored by Intel’s cybersecurity solutions provider McAfee, called “Net Losses – Estimating the global cost of cybercrime” released by the Centre of Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), it was estimated that cybercrime costs businesses $400 billion worldwide.

For these reasons, organizations will open a dialogue (and their wallets via investments) about internal cybersecurity this year. Security experts and firms will be in high demand and there will be plenty of discussion on how to motivate employee awareness about the threats.

8. Autonomous Vehicles

If the Consumer Electronics Show 2017 was any indication it will be a big year for automakers utilizing technology and preparing for the era of autonomous vehicles. Google has been exploring the technology for quite a while now but 2017 has signaled that other automakers and new entrants to the automotive industry will begin exploring the technology. Companies like Uber, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple are investing in self-driving technology. Automakers are also leading the trend with firms like Ford, GM, Honda, Tesla and new entrant to the autonomous-electric vehicle segment, Faraday Future, exhibiting their progress with the technology at CES 2017.

In addition to the cars themselves, ancillary technologies for these vehicles are being developed to support efforts of the automakers with companies developing sensors, bandwidth solutions and software to operate the vehicles. These technologies, while by no means new, need to be refined before they can safely be sold to consumers. The internet connection of the cars must be perfect and the software must be flawless, with any failure likely to lead to a crash, potentially tarnishing public perception of the technology.

While we won’t see any self-driving cars on the road this year, 2017 is the year that self-driving vehicles will become mainstream. Governments will consider their potential implications, companies will continue to refine and develop the necessary technologies to operate the vehicles, keeping the terms “autonomous vehicles” and “self-driving cars” in the news for 2017.

9. Drone Delivery

Another technology that may not make its official debut in 2017, but will be at the heart of 2017 conversations about supply chain management, delivering goods and the potential for automated delivery with no need for human hands (or eyes).

The reason it may not debut in 2017 is not because the technology is not available yet, drones have been in use by the military for years now, and consumer drones are available to the public at a fairly low cost. Sure, the technology for automated drone delivery is still a few years away but that’s expected.

Right now the issue with drone delivery is the fact that governments ban the flying of drones over populated areas in the United States and the fact that non-commercial drones (owned by hobbyists) have had some run-ins with air traffic.

Drone delivery will be a popular topic in 2017. Many companies including Amazon, Google, Walmart and many VC funded startups are right on the precipice of being able to utilize drones for delivery. The biggest issue and conversation points will involve the general safety of drones (you don’t want them to land on someone by accident or fall out of the sky), the ability for drones and other aircrafts to coexist in the same airspace (or the ability for governments to split the airspace in a way that works for both human controlled aircraft and drones) and ensuring a positive public perception of drone delivery in general.

The conversation regarding drone delivery in 2017 will center around the legality and safety issues of drones. Once those issues are dealt with the delivery industry should be able to continue full steam ahead. The current regulatory situation, mixed with the willingness of companies to invest in drone delivery makes this  a very interesting trend to monitor.

10. Millennials and Generation Z

It’s not exactly a trend, but definitely a shift in power, momentum and the beginning of a drastic change in the demographics of many markets. In 2017, millennials are projected to spend $200 Billion worldwide, and are projected to collectively spend $10 Trillion dollars in their lifetime. This fact coupled with the fact that 10,000 baby boomers retire daily (with the oldest members of the group beginning to age into their 70s) means that businesses are going to need to begin replacing their current generation of customers with a new generation, one that is mobile-centric, tech-savvy and responsive to different factors then the baby-boomers.

Gen Z, while its members range from recent college grads to toddlers, will have (and already has) an extreme impact on the economy. While this generation will be more educated, more likely to multitask and slightly more ambitious (in regards to owning a business or changing the world) than millennials, the two groups still have much in common; from their love of screens, to their social decision making style and constant viewing of content. A lot of the traits that make millennials seem “millennial” are present in Gen Z, just more extreme.

Compared to Baby-Boomers and Gen Xers, Millennials and Gen Zers are focused on technology, are extremely social, and listen to their networks when making decisions. They do not like to be interrupted or bombarded with ads and they do not wish to be solicited by companies. If they have a question they will ask, likely over Facebook, and expect a response ASAP.

This means that brands must begin to cater to these generations to continue to grow and thrive as businesses. That means engaging with them through creative, fun content that they can share with their friends. It means being present on the newest, coolest social media platforms to get an audience for your product. For some firms it might mean a complete overhaul of your business strategy.

It may not be a trend, but the youngest Baby-Boomer is 53 today, the youngest member of Gen X will turn 40 within the next 5 years. The future is now, and 2017 is the year to adapt.

 

So what do you think about my Top 10 Trends of 2017? Do you agree with them? What trend are you most excited about this coming year? Is it AR? (Mines AR). What trend most concerns you? Let us know on Twitter @VeridayHQ #TrendsToWatch

10 Technology Trends & Predictions You Should Pay Attention to in 2017 (Part 1)

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Another year  is upon us and another year of trends are soon to unfold. In 2016 we saw the proliferation of wearable technology, “Smart” homes, cyber attacks and 3-D printing. What will hit it big in 2017?

This year appears to be the year that Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning hit their full stride, moving past the prototype phase and beginning to appear in consumer technology. Another massive trend to expect is increased focus on cybersecurity, both for private firms and for government institutions. After the Russian hacking scandal involving the Democratic National Convention, the general population is now aware of the risks cybersecurity aims to curtail.

Without further ado, here are the top 10 trends that I’ve picked to take over in 2017:

  1. Block chain
    One technology that has really started coming into its own is the development of blockchain. Blockchain is a distributed database that maintains a continuously growing list of ordered records, called blocks. It was initially described in the early 1990s but only first came to use in 2008, as the database behind bitcoin, an online cryptocurrency. The distributed ledger records transactions publicly and the most attractive facet of blockchain is that records are maintained automatically with no trusted administrator needed.Why are blockchains trending this year? Companies are beginning to see the value that the database can provide, keeping paper trails of all transactions.  Whether financially related or not, blockchain has a lot of value in today’s increasingly digital world. There are 3 main reasons why blockchain is a valuable database with potential for widespread use:

    1. The first benefit of blockchain is that any type of asset can be transferred using the database. It is not limited to financial transactions (as it is currently used for with Bitcoin) so it is a valuable tool for trade.
    2. The second benefit of blockchain is its use as a “truth-machine”. The database itself is quite complicated and difficult to explain. It’s more of a thesis paper than a blog post, but the automated method in which transactions are recorded using “nodes” has a high level of reliability and openness. Companies add additional information to a blockchain transaction, embedding that information in the ledger. Once a block is updated, it can’t be changed; creating a permanent, unalterable record. This application of the database could be used as a registry of anything needing to be tracked such as land titles, luxury goods or any good the user wishes to track.
    3. The third main benefit to companies using blockchain, and the third reason why it will be a trend in 2017 is the most ambitious application with the most potential upside. The third potential benefit is using blockchain as a database to execute “smart contracts”, programming conditions into the blockchain (which is already done by Bitcoin) that will execute transactions automatically given certain conditions. This would have many uses, both in financial services and in other industries, such as delaying payment until services are rendered, recording and automatically transferring funds and managing partner relationships.

    While these applications of blockchain would operate slightly differently from Bitcoin, the general use would be the same, an automated secure ledger. Banks and technology companies across many industries are exploring potential uses for blockchain such as issuing credits or tokens as part of a customer reward program, automatically transferring capital between funds given certain conditions or simply as a smart-ledger that can issue payments to accounts automatically.

    While traditional financial institutions may not be able to adopt the technology into their service offerings this year, 2017 will be a year when blockchain is investigated and developed for use by those institutions in the future. In 2017 expect to see financial service and technology start-ups begin to fully utilize blockchain, using it to capture market share in both developing markets and in established sectors of the FinServ industry.

  2. Artificial Intelligence
    It seems nearly everything can be made to be “smart” these days; from the development of autonomous vehicles, to digital assistants giving near human-like answers, to fridges that know how cold they should be. Every product under the sun is being developed with an internet connection so it can collect data to help make better choices.This data clearly needs to be analyzed before decisions can be made and people don’t want to access logs and spreadsheets to do that. In some applications, that isn’t even possible. That is where AI technology comes into place. 2016 saw some fantastic developments in this field and 2017 should expect the same.Machine learning and artificial intelligence will revolutionize the way connected objects can communicate and make decisions with no human input. In order for the technologies on the cusp of existence to come into fruition, AI technology will need to improve. Cars will need to make their own decisions in real time, toilets will need to know when to flush, chat-bots and robo-advisors will need to be able to understand what you are asking them and how they can reply in a realistic way, without a major delay.Artificial Intelligence lies at the heart of each of those situations. Devices, systems and objects are being designed that can process information, deal with new information and actually learn. AI can become integrated into every part of life. Major companies like Google, Tesla, Apple, Samsung, major automakers, banks and insurance brokers all rely on improvements to AI in order to make their next big innovation.2017 will be the year of AI; helping our smart-products communicate with each other to achieve the efficiency we first imagined when the IoT was first theorized. To take our next major steps we will need intelligent machines to lower wait times, increase energy and cost efficiencies, and make their own decisions to maintain our safety.Discussions about how AI will affect the economy, both short-term (as systems begin using AI) and long-term (due to automation and phasing out jobs) will also become common this year as lawmakers, and individuals fully realize the new reality of where businesses want to go next. People will have to fight back their Terminator flashbacks and realize that AI can be a great thing if we use it right and prepare for it.
  3. “As-a-Service”
    The “As-a-service” revenue model will heavily increase in popularity in 2017. Currently it is mainly used in two situations, when providing actual services (maintenance, etc) or when selling software. The model has benefits for both parties of the transaction. We will explain why using software as an example.The party providing the software benefits because they have a long-term revenue stream and can build a lasting customer relationship. If they sold the software as a product instead of a service they would get a one-time influx of cash and nothing after that until the customer decides to purchase another program (if they come to you at all). The party purchasing the software benefits from lower up-front costs, potential savings from eliminating elements of the software that aren’t needed or won’t work with that party’s system and some assurance of long-term maintenance and updating of the software.In 2017 “as-a-service” or subscription revenue models will become common across industries. Cadillac just announced the “Cadillac Book”, a new ownership model that will charge a monthly fee to provide on-demand-delivery of a Cadillac with a variety of booking options that can be done through a smartphone. The service they plan to provide (which has not been rolled out yet) is very similar to Zipcar but with a higher service level (delivery instead of pick-up).Cadillac is not the only automaker that has considered alternative ownership models. Other industries that provide high-value/high-cost products may begin to move towards the “as-a-service” or subscription based revenue model. 2017 is a time of mass personalization. Customers want every action to feel personal. They want to be in complete control of the purchase decision at all times and they do not want to be tied down with no flexibility, exactly what subscription or “as-a-service” provides. These alternative ownership models can help the spread of a product, both when dealing with consumers or selling products between businesses. The fact that the initial cost of a product is vastly reduced when sold as a service can motivate purchases. In 2017, companies will begin to sell everything from cars, to machinery, to technology as a service, giving the customer the ability to manage their needs and pay a monthly fee instead of forking out insane sums of cash to see if a product is worth it to them.
  4. Virtual & Augmented Reality
    Virtual reality (VR) is an artificial, computer-generated simulation or recreation of a real life environment or situation, like the holodeck in Star Trek. Augmented reality (AR) is a technology that layers computer-generated enhancement on top of existing reality, you probably saw it (or at least heard about it) this summer with the release of Pokemon Go. It’s the real-time equivalent to mixing CGI with real-world footage in movies.VR and AR technologies were one of the hottest trends in tech in 2016, there is no doubt about that. In 2017, I fully expect both technologies to really take off, not only in the entertainment sector, but in other aspects of life (and even business).VR, while extremely (extremely) cool does not need to rely on its cool factor to be useful in business. It can be a great tool to showcase products and services (at tradeshows, or by creating early content for VR platforms) and it could also be used to as a service itself (seeing events in other cities) or as a platform to provide more immersion in movies or games. VR can also be used as a training tool to train employees or students in high-intensity, life-and-death situations. By immersing themselves in the situation they would be able to better prepare for the real thing.AR, while slightly less cool (in my opinion) than VR has a more practical use that I believe will be explored in 2017. AR can be used to provide information and context to users in their day to day life. Their smartphone can turn into a lense that when looked through provides the user with information about their surroundings, various buildings, comments from other people about their location, and information about other people using the same program. The possibilities are endless. AR could provide more context in day-to-day life while revolutionizing information services, providing a real-time portal with any information the user may need.These technologies will definitely have a spot in entertainment over the next few years (because they’re really cool) due to the success of Pokemon Go and the hype surrounding VR. It has been proven that these technologies (especially AR) can be easily understood and utilized by the masses (thanks in no small part to our mobile devices). It is only a matter of time before they begin to trickle into other industries. 2017 is the year, watch out for AR and VR at your workplace!
  5. Internet of Things
    “Hasn’t the Internet of Things been trending for a few years now? I feel like all I hear about is how the latest, greatest device is now “smart” and can be connected to fully integrate everything in your life on one system. What do you think I’ve been under a rock for the last few years?”If that was your reaction to this section, I 100% understand. Smart objects have been around for a few years now. Instead of just recording information now many objects can “think” for themselves. The issue is not with the objects themselves, nor the ability for the devices they’re ultimately connected to to handle the data. The issue has always been around connecting the many different objects into an organized ecosystem, where the information works in harmony to provide the user with the most pleasant experience possible.With current technology this is not quite possible. Our machines are not quite smart enough to fully comprehend the world they live in. They still have flaws, more data will be tested and improvements will be made but all of that effort will be useless if a system to organize and use all the information these smart objects collect is not available.2017 is the year that the ecosystem design of the IoT will take place. Companies have already been working on creating an ecosystem but the work is not easy. There are gaps in the data, certain relationships are not yet understood and the development of “sentient tools” throws another variable in the equation however, we are rising to the challenge. The people working on these technologies see a world with ever-increasing AI abilities, a world where we understand more and more each day. They understand that for all our efforts creating a toilet that can tell you details about your nutrition after using it that a system will need to do something with all that data in order to make the data useful to us.There is great potential for cost and energy savings, better health information, better education and so many other potential benefits that can be provided by the internet of things. In 2017, the “mesh” that humanity has been working towards for so many years will take another step towards completion.

 

 

What do you think of the first 5? Do you think “As-a-service” economies have a place in 2017? Which of these technologies are you most excited about? Let us know on Twitter @VeridayHQ #TrendsToWatch

Where should you start with your next Software Upgrade?

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Like most firms, our team at Veriday does not particularly enjoy software upgrades. When simple upgrades turn into projects it usually means some pain is coming associated with aging software, or significant changes to an existing platform. So, while we highly recommend investing in your software applications throughout their lifecycle, we have some tips from our experience, for how to successfully complete an upgrade to a more updated version of software.

Where to start? First off, you should create a “Sandbox” environment to get familiar with the new software. This will help you assess the benefits of moving and the potential change impacts associated with the move. A primary output should be documenting perceived changes that may have an impact on your team.

The second step to evaluate your upgrade is building your strategy and plan to complete the upgrade. Your strategy may need to consider whether you are going to consider making functional changes to your software to gain additional benefits from the upgrade. While this can be a very effective and timely strategy, it may add risk to your project since you are not able to directly compare old and new versions. For this reason, we often suggest planning a secondary project after the upgrade to add or change functions after the upgrade is complete. Creating your plan includes documenting tasks, effort, required resources, and a schedule. Finally, preparing your business case and budget request for the project using similar projects or customer experiences as your guide. There are many factors that should be considered in building a budget for upgrades and variability for risks, which can be considerable.

The last and very important step before proceeding with the upgrade is ensuring you have the right dedicated team and skills in place to meet your business case commitments. Leaping forward without validating this is a sure way to add risk and stress to your project.

Upgrading is not a stress free activity but with the right combination of approach, planning, and management you can minimize disruption and maybe just maybe end up with enhanced features and room to grow.

Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and what it means for Advertising

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Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are arguably some of the next big technological advancements that will lead to a whole field of innovations never thought possible. What I’m trying to say is that with Virtual Reality, you’re essentially in a virtual world – something that has been pre-recorded (or programmed). You look around in real life using the VR headset and the virtual world’s view will change according to where you look; there are even added aspects of immersion in some VR such as body tracking and sounds. On the other hand, AR puts the technology or animation right in your field of vision. It takes inputs or visual queues from the real world, usually through a camera, and overlays some sort of graphic in that spot when you see it through a screen.

One of the biggest AR phenomena occurred just earlier this year – Pokémon Go. It took geo-data from your device and overlaid it on the Google Maps technologies to determine your location. The AR part occurs when the user “finds” a Pokémon on the map. This allowed the application to take the input from the camera, select a part of the visual input, and then it overlaid a 3D model of the Pokémon on it. Though, the next step isn’t just seeing a 3D model of a monster through a phone screen, but something being overlaid directly in your field of vision through some type of lens. Just imagine wearing glasses that convert your table, like the one that Tony Stark, Iron Man, uses, with other hardware. It could even take in your physical input and change the graphics around. This type of technology is being developed as we speak; Microsoft’s HoloLens would like to develop AR with a human input.

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As for Virtual Reality, there have been quite a few companies tackling the hardware aspect for VR.  VR hardware requires more power and hardware to achieve more than just a “looking around” feature. A few of the biggest are Facebook’s Oculus, HTC’s Vive, and Sony’s PlayStation VR. Each of these are fairly expensive and also require additional hardware to run which limits the reach for this technology. Though, with the rising curiosity from consumers in VR from consumers, there will be definite improvement in price and availability. In a recent study of 8000 people, 24% said they will likely use or purchase VR in the next year. Another 20% said they don’t plan to try it, but expressed increased interest after learning more about the basics.

 These gadgets are technological innovations, but what will they do for advertising?

Well, they make advertising a lot more engaging and interactive; it can be an experience instead of just a standard advertisement. Below are some of the current ways AR and VR are changing advertising, as well as some predictions as to how they will affect advertising:

Augmented Reality is quite prevalent now with the recent surge of the Pokémon Go app. Although, advertising using the AR technology is still in its infancy. The Pokémon Go application is a great AR game, but it does not have advertising directly in the AR portion of the game. With that in mind, for the next few paragraphs, I’ll be focusing primarily on advertising that uses the core of Augmented Reality technology.

The technology that exists today for AR overlays an animation over the camera input. The spots where the animation appears is selected if there is a certain picture or pattern. For example, if there is an application on The Nintendo 3DS console where it can recognize certain cards on camera and overlay a 3D model on it.

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The animation automatically appears on and moves with that picture or pattern; moving the camera to point away from that picture and pattern causes the animation to disappear as well.

As for how it could change advertising, Snapchat recently patented a technology that can determine what you’re taking a picture of – or more generally, what the camera is pointed at. This could be a huge advancement and can lead to many opportunities to make an interactive advertisement through Snapchat itself. This could lead to Snapchat overlaying a graphic on or around something as an advertisement. For example, if you happen to have a logo it recognizes, there can be some type of overlay that targets that specific consumer. This would open up a whole range of hyper-targeted interactive advertisements.

Another example of Snapchat’s object recognition technology creating advertisements is if the application recognizes that there is a coffee cup and overlays a logo right over it – as long as this technology also recognizes that there is no other logo in that cup. Below is a picture that gives you a better idea of what I am talking about.

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This will be a test to technology and application developers as more and more of the population gets smartphones with better and better cameras. The hardware limitation for the population is slowly closing in, allowing more of the population to be capable of simple augmentations. Now, the innovations must occur in the software.

Virtual reality is gaining traction as many hardware developers are racing to gain market share as this technology keeps developing. Many low end VR headsets require a phone (Samsung and Google have recently released a headset that pairs with their latest phones), while many of the high end headsets require some sort of computer to run those programs.

As this innovation diffuses through the market, advertisers have some time to develop interactive marketing campaigns.  VR advertisers should be taking a lesson from a long forgotten video game called Battlefield 2142 (I have not forgotten). The game allowed real products or movies to advertise on in-game billboards on their giant 64-player maps. Below is an example of one of these advertisements.

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I was an avid player of this game when it was released and to this day I remember seeing posters of “Taking of Pelham 123” all around these giant immersive maps. But, how does this transfer to VR? That’s just it, VR can be used in giant expansive worlds that allow advertisers to purchase their own little corner of it.

Another way to use VR technology to expand the horizon of advertising is using it to make the popular 360 videos more immersive. Facebook and YouTube both implemented the ability to view videos while moving the frame of view with either your mouse or by physically looking around with your phone. Extend this to high quality VR, then you get what Circa, a news publisher, plans on doing. They plan on making fully immersive VR newscasts twice a week which allows the viewers to go to places they’d seldom get to go to. That could include allowing the viewer to virtually be backstage at debates, concerts, or places across the country.

Diffusion of innovation is a problem in regards to the above strategy, but it can be a great opportunity in another aspect.

VR is interactive; it requires space (for body tracking), additional equipment, and a quite a bit of investment. This problem lead to arcades popping back up again, but this time with an emphasis on VR. Taco Bell recently partnered with Sony to create a pop-up VR arcade. It not only solved the problem of equipment, it solved the problem of a niche target market. The above VR strategy (advertising within a VR world) only advertises to players who have the VR equipment and are playing the said game – which is a very small market. The arcade let many people experience VR while promoting Sony PlayStation VR as well as Taco Bell.

 

Both technologies are getting better and more advanced through the years. With the success of Pokémon Go, FB videos, and the greater accessibility of VR technologies, there are an outstanding number of ways to show advertisements to your audience while being much more engaging and interactive. It will keep expanding the horizons and platforms that advertisements can be shown on. The future will just increase the accessibility of these technologies to make AR and VR a viable platform for advertisements.