Skip to main content
Category

What’s New in Technology

Is Your Business Ready to Outsource Accounting?

By Blog, What's New in Technology

Outsource AccountingAccurate and timely accounting is critical for any business’ survival. At the same time, it’s important for entrepreneurs to pour their energy into core business activities and not waste time on day-to-day bookkeeping. Unfortunately, the cost of setting up a full-time accounting department is prohibitive for small and mid-sized businesses. Thankfully, there is an option to outsource functions such as bookkeeping, payroll, tax services, financing, budgeting, chief finance officer services, and more to a third party.

In this article, we discuss how to know if you are ready to outsource, the benefits, and how to choose the right professional.

How to Know if You Should Outsource

Here is how to know when you need to outsource.

  • Business growth – when you start adding more employees and your business is expanding, you might be more likely to commit financial errors. You may also realize you are experiencing difficulties in handling payroll and invoicing and need more than basic bookkeeping.
  • When your business accounts start to take too much of your time – you barely have time for your other responsibilities and you spend more time checking your business accounts.  
  • Multitasking – if you find yourself multitasking or having employees spend extra hours on roles they were not initially employed to do.
  • Need an expert’s opinion – you do not feel confident in your ability to handle bookkeeping, or you need another person to check the accuracy of your accounts.
  • Need to reduce costs – running a profitable business requires a check on operation costs. An in-house team comes with extra costs, including recruiting, training, managing more employees, updated software, etc.
  • You suspect fraud – when you suspect abnormal transactions or want to prevent possible fraud in your business. Unfortunately, as a small business, you can’t afford to hire a chief finance officer and have no one to implement fraud protection controls.
  • Investors – when you have investors, you may be required to involve a third party for an unbiased financial assessment.
  • Latest accounting software – if your business needs the latest accounting software to stay up to date with technology, but the cost is too high for your business.

Benefits of Outsourcing Accounting

Choosing to outsource your accounting can be uncomfortable as it means you are allowing a third party to have control over a very important part of your business. But your business could miss out on the following benefits:

  • Access to a professional dedicated team. It is the role of the accounting firm to keep up with tools, regulatory requirements, and systems that meet accounting standards. This guarantees your business is compliant and avoids taxation issues.
  • A trained professional will take a proactive approach, as they check for any red flags in your finances, expenditures, or cash flow.
  • Save on cost. It costs less to outsource than build an in-house accounting department. You avoid overhead costs such as employee salaries, insurance, and benefits, among others. You only pay for the accounting service you use.
  • Increased operational efficiency – an outsourced team will advise on the right accounting system for your business. They take care of automation, which will speed up processes and thus enhance operational efficiency.
  • Better decision making – you have access to industry insights and financial and management reports that will help make better decisions.
  • Access to the newest technology – it’s the business of the accounting firm to ensure they provide their clients with the latest accounting technology.

How to Choose the Right Firm

Having seen why you need to outsource and the benefits that come with it, the next step is to choose the right firm to outsource your accounting and bookkeeping needs.  

First, you need to be clear about the actual services you need. This will help you choose a firm that aligns with your business values.

Where possible, look for recommendations from existing clients on the expertise, experience, and reputation of the firm. Be sure to check the payment schedule that will work best for you, whether they charge an hourly fee or monthly. Don’t ignore what is included on the packages offered. Other things to check for is their package flexibility, the onboarding process (should allow to define roles, expectations, communication policies, and procedures).

Most importantly, ensure that you understand the terms and conditions before signing a contract in case you need to terminate the agreement.

Conclusion

Whether you are a small business, medium sized, or a non-profit, with time your accounting functions will go beyond what your bookkeeper can handle. The best option is to outsource a dedicated team that acts as your accounting department or complements your existing accounting staff. 

Technology Driven Accounting: How to Prepare Staff for a New Age in Accounting

By Blog, What's New in Technology

How to Prepare Staff for a New Age in AccountingTechnology has no doubt changed the traditional way of doing things. Businesses and professionals are left with no choice but to adopt new technology to remain relevant in a changing environment.

However, the successful adoption of this new age in accounting can happen only if you prepare your staff in advance.

Why it’s Necessary to Prepare for the New Age Accounting

Technology offers many benefits; however, the constant rapid changes in technology create a major challenge to organizations and even to the professionals/employees. Some decide to stick with systems with which they are already proficient. Unfortunately, such a decision is not an option if you want to remain relevant in a changing accounting landscape.

Technological changes that have affected the accounting field can be attributed to technologies such as 5G, data analytics, robotic process automation (RPA), computer-assisted auditing technologies (CAATS), blockchain, and cloud computing, among others.

These technologies are literally creating new roles in the accounting field. For instance, automation will take away some accounting jobs, such as data entry, payroll, tax handling and bank reconciliations – thanks to Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems and more advanced systems like Robotic Process Automation (RPA).

The effect of technology in the accounting field has made such an impact that the AICPA and NASBA are supporting a CPA evolution. This is aimed at incorporating changing skills and competencies in the accounting field. As a result, this will include a new curriculum and new CPA exams expected to be launched in 2024.

Despite the disruption in the accounting field by technology, it has introduced many new opportunities. Consider this: while automation takes care of repetitive tasks, the accountant can devote more time to planning, organizing, and advising. This enables the accountant to add more value to an organization as they focus on major tasks.

However, this advantage will benefit only those who are well prepared in advance and ready for the new form that accounting is taking.

How to Prepare Your Staff for a New Age in Accounting

Change is not always welcome, but preparing your staff in advance will help ensure a smooth transition. Here is how to prepare your staff:

  • Communicate
    Let your employees know the intended changes in roles as well as new technologies that you plan to implement. Employees also can play a role in selecting technologies best suited to your business operations.
  • Mindset Shift
    Help employees accept the technological changes. They need to shift their mindset and accept the changing digital landscape. This will help with expediency and the ability to take advantage of its benefits.
  • Upskilling and Reskilling
    Give employees a chance to enhance their abilities. They also should learn new things to ensure they have relevant skills to continue working in advanced areas of accounting that require innovation, critical thinking, decision making, etc. Where necessary, they could learn basic programming and even basic automation for more advanced roles like data analysis. Gaining new skills will help your business transition from old systems to new ones, without necessarily hiring new staff.
  • Soft Skills
    Accountants now more than ever need to learn non-technical skills so that they can easily interact with people. If they are expected to take up advisory roles, they should be good at problem-solving, communication, relationship skills, business acumen, etc.
  • Emerging Business Models
    Let your staff be aware of new business models, such as microservices, marketplace platforms, and do-it-yourself models. This especially affects accounting firms whose employees need to be creative on how to leverage these models.
  • Positive Culture
    Develop a culture that enables staff to compete at a new level to keep their morale up so they are not worried about losing their jobs.
  • Stay Updated
    Keep everyone up-to-date with trends even when you don’t intend to implement every new technology that comes up. It helps to stay in the loop of what’s happening in the accounting field.

Keeping up with evolving accounting trends and changes will save you from losing clients. Preparing your staff for the new age of accounting will help your business provide value beyond traditional accounting to your clients. This is because you will be serving as business consultants and strategic partners as opposed to simply accounting experts.

Audits in Accounting: Improving Audit Quality with Data Analytics

By Blog, What's New in Technology

Auditing is crucial to ensure the accuracy and fairness of financial information. However, one of the biggest threats to audit reputation today is data quality. This is because of the large volumes of data that businesses produce today. To deal with so much data, auditors are now turning to data analytics.

Data Analytics and Audits

Technology has played a major role in business growth as it aids in reducing operational costs and improving customer service. As such, many businesses have adopted enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. These systems result in huge volumes of data, making it nearly impossible to analyze using the traditional audit process.

Auditors are left with no choice but to also use IT-based solutions; and this led to the development of audit software to support the auditors in data extraction and analysis.

To further enhance the workings of audit software, it’s now being integrated with data analytics. Given that data analytics works with structured data, the systems incorporate machine learning (deep learning) to extract useful data from a host of unstructured data.

Although these developments in the audit profession have not changed the primary role of auditors, they have changed how an audit is done by helping produce high quality audit evidence.

How Data Analytics Improves Audit Quality

Traditional audits involve combing through piles of data, which is time consuming. As a result, auditors prefer workarounds like data sampling, which does not give a true outcome.

With data analytics, an auditor does not have to restrict data to financial reporting systems only. Instead, they can use data from multiple complete data sets, such as sales statistical data and employee and customer master data. This enables an auditor to go beyond traditional audits that target limited data and include different audit relevant data.

Using data analytics tools, auditors look for predefined patterns that help reveal ambiguous relationships between variables that a manual system might not identify. This helps facilitate a more comprehensive decision that includes all data sets.

By integrating data analytics, auditors have access to a powerful tool that helps them better understand a business. As a result, they can easily identify key audit risks, provide deeper insights into a business’ systems and controls, detect fraud, and provide value in a less costly manner.

Apart from simplifying and speeding up the audit process, data analytics also enables auditors to focus on key risks.

The capabilities of data analytics continue to evolve to the point of automating the auditing process through advanced data analytics (ADA). This enables the automation of routine audit processes, allowing the auditors more time for matters that require professional judgment.

Challenges of Audit Data Analytics

Audit data analytics isn’t without a few challenges, one of which is data exchange between a business and an auditor, whether internal or external. This is in relation to different systems used in data collection. To handle this challenge, the AICPA introduced data standards to be used for data requests and to ensure production of standard reports from the ERP systems.

Another challenge is the integrity of data fed into the analytics systems, as this determines the quality of the end results. Systems used should be designed around collecting meaningful data. Auditors must also ensure that the conclusions fed into the systems are accurate and correct.  

Although data analytics reduces the sampling risk, it introduces the challenge of getting numerous exceptions, mostly referred to as outliers, that produce results outside audit expectations. This calls for auditors to investigate the exceptions/outliers to determine if they are errors or misstatements.

Conclusion

Integrating data analytics into the audit process greatly improves audit quality and credibility. With rapid advancements in technology, the capabilities of data analytics will continue to evolve, making auditing work even more efficient while maintaining high quality.

Although the adoption of data analytics is dependent on the size of a business, availability of skilled staff is also crucial. To remain relevant in a fast-changing environment, auditors need to advance their skills to effectively use the data analytics tools.

How to Choose the Right Accounting Software for your Business

By Blog, What's New in Technology

Choose the Right Accounting SoftwareBusiness accounting activities can be tedious when performed manually and are prone to errors. For these reasons, many businesses have shifted to accounting software that offers numerous benefits, including data accuracy, time savings, easier auditing and on-demand reports.

With so many available options, it’s overwhelming to choose the right fit for a particular business. As more software vendors join the market with different enticing offers, it’s wise to be equipped with the right information.

Making a Decision Between Different Accounting Software

Each business is different and varies with industry. For efficient accounting operations, you cannot afford to choose a one-size-fits-all solution. Here are tips to help ease the selection process.

  • Understand your business requirements
    Whether you are a start-up or already have an existing business, begin by establishing your accounting requirements. This will help in making a list of features that you need in accounting software. Avoid copying other businesses without understanding what your business needs are. Consider your business size, number of users and projected growth (in order to support business scaling).
  • Conduct Research
    Learn more about accounting software options. Some might offer only general accounting features while others provide industry-specific features. By reading online reviews, you can see what users are saying about different accounting software.
  • Get Recommendations From Your Accountant
    Accountants who have already worked with the software have better knowledge about the product and can advise what will work for your business. Get their opinions.
  • Your Budget
    A business budget is a major determining factor in purchasing an accounting program. Note that software vendors have different pricing models. Depending on how much you are willing to spend, you can choose between monthly subscription fees or a pay-per-use model. Ensure that you have checked out any extra or hidden costs as you could end up spending more than initially planned. And pricing aside, avoid choosing the cheapest option just to save on expenses. The wrong software could cost your business more in the long run.
  • Integration with Other Software
    Businesses today use various software applications. It’s crucial that you select one that integrates with your existing business applications. This will help avoid duplication of work, such as manual data entry from one program to another.
  • Online Versus Offline Accounting Software
    You might prefer to have accounting software that you install on your computer, or maybe you’d rather use the online hosted version. Online accounting software is gaining popularity among SMBs due to its affordability. To use this option, you don’t need to install anything – just access it with your credentials. This allows users to access the accounting software from anywhere, even using different devices.
  • Availability of Customer Support
    Check whether the software vendor offers support after you have purchased or subscribed to use the software. What times do they offer support? And for how long will this support be available?
  • Data Security
    Data security is especially important for those who choose to work with online accounting software. Consider security measures offered by the software vendor to safeguard against data breaches and other cybersecurity risks. A good software vendor should have measures in place like automatic data backup, data encryption, and allow granular user roles to be assigned.

Parting Words

Accounting software is crucial for businesses of all sizes as it plays an important role in the accounting process; thus, you can’t afford to choose randomly. Consider all your business needs before making a choice for the best fit for your business. Create a list of preferences, then check for vendors that offer free trials to get a taste of their services before making a final decision.

Remember, choosing the right accounting software will save you from the costly mistake of replacing a wrong one. 

Standalone 5G Networks: Potential Vulnerabilities that Could Result in Denial of Service for Customers

By Blog, What's New in Technology

5G networks promise high speeds, lower latency, and more robust security compared to its predecessors – and this has created a lot of buzz. As a result, there is a lot of competition among operators to roll out the network while manufacturers are already producing 5G devices.

The deployment of 5G around the world has also been facilitated by a need for always-connected computers, widespread internet of things (IoT), and dependence on smartphones. All of this is constraining the 4G LTE technology.

With the current uptake in remote working due to COVID-19, 5G is expected to see more deployment.

However, despite the promised benefits, there are varying concerns about the potential vulnerabilities of this network. Since there are various security concerns, this article will highlight those involving the standalone 5G networks.

What is 5G Standalone Network?

5G stands for the fifth generation of networks that are designed to address gaps and errors existing in the architecture of previous generation networks. However, its implementation is through a gradual phasing out of the existing networks.

Note that the 5G network involves two streams, which include the standalone (SA) and non-standalone (NSA). The NSA relies on the existing 4G infrastructure because 5G standards are not fully finalized.

On the other hand, the standalone is a completely new, end-to-end 5G network. To offer ultra-low latency and high capacities, service providers will have to fully implement the standalone 5G infrastructure.

Despite the radical and beneficial transformation promised by 5G networks, there are concerns that it might become a multidimensional cyberattack vulnerability.

Vulnerabilities for Subscribers and Mobile Network Operators

Unlike previous networks, 5G is a software-defined network and involves network function virtualization, which makes it more vulnerable.

The previous networks implement hardware choke points because they are centralized and hardware-based; whereas 5G digital routing lacks inspection and control chokepoints.

This new architecture has seen various research carried out to check its viability. As a result, industry professionals and government officials have already raised concern over the network’s security and overall architecture.

An investigation by global cybersecurity firm Positive Technologies focused on 5G standalone core in terms of its architecture security, the interaction of network elements, as well as subscriber authentication and registration procedures.

The examination revealed that “the stack of technologies in 5G potentially leaves the door open to attacks on subscribers and the operator’s network. Such attacks can be performed from the international roaming network, the operator’s network, or partner networks that provide access to services.”

The vulnerabilities were discovered in two protocols that are, PFCP and HTTP/2, which are used in 5G standalone networks.

Exploitation in Packet Forwarding Control Protocol (PFCP) would result in denial of service. This is because the PFCP is used to manage subscriber connections. A PFCP session includes three procedures: session establishment, modification, and deletion. It’s at this point that denial of service can be carried out by attackers through a session deletion request, a session modification request, or redirection of data through a session modification request.

For the HTTP/2, the Positive Technologies research found that an attacker could obtain the network functions profile and impersonate any network service. This is because the HTTP/2 protocol is responsible for vital network functions that register and store profiles on 5G networks. The attacker then would have access to authentication status, current location, and subscriber settings for network access. It’s also possible that an attacker would be able to delete NF profiles, which could result in a financial loss as well as damage subscriber trust.

If not handled correctly, the 5G standalone network security issues will place critical infrastructures such as hospitals, transport, and utilities at risk.

Solution and Conclusion

According to the report, the vulnerabilities would appear due to misconfigurations. With vendors competing to launch 5G networks, attackers will take advantage of poor configurations.

Therefore, it calls for proper configuration of the architecture to stop these types of attacks. Unfortunately, errors still might occur. To detect configuration errors in the networks, regular security audits should be performed.

It’s also vital that apart from ensuring proper equipment configuration, security monitoring, and enhancing the implementation of firewalls are also top priorities.

In conclusion, 5G’s high speeds, low latency, and high bandwidth will be highly beneficial. However, potential security holes could cost more than the cost of implementing this technology. As a business owner considering the 5G network, do not let your guard down just because the new network promises to address gaps and errors in previous generation networks.

Will StarLink be the Next Disruption to the Telecommunication Industry?

By Blog, What's New in Technology

With every new project comes expectations, uncertainties, questions, opposition, and more. Elon Musk’s StarLink internet is one such project.

Just last month, on Nov. 24, SpaceX launched 60 StarLink internet satellites – making a total of more than 900 of its flat-panel satellites already on low earth orbit (LEO). This also marked the company’s 23rd space launch since the start of 2020.

But just what is StarLink; why is it a big deal; and will it replace existing internet infrastructure?

Follow along for information already in the public domain that will help answer some of these questions.

What is StarLink?

StarLink is an initiative by SpaceX that aims to provide internet from space. Its goal is to do this through a low earth constellation of micro-satellites that promise high speed and low latency internet access to all parts of the world. What this means is that you can access fast internet from any corner of the world, whether in the forest, in the middle of the ocean, or anywhere else.

How Does StarLink Internet Work?

First, a little history. Product development started in 2015, and by February 2018, two prototype test flights were launched. In May 2019, the first large deployment made up of 60 operational satellites was launched. Since then, it has been a continuous process to send more satellites into space. SpaceX intends to have launched 12,000 satellites by 2028, with an ambitious target of 1,440 per year.

So how does StarLink internet work? Unlike other satellites that are placed in higher earth orbits, StarLink satellites are placed in low earth orbits. The high-placed satellites have to travel long distances, which leads to high latency – and this is what SpaceX intends to solve.

Will StarLink Replace ISPs?

Currently, service providers like Verizon and AT&T are already spending millions to reinforce their fiber infrastructure reach to cover more ground. In addition, 5G is already available in many areas and promises superior reliability, negligible latency, and high speeds. Yet more StarLink satellites are being sent to space.

In fact, if the project is successful, there will be a constellation of satellites surrounding the earth as Musk plans to have an additional 30,000 added to the initial approved 12,000 (although this doesn’t go well with astronomers, who have raised concerns that this will ruin the night sky).

So, will StarLink replace other ISPs? There is no telling the long-term plan that SpaceX has, but one thing that Musk has given an assurance on is that he intends to serve only remote areas and mobile applications, such as in planes, trains, and ships.

If we were to compare StarLink and 5G, you would find that they do have different characteristics. However, it would cost a lot more for 5G to cover large areas, while StarLink would be able to cover most of the world if all satellites are placed correctly. Nevertheless, the two may work together. For example, in situations where there is no internet connection, StarLink could provide internet backhaul to 5G remote towers.

If you are in a densely populated city, you will still need your ISP. According to Musk, StarLink can’t work in cities with dense populations due to bandwidth limitations.

When Will StarLink be Available to the Public?

On Oct. 26, 2020, a public beta test was launched in select areas in the northern United States and Canada. StarLink internet is expected to be available in more regions in 2021.

One of the few instances of when StarLink has publicly been reported on is by Washington emergency responders in early August when the organization offered the internet to areas devastated by wildfires. Following an interview with CNBC, emergency telecommunications leader Richard Hall praised StarLink as being quick to set up and reliable.

As we wait for the internet to go public, one sure thing is that there are a lot of interested people. In March 2020, SpaceX got a license for up to one million user terminals from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). By August, there were already more than 700,000 people registering interest across the United States, and so the company asked for expansion for up to 5 million user terminals.

Final Thoughts

As already pointed out, the StarLink internet might not initially disrupt the monopoly of the telecom sector. Instead, it could be a beneficial project and even complement the telcos.

Keeping in mind that the internet has played a great role in improving economic opportunities and easing communication, StarLink could be the bridge to help solve the digital divide by providing internet to remote areas.

Exploring Brain Computer Interface: Tech That Connects to Your Brain

By Blog, What's New in Technology

Imagine using your mind to control machines, or your employer reading how you feel in real time from a dashboard? This is the future of BCI technology.

Do we really need this technology? What are the potential benefits and possible implications of this emerging field?

What is BCI?

Brain Computer Interface (BCI) is also referred to as Brain Machine Interface or Neural Interface.

Wikipedia defines BCI as a direct communication pathway between an enhanced or wired brain and an external device.

The brain is said to process billions of bits of information per second and runs on electrical signals that could control electronics, and BCI attempts to create this connection.

The BCI technology that connects internally (invasive BCI) or externally (non-invasive BCI) to the brain is meant to read brain activity and process it to information and even transmit information back to the brain.

Although this research began in the 1970s, the first neuroprosthetic device to be implanted in humans was done in the mid-1990s. Currently, large tech firms and a good number of startups are already working on producing cheaper, safer and more accurate BCIs.

The hype around BCI has been pushed by advanced modern computing, data science, machine learning and neural networks. A combination of the brain and artificial intelligence would surpass human capability.

Applications of BCI

BCI is already used in medicine to measure brain signals for medical applications such as cochlear implants, which are used by individuals with hearing deficits. These implants translate audio signals to electric pulses that are sent directly to the brain.

Other uses in medicine include detection and diagnosis, such as forecasting and detecting abnormal brain structure and other brain disorders such as epilepsy.

According to researchers, BCI could even replace lost functions, such as speaking or moving and general control of the body. This is beneficial to people with different forms of longstanding paralysis, such as that caused by a stroke.

BCI would also help improve quality of life for elderly patients, especially due to changes in memory and brain function as a result of aging. Assistive BCI would help those suffering from motor control impairments to control home appliances in a smart home.

BCI in Business

Although initially meant to help in medical issues, other applications of BCI are emerging. Several companies and startups are exploring application of BCI not related to medicine. These fields include:

  • Marketing – to help measure attention levels of commercial and political ads, with an intention to optimize the ads. Companies will benefit from brain data as it will help increase product or service personalization.
  • Workplace analysis – to help improve performance at work. This is possible using headbands that measure mental fatigue, the cognitive state, stress levels and focus levels. As a result, the work environment would adapt to employee stress levels and thoughts. For drivers operating dangerous machines, BCI will help analyze signals of drowsiness and give an alert or stop the machine to avoid accidents. Employers could use BCI when evaluating, monitoring and even training employees.
  • Education – to help teachers personalize their interaction with students depending on the students’ ability to grasp concepts.
  • Entertainment – BCI offers an immersive experience with the ability to control avatars in video games using thoughts. It would be possible to produce games that respond to the mood of players and their attention level, thus creating a personalized experience.
  • Military – to help in controlling or piloting a swarm of drones.

BCI Challenges

It is reasonable to have technology that improves the quality of lives for people who have disabilities. But when it comes to augmenting functions of a physically fit human, this technology raises ethical concerns and debates.

First, who will own the data produced by our brains? We already have cases of personal data generated on the internet that is being sold. How safe would the data be that is generated by BCI; especially considering that BCI is invasive and involves sensitive personal information such as feelings, moods and emotions.

The thought that a third party can access your personal data without your knowledge brings up questions of privacy. Another person would know exactly how you feel at a given time; and if companies were to roll out the use of BCI, what rights would employees have?

What would happen if the BCI device is hacked? Brain data could be intercepted by hackers who would then know more about you than you’d want to share.

Human augmenting will also give unfair advantage over those who cannot afford BCIs; and at some point the efforts to transcend human limitations could be a disaster.

More potential risks include people being controlled, misuse by rulers, psychological harm, unknown long-term mental effects, and physical harm such as brain damage or hemorrhaging in cases of invasive BCI.

The Future of BCI

The BCI technology offers many benefits. But before actual BCI systems reach the market for consumer application, the risks and unknowns can’t be ignored. This begs for a plan on ethical and policy issues. Business leaders also should start considering a BCI strategy as well as new BCI business models to balance the potential benefits and address the risks.

Avoid Wasting Money on Digital Marketing with These Tips

By Blog, What's New in Technology

In last month’s article titled “How to Make the Most of Digital Marketing,” we examined how digital marketing can help your business grow. Unfortunately, this involves more than waving a magic wand. You can either choose to do it yourself or hire an agency to do it for you. Either way, if it’s not well done, you could end up wasting a lot of money with no return on your investment. 

Indeed, any business will want to implement a system that promises to grow revenue. But the biggest mistake is to dive into a scheme that you don’t understand well. Understanding the potential of digital marketing and how you can deploy it effectively will significantly help meet your revenue goals.

Tips to Avoid Losing Money in Digital Marketing 

Here are some tips to help you effectively target your audience and eliminate wasteful spending in your digital marketing efforts:

  1. Create a Strategy
    A digital marketing strategy serves as a guide to what you should and shouldn’t do. Invest in marketing that is in line with your mission and goals. And then be ready to make improvements and adjustments because the digital market is always changing.
  2. Understand Different Platforms
    Each platform has its strengths and weaknesses, whether you’re looking at LinkedIn, Facebook, Google ads, etc.
  3. Use Good Content
    People will easily trust the content that is engaging and adds value in some way. No matter the quality of your product or service, terrible content will cause you to lose potential customers. Always remember your content is a direct reflection of your brand. 
  4. Ads 
    When you run ads, they will be displayed when there are searches on the internet relating to what you have advertised. This costs money. To avoid paying on unnecessary clicks or views that don’t convert to leads, run targeted ads. You can also use negative keywords, geo-targeting, or influencers. Keep in mind that any platform offering paid promotion options has as its default to spend your budget as fast as possible (they are in business, too).
  5. Track Your Results 
    Track your results on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. This is the best way to know if you are wasting money. Measure and track your campaigns to understand how much you are making off any campaign. For every single $1 spent, if you are not making any returns you need to rethink your strategies. Note that it could take 60 to 90 days to get enough data for proper analysis.
  6. Avoid Buying Fake Followers
    This is simply a bad idea because you will get little or no return on your investment. The fake accounts will be inactive, and hence no engagement or sales.
  7. Test 
    Carry out A/B testing for anything you want to put out there to your target audience. Be it content, emails, newsletters, social media posts, campaigns or ads, testing will save you from marketing with low or no returns.
  8. Add a Call to Action 
    What do you want an interested reader or viewer to do: make a call; fill out a form; subscribe; make a purchase; or visit a website?
  9. Don’t Ignore Existing Customers
    Approximately 40 percent of business revenue is from returning customers. Specifically target this group with offers, new products or services, or just wishing them well on holidays. 
  10. Don’t Hire Bad Marketing Consultants
    Finally, you might decide to outsource the marketing if your business doesn’t have employees with the necessary skills, or if it’s overwhelming for your staff. Whatever the reason, don’t make the mistake of hiring bad consultants.

How to Make the Most of Digital Marketing

By Blog, What's New in Technology

Digital marketing is not a new phenomenon. However, new realities imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic have highlighted the importance of digital marketing for businesses. Basically, digital marketing revolves around using digital channels to advertise. Such channels include mobile devices, search engines, social media, websites, email, and others to help reach consumers. The purpose is to create a relationship with potential online customers to influence their buying decisions.

Why Digital Marketing

For starters, with digital marketing, you are able to personalize your marketing and target your ideal audience. It offers the ability to target an audience based on location, age, preference, and other specific details that define the intended consumer of your product or service. In the end, you don’t waste money on audiences that might not even buy your product or service.

With the availability of artificial intelligence, it’s easy to identify trends, carry out competitor research, and accumulate data that aid quick decision making. This kind of marketing is data-led. Considering that five to 10 hours of a person’s day is spent on the internet, this creates an opportunity to familiarize consumers with your brand and create relationships that lead to sales.

What’s more, chatbots are available on business websites or social media accounts to answer customer questions even when the business is closed. This means a customer visiting your page does not leave without some information that could help in their purchasing decision.

In addition to being able to expand your reach at a lower cost, your business can enhance brand loyalty by maintaining personal contact with clients even after making sales.

The best part of digital marketing is the ability to track the results of your marketing in real-time. 

How This Can Help Grow Your Business

First, digital marketing gives all businesses a fair share of the market. Today, a business can connect with customers cheaply over posts on social media.

What this means is that a business can instantly communicate with customers to inform them of their products or services and get instant feedback.       

Don’t ignore the fact that people today get information from the internet. A lot of purchase decisions start with an online search. A potential customer expects to find information regarding your products on a website, social media, or from reviews by other users.

Customers also want to determine if your business and products are a good fit for their needs.

In the event that they cannot locate your business, you will lose a potential client to a competitor.

A good online presence can help potential clients find you and possibly even become customers.

How to Get the Best of Digital Marketing

The good thing about digital marketing is that it will exist as long as people are using technology. The trick is to use strategies that help you stay ahead of the competition.

Digital marketing has been proven to be the best strategy to acquire new customers as well as maintain a relationship with existing customers.

One of the hard and fast rules about digital marketing is that no one strategy fits all businesses. Digital marketing is constantly changing – meaning that businesses have to make frequent changes to their strategies.

In order to stay ahead of the competition, you can take advantage of referral traffic as it gives credibility to your brand. This is possible by connecting with industry leaders in your niche.

You can’t afford to ignore analytics. Analytics help you discover what is working and what is not working.

Use high-quality content to draw the interest of potential customers. Sacrificing quality for volume can cost you potential leads.

Select social media platforms where your potential customers are likely to be. Understanding your target market will help you reduce the time and cost spent on digital marketing, as you will be able to follow your clients where they hang out.

Digital Marketing is the Way to Go

As long as the internet continues to grow, businesses have little choice but to get involved in digital marketing. Gone are the days when social media was considered merely a place to pass the time.

For some business owners, it might be challenging to know where and how to start, considering that digital marketing is quite an extensive field. The most important thing is to establish a goal for what you want to achieve. If not well done, it can cost your business a lot of unnecessary expense.

Robotics Carves Out Niche in Various Businesses

By Blog, What's New in Technology

Away from the movies, robots are becoming a reality in everyday life.

Robots have played a major role in manufacturing industries to perform basic tasks that are either dangerous or laborious for humans. As technology becomes relatively cheaper – through the availability of components such as processors, sensors, batteries and cameras – robots are now making an entrance in industries apart from manufacturing, such as in marketing, inventory, telecommunications and entertainment.

Why Robotics in Business?

To avoid confusion, it’s important to mention at this point that robotics often refers to software configured to carry out tasks done by humans, so it’s not always about physical robots.

Businesses are under endless pressure to be more efficient and reduce costs. As a result, many are turning to robotic process automation (RPA) to take up repetitive and routine tasks that don’t require frequent updates. RPA has been useful to take care of things such as call center operations, help desks, customer service chatbots, expense management, data entry, onboarding employees and scheduling systems, among other tasks that are repetitive, rule-based and structured.

This is important for businesses as it frees employees from mundane tasks so they can focus on high-value work.

The unexpected COVID-19 pandemic cannot be ignored as an accelerator for robotics in the business environment. Consider businesses such as restaurants, retail stores and all others seeking alternatives that will withstand disruptions and at the same time are durable and adhere to hygienic operations.

An Exciting Yet Worrying Phenomena to Some

Many people accept the use of intelligent systems and small robots such as robotic vacuum cleaners. But when it comes to the workplace, employees often don’t accept such systems as they are considered threats to their jobs. However, there is little difference between the robot used for household aid and the intelligent production system.

Financial institutions have been on the frontline in implementing robotic process automation. This has enabled them to automate and build platforms for front office, back office and support functions. For a business, this means reduced costs while achieving efficiency and accuracy.

Another interesting concept is: robot as a service (RaaS). This is aimed at enabling small- and medium-sized businesses to enjoy the benefits of robotic process automation when they lease the services of a robot rather than incur the cost of purchasing one and handling maintenance for the system. It also helps businesses experiment with different robotic solutions.

With such innovations, businesses have no option but to adapt to the technological advances. As a matter of fact, the possibility of robots taking up full process tasks is feasible with big names such as Bill Gates voicing support for a robot tax (a levy on work done by robots in a bid to replace tax that collected from work done by humans).

Be Prepared

So how do businesses handle this trend? Both employees and employers have no option but to be prepared. For an employer considering robotics, this should be done gradually with clear guidelines that the systems are only to assist and not replace the employees. At the same time, employees should be involved in the early stages of developing the new systems so they get accustomed to the format and avoid later resistance.

As businesses seek to improve their processes, employees should be ready to learn new skills as some duties are replaced by robots. It also goes way back to the education system, where students should be encouraged to take up subjects that will help enhance their digital competence. It will also prepare them for new job structures.

A Word of Caution

RPA has enabled business processes to evolve. Its results provide better accuracy, lower cost, efficiency and high productivity. However, entrepreneurs should not rush to implement the robotic process automation without proper research. Although it is praised to reduce labor costs and other benefits already mentioned, the implementation – if not well done – will fail.

A big mistake would be to assume that the installation of robotic systems is easy. This is especially true when a business concentrates on ROI rather than solving actual problems.

Robotics for businesses involves time, cost and complexity. It is not about moving processes into RPA as they are; only with lean techniques can this be successful.