Every Bit Counts: 5 Areas to Focus on to Improve Your Whole Business

Every business needs a little boost here and there with the success of a business often focused on the ability of a manager to see and reach their potential. A number of areas can be identified which are important for the future of a business, including the purchasing of new equipment and having faith in employees.

Trusting Your Employees

One of the most common areas of concern for a new manager or entrepreneur is entrusting the vision they have for their business to a group of employees. New managers and those responsible for establishing a business often feel they have to micromanage their employees to get the best results, but having faith in those you employ can result in new ideas and options for success in the future.

Take a Look at Your Current Situation

If you are looking to improve your entire business it is clear you believe new ideas are needed for the future of your career. The first step in understanding how to improve your business is to begin working to analyze every department of your business and begin understanding what is working and what is not. Analytics and the use of artificial intelligence in every industrial sector are changing the way business is being done around the world.

Use New Equipment to Improve Efficiency

A business can only work as well as the employees and equipment in place, which means outdated technology can cause major issues in any company. Small Business reports a Microsoft survey revealed millennials cite outdated equipment as the main problem with completing their work in a successful way. In many industries, the latest equipment is a requirement to reach business goals. For example, bakers need a lot of equipment. As technology advances they’ll need to update equipment. Therefore, they’ll need to find trustworthy companies to be their oven and industrial mixer suppliers.

Appearance Is an Important Part of Any Business

If you are involved in a business where clients regularly visit your office the first impression you make is always important. A clean, technologically up-to-date office space is vital to impressing existing and potential clients who will be important to the future success of your business. However, don’t fall into the trap of being something you’re not. For example, if your company boasts family-friendly services, a cozier atmosphere is probably the way to go.

Set out Clear Goals

The goals your business hopes to reach are an important part of your business and allows every member of your team to work together to achieve your stated aims. Making sure every member of your team understands the goals you have set out is important and should include a system for reviewing and addressing how successful your business has been.

Alongside making sure your business has the right equipment and tools to complete your stated aims, it is important to make sure you are clearly communicating your goals to your team. Addressing your goals and making sure they are being reached should form part of the culture of businesses of all sizes.

Dixie Somers is a freelance writer and blogger for business, home, and family niches. Dixie lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and is the proud mother of three beautiful girls and wife to a wonderful husband.

Should Your Business Consider Chatbots?

The business community has benefited greatly from advancements in digital communication technologies. Today, there’s practically no end to the ways companies and brand representatives can engage with, troubleshoot for, market to or otherwise stay in touch with their fans and customers.

Chatbots are a relatively new addition to a bundle of tools that already included email, video chat, SMS, social networking and more. Chatbots are the next logical step in many ways when it comes to keeping businesses and customers in constant and easy contact. But they’re not for everybody. Below are some of the advantages of — plus one or two warnings about — chatbots to help you decide if it’s the right time and the right tool for your company.

What’s a Chatbot?

This word is one of those terms that pretty much gives it all away up front: A chatbot is an audio-based or text-based assistant that can autonomously help customers find answers to questions, troubleshoot problems or carry out other business-related tasks, such as ordering or re-ordering products, changing payment information, inquiring about or renewing subscriptions and memberships and much more.

Command-based chatbots are relatively rudimentary but still deceptively “intelligent.” They can respond to customer inquiries using heuristics that match replies with the most relevant topics or sub-menus for the customer.

On the other hand, AI-based chatbots are more sophisticated but also have a further way to go before they’re available to a wider array of businesses and more consistently able to reply accurately to any inquiry. But chatbots powered by AI are undoubtedly already showing their potential: Thanks to their use of natural language processing, they can reply “from scratch” instead of using canned responses. They can even become better over time at picking up meaning and intent from conversations with human callers.

With the different types of chatbots a little better understood, let’s move on to the main question, which is whether or not chatbots are worth the investment for your business. For a start, some industries are simply a likelier fit than others.

If Chatbots Make Sense for Your Industry

Chatbots are a relatively new concept, but they do already exist out in the wild. And there are several frontrunners when it comes to the types of industries that are well-suited to adopting chatbots. Some of them are:

  • Hospitality
  • Banking and financial services
  • Retail
  • Service-based companies

Based on polling, some 80 percent of business representatives would be interested in bringing chatbots into the fold at their company. But early popularity in the industries mentioned above already indicates which use-cases might yield the best results and return on investment. In hospitality, guests and travelers often require nearly instant solutions for checking into hotels and lodging, boarding airplanes and other conveyances, choosing venues, organizing transportation for meetings and conventions and a multitude of other tasks that have to happen at the speed of business.

In financial services, chatbots can help even regional banks and nonprofit credit unions provide members with account information or help them tailor their retirement or college savings. In retail and services environments, chatbots can pick up some of the slack during high-traffic times of the day or season by taking orders, pointing customers to what they’re looking for and more.

The point is, there might be use cases in your industry, and there might not be. Industries that depend on timely, accurate, always-available customer interactions appear to be early favorites, but as the technology improves, applications will undoubtedly continue to appear almost everywhere.

If You (and Your Customers) Value Time

On the customer and the company side of things, the first major advantage of chatbots is that they’re on standby 24 hours a day and don’t take a single day off during the year, provided there aren’t any technical snafus behind the scenes.

Allowing customers to have their questions answered on their own time is great already, but chatbots also save time for the company by providing an automated solution to the “problem” of answering common inquiries all day long. Both parties can breathe easier. Customers know they won’t have to try their luck calling back during business hours or trawling through a website for answers, and businesses know their employees are a little freer to respond to other, more urgent demands on their time.

There are one or two caveats when it comes to using chatbots in extremely customer-facing industries. Human beings know — or can be trained by locals — to respect cultural taboos and avoid words or phrases that might cause offense in another country or region.

The problem of maintaining cultural propriety during international affairs is not a new problem. But while it seems to make sense to turn chatbots into public liaisons in regions where you don’t have a strong employee presence to process customer calls, those chatbots had better have been developed with linguistic and cultural input from the region they’re intended to serve.

Being mindful of potential cultural frictions and even the subtleties of respectful political correctness is key to successfully using a chatbot to fill in your service gaps here and abroad.

If You Want Additional Insight Into Your User Base

The average interaction between a human customer and a chatbot can yield a surprising amount of information about your user base — too much, potentially, for a human operator to take in all at once, much less record and pass on to interested parties.

A phone conversation is practically analog compared with a chatbot chat when it comes to the potential to take in information from your user base. When your customers interact with your chatbot, with just a couple of simple questions and basic analytics, you’ll come away with a greater understanding of how they use your products, where common sources of frustration are coming from and nitty-gritty details. These details include their location, the device type they’re using to contact you or interact with your services and other factors that might be of interest to your marketing team, your R&D team or both.

Chatbots are here already — and companies are figuring out how best to put them to work. By 2021, say industry experts, the chatbot “market” — including third-party cloud-based chatbot solutions — should reach a total value of $15.8 billion. That’s a ringing endorsement. Just remember that chatbots are a product like any other, and computing their probable ROI isn’t that much different, no matter what else you’re promised by a software vendor. In some cases, the human touch might just be the better choice for your business anyway — you’ll need to decide based on your unique circumstances.

Bio: Nathan Sykes is the editor of Finding an Outlet, a source for the latest in IT and business news and trends.

The Exciting Future Of Robot Development

There’s a lot the future is going to bring us. Considering everything going on in the world right now, we know things are going to be extremely different in 5 or 10 years time. And there’s no future possibility more exciting (or daunting, depending on who you ask) than the idea of robots operating in our society.

Sure, we already have forms of AI in our phones and in our houses to play music and record the shopping list for us, but what about actual walking and talking robots with semi-human faces? Are they on their way? With that question in mind, here’s some technological developments in the works regarding our mechanical counterparts right now.

There’s a lot of imagination surrounding the future of robots, and the future isn’t so distant…

Humanoid Robots are On Their Way

But don’t worry, we’ll still be able to tell them from any other humans out there! The idea about having robots take jobs away from people, considering the rates of unemployment out there currently, but having an AI to take part in potentially dangerous tests and experiments to save any human from having to participate can be seen as a huge success.

The idea of bringing cybernetics into the work sector is something that’s debated a lot, but also focused on as something we can move into to make the working world both safer and easier. Check out articles on Human Paragon if you want to know more about this in particular; there’s a lot artificial intelligence can perform or pick up on that many humans cannot, and it’s this idea of efficiency in human form that excites a lot of companies out there.

AI Looking After Your House

We already have Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home to sit on our coffee tables and tell us the weather, but is there bigger ways an AI can take part in your household? Apparently, yes. Already there’s an app to allow these technologies to control the lights and the heating in your house, as long as there’s an electronic connection between the two.

And we see it all the time on the TV and in movies; the sci-fi genre is often based on the idea that an AI is in control or on the rise over humans. But it won’t quite work out that way in reality: they simply make running a household a lot more convenient and easy, and they can order things online for us. You can turn off the categories of data they take on you, and they can always be switched off or unplugged if you’re worried about what they’re gathering.

What are your thoughts on the coming implementation of robots? If you’re someone who likes the idea of a technological world, this is something to look forward to. Don’t worry, the security surrounding these ideas aren’t as bleak as the media can make them seem, but you can always choose what AI comes in and out of your house.

AI Is Building Brands, Right In Front Of Our Eyes

It seems as if artificial intelligence is never out of the news. Practically every single day, there is some new breakthrough that promises to change the world. Just in the last month, for instance, Google Deepmind announced that they had created AI with a memory – meaning that their systems could learn something, remember it, and then learn something new straight after.

In other news, AI is now able to take a photograph and recreate it in the style of a painting. For instance, suppose you’ve got a photograph of your mother-in-law. This new AI will allow that photograph to be re-imagined in the form of a Picasso or Edvard Munch’s The Scream.

Given that branding is all about visual imagery, it makes one wonder whether AI could be used to improve how companies do their marketing. After all, if AI is able to understand a company’s visual characteristics, it could presumably come up with a bunch of marketing materials automatically.

AI-Curated Content

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Pexels

We already see this kind of technology being deployed to help companies choose stock photos. On most business websites, stock photos are pretty generic and don’t really do anything to enhance the appeal of the company. But now, thanks to AI, it’s possible to automatically classify photographs according to their brand relevance. In other words, you don’t need a digital designer on your team to tell you whether a particular photo will work or not; you just need to run some software.

AI-Assisted Audience Targeting

Another way AI is helping companies is through audience targeting. Using conventional statistics and data, companies are able to track their customer’s preferences and make predictions about their behaviour. But without a thinking system behind the analytics, there’s only so far they can be taken. Often, analytics appeal to the average, rather than the specific customer, based on their specific tastes.

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Pixabay
The good news is that smart algorithms are a lot better at parsing data than people, allowing them to make branding more personalised. Companies will soon be able to offer customers banner ads that speak directly to them, rather to their audience in general. This could lead to a world in which companies are able to offer customers prices on a customer-by-customer basis, depending on their overall spending patterns.

AI Brand Generation

Artificial intelligence isn’t just combining art with photos to create strange chimeras; it’s also coming up with its own concept art. The first example of this was Google Deep Dream, a strange algorithm that tried to invent new images based on animal images in its database. What it ultimately produced looked like something out of the seventh layer of hell, but over time, the ability of computers to come up with their own artwork has improved.

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Wikipedia

For many marketers, this is a promising development. What it means is that it will soon be able to generate photorealistic content without having to go to the source. New content from the brand could be created every day at virtually no cost whatsoever. Does that sound like something you’d be interested in?

Finding Your Marketing Match as a Business Owner Just Got Easier

You already know that influencer marketing has proven immensely successful in helping you garner support for your business without having to scare anyone away with tons of ads. But do you know how to find just the right influencer marketer for you?

That’s exactly what former director for Famebit, Rob Ilas, has been working on lately. A company called Soulmates AI is the result.

What Is it?

To summarize, the company uses a combination of AI, machine learning, and social science to figure out what innovative influencer marketing techniques and organizations work best for the businesses that are looking for one.

It’s like having a dating website for businesses and marketing companies. Since social scientist and co-founder of EHarmony, Dr. J Galen Buckwalter has contributed to the project, that’s an especially apt description.

How Is It Done?

The technology analyzes conversational content, speech patterns, and even emotions to figure out what influencer market is best suited to the needs, style, and target consumer base of a given company. It greatly simplifies the process of partnering up with marketers with businesses, which is favorable, for instance, when planning how to use influencer marketing for a networking event.

Thank goodness for that. We all know how hard it can be for businesses to date marketer after marketer trying to find a nice, dependable one that produces a spark. After all, so many of them are only after one thing! (Your money, that is.)

What Next?

In all seriousness, though, this new technology is set to revolutionize influencer marketing for everyone, so you have questions to ask yourself.

  • What is the sentiment driving the idea behind your business? Once you can answer that, it will be easier to search for a corresponding driving sentiment in a marketer.
  • How do you like to address your customers and try to convince new ones to buy from you? You need to know so that you can be matched up with someone who can reach your target audience in the ways that you know will catch and keep their attention.
  • What exactly is your niche? The more specific, the better. You need a marketer who precisely understands what you do and how to help other people realize how much they need or want it.

Figuring out your influencer marketing “soul mate” has certainly gotten much easier, thanks to Soulmates AI, but you’ve still got to have a firm grasp of your identity before you can take full advantage of it. Give it some thought, then hurry up and get on the influencer marketing train. You have no time to lose.