How can the U.S prepare workers for changing tech?

March 13th, 2014

Does improving technology cost some employees their jobs? Yes. However, this new tech also makes the world a better place. That is the dilemma explored by a recent story in the Economist. Their take on it? No country is ready for the huge changes that technology will provide to the world of work. It is the job of governments around the world to make sure that workers are prepared for the tech evolution.

Job losses

As the Economist story says, new technology has always led to a loss of jobs. This is something that’s been true from the dawn of time. The Economist’s example? A century ago, one in three U.S. workers worked on a farm. Nowadays? Less than 2 percent of U.S. workers do any work on a farm.

More productive

This hasn’t been a negative, though. New technology has allowed farms to produce even more food today with fewer workers. And all those workers who once worked on farms? They found other jobs which were offered thanks to technology. This is the way we all want it to work: Technology eliminates some jobs but generates new ones at the same time.

Today’s challenge

The problem today, as the Economist story explains, is that no one is sure if new technology will continue creating new jobs. We know already that new technology has made it easier for companies to operate more efficiently. And we know that new technology in doing this has allowed many companies to reduce the number of workers they employ. What we do not know is if new technology will create the new jobs these displaced workers need. The Economist’s solution? Education needs to change, switching its focus to teaching the creativity and talents that workers need in today’s new economy. And, the Economist adds, it’s up to governments around the world to enact legislation which will make this switch in educational philosophy possible.

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These small business tech trends can save you money this year

March 11th, 2014

A new year has begun, but have you made any updates in your small business’ technology? If not, you might be costing your business money. After all, technology can help your employees perform more efficiently. That, in turn, could make your business more profitable in 2014. SmallBusinessComputing.com recently had a look at a few of the more interesting business-technology trends for 2014. It’s worth looking at these to see how you can boost your company’s productivity levels this year.

Cloud computing

SmallBusinessComputing.com is predicting that 2014 is the year that even more small business owners turn to the cloud to store their company’s data, programs and software. This makes financial sense: Why should you go to the expense of storing these files on hard drives on your company’s computers? Using the cloud, your business won’t need as much IT help. And you also won’t have to take the time to store programs on each and every computer.

Using big data

As SmallBusinessComputing.com writes, large companies have long relied on big data to better understand their consumers. Small businesses, though, can take advantage of big data analysis, as well, according to SmallBusinessComputing.com. As the website states, a growing number of small business owners in 2014 will begin analyzing large data sets to deliver better service to their customers. If you would like your business to thrive this year, you ought to do a better job of analyzing your customers’ spending habits.

Junk those desktops

Small business owners need to save as much money as possible. One way? It’s time to get rid of the desktop computer. Most employees these days can do their work on smaller mobile devices or laptops. There’s no reason for small businesses to put a desktop computer on the desk of each and every employee. SmallBusinessComputing.com predicts that more businesses will adopt this strategy in 2014.

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Expect more success from tech companies in 2014

March 4th, 2014

What kind of companies will have good years in 2014? As reported by a recent story by USA Today, technology companies are poised to celebrate a big and successful 2014. The article also claims that the tech sector will remain one of the most profitable ones.

A money-making industry

According to the USA Today story, in 2014 technology companies in the S&P 500 index are predicted to earn net income that is 9.3 percent more than in 2013. USA Today quotes FactSet, a company that computes Wall Street earnings estimates, in making this prediction. Last year, the tech industry only saw its net income grow by 1.9 percent.

Strong profits

Profit margins will rise in this sector, too, in 2014, according to USA Today. The newspaper reported that tech firms expect to see an average profit margin of 15 percent to 16 percent in 2014. That, of course, is an exceptionally strong profit margin. To put it simply, tech firms in the United States should be quite profitable this year.

A tech love affair?

This success shouldn’t be surprising. Today’s consumers are infatuated with their tech gadgets. And this has been a long-time trend. Just look at how popular tablets and smartphones are becoming. Video-game systems remain hot sellers. And tech companies are evolving and updating their offerings on a near constant basis. Tech is certainly king today.

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Want simple tech? You’re in luck

February 27th, 2014

Are you overwhelmed by the amount of technology in your life? Does big data have you and your employees feeling stunned? Here’s some good news: The Christian Science Monitor recently predicted that technology will become less complicated for both personal and business users. How soon will this happen? How about beginning next year?

Overwhelming

As the Christian Science Monitor story says, you ought not feel alone if you’re overloaded with data. That’s simply because the digital universe is doubling roughly every two years. According to the story, consumers today can view more than 600 million websites. And Apple’s App Store today holds over 1 million apps.

The power of simple

The good news from the Monitor story is that simplicity is the big tech trend of 2014. Consumers will demand that their technology become simpler to use and easier to understand. After all, is there much point of having all this tech if you need to be a genius to figure out how to use it?

Apple, Google lead the way

This makes sense because we already know that simple can pay off. Just look at Google and Apple. These two tech giants already boast some of the simplest yet powerful tech tools on the market. Think of the elegant simplicity of Google search or the out-of-the-box computing power of the iPad. Let’s hope that Google and Apple can inspire other tech providers to move toward simplicity.

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Stopping credit-card fraud with high-tech

February 25th, 2014

Do you feel secure when using your credit cards at retailers? Do you feel less safe after retailer Target announced that hackers stole the data on 40 million customers who used their credit cards at Target stores across the nation? There is some good news: CBS Minnesota recently reported that new technology can make such credit-card data breaches less frequent.

Waiting for smart cards

What would help? CBS Minnesota points to smart cards, which are already widely used throughout much of Europe. These cards, which store all of a consumer’s accounts on one card, rely on microchips and PINs, making them far more secure than the low-tech credit cards consumers in the United States use. Smart-card data breaches, simply put, hardly ever happen. Unfortunately, it might still be a few years before these high-tech cards arrive in the United States.

Who’s that masked card?

Masked cards, though, are already here. According to CBS Minnesota, these cards generate a temporary number when consumers use them, either at brick-and-mortar retailers or online. Then, once the transaction is done, that temporary number disappears. This means that even if hackers steal the number, they can’t use it for additional purchases.

Why the delay?

Of course, smart cards would be ideal. It might take a few more years, though, for these to arrive in the country. No one knows why smart cards aren’t here already. But CBS Minnesota’s story speculates that one of the reasons may be that credit-card companies haven’t yet upgraded to the modern technology that they would have to have.

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When tech failed in 2013

February 20th, 2014

Not all tech rollouts went well in 2013. The Telegraph knows this, and had a chuckle with an end-of-the-year story detailing some of the biggest tech failures of last year. You’ll have some fun reading about them, too. But if you’re running a small business, make sure that you don’t make the same mistakes on a smaller scale.

The healthcare fiasco

To no one’s surprise, the Healthcare.gov fiasco tops the Telegraph’s list of 2013 tech screw-ups. And why not? Once the website debuted, it didn’t work. Consumers couldn’t log on. Even if they could, they couldn’t find the insurance information they required. The website’s failure has been the greatest embarrassment of Obama’s second term.

Travel foul-up

Online booking giant Sabre triggered huge problems for travelers in 2013 at the height of the student vacation season. Sabre went offline for just three hours. But when it did, it led to countless flight cancellations and delays for thousands and thousands of passengers. It’s not a surprise: Over 300 airlines rely upon Sabre.

Walmart

In October, consumers shopping Walmart’s website thought they’d found a fantastic bargain when they managed to buy computer monitors and other gear for just $8.99, despite the fact that these tech items were regularly priced as much as $500. Walmart blamed tech glitches and refused to honor the discount deals. You can bet that customers were angry. And if you wanted proof, you only needed to log on to social media.

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Tech companies rattled by NSA spying

February 18th, 2014

What do the leaders of the nation’s biggest tech companies think with regards to the NSA spying program? Several of them are concerned that spying revelations are hurting their business and, by extension, the entire economy of the United States. They told this to Pres. Obama during a recent meeting held at the White House. The Washington Post chronicled this in a recent story.

Concerns

According to the Post’s story, tech leaders offered a unified message: The NSA spying revelations have prompted many customers to shy away from U.S.-branded technology. That’s precisely what one executive from Cisco Systems said in the meeting. Other tech leaders — including those from IBM and Verizon — said that NSA spying headlines have led to angry shareholders.

Suggestions

The tech leaders told Obama that they want limits placed on just how much spying on U.S. customers that the NSA can do. They also announced they wanted more transparency with how the agency operates. In summary, they want the government to do what it can to make their customers less upset about the spying program.

Moving forward

The Post story stated that Obama told the tech companies that he understood their concerns and that he would keep them in mind as the White House completed its review of NSA surveillance programs. Tech companies are important to the U.S. economy. They have largely led the country’s slow but steady economic recovery. It seems sensible, then, for the White House to do what it can to keep these firms happy.

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When it comes to tablets, what will $38 get you?

February 13th, 2014

How cheap can tablets get? Pretty cheap, if Datawind’s new Ubislate 7Ci is the new standard. This new tablet isn’t the most impressive. It’s rather a bit slow. But the Ubislate 7Ci does have one advantage: It’s only $38. Time Magazine recently examined this newest budget tablet. What did they find? That you can’t expect much from a $38 tablet.

The bottom

Tablet manufacturers have been steadily lowering the prices. It’s a race to draw the attention and cash of the most budget-minded of customers. This is great news for consumers, obviously. As tablet prices continue to fall, more consumers can take advantage of these handy mobile computers. But no tablet today is cheaper than Datawind’s latest model.

The Ubislate

It seems odd to ask if the Ubislate 7Ci is worth the money. After all, it only costs $38. But Time’s review claims that the tablet performs about as good as you’d think a $38 tablet would perform. It doesn’t provide much storage. Its viewing angles are lacking. Its battery dies too soon. And its performance definitely falls into the sluggish category.

How cheap?

Of course, that $38 price tag is impressive. Time admitted this much in its review. And if you are budget-savvy consumer or business owner, Datawind’s move is great news. This tablet might not be the right one for you. Nevertheless the existence of the Ubislate 7Ci does prove one thing: Budget tablets are only going to get more affordable. You don’t have to pay a small fortune to buy a tablet any more.

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The obsolete hospital, courtesy of new tech?

February 11th, 2014

No one likes going to the hospital. Whether you’re waiting hours in the emergency room or lying in bed waiting for a long-delayed test, there’s nothing enjoyable about spending time in your local hospital. Technology, though, might change this. CBS Atlanta recently covered a new survey showing that most people around the globe feel that technology has the power to make traditional hospitals a thing of the past.

The study

The Intel Corporation conducted the study, which learned that 57 percent of global respondents feel that the day of traditional hospitals is coming to an end. So what will replace these medical centers? Customized, personal care made possible by evolving technology.

Mobile

According to the survey, respondents are excited to use mobile medical technology to handle many of their healthcare needs themselves. The hope is that this technology enables consumers to monitor their health and research their medical needs, dramatically lowering the need for overcrowded hospitals. The survey also learned that most people would be willing to perform their own ultrasounds if they had the equipment to do it.

No privacy issues?

Privacy isn’t what it used to be, thanks in large part to technology. This is also reflected in the Intel survey. As reported by the CBS Atlanta story, a stunning 84 percent of respondents revealed that they were willing to share their personal health information if doing so would advance medical progress and reduce healthcare costs.

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IBM’s tech predictions

February 6th, 2014

Five years is a long time in the technology world. This is why so many look forward every year to IBM’s forecasts on where technology will be in the next five years. Forbes columnist Greg Satell recently wrote a column reviewing IBM’s latest five-year predictions. What’d he find? Some pretty interesting stuff.

High-tech classrooms

It’s made headlines: U.S. school children are falling behind their peers in much of the rest of the world, particularly when it comes to math and science. What can we do about it? IBM predicts that teachers are going to have access to more technology, and they’ll have the ability to use this tech to reach a greater number of their students. This would be welcome. As Satell writes, although many U.S. students thrive in our educational system, a lot of others don’t. Tech could help change this.

High-tech retailers

IBM predicts, too, that technology will dramatically transform retailers. How big of a change? IBM predicts that one day we’ll walk into a store and have our smartphones automatically search the retailer’s inventory for the exact shoe or coat we are looking for. Then you can use your smartphone to send a message to a salesperson that will bring you your items. Pretty cool, isn’t it?

Medicine gets a tech upgrade

Personalized medicine will be coming in the next five years, according to IBM. This is important: Different people react differently to different medicines. IBM predicts that soon doctors will sequence your DNA in a day. The doctor will then access cloud-based systems that provide medicine recommendations using the latest clinical and research information.

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