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The Future of Remote Work in a Post-Pandemic World

During the current coronavirus pandemic, businesses across the world have had to adapt in myriad ways as in-person services and office spaces have been disrupted. Some businesses have not found ways to adapt and remain closed, while others have been able to change on the fly and continue to operate. Remote work has become a new norm for many.

But what does all of this mean for the future? In a post-pandemic world, will remote work infrastructure need to be available indefinitely to prepare for future disease spread? Will some workers simply stay remote? 

Let’s take a look at the future of remote work. 

The Future of Remote Work in a Post-Pandemic World

Initial successes and issues during the pandemic

As mentioned, some businesses were much more prepared for adapting to remote work than others. Many tech companies that already had significant numbers of remote workers and work from home policies have found it easy to go remote with office teams. However, industries like manufacturing, where in-person work is essential, have not been able to take the same approach. Many have had to adapt on-site operations to meet social distancing guidelines. Further, many other factors like access to computers at home, employee tech proficiency, company culture, and unaddressed security risks for remote workers have prevented some companies from fully adapting, regardless of industry. 

Where remote work may become essential

There are some industries where cultivating remote work in our newly changed world may be a key to survival and growth. Educational institutions have had to adapt to online learning and working quickly. Many universities have switched to online courses for their current semesters, and some may be moving towards doing the same in the fall of 2020. With potential future outbreaks following the current situation, it’s very possible that remote working and learning may become a new norm at least some of the time for universities. 

Healthcare is another industry where remote adaptation has been essential for some. For those healthcare providers deemed non-essential during the pandemic, telehealth has become a lifeline to an otherwise inaccessible portion of their patient bases. Therapists, primary care physicians, dentists, and others have launched remote care options to continue treating and advising patients. During continued shifts in disease spread in the future, this may be the key to making non-emergency care possible.

Disparities in access to remote work

As alluded to before, access is a key part of making remote work systemically possible. Many employees do not currently have the equipment needed to work from home. They may not have the training or familiarity to efficiently work remotely either. Companies that can work to address these disparities may be able to make remote work accessible to more employees. 

Additionally, remote work itself is accessible at different levels to different groups of people depending on their industry. While information workers are much more likely to be able to work remotely, service industry workers have a much harder time given the structures of job duties. Macrosocial disparities also impact who gets access to remote work. When you add in just the layers of educational attainment and class, the disparities in the data grow even more. Many workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher have the option to work from home. Those with less educational attainment have the option at a much lower rate. Higher wage white collar jobs often tend to skew towards remote accessibility too. High wage employers are often more likely to offer equipment and training to make it possible. 

As an information technology company with many years of experience, we’ve helped hundreds of clients leverage technology to become more efficient and increase profits. Interested in learning more? Let’s connect. Send us an email or give us a call at 502-212-0978 and we can get the conversation started.

An Overview Of Software Development Lifecycles

A software development lifecycle is a term that describes all of the tasks and activities involved in developing an application or program. A lifecycle includes everything from initial planning and consultation to final launch as well as ongoing maintenance.

There are different approaches to software development and every approach has some advantages. Many development teams choose lifecycle systems based on their benefits and their particular requirements. Here’s a brief overview of some of the different software development life cycles used today.

4 Popular Software Development Life Cycles

1. Waterfall

This is one of the most commonly used and popular software development cycles because it is so simple. It works like a waterfall, consisting of a linear sequential flow with one phase of development following the other. Developers only start to work on the next phase after the first phase is complete.

This approach to software development offers several advantages. It is easy to explain to other team members so there’s little room for miscommunication. The structured approach ensures the project remains on track more easily. All stages and activities of the project are clearly defined so all of a team’s members are on the same page. Verification at the end of every phase reduces the chances of error.

Unfortunately, this approach has several disadvantages as well. It is rigid and inflexible so developers are more likely to assume that all requirements are locked in. There’s little room for adjusting the scope or requirements of a project. The waterfall approach is much less unsuitable for large or complex development projects.

2. V-Shaped

The v-shaped model is similar to the waterfall model, with an added advantage of an early unit test phase. The model follows the Waterfall process until software plan implementation, after which it moves upward from unit testing to maintenance. Like the waterfall model, this approach is fairly straightforward and easy to understand.

The biggest advantage of the v-shaped model is that it has specific deliverables at every phase. Developers create test plans early during the lifecycle, which reduces the room for error and improves flexibility.  The v-shaped model is ideal for small, straightforward development projects with clearly defined goals and expectations.

However, this model is still very inflexible and it is difficult to adjust its scope once a project has launched. It is not possible to generate early prototypes using this model and there is not a clear structure for correcting errors.

3. Spiral

The spiral model or SDM is a great solution for large-scale and complicated projects. This model combines design and prototyping systems, making it more flexible. It still uses the main elements of a waterfall approach as the foundation, assigning different sections for planning, risk assessment, prototyping, and simulations, but offers more options to move backward or forward in the project.

The SDM system has several advantages like more realistic estimates, early developer input, and better risk management.

However, this approach to software development has some disadvantages as well. It can be very expensive and time-consuming. Developers need specialized training to utilize this approach effectively and the system has limited re-usability across different kinds of projects.

4. Agile

The agile approach has become very popular because it offers maximum flexibility and is suitable for all kinds of projects. This approach requires collaboration and movement between different teams as well as phases during the development process. Developers can go back to earlier phases after learning from their mistakes to optimize an application.

This approach has several advantages like decreased development time, time to take input from the team, customers, and stakeholders, and no guesswork. You get high-quality software that fits a customer’s requirements perfectly at the end of the process.

However, agile requires special training and skill which can involve an investment of time and money.

Choosing the right development lifecycle is essential to keep a project on track and ensuring the result lives up to the original specs. A successful software development lifecycle can produce software with the highest quality and lowest cost in the shortest time.

At number8, our measure of success is delivering working software faster. That’s why when it comes to meeting a project’s full potential, we believe in embracing the agile development model. As an information technology company with many years of experience, we can help any team adopt the practices, processes, and tools needed to deliver with more agility. Interested in learning more? Let’s connect. Send us an email or give us a call and we can get the conversation started.

Comparing Smart Assistant Software: Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa

Smart assistant software like Siri, Google, and Alexa have made life much easier for technology users. It is now possible to ask questions, look for directions, call people, or even send a message without physically interacting with your mobile device. Smart assistants have also expanded out of the mobile phone platform over the years.

We now have smart speakers, devices like smart TVs, home security systems like Nest, and so much more. All of these devices are powered by Google Assistant, Siri, or Alexa. Every AI assistant has something unique characteristics. Here’s a brief comparison of each system.

Alexa

Alexa was developed by Amazon and introduced with the Echo speaker in 2014. Since then, it has become one of the most popular smart assistants available on the market. Alexa has the longest list of compatible devices. It works with FireStick, FireTV, Echo devices, and even third-party products like FitBit and some cars. That’s one of Alexa’s biggest advantages. The compatibility with different devices ensures it is one of the more versatile and user-friendly products available today.

Alexa can be used to perform several tasks like playing music, setting reminders, running timers, finding information, reading news briefings, and even shopping. You can use Alexa to buy products on Amazon without logging onto the app. However, Alexa isn’t as genuinely mobile as Siri or Google Assistant.

While there are ways to ingrate it with Google or Apple Devices, people often use it on native devices. If you’re looking at a smart home assistant, Alexa is the best option.

Alexa’s compatibility with Amazon FireTV or Stick makes it an excellent tool for regular users. They don’t need to browse through content through a mobile phone or even use a remote. They can request different movies or shows through the smart assistant.

Google Assistant

Google Assistant may not be as popular as Alexa, but it is the most dynamic, versatile, and robust AI assistant available today. It was launched back in 2016 as a part of Google Now but has grown considerably since then. Google Assistant is highly compatible with a wide range of devices, including some third-party products. It works seamlessly with all other Google offerings like Play Music, YouTube, Google Calendar, Contacts, Gmail, and so much more.

It is also compatible with home devices like Google Home Speakers, Nest, and a few other third-party devices. Some companies have incorporated the AI into their consumer electronics like Smart Displays, Wear OS watches, earbuds, headphones, Nvidia Shield, and more. Google Auto has gained popularity in the automobile industry and is used in many cars.

This AI assistant does everything Alexa does, but it has a truly mobile reach. You can carry it with you on an Android device or even download it on an iOS device. The AI gives users access to Google Maps and other such useful applications while they’re outdoors.

Siri

Siri is a relatively popular and very well-known smart assistant, but it lags behind Google Assistant and Alexa in terms of both functionalities as well as compatibility. It is one of the oldest AI assistants and has a cult following among Apple users. It was first introduced back in 2010 and has evolved considerably over the years. Siri has a great personality, which is one of the reasons why it is so popular.

It does all the tasks you can expect from a smart assistant but isn’t as effective in pulling information or understanding commands as Google Assistant is. Unfortunately, this AI is also only available on Apple devices, so there is no third-party compatibility.

All AI assistants are evolving constantly and will continue to become more refined as the years pass.

As an information technology company with many years of experience, we’ve helped hundreds of clients leverage technology to become more efficient and increase profits. Interested in learning more? Let’s connect. Send us an email or give us a call and we can get the conversation started.

Fostering Long Term Business Partnerships – 5 Things To Know

Building and running a successful business isn’t easy. Every aspiring entrepreneur needs practical and hands-on support from employees, mentors, and business partners to succeed. Hiring employees and getting mentors requires work, but it isn’t as complicated as acquiring or maintaining business partnerships over the long term. Here are some things you need to know to develop successful partnerships:

  1. Build Connections and A Network

You won’t find trustworthy associates without putting in some real effort. Many people end up partnering with their friends or relatives, but sometimes that does more harm than good. Business owners should work on building connections, finding like-minded people, and developing those relationships.

During this process, you may stumble across a great partner who shares your vision, brings fresh ideas or resources to the table, and has a compatible personality. You can build a strong business based on this foundation.

  1. Be Authentic and Genuine

It is impossible to build a business relationship, or any partnership, based on lies. Business partners should be open and honest with each other to have a strong bond. False personas, sugar-coated business proposals, and dishonest communication can hamper the relationship.

Entrepreneurs should be clear about risks, potential rewards, level of commitment required, and other such factors. Open communication at the beginning can help a partnership grow stronger over time. This is especially crucial for the first few months of establishing a business.

  1. Set Common Goals and Values

Goals and values are the guiding lines that help partners remain on track. It is easy to lose track of all goals or values once you’re involved in everyday management. That can lead to miscommunication, errors, or even a company-wide crisis. Before you start a partnership with someone, establish a set of values, ethics, and targets. Make sure they’re on the same page and agree with these guidelines. Ask them to contribute their thoughts or ideas to ensure your foundation is stable.

Many long-term partners regularly look over their goals or values to ensure they still agree with them. Updating targets is a part of running a growing enterprise.

  1. Show and Earn Loyalty

Business is a risky battleground and partners are fellow soldiers. Such a relationship requires trust and loyalty, without which your partnership will collapse quickly. Make sure business partners know you have their back and will support them. Share their load, trust them with important tasks, and keep communication lines open. All of these actions will help build a bond of loyalty that will stand the test of time.

Respect a business partner’s abilities and take all of their advice seriously. If a partner feels valued, they are more likely to value you in return. That helps develop a healthy long-term relationship, especially in a competitive environment.

  1. Set Realistic Expectations

It is common for entrepreneurs to expect more from their partners than reasonable. Just because you are willing to sacrifice weekends or skip family commitments doesn’t mean a partner will do the same. Everyone has different priorities and you must respect them. Set realistic expectations regarding how much engagement you can expect from a partner.

A comfortable partnership involves working together to lighten the workload while still getting a lot done. That will happen even if you work more reasonable hours.

It is also essential to be fair and straightforward. A business partnership will fail if your partner doesn’t get adequate compensation for their work or commitments. Make sure they get their fair share of profit for their invaluable contribution.

As an information technology company with many years of experience, we’ve helped hundreds of clients leverage technology to become more efficient and increase profits. Interested in learning more? Let’s connect. Send us an email or give us a call and we can get the conversation started.

How To Identify A Team Player During The Interview Process

Most products and business processes require employees to work in teams. Employees need to communicate well with others, collaborate on different tasks, and interact with different kinds of personalities. That’s easier said than done and often requires some innate skill. Not all professionals are team players; many can’t handle working with others on high-pressure assignments or environments. If teamwork is a vital aspect of your business processes, it is crucial to hire the right individuals for it. How do you know what a team player is and how do you identify one during the interview process?

What is a Team Player?

A team player isn’t just someone who can do their work efficiently while being a part of a team. They go above and beyond to ensure their team is successful. These professionals provide helpful feedback to their fellow team members, ask relevant questions about different aspects of a project, work well with colleagues at different levels, and focus on team success over personal achievements.

Identifying a team player during an interview process can be challenging. Most prospective candidates know companies value collaboration and will frame their answers accordingly. Here are some tips on how to identify a team player during an interview process:

Look at Past Experiences and Collaborations

The best way to identify team players is to look at their past collaborations. Ask them about different projects, teams, challenges, and other such influential factors. Ask how the candidate contributed to such projects and their team. The answer will tell a lot about their working style and ability to be a good team member.

If a person dismisses other’s efforts and uplifts their contributions, they may not be the right candidate. If they highlight how every member of a team contributed and how much they put in, you may have a winner.

Ask the Right Interview Questions

Focus on questions that rely on behavior and experience instead of personality and habits. Some of the most important questions to ask are:

  • Have you worked in teams?
  • Have you assumed any leadership positions?
  • How do you work with a team on a challenging project?
  • How do you handle failure or mistakes as a part of a team?
  • Are you happier working in a team or alone?
  • What does it mean to be a team player?

Answers to such questions will give you a better insight into the candidate and their ability to work in collaborative environments. Focus on their past experiences, so you have more concrete answers.

Discuss How A Person Will Handle Team Conflicts

No team is without conflict, even if you find the most level-headed employees. Handling team conflicts is an essential skill that every member must master to work successfully. Discuss how your candidate handles disputes between other members of the team. Ask them how they get into or get out of personal disagreements. A person’s ability to diffuse conflicts or step back from an argument gracefully can help them thrive in a team environment.

Can They Work With Multiple Small Teams at Once?

It’s common for skilled professionals to contribute their expertise to different teams at the same time. A true player will know how to juggle all teams, different deadlines, and different priorities efficiently. You should determine how they can handle virtual groups or team members they have never met personally. Some professionals are comfortable communicating online while others struggle with it.

As an information technology company with many years of experience, we’ve helped hundreds of clients leverage technology to become more efficient and increase profits. Interested in learning more? Let’s connect. Send us an email or give us a call and we can get the conversation started.

 

8 Amazing Ways Technology Has Transformed Business Over The Past 20 Years

Technology has changed significantly in the past 20 years and, as a result, has influenced every aspect of our lives. People rely on modern tech for everything from daily chores to complex tasks. Technology has had a significant impact on the world of business as well. It has disrupted several industries, abolished a few, and transformed how we work on an everyday basis. Here’s a look at some ways in which technology has changed business.

Instant Communication

Instant communication, regardless of distance, has been one of the biggest influences on businesses. It allows different branches of a company to interact seamlessly, for multiple teams to work on a single project without any delays in communication, and so much more. Rapid communication has improved productivity and also influenced how customers interact with businesses.

Impact on Customers

Technology has changed the way customers shop. It has given them access to all the information they need so they can make informed decisions. People can now read online reviews, watch demo videos, and see ratings or testimonials before making a decision. They’re also not hesitant about sharing their experiences online or approaching companies with complaints if a product or service doesn’t live up to their expectations.

Access to Data

Data is a gold mine for businesses. It gives them insight into customer mindset, competitors, industry trends, and the impact of cultural and political trends on the business. Entrepreneurs can then use this information to refine business practices and reach a wider audience.

Greater Access

Modern technology has made it easier for people to start ventures. Prospective entrepreneurs can open an eCommerce store or sell products on websites like Etsy or Amazon with very little investment. Even people who don’t have much capital can start their own business, which wasn’t as easy 20 years ago.

Digital Marketing

Digital marketing has proven to be an equalizer, helping small businesses with limited resources shine. Companies can approach customers through different channels with minimal investment. It is easier for entrepreneurs to advertise online, create effective digital marketing campaigns, and make content to draw people in. Even regular smartphones can shoot professional-quality marketing content like pictures or videos.

Global Reach

Many modern businesses have an international presence, regardless of their size. Technology has made it easier for a small business in Japan to then sell products to customers in the UK. It is easier to expand, get global customers, and communicate with them seamlessly. Social media helps companies connect with a broad audience too. Products go viral and draw attention from unexplored markets.

Transparency from Businesses

Modern customers hold companies up to a different stand compared to customers a few decades ago. For example, many customers care about personal products being cruelty-free or technologies being environmentally-friendly. They also expect businesses to follow modern ethics by providing an environment free of discrimination, racial bias, gender bias, and other oppressive factors. Technology has facilitated this- people online don’t hesitate to raise their voices against companies that don’t live up to these standards.

Influence of Influencers

In the past, companies would hire actors, musicians, and other such celebrities to promote their products through advertisement or other marketing content; however, modern technology and platforms like YouTube or Instagram have given rise to influencers, who are much more effective in promoting products than celebrities. These influencers are people entrenched in the industry. They test different products, provide opinions, and offer recommendations. Influencers can sway customer opinions, which makes them an excellent investment.

These are just some of the many ways in which technology has changed the way businesses are run.

As an information technology company with many years of experience, we’ve helped hundreds of clients leverage technology to become more efficient and increase profits. Interested in learning more? Let’s connect. Send us an email or give us a call so we can get the conversation started.

Facts About Data Security You Should Know

As a result of increased data collection and data sharing by government institutions and companies, cyber threats have now become widespread and incredibly challenging to handle. Irrespective of the nature of your personal or business records, you can now quickly become a target of a hacker set on destroying your business. Here are a few useful facts that will provide you with a better understanding of data security.

Facts About Data Security You Should Know

Small Business Are a Target of Roughly 50% of Cyber Attacks

In most cases, a small business typically lacks the data security of a multi-million dollar business. This gives hackers a clear path to hack into a small business’ affairs. Most small business owners often feel that they aren’t vulnerable to hacking because they have nothing worth stealing. However, hackers often steal consumer information and personal data from businesses of all sizes. Roughly 60% of all businesses experience malicious hacks like DDoS attacks, phishing, and more.

Damages from Attacks Will Reach $6 Trillion By 2021

Based on data collected by Forbes, damages from hacking will amount to around $6 trillion in costs by 2021. For reference, this is a figure significantly higher than damages from natural disasters in the United States annually. This threat looms large in the future partially because of the easy availability of secure VPN services. Attackers can now hide their identity as well as their location, which makes it nearly impossible to track their activities online.

Bad Actors Use Bitcoin for Illegal Activities

Bitcoin has introduced a unique system of digital currencies. It has presented users with a quick transfer option, safety, and anonymity. However, as a result of this anonymity, bad actors are now using Bitcoin to carry out illegal activities.

Malware Attacks Have a Serious Impact on the Healthcare Industry

Malware attacks affected approximately 75% of the healthcare industry in 2019. This includes various health insurance agencies and other treatment facilities. Typically, the personal histories of patients are targeted by hackers. Additionally, medical research is often attacked and sold to the highest bidder. The negligence of data security by medical institutions and hospitals is the primary reason for these attacks.

Data Security Is Now Mandatory

Both small and large business owners are now focusing on protecting their data by investing in cybersecurity software. Any highly-effective antimalware software can verify and segregate threats from the system before a malicious attack.

It Takes About 5 Minutes to Hack IoT Devices

IoT devices like smart watches, smart cars, and home control systems can easily be hacked under 5 minutes once they’re connected. This is because they cannot escape the internet when being used. This makes it nearly impossible for them to disconnect from the internet altogether.

Today, hacking tool kits and software are easily accessible on the dark web for as low as $1. Third-party apps are readily available on the internet as well.

Pernicious Emails to Organizations Are Rampant

Recent reports have stated that public administration organizations now receive one malicious email per 302 emails. Although this number may seem small, there are a large number of public organizations. Each organization has numerous employees with company email addresses. This increases the chances of an employee falling into a hacker’s trap.

Fortunately, there are thousands of data security tools available online and of them are free or low cost. Once you have a better understanding of the usage and implementation of these security tools, you will gain a sense of confidence in protecting your personal information.

As an information technology company with many years of experience, we’ve helped hundreds of clients leverage technology to become more efficient and increase profits. Interested in learning more? Let’s connect. Send us an email or give us a call and we can get the conversation started.

 

 

 

 

 

An Overview of CES 2020 

CES, or Consumer Electronics Show, happens every year in Las Vegas. CES is a grand exhibition of some of the most cutting edge upcoming technology. More than 4,500 brands showcase their products to over 180,000 attendees, a group made up of tech journalists, bloggers, influencers, and consumers. The event has 250 conference sessions and highlights everything from standard consumer electronics to prototypes of technologically-advanced products. Here’s an overview of what happened at CES 2020.

An Overview of CES 2020 

1. Sony Introduced an Electric Car

Electric cars have been steadily growing in popularity over the years, so it isn’t surprising that different brands have started to develop versions of these vehicles. Despite this, Sony was a surprise entry into the market. They unveiled a sleek, beautifully-designed concept car packed full of Sony tech. The car is a compelling piece of technology, though it isn’t for general consumers and won’t even see a limited edition run.

The car’s expansive dashboard display is its most attractive feature. It includes a media and entertainment center, quad motors, 200kwh battery, and can go from 0 to 60 in around 4.6 seconds.

Sony wasn’t the only brand to showcase its electric car at CES this year. Attendees also caught a glimpse of the Mustang Mach-E, which is available to customers for a starting price of $45,000 and will start shipping next year. Manufacturers also showed off the Rivian RT, which is expected to ship this year.

2. Samsung Introduced a New 5K Monitor

Samsung is always practical yet adventurous, and this year is no exception. Their 5K, 49″ monitor is an excellent replacement for a dual-monitor set-up. It has a stunning display and is suitable for gamers, content creators, video editors, digital artists, and other related professionals. The monitor spans a user’s entire view and contains the latest display technology Samsung has to offer.

That’s not all the company had to offer. It also introduced a new 8K TV with some of the thinnest bezels available along with an in-built sensor that helps it rotate with your phone. You can watch vertical videos at full resolution on the television screen.

3. Robosense and Blickfield Featured Autonomous Vehicle Technology

Autonomous vehicles are no longer considered futuristic, but few people consider them reliable. RoboSense introduced new sensors that use LiDAR technology to detect the space around an autonomous car. This combination of lasers and radar is more precise than traditional radio waves, which should mean fewer accidents.

Blickfield is another company that is working with LiDAR to improve autonomous vehicles. They have introduced the Cube and the Cube Range sensors, which detect near-field and distant obstacles. These sensors will make autonomous cars safer for both city streets and long-distance travel.

4. Canon and Nexoptic DoubleTake Showcased Cameras and Binoculars 

Canon showcased its most powerful camera yet to an eager audience. The Canon 1DX MK shoots 5.5K 60fps raw footage. One drawback is that it doesn’t have autofocus for raw modes. The camera is so powerful that autofocus would require some serious processing to handle raw content shot at 60fps.

Nexoptic DoubleTake introduced a pair of next-generation binoculars that use camera technology to help users see everything with peak clarity. The device is also capable of capturing 4K video and has image-enhancing technologies built-in. These binoculars could be a great tool for explorers, but they are quite pricey.

Other technologies introduced at CES 2020 include devices to improve home security, AI-powered displays, transparent car fronts powered by advanced image processing technology, brain-sensing wearable devices, and so much more. There was something new in almost every category this year.

As an information technology company with many years of experience, we’ve helped hundreds of clients leverage technology to become more efficient and increase profits. Interested in learning more? Let’s connect. Send us an email or give us a call and we can get the conversation started.