How to Build a Stellar Brand and Rock the Social Media Ecosystem

In a vast and diverse online landscape, there are many channels and tools to explore. In the midst of all the digital hustle and bustle, major social platforms stand as real giants. From their shoulders, brands can extend their reach and make their messages resonate with a global audience.

Indeed, many businesses have managed to work miracles with their social media accounts. They became globally recognizable and have enhanced their bottom line in the process. But, make no mistake that this is a huge endeavor. Namely, one has to find a way to form a killer strategy and execute it in order to stand out among cohorts of competitive brands.

A tumultuous social age

Social media platforms are a next big business frontier. Consumers flock there to casually share and comment, but also interact with brands and get to know their human face. This creates immense opportunities to engage and delight. Of course, making it happen is much easier said than done. It requires a rock-solid strategy and a long-term commitment.

One of the first things to figure out is which network to pick as a distribution channel. You might want to use more than one but bear in mind that spreading yourself too thin is not the best idea, especially if you’re working with limited resources. The basic rule is simple: You have to be present on hubs that your target audience frequents.

An angle of approach

A thorough research is the cornerstone of your branding strategy. It allows you to tell in advance, with relative certainty, whether your campaigns will hit the mark or not. Just be aware that adults aged 18-34 are the most likely to follow a brand via social media (96%). So, if you cater to the older population, you might want to think twice before investing in branding there.

In general, networks with the largest user base (like Facebook and Twitter) offer an unparalleled reach and should be considered first. Then again, there are some niche platforms that could make sense in terms of what you do and industry sector you operate in. Likewise, image-heavy networks such as Pinterest and Instagram are a great marketing landscape to dispense your product photos and other visual assets.

Name of the social game

In any event, once you weigh all the pros and cons and identify the best channel, come up with a game plan on how to engage the audience there. To get inspired, you can take lessons from some of the best thought-out campaigns out there. They all have something in common: a deep understanding that modern businesses must add value to the lives of the customers.

Moreover, established brands are well aware that social media profiles pose powerful customer service tools. They provide around-the-clock support and display impressive responsiveness. Also, they keep up to date with prominent trends such as the surge in mobile usage. There were 2.56 billion of global social media users who accessed those networks via mobile devices in 2017. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to tailor the experience to their wants and needs.

Coming on top

There are some other trends that enable your brand to get into the limelight. Visual content reigns supreme: it is 40 times more likely to be shared than other types of content. So, ramp up your image and video production capacities. Quality content is an integral part of all good campaigns. Just make sure to produce a regular stream of it in accordance with your content calendar.

Furthermore, note that, although people discuss brands quite a lot, 96% of users does not actually follow brand-owned accounts. This is to say that businesses have to get creative and navigate around the distrust or weariness that users tend to exhibit towards businesses. The trick is to look beyond your corporate channels and launch campaigns that deviate from the traditional advertising logic.

Stay vigilant

Next, let us address one thing that often gets overlooked: keeping track of key performance indicators is vital. In other words, implement a robust social media monitoring strategy. Monitor non-branded conversations for brand mentions. Evaluate your engagement rates and how many social signals you generate. Actively manage brand health at all times. Stay flexible and adjust your strategy should it fail to bear fruit.

This may seem like a daunting task, but rest assured that social media branding pays rich dividends in the long run.

Around 71% of customers who have had a positive experience with a brand recommends it to others. Hence, you have a chance to make the most of word-of-mouth promotion and spread awareness far and wide.  Finally, remember that social signals, although not an official ranking factor, do affect your position in the search engine result pages (SERPs).

Polishing the competitive edge

Social media networks are major public arenas for brand-building. Before diving in, you need to test the digital waters and use acquired insights to create targeted campaigns.

Create a branded environment where customers feel appreciated and valued. Keep an eye on trends to stay on top of the game. Learn how to tell an engaging story and social media user people in. This should enable you to build lasting foundations of trust with your existing customers and win new people over at the same time.

Carry out branding with the maximum marketing impact: Get the word out there and cut through the marketing noise like a knife through hot butter.

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How Can Good SEO Help Potential Customers Find Your Startup?

SEO might not be fast or easy, but it’s still necessary in today’s business world. And if you’re just starting your business, it’s definitely worth your time.

It will allow you to generate new leads, attract new customers and ultimately, increase sales by boosting your visibility in search engines. But let’s start from the beginning.

What exactly is SEO?

In short, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and many people consider it the main digital tactic companies use to attract new customers online.

The first thing you need to know about SEO is that it isn’t a short-term tactic. It’s better described as a “collection of tactics” that you can use to improve your presence on the Internet.

Search engines – we’ll mostly be taking about Google, since it holds more than 90% of search market share – rank sites based on their relevance and quality.

You can use SEO to improve your rankings by optimizing your site and using certain tactics that Google deems useful for users. Now let’s take a look at how SEO can help small businesses attract new audiences.

SEO for small-to-mid-size businesses

If you opt for SEO, your main goal should be to use a number of different tactics to improve your rankings. Search engine visibility is crucial for your success, since most customers research their purchases on the Internet before they make a decision.

As we said, SEO is a collection of strategies and techniques that work together as a part of your overall marketing strategy. Its main aim is to improve your position in organic search results – not paid results, that’s a completely different thing – and some of the most important SEO strategies include:

  • UX and site architecture
  • Content creating and marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Analytics and keyword research
  • Link building and outreach

Before we start talking about these tactics in more detail, let’s see why this is so important for your business and what results you can expect from a successful SEO strategy.

Why is SEO important for your site?

In this day and age, a small business lives and dies by its marketing efforts and as we established before, SEO is an important part of online marketing efforts.

Look at it like this, if a potential customer can’t find your site on Google, you practically don’t exist to that customer. And if you think SEO is only important at the moment, you’re terribly wrong.

The practice has been around for more than two decades at this point and according to Market Dive research, more than 80% of marketers see SEO as becoming even more effective in the future.

How to create a successful SEO strategy

The main goal of any SEO strategy is to generate more leads and increase your customer base in the process, not just increase your rank in Google. If you want to do things properly, it would be smart to hire an SEO consultant company. Preferably a reputable one, like this New York based SEO company.

If not, you can actually try do everything on your own. However, you have to be prepared for a ton of work and mistakes along the way.

  • On-site SEO tactics:  Every piece of content on your website, from blog posts to images, needs to be properly optimized for Google, or any other search engine you plan on focusing on.
  • Off-site SEO tactics: Link building is one of the main aspects of off-page SEO and it includes reaching out to various sites and influencers who might find your site and content useful.
  • Mobile-friendliness: A vast majority of people today browse the Internet on their mobile devices. That’s why you need to optimize your site for mobile and make sure that everything works perfectly on all devices.  

Of course, tracking your SEO campaigns is always time-consuming and at times, it can be quite stressful. So, if you want to track the performance of your SEO activities, you should try using a professional digital marketing dashboard that will give you a view of how all your marketing activities are performing.

Conclusion

In the end, you’re probably wondering how much all of this will cost you. This is a tricky question, because the line between digital marketing and SEO is pretty thin. Some companies out there are even combing their marketing budgets with their SEO budgets.

In order to determine how much you should spend on search engine optimization, here are a couple of questions you should ask yourself:

  • How much do you expect to make this year?
  • What’s your chosen industry?
  • How many competitors do you really have?

If you’re able to set aside around five percent of your overall revenue for long-term SEO efforts, you’ll definitely be able to see an increase in sales during the first year of your business venture.

5 Challenges of Doing Business Globally

A lot of people are eager to start an international business, without actually realizing all the challenges that this course of action entails. All they focus on are the positive sides like expanding to new markets, an access to a greater talent pool and prospects of future, even greater, expansion. Still, things are not nearly as easy as they may appear at first and here are a couple of downsides you might encounter.

The issue with company structure

In most English-speaking countries like the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia, businesses are classified as a sole entrepreneurship, a partnership or a limited liability corporation. Needless to say, this affects how the company is registered but even more importantly, how it pays taxes. The problem with this issue lies in the fact that the target market you are attempting to approach may not have the same standard structures, which might cause a lot of problems.

Aside from this, your company needs to prepare its international structure. This entails making decisions on whether you run your company from a single headquarters or do you have autonomous offices and representatives all over the place. Needless to say, this also depends on how much autonomy you are willing to hand over to these overseas branches.

Cultural differences

Another thing you need to take into consideration is how cultural differences will affect your brand. For instance, opening a Hooters Bar and Grill branch in Saudi Arabia is definitely not a good idea. Still, not every such consideration is as straightforward as this comparison. Sometimes, these differences will be much subtler, yet this doesn’t make them any less devastating for your brand. For this reason alone, it might be a much better idea to use a platform such as 2 Easy in order to get some invaluable local contacts at your target location. These B2B connections might help you out establish your international office with much greater efficiency.

Local laws and regulations

Next, you should look out for local laws and regulations and the ways in which they match or differ from those from your country of origin. Sometimes, your business structure or model will be tailored to fit the needs of a local market, which could make your transition to an offshore location slightly more difficult. Sure, dealing with two separate locations can be hard but things will only escalate once you start taking more and more countries into your calculation. This is definitely something you have to think about in due time.

International pricing

One of the most controversial issues surrounding the global market is the fact that the price of the same product/service may differ depending on the target location. Now, different parts of the world have different average purchasing power, which means that stamping a single universal price on your product may restrict you in more ways than you can imagine. On the one hand, it could make your product too expensive for the local market or it could significantly lower the bar for your expected profit. The method of guiding your pricing strategy is probably going by the Big Mac Index when comparing the purchasing powers of different regions.

Issues surrounding marketing

Finally, due to the above-mentioned cultural differences, you might have a hard time using your marketing campaign all over the globe. Seeing as how the situation in the world is quite sensitive from the cultural standpoint, even some of the most innocent trends might appear quite offensive in some regions. Because of this, it is usually far better to come up with different variations for one and the same campaign than to try going with a one-size-fits-all solution. On the other hand, this might considerably increase your expenses.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, starting a global brand is far from easy, seeing as how the number of variables you have to keep an eye on drastically increases. Instead of having to worry about the legal issues of your home region, you now have to do this several times over. Furthermore, any reform you decide to enact suddenly gets layers and layers of potential complications. Nonetheless, for all those who don’t fear the challenge of overcoming these international barriers, potential rewards are always more than worth it.

Why Should Small Businesses Focus on Liquidity Management?

Making a profit is certainly the main objective of every business out there, but one of the more important factors people tend to forget about is liquidity.

Lack of profits can kill your business in just a few months. However, lack of liquidity, can destroy your whole organization basically in a heartbeat.

Actually, according to the best-selling author and business adviser, David Mellor, lack of liquidity is the second biggest reason why small businesses fail in the United States.

What is liquidity actually?

If you’re new to all of this “business lingo” you’re probably wondering what liquidity even is. In essence, it’s a term used to describe an asset categorized by how fast you can trade it on the open market, without affecting its value.

For instance, cash is a liquid asset. You can trade it for other goods on the market without its price being changed in the process. When you want to buy something – a car, a new home or office supplies – cash will certainly do the trick.

Cash aside, even if you have something valuable, like vintage furniture, jewelry, etc. you technically still have liquidity. However, since the price of those assets varies – some people lower the price to sell their assets quicker, for example – they are relatively liquid.

When it comes to your company, the most important thing is that you have enough assets to pay your debts on time. In most cases, this depends on how much cash you have available, in comparison to the liabilities of your company.

Why is it so important?

As we indicated before, on the surface level, it’s all about the profit. But your enormous profit margin doesn’t actually mean too much if you’re not able to pay off your current debts and use the rest of your funds to invest in your business and keep it afloat.

Having cash at your disposal gives you the freedom to make an investment and expand your business, when the right opportunity comes up. And no matter how unlikely it seems, you never know when a financial crisis may occur, so having some cash stashed away is almost a type of insurance.

In order to keep up with your liquidity, you need to track your liquidity ratio. Here are three most commonly tracked ratios among small business owners:

  • Current ratio

More commonly known as “working capital ratio” this ratio measures your liquidity by comparing assets to liabilities. If your company has a current ratio of 2:1, most financial experts would agree that you have a “financially healthy” company on your hands.  

  • Quick ratio

This ratio is used to evaluate your organization’s capacity to fulfill its promises. Some companies track quick ratio on a monthly basis, in order to identify negative trends and make some adjustments that will help them satisfy debt requirements in the future.

  • Operating cash flow ratio

If you want to measure operating cash flow ratio, you just need to add up all the cash taken from your operations and divide that value by your current liabilities. This ratio is used to assess whether your current cash flow is sufficient to cover your debts.

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How to increase your liquidity?

  • Finance through factoring

In this case, a “factor” is actually a financing firm that offers to pay out your accounts for a price. Essentially, these companies pay up front what your customer is due and take a percentage. If you have to pay a few invoices and you need the cash right away, this is a rather convenient option.

  • Taking a personal loan

This is perhaps the simplest way of increasing cash flow through your company. Of course, you have to be careful with loans and wait for the right moment to take it. In most cases, taking personal cash loans is the smartest option if you want to correct the liquidity of your business instantly.

  • Minimizing liabilities

If you don’t want to increase your cash flow, you can take the other route, and reduce the amount of money coming out of your organization. Some people simply have too much inventory lying around the office, and this can decrease your liquidity drastically. Therefore, you need to have a good strategy to make sure that your inventory is always ready to be sent out and sold.

Don’t get too comfy if your profits go up

When you’re dealing with liquidity, you have to be calm and calculated at all times. Simply put, you can’t let yourself get distracted by other, less important aspects of running a business.

Moreover, we should also point out that you can’t get too comfortable when your profits start going up. On the contrary, you always have to be aware of how much money you and your company earned is at your disposal.

Without knowing that, your business venture might fail without any particular warning signs when you and your partners expect it the least.

Is California Still the Best Place for Tech Companies?

Hollywood, red-carpets, sun, and beaches… These are some of the things that come to most people’s minds when you mention California. Despite the recent success of “Silicon Valley,” we’re sure tech startups aren’t really the first thing people think about when talking about California.

If you talk to a California resident, you’ll get something along the lines of, “tech companies should probably relocate somewhere else that’s cheaper.” On the surface level, this makes sense – if you manage to lower operating costs, you’ll be able to raise your bottom line.

There’s no fundamental reason why a tech company needs to be located in Silicon Valley, right?

Operating in California requires money

The biggest downside of starting a business in California is the price of the commercial real estate and housing in some of the biggest markets, such as San Jose and San Francisco. Tech giants like Google and Apple have billions of dollars at their disposal, so they don’t have any problems paying the rent.

Moreover, according to Bloomberg, Facebook will actually pay its employees ten thousand dollars to relocate and live near their headquarters.

The cost of an entire industry working in this place is simply enormous. A recent study conducted by Zumper revealed that for every billion in venture capital that comes into California’s economy, rents are raised up to $99 on a monthly basis.  

However, there has to be a good reason why so many aspiring entrepreneurs from Baltimore, Detroit, and other cities are traveling to California, trying to start a company.

What makes California so good for startups?

The reality is this – if you’re starting a tech company outside California or New York, your chances of success are much, much slimmer. Here are a couple of factors that make California so appealing to young tech entrepreneurs:

  • It takes less to raise venture capital

In the United States, venture-backed companies account for around 11% of all employment. Venture capital is pretty important for small businesses and the US economy as a whole. And it just happens that some of best performing funds are located in California.

  • It increases the odds of being bought

If you’re located in a tech hub, you have much higher chances of networking with notable executives and engineers in your industry. Simply put, being a part of the tech community considerably increases your chances of being bought in a shorter period of time.

  • It increases your chances of success

The last thing on our list is fairly simple – starting a company outside of big tech hubs in the country significantly decreases your chances of success. The percentage of companies established between 2007 and 2010 in either New York or California who’ve received a second round of funding is roughly 15% higher.

Pros and cons of starting a business in California

Everything has its pros and cons, including the question whether to launch a startup in California. In addition to things we discussed earlier, here are a few pros and cons of starting a tech company – or any business for that matter – in the state of California.

  • Pro: Access to large markets

From Southern California to San Francisco, California is home to a few million consumers. Starting a business in California will give you access to a huge market, which is crucial for a small tech company.

And that’s not all. Unlike other states, California’s market tends to purchase services and goods no matter the economic climate. While there’s no new recession in sight, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

  • Con: Complicated regulations

California’s laws and tax codes are at times too complicated for growing businesses. For instance, in order to get a license for your business in California surety bond is a must-have.

These bonds work as a protection for the public and guarantee that you’ll comply with the state regulations. The smartest thing would be to ask a local professional to help you with legal issues.

  • Pro: High earnings

The state has more than 3.6 small business owners. Although starting a business has its challenges, there are simply too many opportunities when you’re operating your business in California.

For example, the state’s disposable income on average is almost $2,000 higher than the US’s average, according to BND data. Moreover, an average small business owner earns at least $60, 000 annually.

  • Con: High minimum wages

Minimum wage hikes could possibly hinder your growth. At the moment, according to data from the Department of Industrial Relations, the minimum wage in California is approximately $10, 50 per hour.

If you’re trying to watch your expenses – just like many other new tech companies do – this can be more than limiting. But with a proper budget plan, you can actually determine your best course of action.

The bottom line

Every company is unique in its own way. And while we’re not claiming you should pack your bags right this moment and head off to California, you have to realize that the state will simply increase your chances of success.

It’s not like tech entrepreneurs outside California are any less talented or hard-working, not at all. But the environments outside tech hubs like Bay Area are fundamentally different.

Until entrepreneurs in secondary markets acknowledge some of the shortcomings of their markets and find a way to address them properly, things are going to stay the same. The matter of the fact is – if you want to build a tech business where you live, you have to be prepared to pay a heavy toll.

How to Keep Your Best Tech Employees

In today’s business world, where main focus revolves around technology and its advancements, having employees with exceptional knowledge about information technologies is truly a valuable asset. Every company that manages to get their hands on such tech talent will have an advantage in the market.

However, these employees require a work environment and conditions that suit them the best, in order to remain engaged for the company they work for. That’s why you need to find the best way to make your top tech employees happy and ensure the means of their retention. Here are a few way to keep your best tech employees.

Challenge them

A lot of tasks need to be completed in order for a business to succeed, but if your best tech employees get stuck doing mundane tasks, they won’t be too happy about it. That’s’ why you need to challenge them and assign them to projects that will truly put their expertise to the test. Your best teach employees will appreciate the fact that you lean on their skills to solve complex issues.

Not only will they feel a sense of accomplishment once they finish the project, but they’ll also have means to put their minds to work and find solutions to the most difficult problems. In addition, these tasks will help your tech employees hone their skills and maybe even learn new ones along the way.

Reward them accordingly

If you want to keep your best tech employees, you need to be proactive and reward them for their hard work before they come to you seeking recognition. Even though money is a good motivator, it’s not always a top priority for some employees. Rewarding employees doesn’t always have to be about raising their paycheck. You can also choose more personal rewards that will showcase your appreciation.

Sometimes those rewards can be small tokens, such as T-shirts, such as custom pens, and coffee mugs which will remind your employees that you haven’t forgotten about them. On the other hand, you can also choose something more valuable, such as paid weekends for two at a resort or a spa, extended vacation days and other rewards for completing difficult projects or reaching an important business goal.

Praise their value

If you have tech employees with an exceptional talent, make sure you let them know how valuable they are to your company. That way, your tech employees will know that all the hard work they’ve been doing isn’t going unnoticed and that you recognize their contribution to the overall business success.

Also, praise your tech employees in front of other employees, so that others may become inspired to follow in their colleague’s footsteps. However, if some of your employees don’t like public praise, then try to find a more subtle approach to let them know just how important they are to your organization.

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Their work-life balance is important

Relying on your best tech employees for difficult tasks means you’re giving them a lot of responsibility. However, you can’t expect your employees to sacrifice their personal lives for the sake of work. Many good tech employees will be engaged towards their job responsibilities, but they also need time and space to have a normal everyday life. In order to let your tech employees develop a good work-life balance, allow them to have the flexibility they need.

For instance, let them choose working hours if it’s going to help them out, as long as they complete the tasks for the day. Also, let them work from home for a few days if they need it. Furthermore, when they take a day off, let them disengage from work completely. That means you shouldn’t disturb employees on their day off whenever an issue pops up.

Involve them in decision making

Your managers might know a lot about doing business and delegating tasks among employees, but your top tech employees may have important insight into matters as well. Don’t hesitate to involve your best talent in decision making. After all, they may see something your upper management missed.

In addition, asking top employees for their feedback and opinions is a good way to show appreciation and also show them that their opinions are in fact important and valuable to you. Furthermore, your top tech employees have knowledge and expertise that may give you an advantage in the market. Their unique viewpoint may give you a new angle to further develop and grow your business.

Having highly talented tech workers is truly an asset to any organization. Just make sure your top tech employees can do their job unhindered and that they know their hard work is appreciated. That way, you’ll be able to retain them with ease.

The Future of Virtual HR

Numerous technological advancements have made it possible for companies to reduce costs and time needed to handle all these repetitive, menial tasks by automating them. Although in certain fields of work the human touch still can’t be fully replaced by hi-tech, the latest developments in AI and machine learning have shown that robots are already capable of performing activities which require certain cognitive functions. Virtual Reality is one of the most interesting advanced technologies, and Bank of America Merrill Lynch estimates that by 2022 this could become a $150 billion industry.  Although the first thing that comes to mind upon mentioning VR are video games, this technology has already started to transform other industries, including HR.

Virtual recruiting

One of the most important, and at the same time challenging, tasks of any HR department is to find the best candidate for a particular position. This is a great responsibility because many times it turns out that the candidate isn’t exactly a perfect fit despite their impeccable education and experience and this scenario is usually the result of a company’s failure to provide potential employees with a sense of what it’s like to be working for them. In order to prevent such unfortunate mismatches, companies should tell stories about themselves and create narratives to showcase their goals and values. Curating their content on social media by sharing compelling blog posts, appealing free business stock images, as well as offering a peek behind the curtain, helps companies create brand awareness and attract candidates’ attention.

VR is another, even more, powerful recruiting medium as it allows organizations to immerse candidates into some real-life work situations, offer them virtual tours of their offices, and get them to experience their company culture in person. That way, it’s easier for candidates to realize whether they can picture themselves working in such an environment. The British Army took recruitment to a whole new level by implementing the VR experience. This cutting-edge method gave a 66% boost to their recruitment applications.

Virtual on-boarding

Another set of challenges emerges once the perfect candidate has been picked. Namely, showing them the ropes, and filling them in on all the rules, regulations, and work procedures can be a tedious and time-consuming task both for the HR department and new employees. Let’s not forget that an increasing number of companies also offer telecommuting and remote jobs, which makes this process even more difficult. Again, the synergy of VR and HR solve this obstacle in a seamless manner, as virtual on-boarding tools are extremely practical, effective, and engaging. Besides these technical aspects, there’s also an equally important factor of socialization and collaboration of remote workers.

The breaking in of new members of the team who are not physically present is essential for establishing the dynamics of the group and boosting productivity. If we bear in mind that 43% of the U.S. employees work remotely, it’s clear that virtual on-boarding can be the answer to the frequent lack of communication with their co-workers and managers. Without this feedback, remote workers tend to feel disconnected and alienated, which leads to disengagement, and the role of VR in team-building and simulating face-to-face communication is immense.

Virtual training

High-quality training is another step crucial for attracting and keeping a skilled workforce, and that’s where VR shows its true potential. Instead of opting for expensive courses that take up a considerable amount of time, easily accessible virtual coaches and tools can be even more effective and efficient when it comes to preparing your employees for their jobs. One of the best examples is that by NASA, as the agency has already “sent” their astronauts to Mars, where they learned how to operate rovers, all with the help of the Oculus Rift. Certain professions require training procedures during which mistakes can be extremely dangerous, which is why Boeing uses VR in order to safely train pilots to fly their state-of-the-art aircraft, the 787 Dreamliner.

Apart from these highly-sophisticated technical uses, virtual reality can also help HR organize training for topics such as diversity, mobbing, or various kinds of harassment, and help employees experience all these situations first-hand and be able to understand, handle, and resolve a wide array of workplace issues.

Virtual reality is a game-changer for many industries, but it its true potential can already be observed in HR, where its role will become even more indispensable in the future.

6 Industries That Need Business Intelligence

Technological trends were always a game-changer in the industrial sphere. From the birth of the first personal computer to the expansion of the internet, every industry out there had to adapt to these technological breakthroughs at one point. Business intelligence is no different. Nowadays, with the market being so competitive, industries have to do whatever it takes to get an edge over their competitors. Business intelligence is one of those things that can give them an edge, especially in the domains of analytics, market and consumer analysis as well as security. So, without further ado, here is a list of six industries that benefit from business intelligence the most:

Retail industry

One of the biggest problems that plagues the retail industry today is theft. Namely, goods often get ‘misplaced’ somewhere between the time of the order to the point of sale. This is why BI is such an important tool in preventing inventory loss with its data warehousing. Now stores can keep close track of their supply chain and even check where these ‘leaks’ tend to occur, as well as which particular item is continuously getting stolen. As a result, stores can then use this info to make new measures and security procedures that can prevent such things from happening in the future and cut their losses significantly.

Food industry

Sustainability is becoming an increasing trend in the food industry. Here, business intelligence helps food industrialists find new solutions for old problems regarding the use of safer ingredients, eco-friendly packaging as well as general distribution. With its data mining and data collection tools, BI assists companies in researching new “green” technologies almost instantaneously. Today, a lot of people are very strict about the way their food is processed. Companies need to pay attention to their demands, lest they risk losing a huge portion of their clientele. Therefore, to no great surprise, there is a steady increase in quality control and yield management in the food production sphere.  

Telecom industry

Business intelligence in telecom industry is being widely used. Huge amounts of data are being handled each second with little to no margin for error. Being such a competitive market as it is, telecom providers need to find new ways of increasing their quality assurance. BI maintains data-processing to its utmost efficiency, providing powerful insight from the data collected. With this newfound knowledge, telecom companies can focus on anticipating customer needs as well as creating new customer retention strategies to get an edge over their competitors.

Oil industry

In the oil industry, business intelligence is used quite often to analyse geological data and seismic tests to predict where the largest oil deposits are. With the recent implementation of such predictive analyses, oil companies are getting an increase in profit which in turn lowers the price of oil. Likewise, BI is also used to monitor the constant fluctuation of crude oil prices in real time which allows the marketers to sell oil when prices get high enough, and fold when they are too low.

Fashion industry

The fashion industry is one of the most competitive industries out there. Decision making is absolutely vital for choosing the right kind of design that will eventually catch on like wildfire and become a global trend. This is where BI comes in handy with its analytical tools. It helps both buyers and marketers understand which target audience their consumers fit into. Thus, they gain the much-needed insight that will help them stay on top of their game. Excellent market awareness such as this can sometimes unearth the next big sensation which can help smaller companies make a breakthrough on the fashion scene.

Pharma industry

The main problem within the pharmaceutical industry is keeping track of the expiration dates of drugs which are kept in storage. Business intelligence software helps minimize the risk of an expired product ever leaving the shelves. This way, pharmaceutical companies can operate within safety parameters of health regulations. Also, another area where BI can offer its assistance is with the control of product patents. Sharing of patents will be a lot easier with the use of BI which will result in current patent laws changing drastically, enabling swifter FDA approval of new drug development.

To sum up, business intelligence can be a powerful tool for real-time decision making, analyzing the market and for keeping excellent track of data. It provides an advantage for companies over their opponents in almost every industrial sector and companies which learn to harness its full potential will be leading the pack in the near future for sure.

4 Traits of Today’s Successful Tech Leaders

In the last few years, the IT industry has been changing at an astonishing rate. With its evolution, the role of tech leaders has also changed. Namely, being an IT leader today is different from what it was about a decade ago. It’s no longer about having a superior aptitude for tech and focusing on end-user needs only. There is a plethora of attributes every successful tech leader should possess and here are some of them.

To Understand your Team, you need to Understand Yourself

There is a thin line between an average business owner and an exceptional leader. Overconfident and close-minded entrepreneurs that don’t take their employees’ advice into consideration usually stay mediocre or even end up failing. Of course, this is something you want to avoid. To succeed, you need to know what your strengths, weaknesses and emotional triggers are. Only by constantly investing in your self-awareness will you be able to leverage your strengths as much as possible and surround yourself with the right people with complementary skills. Most importantly, by investing in your emotional intelligence, you will manage to focus on the people you communicate with, recognize their problems and adapt your interactions based on their emotions and expectations.

An amazing example of the importance of self-awareness for one’s entrepreneurial success is Mark Zuckerberg. Even though he was just a teenager when he launched Facebook, he hired experienced advisors who helped him make the right decisions and, over time, he has become a well-rounded leader.

Make Quality and Timely Decisions

“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing,” Roosevelt once said. The tech industry is moving at an astonishing pace and, to keep pace with it, you need to be capable of making the right decisions fast and taking risks when the need arises. If you are sitting on the fence all the time, not being able to find quality answers to your employees’ questions and problems, they might consider you incapable of leading them. Even worse, this might heavily affect your company’s growth.

Uber is just one of numerous examples showing how important bias for action is. Namely, when Lyft, their competitor, started offering scheduled rides, Uber’s executives decided to release the same feature within weeks. In this case, they didn’t have the luxury of doing a detailed research and debating the benefits of the product features. They simply built it and launched it.

Create Safe Work Environment

It’s your responsibility as an employer to provide your employees with pleasant, productive and, above all, safe work environment. Even though you cannot prevent all the incidents from happening, you can at least reduce the risk of workplace injury by developing a strict protocol, including safety education, offering adequate resources, and monitoring potential problem areas.  Most importantly, if the incident has already occurred, you need to know how you respond to such a situation. According to Bordas & Bordas personal injury lawyers, in such cases, employees are likely to hire an attorney to help them protect their right to compensation. As they will ask for all sorts of files and documentation on the employee, and you should cooperate with them and hand this information over.

Recognize your Employees’ Efforts

Steve Jobs believed that “great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.” This is exactly why every great leader understands and values their team’s efforts and hard work. By proving that you care about the employee behind the work as the work itself, you will be able to boost your employees’ satisfaction and, most importantly, improve their engagement and retention.

For example, you could develop an incentive program. The studies show that 71% of employees would rather stay with a company that offers rewards than switch to one that offers higher pay. Most importantly, apart from being brilliant motivation boosters, incentives don’t require you to have Google’s budget. Young and small businesses in IT could offer a wide range of affordable and yet highly effective incentives, such as in-house skill-building opportunities, certificates of achievement, flexible work arrangement, gift cards, paid time off, and happy hours.

Conclusions

Never try hard to become the next Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. You’re simply not them. Instead, you need to know what it is that makes you authentic. Only by establishing recognizable leadership traits and staying true to them will you be able to build a powerful brand that stands out.

Which are some additional traits of distinguished entrepreneurs? Share your favorite ones with us.

Managing Multicultural Teams: Challenges and Solutions

Management

Over the last two decades, we have witnessed a nearly unprecedented shift in how companies operate in pretty much every respect. Among other things, the new technologies have made it more possible and viable for companies to employ teams that are far more heterogeneous than anything that was possible in the past.

In short, the multicultural team has become a norm and managers are having to learn how to manage such teams. This is nothing to hold against them. It is simply a different reality, with new challenges and ways to overcome these challenges.

The Assertiveness Challenge

Perhaps the most impactful cultural difference in the business arena, and subsequently the largest challenge in managing multicultural teams, is how different cultures see assertiveness and displays of assertiveness on the behalf of the manager.

For example, in the United States and the majority of “Western” countries, assertiveness is expected from a manager and the language used in such situations can feel almost aggressive to cultures that are not used to it. These are mostly Asian cultures where requests are formulated more indirectly and where western-style assertiveness is often seen as too direct.

If you manage a multicultural team, make sure to understand these different views of assertiveness and be careful when exerting assertiveness.

The Tone Challenge

Often times, in situations where you manage homogenous teams, you start (consciously or not) adopting different tones depending on the situation and the person you are talking to. Even in team communication, sarcasm, irony and other “complex” types of tone become a norm. Inside jokes, complaining and similar concepts are also present and they pose no problem.

With a multicultural team, this can become a problem, and very easily so. Humor and nuanced overtones get lost in translation before you can say “a massive lawsuit” and this can lead to all kinds of conflicts and uncomfortable situations.

Because of this, when managing a multicultural team, stick to the most neutral possible tone and use language that cannot be interpreted in more than one way.

The Decision-Making Challenge

One would think that at least decision-making is somewhat universal and that managers make their decisions in at least a similar way, regardless of the longitude or latitude. In reality, this is simply not the case.

For instance, in some cultures, managers are expected to be able to make decisions quickly and often without spending due diligence on all the ins and outs that go into making a decision. For instance, in the United States, this is seen as the epitome of strong leadership. In other cultures, managers are expected to gain far more insight before making a decision, often consulting team members and reaching some kind of a consensus.

It should also be pointed out that in some cultures, the decisions made by higher-ups are never disputed, even if they are clearly wrong; while in others, people will be more than ready to jump in and point out that a wrong decision was made.

As a multicultural team manager, you need to make sure everyone understands your decision-making process and you might also want to talk to individual team members to find out what they think about it and whether they are comfortable with it.

The Language Challenge

A multicultural team will operate in a language that was designed as the primary one. Some team members will be native speakers while others may not be. It might be their second or third language and even when their command of the official language is enviable, it will still not be their mother tongue and it may lead to problems.

For example, if such team members notice that some other team members are commenting on their language skills or showing any kind of bias due to the language barrier, they might feel less free to voice their opinions or provide any insights. They might feel discouraged or even discriminated in some way.

As a manager, you will want to do everything in your power to avoid this from happening. Everyone needs to be valued the same, regardless of their command of this “primary” language that you decided on. Of course, people should not have to decipher what is being said, but there also has to be understanding and tolerance. The good thing is that people always find a way to get the message across.

The “Technical” Challenge

In addition to the more culture-based and almost philosophical challenges, the manager of a multicultural team also needs to deal with the more mundane, technical issues. For instance, team members may be used to different kinds of software and work environment.

Something that a western team member may take for granted, like Google’s search engine may be completely unfamiliar to a team member from China, for example.

Then, there is also the matter of email etiquette which is different in different parts of the world. We must also not forget about time zones and the fact that people work at different times.

Soon enough, this can grow into this smorgasbord of management challenges that a manager needs to overcome in order for everything to run smoothly. This is where a good piece of project management software can go a long way and before you commit to any one, you will want to do some project management software comparison.

Conclusion

Managing a multicultural team can be challenging, there is no doubt about that. However, with a bit of care and common sense and with a lot of tact and preparation, you will soon discover that managing such a team can also be a fantastic experience.

About the Author

Nate Vickery, Bizzmark Blog

Nate Vickery is a business consultant mostly interested in latest technology trends applicable to SMB and startup management and marketing. Nate is also the editor at a business oriented blog BizzmarkBlog.com

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