Top Three ‘Millennial Workplace’ Trends Changing The Business Industry Forever

The millennial generation is one full of wonder and exploration that prides itself on growth and advancements rather than accepting its current ways and never pushing forward. Despite the menial flaws millennials possess that are all too often harshly scrutinized by previous generations, these young minds continue to shape the world as we know it today and create a brighter future because of it.

According to the historian and poet, Aberjhani, when speaking of this modern generation, “You are the hybrids of golden worlds and ages splendidly conceived.” Although this may seem like a bit much, the conception of the modern world has been through the hands of the revolutionaries of every generation. It will only continue to be molded and formed through the hands of the millennial youth now joining the workforce and making a difference one idea at a time.

However, perhaps the most heavily affected aspect of our modern generation isn’t within the fields these young minds work within but rather the way they work and the companies they choose to work for. With fresher ideals and a unique take on both work as well as employee engagement, the millennial workplace is certainly not like that of its predecessors and continues to change, becoming even more unique as each day passes.

Once you recognize the trends, you can see that the millennial workplace has transformed the job industry through the incorporation of modern consumer tech in business, through the addition of various other benefits on top of a working wage, and through the encouragement of eco-friendly initiatives in the workplace which promote collaboration and employee engagement in a way that actually helps our earth. With all of this in mind, it is no wonder that the millennial workplace and the trends that make it successful are currently the most popular trends in the business industry and the workforce it attains.

Incorporation of Modern Consumer Tech in Business 

When you typically think of virtual reality, you may automatically assume that this technology is simply utilized by gamers and the average consumer. However, with more millennials joining the tech industry than ever before thanks to a thriving STEM system, it is no wonder that this once game-oriented industry is now clashing head-on with the workforce and the many collaborative projects within it.

In fact, last year alone, a record $2.3 billion was invested in VR/AR technology, exceeding the previous year’s investments by over 140 percent. This correlates to a drastic demand in virtual reality and augmented reality devices and interfaces which have begun to be utilized in various business settings for various purposes, such as 3D model analysis, data visualization, product testing, and even international collaboration without the need for travel or a waste in travel expenses. With 3D model analysis using haptic gloves and CAVE technology, companies were finally able to test products and look at models in a more realistic manner without wasting materials to create prototypes.

Furthermore, with data visualization, companies have finally been able to view big data sets that otherwise would need to be drilled down or cropped to avoid the risk of data loss. In fact, although the chances of data loss through virtual reality interfaces are slim to none in comparison to their media-limited predecessors, there are multiple virtual data recovery companies that provide data recovery through interfaces such as VMware, making virtual reality data visualization the most secure and efficient data visualization tool of its kind.

Lastly, by removing the need for international travel in order to have meetings face to face and collaborate accordingly, virtual reality has significantly lowered the need for international business travel and reduced travel-related carbon emissions in our atmosphere likewise. Therefore, virtual reality has made a significant impact not only on the convenience of business technology but also on our environment and its health.

There are many other ways that modern technology has been incorporated into the business industry, but one of the most exciting ways is through the customer experience. By creating convenient technology, businesses have ultimately brought the consumers to them and made what once was a hassle far simpler for them to achieve. Some strategies businesses have incorporated include website building, optimizing videos for business sites, and even creating engaging content for small businesses.

For instance, by utilizing one of the various different website design companies out there to create an optimized site, consumers are now able to create their own engaging sites and content. This not only makes it easier for small businesses to grow but also makes it easier for the companies behind these products to earn money without hiring multiple web developers in the process. Another perfect example is the Javascript webcam and video ingest API by Clipchamp, a video technology company that has ultimately made video optimization for sites an easy and efficient process. By doing this, not only do small companies grow and ideas get shared more efficiently, but companies also are able to connect the average consumer with the tech industry and build a workforce and industry that is strongly connected to our society and ever-expanding within it.

Providing More Than Just a Wage 

All too often, millennials find themselves struggling to balance work, college, and finances whilst still pursuing their dream careers. However, modern millennial companies have chosen to tackle these obstacles one at a time to create a happier and more stable workforce that not only feels engaged at work but in their everyday lives as well. For instance, many property managers are often warned of the possibilities and liabilities of renting to millennials, making it often difficult for these young individuals to find places that aren’t directly provided for them by their colleges or family members. However, a recent statement release by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg proves that these new companies are hoping to provide their employees with more affordable and efficient lifestyles. According to Zuckerberg, the company is currently building an all-new Facebook Campus that will host 1,500 apartments, a complete downtown including a grocery store, restaurants, bars, daycare, and more where his employees will be able to stay as long as they work for the company.

Although this may seem outlandish and over-the-top in nature, this is simply yet another way that modern millennial companies are making a difference in their employees’ lives beyond their paychecks. Furthermore, according to a recent study, these companies continue to thrive and attract millennials due to the fact that they encourage ideas, embrace improvement even in management, allow their employees to be able to take vacations and sick days, create company health initiatives to keep employees in shape, and encourage employees to be able to talk with one another and collaborate in a far more relaxed and less quota-driven work environment.

Encouraging Eco-Friendly Initiatives and Telecommuting 

Despite all the initiatives which are simply there to make work more engaging, the incorporation of eco-friendly initiatives and telecommuting opportunities in modern business not only increases employee engagement and retention but also makes the world a healthier place by reducing carbon emissions and encouraging recycling and other green tactics.

For instance, a recent article highlighted a particular CEO that paid employees $2,000 to travel when working during particular times of the year. Not only did he say that his employees were more productive than ever, but he also said that they were beginning to incorporate green travel into their business likewise.

In fact, the greening of business travel and the encouragement of telecommuting has enabled many young individuals to become full-time travelers and experience the world — all while working for companies that respect them and their journeys. Furthermore, with such eco-friendly initiatives being encouraged in business travel and telecommuting, many people have begun to notice that millennials have reignited the RV market and have begun to adamantly encourage going green in your RV as well.

This not only has helped the economy and encouraged many older generations to sell their once-undesired recreational vehicles to the younger generation but also created a workforce that is not tied down to the typical constructs of a desk in an office. This inevitably allows these individuals the ability to travel, learn, grow, and use their experiences to their advantage in their current fields in order to solve problems and create advancements, which ultimately prove they are formulating a brighter future today.

In the end, the incorporation of these modern business tactics have made for a more engaged, proud, and determined workforce that is not stressed by the socioeconomic position they are in or the deadlines they face. Although it may be different, different is exactly what has made us who we are today and what has fueled some of the most inventive creations of our modern world. After all, creatives are simply flowers waiting to bloom, and, by adding water and nurturing them to grow, you can see just how vibrant and beautiful the future truly is.

Top 5 Trends in The “Convenience Technology” Market

Since the dawn of man, convenience has been the most common factor in the creation of advancements and societal progress. Perhaps, it is simply the human condition to want to develop more convenient ways to accomplish the same tasks we have done for centuries, or maybe we simply want to achieve more than we have in the past. No matter what the reason is, these advancements continue to grow and shape a brighter future for our world each and every day.

However, although the “convenience technology” market has been around for decades, each and every year, the tech industry introduces technological innovations more advanced and unique than the last. With this said, for 2017, five trends in the market reign supreme ranging from the way we drive all the way to the way we speak with one another. By looking at these trends, it may be possible to predict the future of the convenience technology market and utilize this information as tech professionals to be at the forefront of these trends as they transform and advance over time.


  1. Autonomy in Technology

The first autonomous vehicle was designed in the 1500s by Leonardo Da Vinci and was ultimately a self-propelled cart which was powered by two symmetrical springs. Then, in 1933, the “Mechanical Mike” aircraft autopilot was invented which allowed it’s creator, Wiley Post, to both navigate and fly at the same time.

From there, myriad different autonomous vehicles and forms of technology began to sprout up, leading to the 2015 Tesla autopilot cars which not only modernized the autonomous car but also raised the question of whether or not it was possible to create a completely autonomous transportation industry in the future.

According to a study by The Center for Internet and Society, human error is the explanation for over 90 percent of car accidents across the globe. With this said, the autonomous car market has continued to grow since 2015 with over 44 corporations working on autonomous vehicles as of 2017. In fact, the market has grown so significantly that it is projected to be worth 7.84 million units by 2021 and growing.

So, what is the setback which is currently hindering these corporations from making autonomous vehicles readily accessible to the masses? Unfortunately, despite the fact that, after reviewing the pros and cons of driverless cars, there isn’t much to be concerned about, there are still many individuals that believe these vehicles could be dangerous due to the fact that they would not only eliminate human error but also human inference. The main fear is that this could lead to multiple deaths yearly as these cars would assess the risks in swerving versus the risks in hitting objects — and potentially choose hitting the object over moving out of its way.

With this said, many people wonder if the cars will be able to discern the difference between saving your life and that of a small child who stumbles into the road. Furthermore, many others are concerned that the car would be solely logical and could potentially choose sacrificing its owners over causing the deaths of others. Although this may seem ideal as one life is not worth two or more, some owners believe self-preservation is far more important than autonomous convenience.

However, when reviewing this information, it is clear that the yearly car accidents and death rates would significantly decrease with the inclusion of autonomous cars on the roads, and the likelihood of sacrifices being made in such a drastic manner would be little to nothing as it is proposed that these cars would ultimately be smart enough in the future to notice the crashes or disasters before they are forced to resort to those kinds of measures.

Furthermore, as the first autonomous cars are being tested nationwide, the conversation has transitioned into what the countless opportunities are regarding these amazing vehicles. From drastically reducing transportation costs and truckers being far more safe and well-rested on the road all the way to flights that are no longer delayed due to understaffed airplanes and bad visibility, the opportunities to incorporate this smart technology into multiple modes of transportation are truthfully endless. With this said, this is just one of the many ways that the convenience technology market is truly making an impact on our world and the future of it.


  1. Self-Service

With time becoming such a valuable aspect of modern society, being able to create systems that make average daily tasks quicker and easier to perform allows us to save the precious time we once wasted and put it towards the things we feel actually matter, such as our careers, families, and pastimes. However, in 2017, this convenience and efficiency has reared its head in many ways, and it can sometimes be difficult to nail down just one or to analyze the pros and cons of these advancements.

However, when it comes down to the case of self-service technology, the debate is alive and well; the future of both our job industry as well as our tech industry may very well be on the line. The truth is that self-service technology is highly effective, relies on far less money and variables to be consistent, and makes many of our everyday tasks far easier and quick in the long run. However, some people believe that incorporating this technology in the hospitality industry could lead to a decrease in available jobs over time and take out the personal touches only a human employee could give to guests. On top of this, even more believe that the use of self-service kiosks will not only keep the minimum wage at its current low but possibly decrease it with time.

In fact, according to the former president and CEO of McDonald’s USA, Ed Rensi, “The push for a $15 starter wage has negatively impacted the career prospects of employees who were just getting started in the workforce while extinguishing the businesses that employed them. I wish it were not so. But it’s important to document these consequences, lest policymakers elsewhere decide that the $15 movement is worth embracing … Earlier this month, McDonald’s announced the nationwide roll-out of touch-screen self-service kiosks. In a video the company released to showcase the new customer experience, it’s striking to see employees who once would have managed a cash register now reduced to monitoring a customer’s choices at an iPad-style kiosk.”

However, these kiosks are extremely efficient and function in a very similar manner to any app on a cellphone might. On top of this, this reduces the rushes these employees once faced, as it makes it easier for cashiers to run food and makes it easier for cooks to know what the guests want likewise. Furthermore, with AI becoming a viable source for self-service technology as well, it is quite possible that, through big data, these machines could even make inferences and provide the personal touches these individuals find so lacking in current forms of self-service tech.

However, with the restaurant industry set aside, perhaps, one of the most significantly impacted industries will rather be the hospitality industry. In fact, a perfect example can be found at Japan’s Henn na Hotel where robots and self-service reign supreme. Granted, the technology is more comical at this point in time than anything else, but it is still a great way to see just how effective even the most ineffective technology can be in the hospitality industry, as the robots run the entire show themselves from check-in to check-out. With this being said, it is clear that self-service is a universal crowd-pleaser in the hotel industry. It makes it possible for guests to arrive later in the night, check themselves in so as to skip any lines, and get up to their room in a swift manner.

The main reason this is ideal is that it means that frequent travelers would finally be able to avoid some of the most annoying aspects of travel and simply be able to complete an automated process in order to get into their hotel rooms, finish their work, and head home. Furthermore, these kiosks can also help the hearing impaired as well as be programmed to know countless languages which can make the check-in process easy for far more individuals from across the globe. Because of these reasons, despite the fact that the kiosks could potentially take jobs away from individuals, the pros certainly outweigh cons, and, more than likely, it would actually mean less work for the same wages, based on the current market.


  1. Business Advancements

Although this may not come as a surprise to most individuals involved in the tech world, the business industry and convenient technology industry are two of the most perfectly intertwined industries. The idea that work can be easier through advancement is certainly not a new one but has rather been the precipice of business-related technology for quite some time, and any technology has been proven to be effective when manipulated into the business setting. From virtual reality data visualization like IViz  that allows us to take our big data to the next level all the way to user-friendly web development and design like magento development that helps create engaging sites such as Visit California, the advancements that have been made through the need for more convenient alternatives to everyday business tasks are immense.

In fact, according to Techvera, “CIO Magazine conducts an annual State of the CIO survey and gathers data to compile an average spending budget across numerous companies. For 2013, it found that the average IT budget, as percent of revenue, is 5.2%. This is a slight increase from the 2012 average, which was 4.7%. Overall, businesses seem to spend between 4-6% of their revenue on IT, and this range is recommended by CIO Magazine.”

Although autonomy in transportation and convenience in travel both significantly affect business in a positive way, one of the most affected aspects of the business industry is data analysis. Data analytics have not only evolved with the introduction of conveniences like virtual and augmented reality (in order to view and analyze large datasets), but also have been given multiple different ways to plug in data into various software and receive particular statistics and suggestions based on said data that would otherwise take days to analyze by hand. With this said, it is clear that the data analysis industry is one of the most affected by new convenience technologies.


  1. Remote and Secure Transactions

Businesses have always sought for better and faster ways to sell their products, and the internet has supplied them with just that for years now. By removing many of the variables that all too often lead to a no-sale situation, such as bad customer service, distance to the nearest store location, and time to think about said transaction when in the store and in line, you provide both the company and the user with a quick and efficient way to complete transactions.

However, recently, there has been a tremendous amount of identity theft cases leading to a certain consumer fear of relaying information on the web such as credit card details or home addresses. This, ultimately, has led to far less transactions being completed online and is rather absurd due to the fact that most modern companies understand how to have secure payment systems and provide their consumers with just that as they head to check-out.

Despite this, the need to create a remote and secure transaction process still remains, and, with technology constantly advancing, it may soon become possible for companies to use systems such as fully homomorphic encryption in order to not only provide security but sheer impenetrability as a whole. With this said, the opportunities to even further expand the online business market are practically endless. In fact, many companies, such as Gumtree, even market more heavily during Christmas time with articles such as “Quirky Christmas Gifts from Gumtree” due to the fact that Christmas shopping lines can be a complete and total pain, and online shopping completely eliminates these pain points whilst still retaining the deals and items the store provides. In the end, this online convenience not only provides consumers with an easier way to receive and purchase goods but also benefits the companies tremendously by making their products accessible to anyone and everyone.


  1. Social Interaction

With convenience technology playing such a vital role in our society, it is no surprise that even our social interactions are dictated by said tech. From a deep reliance on social media as well as a need for technology to be incorporated in every aspect of our lives, even the most bland parts of life have become heavily influenced by it. For instance, Instagram has become a major hub for people to share pictures of their meals with which, although it may seem normal to our modern society, is actually a fairly strange social interaction to have. After all, past generations did not share menial aspects of their lives in such a way, yet the ability to have a camera and a connection to the rest of the world at all times has made us want to share anything and everything.

In fact, according to a recent study by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, although the vast majority of our society utilizes social media primarily to talk with other people including our loved ones, we are actually incredibly lonely. Perhaps, the reason for this is due to the fact that humans crave human connection and touch, and technology simply cannot provide this — no matter how hard it tries. However, social media has also made it possible for us to share current affairs, become a more informed society, and even know about events as they are happening which, in the past, was practically impossible without the news reporting about it.

In this sense, social media has significantly affected our world in a positive way and made us a more connected society as a whole. However, it is important that we don’t forget our primal needs for human connection.

Furthermore, with such a dependence on technology in every aspect of our lives, it has even become quite common for technology to not only be taught in curriculum such as STEM programs but also be used to teach students various difficult subjects in a far more fun and engaging way. A perfect example of this is game-based online learning that takes classes which many students fail each and every year in college and turns them into fun, interactive games. These games reward students for correct answers and make both the testing and the learning process far more engaging overall.

In the end, there are multiple trends currently expanding upon the convenient technology market, but these five are certainly at the forefront and contenders for the best advancements our generation will have to offer our world. After all, technology is a way for us to bridge gaps and create paths that are easier and quicker than ever before. Why not take this concept and fly with it, so we can see what kind of a future our world has in store?

Top Contact Center Trends for 2017

The contact center industry is dynamic, as it evolves every year because of technological advancements, changing customer attitude and expectations, and very competitive players. It is a very unpredictable industry, to say the least, so it is a must for companies to be proactive and well-prepared in order to adapt to these changes. To gain insight as to where the contact center industry is headed this year, we can look at some of the facts and stats gathered in the past. This would allow decision makers to shape their business accordingly, enabling them to compete and even dominate in the said field.

The following are the top contact center trends for 2017:

Customer experience is still a top priority

A 2016 research by CFI Group shows that customers value quick issue resolution above anything else, and for them, that’s what makes a great customer experience. It matters more than agent knowledge or demeanor, or the usability/ease-of-use of the customer service interface. Around 63% of the people surveyed say “quick issue resolution” or “first contact resolution” determines if they are happy with the service or not.

What customers don’t really like is waiting: whether it is waiting on a call queue for an agent to pick up, getting put on hold while his issue is resolved, or waiting to be transferred to the right department. There’s no tried-and-tested way of quickly resolving customers’ problems, but there are ways to keep them “satisfied” while they wait. A good example would be RingCentral’s informative messages and music on hold. These audio recordings can keep them entertained and informed even on queue or while waiting to get transferred.

Customers are slowly losing patience

The average time we spend on hold is now around 56 seconds. It might not be that long, but when you’re the one waiting for an agent to pick up, every second just adds on to the frustration. A recent research found that 43% of Americans are willing to stay on the line for 1-5 minutes. Stretch that to 5-10 minutes, and only 39% will wait for you to get back on the line. Unfortunately, a third of those who were told to wait but ended hanging up in frustration will never call back.

Contact centers should be mindful of these numbers, as it translates directly to customer satisfaction and profit. Fortunately, there are ways to combat these problems, like using built-in analytics to anticipate higher call volume. You can allocate agents properly to accommodate callers. Informative messages and music on hold mentioned above also help pacify impatient callers. Lastly, make sure that callers get to the right agent the first time, to avoid transfers or escalations. A well-equipped IVR can do the job, as it helps direct callers to the person they intend to reach.

Even contact centers are going to the cloud

Perhaps one of the top trends to watch out for this year is the exodus of contact centers from the client’s physical premises to the cloud. Currently, 6 in 10 companies rely on a feature/variant of a cloud-based call center.  In the next four years, the cloud contact center industry is expected to expand threefold. More and more businesses are turning to these services to handle vital operations like sales, and after-sales support.

What prompted this move to the cloud? Companies are already seeing the importance of having a relatively affordable service to handle some of their business processes. Not to mention the fact that these cloud contact centers are globally scalable, so no matter how big your company gets, you are assured that your contact center can match your needs. Hosted services like these also have high security, like RingCentral’s seven layers of security, encompassing data encryption, infrastructure, as well as physical security.

Author’s Bio:

Ronald is a digital marketing specialist for RingCentral, a leading cloud phone system solution. Over the years, he has developed a keen interest on small business trends because of the nature of his work. You can find him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

10 E-Learning trends you need to know for 2017

In our technology-driven work oriented world, we have a busy and rapidly changing workplace where elearning should dominate. We are always online, hence our work becomes relentless and real-time. We must continue learning and become lifelong learners. It’s important for companies to provide a learning culture. Every company is interested in improving performance on the job and elearning can help them do that in a cost-effective manner.

Since employees across varied industries need to meet changing requirements, processes and to continually update and improve their skills to stay productive and not fall behind, it is key to know about the elearning trends of 2017.

1) Gamification and Games 

Gamification and games are more than just buzzwords in the elearning industry. A serious gamer may prefer to play a quick game on their smartphone or tablet while waiting on something or someone while a non-gamer is much less likely to ever play a game on the computer while at work.

According to Markets and Markets, the compound annual growth rate of the global gamification market is 46.3%, growing to $11.10 billion USD from a mere $1.65 billion in 2015.

According to the Entertainment Software Association, 63% of all US households are home to at least one person who plays video games  regularly (3 hours or more per week).

Games are a great way for organizations to provide a more engaging, memorable and motivating way to teach necessary industry knowledge to their employees that will help them grow professionally and succeed. And, this trend will gain significant pace in 2017.

2) Efficiency – Speed – Relevance – Usability

Learners need to learn quickly and efficiently. They want to skim and find what they don’t know and what they need to know. They want to absorb relevant information quickly and efficiently.  Since learners are facing time constraint, hence the demand for elearning software that is user-friendly will rise in 2017.

3) Content

In 2017, Learning will become more personalized to meet the demands of today’s busy lifestyles.  Collecting the right information is one thing and distributing it in the best and most easily accessible way is another.

Since learners want to learn anywhere, anytime, hence accessing learning content on tablet and smartphones is necessary. Today’s learner will not accept barriers, obstacles and rather insist on high-quality relevant content and ease of accessibility.

4) Data Analytics 

We need more than test scores and must have superior tracking and analytics. Integrating xAPI, adding a data scientist to the L&D team is going to be a gap that is expected to be filled in 2017. xAPI can assist L&D teams by providing a more holistic approach to measuring performance results. The focus will be on measuring what matters most, real and offer meaningful results.

5) Chatbots 

Chatbots will become more common in 2017 as they become more predictive, engaging and personalized. Chatbots will contribute to just-in-time support.

6) Instructor Led Training (ILD)

According to Brandon Hall Study, learning via online medium typically takes 40-60% less time than learning the same material in a traditional classroom.

Elearning or using a learning management system (LMS) increases retention rates by 25-60% while retention rates of face to face are very low at 8-10% in comparison, stated the Research Institute of America.

Believe it or not, ILD is still around and the industry is being forced to become very creative. It is no longer simply the traditional lecture style. It is now interactive and gamified in some way or other.

7) Storytelling 

Storytelling as part of the learning strategy will assume relevance in 2017 as it helps incorporate a wide variety of meaningful scenarios. This creates a stronger impact and inspires lasting behavior changes on learners.

8) Mobile 

Today, people are expected to learn and retain a large amount of information. Learners need to utilize their time well and having mobile reinforcement and mobile access to training allows them to learn anytime, anywhere and also on the go utilizing wait times which would otherwise be downtime. Hence, the demand for mobile learning platforms will grow at a rapid scale in 2017.

9) Video 

Do you remember those training libraries filled with VHS tapes? Today, we still utilize video-based training just in a different form that benefits us both in our personal and professional lives.

People use mobile devices as well as computers with WiFi or 4G/3G speeds to use for video-based training.

There has been an increased use of videos in corporate training and for 2017, we foresee a continued surge in the use of videos for both learning and performance support. Interactive videos have even better value. There are different ways to make them interactive such as having learners watch for a specific action in a video, note their observations and then compare it with an expert’s observations or have decision point questions or embed interactivity to achieve the desired learning activity and result.

Some Interesting Facts to know about elearning

  • With elearning, learners learn nearly 5x more material without increasing time spent in training said IBM. It also said that every dollar invested in online training results in $30 in productivity because employees are able to use their skills without any delay.
  • According to the Molly Fletcher Company, organizations that use elearning achieve an 18% boost in employee engagement.
  • Companies of all sizes are increasing their use of eLearningand more than 41.7% of global Fortune 500 Companies already use some form of technology to train their employees.
  • 72% of organizations believe that e-learning helps them increase their competitive edge by giving them the opportunity to keep up with changes, according to data published by net.
  • The Business Impact of Next-Generation eLearning, 2011 claimed that the revenue generated per employee is 26% higher for companies that offer training using technology, including elearning.

Conclusion

With so many interesting facts, it’s really hard to comprehend why any organization would not want to consider using eLearning to train its workforce. It is time for organizations to help their employees put their best foot forward to make their businesses succeed.

Author Bio: Kamy Anderson is an ed-tech enthusiast with a passion for writing on emerging technologies in the areas of corporate training and education. He has 7+ years of experience working with ProProfs learning management system and other eLearning authoring tools, which has given him a hands-on experience of the latest course authoring software and an exclusive insight into the eLearning industry.

Virtual and Augmented Reality: Transforming The Way We Look At The Internet and Data Security

Although many gaming and entertainment platforms have developed countless versions of VR in the last few years, the use of virtual reality is far from a solely game-driven industry. In fact, the implications of VR in the IT world are enough to provide solid proof that this form of virtual technology can be utilized in the business and tech sectors effectively and continuously alike.

However, despite the immaculate list of pros involved in virtual and augmented reality, the question of cyber and data security still remains. In 2016, the number of reported data breaches increased by 40 percent and 45 percent of all breached organizations were in the business sector. With a device such as a VR headset which is not commonly known to boast strong security systems, modern-day hackers can turn the IoT that these devices are connected to into a platform with which to wreak havoc on businesses, government officials, and even consumers.

cyber security

However, with every new case of data intrusion, yet another company stands tall and responds with a solution in order to make this form of technology safer in the interim. Furthermore, companies have begun to utilize things such as Steganography and SpatialOS to prevent rather than play offense in this cyber security war and the results are not only positive but also are reforming the way we look at the internet and technology as a whole.

Virtual and Mixed Reality in IT, Design, and Development

In the last few years, since the first virtual reality prototypes were released, companies and consumers alike have been unable to contain their excitement and their demand. In fact, in 2016, 6.3 million VR headsets were shipped across the globe according to a Super Data Report, and over $2 billion was invested in virtual reality according to a Digi-Capital report likewise.

The implications of virtual reality in business have been immense ranging from 3D modeling and testing all the way to 3-DAT data analysis that allows companies to use 3D VR techniques to assess financial and business data. In turn, the future of virtual and augmented reality continues to expand far beyond its original console-based reaches.

For instance, by utilizing CAVE fully immersive virtual reality along with Haptic gloves such as Neurodigital Technologies’ Gloveone showcased at CES and a motion tracker such as HTC’s VIVE tracker, you can not only test and manipulate models, products, and architectural designs but also be able to feel and interact with them as if they were real objects.

Furthermore, the University of Warwick’s Physics researcher, Richard Wellard, created a research company known as 3-DAT to help reduce the time it takes businesses to discover trends and find ways to improve their business model using 3-dimensional data. This kind of 3D technology can be used to track data for IT portfolio management and business model improvements and can help companies in the IT sector review massive amounts of data with ease.

After being part of a team of researchers from Warwick tasked with the difficult analysis of three-dimensional paths of charged particles in near Earth space, Wellard discovered that utilizing 3D technology to analyze the data reduced the time it took to not only compile but rather analyze said data in a far more efficient manner.

Therefore, he created a virtual reality 3D data modeling company dedicated to making data analysis a virtual effort and allowing companies the ability to actually see their data and determine multiple plans for improvement in far more efficient and interactive way. However, even utilizing software such as FileMaker integrated with RESTful API’s, IBM’s Watson Analytics, or Linux’s R or ROOT tools in the future can become wonderful ways to integrate programs currently being used by your business into a virtual platform for better analysis.

Another way companies have begun to utilize Virtual Reality is through its ability to connect various web design tools in order to make web design a far more interactive and easy-to-use process. Although some speculate this could mean a decline in the need for web designers in the next few decades, the market is still rather small and learning to integrate this new tool in your web design department now may help to gain the upper hand if it does become a more substantial form of design in the future.  By using VR design tools such as Javascript’s API, WebVR, and looking into some of the ways that Virtual Reality design can be used at Mozilla’s MozVR, you can begin to learn VR design on multiple platforms including the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Google Cardboard.

However, with any connection of devices with low-security standards, the threat of identity theft and data breaches still remains. With 6.3 million VR headsets connected to the IoT, the probability of a massive malware infecting said devices and infiltrating personal data from these headsets is immense and the actions that these VR and IT companies take in the next decade will significantly affect the security of their consumers, companies, and government alike.

Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and IoT – Is it Safe?

With the demand for Virtual Reality increasing daily, companies looking to be ahead of their competitors in the release of their VR technology chose to bypass many of the privacy and security standards that would make these devices far more safe to connect to the IoT and various other programs and applications in conjunction with them.

On the subject of supply and demand leading to security issues, Ben Smith, CEO of Laduma, stated, “As new developments are rushed to market in order to gain a lead on competitors, there is a risk that mistakes are being made.” Because of the massive popularity that Virtual and Augmented Reality has gained in the last few years, companies were forced to either put out products that were not necessarily secure or forego their inclusion in the massive VR market of 2016. However, it is no surprise that the connection of multiple insecure devices on a network creates a perfect entry for hackers to retrieve the massive amounts of data which Virtual Reality platforms both receive from the users themselves as well as collect without necessary consent for marketing purposes. In fact, Tata Communication’s Srinivasan CR once stated on the subject, “Every device connecting into a network is a potential vulnerability which can be used to infiltrate the network itself and other devices connected to it.”

When the Oculus Rift was released in March of last year, terms of their agreement stated that they would not only receive basic information from users but also far more personal information such as the user’s email, occupation, date of birth, and place of residence in order to build their marketing analytics and target these individuals based on their location, demographic, and interests. On top of this, Oculus Rift users are also tracked via their online transactions and web and app usage patterns in order for the company to specifically create targeted marketing campaigns that include your personal interests and items you either wanted to buy or need for the items you recently bought.

However, although the company claims to have substantial security measures in place, this collection of data in conjunction with the weak devices connected to the server create a massive opening for identity thieves, data manipulators, visual terrorism, and phishing alike. Furthermore, when using augmented reality such as Pokemon Go or Mixed Reality such as the recent creation from Dan Gottlieb, geolocation is highly important and this poses a threat for many individuals with weak security devices as this makes you traceable and can allow hackers to track your daily routine in order to attack you physically (think back to the people luring Pokemon Go players into alleyways and robbing them) or discovering information such as banks and other location that you frequent which can make stealing your identity even more effective.

Lastly, applications such as OpenSimulator Metaverse’s HyperGrid and Content Delivery Networks (CDN) are another way in which hackers have begun to attack VR users and their personal information. With OpenSimulator Metaverse’s HyperGrid, in particular, you are connected along with various other VR devices via hyperlinks, however, these links are often unsafe which allows for hackers to infiltrate the devices and intrude upon the data collected from them.

Similarly, CDN’s have begun to take hold in the VR world since E3 as they allow for companies to deliver content such as new videos with VR compatibility to their consumers using a system of distributed servers based on geolocation, however, DDoS CDN attacks have continued to rise in the last few years as hackers have discovered new ways to infiltrate the firewalls of these CDN’s and create forwarding-loop attacks likewise time and time again. With this said, utilizing CDN’s in VR could lead to countless infected devices and once again create a botnet which could lead to the leaking and theft of countless consumers’ personal data.

Visual Terrorism, Botnets, Facial Recognition, and Phishing

Although identity theft aspects regarding VR are fairly straightforward in nature, visual terrorism, botnets, facial recognition, and phishing are all slightly more unorthodox ways in which hackers have begun to utilize VR to their benefits. Although many consumers are unaware of these malicious forms of cyber attacks and how they work, they continue to pose a serious threat to VR users and companies across the globe.

Visual terrorism, in particular, is a large concern of multiple countries due to the fact that it consists of intensifying the negative effects that using VR have on a person including dizziness, nausea, muscle twitching, blurred vision, headaches, and seizures. By hacking into weak devices and spreading malware that creates loud flashes, bright colors, or spinning screens, hackers can create mass visual attacks on VR users and even be the cause of some consumer’s deaths in the process.

Furthermore, a team of researchers from the University of North Carolina recently discovered a new way to bypass modern face authentication by using synthetic faces displayed on the screen of a VR device. In the past, facial authentication systems were used in multiple different ways including mobile payment and sensitive data safety precautions for larger companies, however, these past recognition softwares could be easily fooled by the use of a picture in from of the screen. However, now these devices focus on nearly 80 different nodes in a person’s face and textures to analyze their faces in a far more complex manner.

Despite this, the University of North Carolina was able to take a few pictures from each of their tested individuals’ social media accounts and create highly accurate 3D models that were then displayed on the screen of a VR device and put up to the camera of the device looking to achieve facial recognition. In doing so, all five apps that were tested were unaware of the difference between the real thing and the 3D model posing yet another unconventional yet highly terrifying security threat for companies and consumers alike.

Similarly, phishing is another way that hackers can utilize this tech for their malicious intent. Phishing is a technique in which hackers create false identities in order to trick individuals into doing things they would not normally do. For instance, by hacking into VR headsets and using fake virtual objects or pretending to be updates for the system, consumers may unwittingly deploy trojans into the network or leak their passwords to hackers leading to a far easier entry way for hackers to manipulate data in the cloud.

Another threat which has been seen quite often in the last year within the IoT, in particular, are botnets spreading malicious malware such as Mirai into connected devices leading to massive DDoS attacks. Mirai malware, in particular uses a table of nearly 60 common factory default usernames and passwords to target devices with weak security and infect them with the malware. From there, these devices monitor a command and control server to to bypass anti-DoS software.

Along with BASHLITE, Mirai Malware infected a myriad of weak cameras connected to Krebs on Security in September of last year and had the largest attack strength in history at 665 Gbps, however, this was far from the most powerful attack on the IoT performed by this malware. In October, only one month after the attack on Krebs on Security, Mirai Malware infected countless more devices and previously infected cameras from the Krebs attack combined with these newly infected devices and joined a network which included multiple high-profile companies on a DNS service provider known as Dyn. This led to the inaccessibility of multiple large websites including Github, Twitter, Spotify, Reddit, Netflix, and more.

This attack set a new record that was staggering at best clocking in with an attack strength of 1.2 Tbps. In response, ARM CEO, Simon Segars, stated, “If you’re a device maker building IoT products, you really ought to be worrying about updating the firmware that’s in it.” In fact, ARM has since then developed Mbed Cloud to help companies push updates to their device’s chips and customize OS in order to prevent malware attacks such as the DDoS attacks on Dyn and Krebs.

On top of this, multiple other companies have begun to take botnet security extremely seriously implementing new devices and programs to prevent data intrusion and DDoS attacks alike. Securifi, launched January 23rd of this year, in particular, has decided to help the IT professionals looking to utilize VR or retrieve data for their company at home by creating a device which specifically defends against botnets to ensure that your home devices with weak security are not affected by hackers in the long run.

What We Learned From Mirai Malware

One key thing that IT professionals as well as both Dyn and Krebs on Security were able to determine by analyzing the attacks was that they primarily came from cameras and DVR’s with weak security. The issue with this is the fact that it showed us that weak security home devices, in particular, are what Mirai tends to target. With this being said, the push for VR without following proper security measures as well as its dependence on the average consumer whom typically does not focus on security and utilizes weak passwords or default settings all too often may be the perfect formula for malware such as Mirai to create its third record-setting DDoS attack.

In fact, multiple companies claim that this attack proves that AI’s utilized in weak security devices like VR headsets and cell phones will undoubtedly be the next systems attacked by malware and hackers in 2017. On the subject, Alex Matthews of Positive Technology even said, “AI agents will be, perhaps, the most dangerous VR objects. AI is a hard task for security checks since the range of its actions and reactions could be pretty wide.” With this said, it is no stretch to assume that 2017 will be the year of VR data breaches and the companies combatting it will continue to help businesses utilize VR without the fear of becoming a victim of data intrusion in the process leading to a continuation in the expansion of VR technology and its profitability alike.

Similarly, after Krebs on Security was attacked, Brian Krebs stated, “The internet will soon be flooded with attacks.” Despite this seeming rather dark in nature, Krebs and the countless other IT professionals witnessing the effects of connecting weak devices to the IoT may not be far off. By analyzing data from attacks such as these two and learning how to counteract them, we can ensure that the millions of VR users out there including the countless professional settings which utilize this new tech for data analysis specifically are not the next target for the malicious world of hackers and their botnets alike.

Using SpatialOS, Steganography, Cloud Security, Botnet and IoT security, and Load Balancing to Promote Data Security

As data security has become an issue in VR through the IoT and multiple companies have seen the incredible impact VR can have on data analysis, 3D modeling, and more, therein lies a disparity between security and insecure devices which multiple companies are choosing to tackle head-on. For instance, when two representatives from the British government came to the company Improbable in order to use their SpatialOS to create a 3D model of the internet, Improbable rose to the occasion with style.

By using SpatialOS, they were able to demonstrate a dynamic model of Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) at scale and study it for various weak spots in order to determine where hackers could attack or were attacking currently. In doing this, they were able to prevent multiple data breaches before they ever became a problem and the use of this form of 3D modeling continues to be an impressive but extremely useful tool for governments to regulate weak devices and the companies providing them.

Furthermore, with companies hopping on the VR bandwagon left and right, accessing data remotely to work from home on virtual models or the testing of products using 3D technology is slowly becoming yet another way for hackers to attack the weak VR devices and access sensitive information from companies world wide. Therefore, the use of steganography in files which can be shared to the VR such as audio or video is slowly becoming a more common process.

With so many of these VR devices connecting to the cloud to become a part of the IoT, companies have tried to target the weak points in cloud security in order to protect these connected devices. However, because of the sheer amount of data being provided, some individuals speculate that using PCI DSS security standards and data anonymization techniques are our only hope at combatting data insecurity.

For instance, with PCI DSS data security standards, they tend to focus on ways to build cloud security as well as CDN security and increase concurrent users and the reliability of apps by load balancing likewise. Furthermore, Teesside University’s Joao Ferreira is a huge proprietor of data anonymization and has even said in the past, “New data anonymization techniques will be required so that the new data being collected by VR devices does not identify its originator.”

Lastly, IoT security measures to prevent botnets have slowly risen in the tech world. In turn, devices such as F-Secure and Norton’s Geodesic Dome have been developed. These devices prevent  your weak home and office tech from being hacked into and also support IoT and cloud security likewise. By using these devices in office VR endeavors, companies can ensure their VR headsets are safe no matter how insufficient the actual technology may be and reap the benefits of virtual reality in business without the unfortunate consequences all too often associated with it in return.

In the end, it is not surprising that these incredible virtual and augmented reality headsets are becoming the bricks with which the future of technology in business is paved. However, by knowing where to step on this road and ensuring you remain safe in the process, you can continue on into the future without falling victim to the crippling effects a data breach can have on your business. With this said, the future is now, virtual reality is finally a reality, and the impact on the internet, security, and our lives that it will have continues to expand each and every day.

Conference Call Statistics

While it is true that internet technology is fast shrinking the size of the world into a local community, communication technologies have plugged into the global opportunities created to facilitate face-to-face digital communications via conference calls.
The rise and adoption of conference calls by digital communication companies has made it possible for business executives to chat or hold business discussions with employees and partners worldwide – and at the cheapest rates possible. Consumers also prefer engaging in conference calls because they pay the lowest rate imaginable or exempted from paying anything most of the time.

Statistics on how conference calls have impacted businesses and consumers

Official statistics reveal that 87% of businesses and consumers who rely on conference calls for instant communication prefer it to face-to-face communication where distance is an issue. To this extent, the following are some of the stats on the use of conference calls and how it has impacted everyone from around the world:

Video web conferencing and phone conference calls go hand-in-hand 75% of the time

Considering the rate at which business managers adopt the use of conference calls and video web conferencing, official stats reveal that both digital communications go hand-in-hand 75% of the time. Depending on the purpose and budget for the calls, business managers may decide to phone conference calls which are much cheaper than video web conferencing which require screen chats and costlier.

Users use web conference at least once per week with a 45% adoption rate

The problem with using conference calls or alternatively video web conferencing is that it is very addictive. You get hooked on it once you try it, and the positive user experience causes you to rely on their use than having to travel to communicate with your staffs or loved ones.

Conference calls save 30% in travel costs and 70% of employees prefer its use

Hundreds of auto accidents are prevented annually with the use of conference calls to engage in instant communications with people around the world simultaneously. To this extent, conference calls save users 30% in travel costs not to mention the fact that 70% of company employees around the world prefer using it because of the convenience and ease attached to its use.

For 96% of remote workers, they insist conference calls improve productivity

A 2015 survey showed that 68% of millennial job seekers would turn down job offers where remote work is not possible, while 96% of remote workers say the use of conference calls and video web conferencing improve productivity. Remote teams can send files via emails and other IM platforms and there is increased collaboration with the use digital collaboration work tools.

A survey of 75% business organizations reveal they consider the use of conference calls

Business organizations now admit conference calls and its alternatives help them save money, promote employees health, and increase productivity while enhancing global collaboration. About 75% of surveyed business organizations say they consider adopting conference calls among their global workforce to save time, money and improve results.

In a related study, researchers stated that conference calls have come to stay and may soon replace web conferencing since you don’t necessarily need a computer for connecting conference calls. In the final analysis, conference calls appear to be much cheaper than web conferencing and many businesses could use the extra saving.

It must be pointed out that what is suitable for one company may not be for the other, so businesses would do best to research on their needs and the options available for meeting such needs. Web conferencing among other digital networking communication systems has its place in daily business, but conference calls is surely the way to go.

Ultimately, conference calls are cheap and affordable; they are quick and easy to set up; and you can connect an unlimited number of people from within and outside the country simultaneously. You can save the names of people to call in advance and with the touch of a button connect tens of them without hassles. The clarity of voice calls will awe all call participants and you can be certain conference calls are the next in-thing in today’s businesses.

Sources

7 Must-Know Video Conferencing Statistics


http://visiplevc.com/blog/the-rise-of-web-conferencing-5-stats

Smart Home Trends And Statistics

Up until recently, all the hype surrounding the smart home movement was just that – publicity driven by technology companies in an effort to entice consumers. For years it seemed as though something were missing from the equation.

Now the field lies at the intersection of several high-tech trends, which finally appear to have reached a level of maturity and sophistication that they lacked in the past. As demonstrated at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), held in January in Las Vegas, many of the products now on the market represent a big step up from what was possible before.

The home automation arena is expected to be one of the largest tech growth sectors for the next five years. The website Statista has compiled some of the market statistics. Currently, Americans spend an average of $350 per year on smart home devices and services. At the beginning of 2017, 32.5 percent of US homes had voice-activated smart devices. That number is expected to double by 2021. Reports estimate that a total of $14.649 million in revenue can be expected for smart home products before the end of 2017.

At the heart of the newest “smart” goods are improvements in speech recognition technology. They enable a more natural interface than touchscreens or keypads and are widely deployed in today’s digital assistants, like Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana. This is important because a new study from Coldwell Banker shows that 72 percent of Americans want to use voice control to interact with their smart home equipment. Perhaps they’ve become familiar with this means of operating their gadgets after trying it out with their cellphones. Parks Associates has found that 39 percent of those with smartphones use voice recognition technology.

While computer hardware and software providers were the initial leaders in popularizing voice-enabled digital assistants, the crown now sits atop the head of e-retailer Amazon. Its Echo speaker and Alexa assistant have proven especially popular with the public, selling more than 5 million units since introduction in 2014. What makes the Echo so enviable is that it’s designed to play nicely with other automated home equipment, offering users a single platform from which they can access all their smart devices. Moreover, Amazon has opened the architecture up to third-party developers, who have released thousands of “skills” for Alexa, expanding “her” capabilities. With a large installed user base and the ability to add more features going forward, Amazon is a key player to watch in 2017 and beyond.

Voice recognition systems use advanced artificial intelligence principles to try to understand what users want based on conversational context cues and the history of previous commands. AI has evolved to the point where it’s capable of using sophisticated algorithms and vast troves of data to communicate and solve problems. In software like the Vivint Sky app, an algorithmically-driven agent is able to ask the user questions and thereby learn his or her behavioral patterns. For homeowners and business professionals alike, this type of AI will soon add a layer of functionality and intelligence to connected devices that enhances all aspects of everyday life. In fact, Gartner analysts estimate that by 2020, 85% of customer interactions will be managed without a human.

Now that cloud computing allows thousands or millions of devices to communicate with each other, they can share their data and experiences to act even smarter than when they first came out of the box. Gartner Research foresees more than 20 billion devices connected through the IoT by 2020. This much quantity becomes itself a kind of quality as large databases of data empower cutting-edge analysis and learning protocols.

Security cameras are some of the electronic systems that stand to benefit the most from advances in artificial intelligence. Several models shown at CES incorporate facial recognition features, allowing them to differentiate between residents and intruders. The momentum this year is toward combining multiple elements into one camera, like integration with lighting systems and motion sensors. Anything that allows a camera to better focus in on and capture events as they unfold has applications in security monitoring. 360-degree fields of view are another compelling reason to invest in the current crop of all-knowing surveillance cameras.

Smart lights mean no more stumbling around in the dark. Bulbs from Lifx produce normal, visible illumination as well as infrared light, which allows cameras to see clearly even at nighttime. Other units contain motion detectors so that your outdoor lights will brighten if you’re moving around your property. Smart thermostats meanwhile keep tabs on the home environment, tracking and informing users of temperature, humidity, air quality and other metrics that contribute to human comfort and well-being. Although there’s little hard data yet on just how effective smart thermostats are, findings seem promising – residents who use them report energy savings of approximately $135 per year.

The best innovations from multiple areas of research are coming together to make the smart home dream a reality. This fact is perhaps nowhere as evident as it is at major trade shows, like the 2017 CES. After reviewing the exciting innovations on display, it becomes clearer than ever before that home automation systems and products will continue to grow significantly in popularity, flexibility, and convenience.