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Why the Edge is Key to Unlocking IoT’s Full Potential – ReadWrite

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Paul Butterworth


To IoT’s great benefit, edge computing is about to take the spotlight. Consider that each day billions of devices connected to the Internet of Things come online. As they do, they generate mountains of information. One estimate predicts the amount of data will soar to 79.4 zettabyes within five years. Imagine storing 80 zettabytes on DVDs. All those DVDs would circle the Earth more than 100 times.

In other words, a whole lot of data.

Indeed, thanks to the IoT, a dramatic shift is underway. More enterprise-generated data is being created and processed outside of traditional, centralized data centers and clouds. And unless we make a course correction, the forecasts could come unglued. We must make better use of edge computing to deal more effectively with this ocean of data,

Network Latency

If we do this right, our infrastructure should be able to handle this data flow in a way that maximizes efficiency and security. The system would let organizations benefit from instantaneous response times. It would allow them to use the new data at their disposal to make smarter decisions and — most importantly — make them in real-time.

That’s not what we have nowadays.

In fact, when IoT devices ship their data back to the cloud for processing, transmissions are both slow and expensive. Too few devices are taking advantage of the edge.

Traffic Jam: The Cloud

Instead, many route data to the cloud. In that case, you’re going to encounter network latency measuring around 25 milliseconds. And that’s in best-case scenarios. Often, the lag time is a lot worse.  If you have to feed data through a server network and the cloud to get anything done, that’s going to take a long time and a ton of bandwidth.

An IP network can’t guarantee delivery in any particular time frame. Minutes might pass before you realize that something has gone wrong. At that point, you’re at the mercy of the system.

Data Hoarding 

Until now, technologists have approached Big Data from the perspective that the collection and storage of tons of it is a good thing. No surprise, given how the cloud computing model is very oriented toward large data sets.

The default behavior is to want to keep all that data. But think about how you collect and store all that information. There is simply too much data to push it all around the cloud. So why not work at the edge instead?

Cameras Drive Tons of Data – Not All of Which We Need

Consider, for example, what happens to the imagery collected by the millions of cameras in public and private. What happens once that data winds up in transit? In many – and perhaps most – instances, we don’t need to store those images in the cloud.

Let’s say that you measure ambient temperature settings that produce a reading once a second. The temperature reading in a house or office doesn’t usually change on a second-by-second basis. So why keep it?  And why spend all the money to move it somewhere else?

Obviously, there are cases where it will be practical and valuable to store massive amounts of data. A manufacturer might want to retain all the data it collects to tune plant processes. But in the majority of instances where organizations collect tons of data, they actually need very little of it. And that’s where the edge comes in handy.

Use the Edge to Avoid Costly Cloud Bills

The edge also can save you tons of money. We used to work with a company that collected consumption data for power management sites and office buildings. They kept all that data in the cloud. That worked well until they got a bill for hundreds of thousands of dollars from Amazon.

Edge computing and the broader concept of distributed architecture offers a far better solution.

Edge Helps IoT Flourish in the era of Big Data

Some people treat the edge as if it were a foreign, mystical environment. It’s not.

Think of the edge as a commodity compute resource. Better yet, it is located relatively close to the IoT and its devices. Its usefulness is precisely due to its being a “commodity” resource rather than some specialized compute resource. That most likely takes the form of a resource that supports containerized applications. These hide the specific details of the edge environment.

The Edge Environment and Its Benefits

In that sort of edge environment, we can easily imagine a distributed systems architecture where some parts of the system are deployed to the edge. At the edge, they can provide real-time, local data analysis.

Systems architects can dynamically decide which components of the system should run at the edge. Other components would remain deployed in regional or centralized processing locations. By configuring the system dynamically, the system is optimized for execution in edge environments with different topologies.

With this kind of edge environment, we can expect lower latencies. We also achieve better security and privacy with local processing.

Some of this is already getting done now on a one-off basis. But it hasn’t yet been systematized. That means organizations must figure this out on their own by assuming the role of a systems integrator. Instead, they must embrace the edge and help make IoT hum.

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How an Intranet Will Consolidate Multiple Disparate Software Applications – ReadWrite

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Frank Landman


The average employee uses between 10 and 20 individual software applications throughout the course of their day. This makes sense considering modern businesses run on software. However, using too many individual applications stifles productivity by wasting time, which subsequently wastes payroll dollars. For instance, employees use separate applications for the following tasks:

  • Time tracking
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
  • Email marketing
  • Shopping carts
  • Email
  • Direct messaging with team members
  • Video conferencing
  • Invoicing
  • Document storage
  • Client communication
  • Knowledge base
  • People directory
  • Document collaboration
  • Announcements
  • Accounting
  • Scheduled appointments
  • And more

When teams are required to use all of these applications separately, productivity suffers. Using applications that combine multiple features will strengthen productivity, especially for remote teams.

Increase productivity by using fewer applications

Using fewer applications will increase productivity, but that doesn’t mean you need to stop using the features you need. The ideal solution is to find software applications that provide multiple functions. For example, many popular CRM software applications provide email marketing, sales process management, a shopping cart system, and more.

Similarly, there are company intranet solutions that combine communications needs. One of those solutions is Happeo. Happeo is an internal collaboration platform that allows teams to work productively in a secure environment. The platform combines many functions like document storage, a knowledge base, a people directory, announcements, and document collaboration.

Many useful features not native to Happeo can be plugged into the network using integrations. For example, Happeo integrates with Google Workspace (formerly G Suite), which gives teams access to Google Workspace features from within the intranet, eliminating the time required to switch between applications to perform tasks.

If you haven’t implemented a company intranet like Happeo, you’re missing out on a massive increase in team productivity.

How does an intranet increase team productivity?

An intranet increases team productivity by improving communication and engagement, maintaining mobility for your remote workers, and supporting better collaboration. In other words, an intranet mitigates the challenges that halt productivity, especially for remote workers.

The most significant impact comes from the reduction of applications used throughout the day. For instance, when a team member has to switch from one application to another, it could take anywhere from 30 seconds to a couple of minutes, depending on where the application is located and what steps are required to log in. If multi-factor authentication is required, it could take up to five minutes.

A few minutes here and there doesn’t seem like a big deal, but those minutes add up quickly. If a team member uses ten separate applications that take one minute to switch between, and they use each application twice per day, that’s twenty minutes wasted just switching between applications. That adds up to 3.33 hours per pay period per employee. For a team of 15 employees, that’s 50 hours per pay period wasted.

What are the benefits of increased productivity?

Aside from the obvious increase in ROI, productive teams offer many benefits to their company, company clients, end users, and other team members.

Productive teams make their companies look good

Productive teams get results that get companies noticed. Companies that build a positive, in-demand reputation based on their high-quality work are seen as leaders in their industry.

In the corporate world, many companies are on strict client deadlines that aren’t always realistic, but productive teams get pretty close to the goal. On the other hand, unproductive teams won’t be anywhere near the goal when the deadline hits, and they usually have to do plenty of apologizing to their clients. This drastically reduces the client’s potential to recommend that company to their colleagues and friends.

Productive teams create and manage expectations realistically. They can estimate the time it will take to complete a project, including accounting for inevitable breakdowns. This means they’ll have an easier time meeting client expectations because a productive team will set those expectations correctly from the start.

Productive teams make end users happy

Productive teams tend to produce better quality work, which makes end users happy. For example, end users don’t want to start using a new software application only to find a bunch of bugs that should have been taken care of prior to release.

Part of what makes a team productive is a lack of unnecessary back-and-forth to solve problems. Productivity stems from efficiency, and efficient teams handle issues as they arise to full completion.

When a team completes a project designed to be used by end users beyond the client, there’s no room for sloppy mistakes. The client will be held accountable by their end users for anything that goes wrong even though it’s not the client’s fault.

Only a productive team can produce a project that will make end users happy.

Productive teams create happy clients

Productive teams get their work completed on time and in full to deliver stellar projects to clients. When clients are impressed with high level work that gets delivered on time, they’re happy.

Happy clients matter because they are likely to order more work and refer your products and services to others.

An intranet will reduce your operating costs

How many different software applications are you paying a monthly fee to use? Considering most popular software applications are subscription-based, you’re likely using at least five—and that’s a conservative estimate. If access to each software application costs $20 to $100 per month, that’s $100 to $500 per month (or more if you use more apps) that you may not need to spend.

Using an intranet can help you combine many of the software fees you’re paying unnecessarily to separate entities. Your teams will need time to adapt to new software, but once they get going, they’ll find it easier to use an intranet for everything.

Don’t let the subscription model drain your software budget

Every company wants the best software for their teams, but that doesn’t mean you have to buy the most expensive software on the market. You may not even need some of the features offered by some software applications.

The subscription software market is big. Digitalist Magazine projected that by 2022, 53% of all software sales will come from subscriptions. For most companies, there’s no way around buying subscription software. While an intranet will combine many disparate software applications for you, it won’t replace every subscription software you need. That’s why it’s important to take stock of your current applications to see if you have overlap with your intranet and if not, start looking for a cheaper option.

Don’t drain your budget by thinking you need to buy a subscription to every popular application on the market. There are other options, even some that don’t require a monthly fee. It’s hard to find, but there are software developers who sell their applications for a one-time fee.

However, when it comes to getting a cloud-based company intranet, you’ll probably need to pay a monthly subscription fee. Although, you’ll be saving money by condensing the number of applications you use, so it’s worth every penny.

Company intranets are the future of productivity

Corporations have been using intranets for decades to provide teams with information, files, training materials, and ways to communicate. Until recent years, intranets were largely hosted on-premises on the same server that ran the company network.

Although many companies still utilize on-premises servers to manage private, secure networks, cloud-based intranets are the future. The enterprise collaboration market is expected to grow from $31 billion (2019) to $48.1 billion by 2024.

If you haven’t implemented an intranet for your teams, it’s time. Businesses are rapidly moving to a remote team structure, and an intranet is the best way to keep remote teams connected and productive.

Frank Landman

Frank is a freelance journalist who has worked in various editorial capacities for over 10 years. He covers trends in technology as they relate to business.

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How Entrepreneurship Became Democratized (and Where It Goes From Here) – ReadWrite

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Nate Nead


Over the past 20 or 30 years, entrepreneurship has become democratized—and that’s a great thing, for the most part. But if we’re to better understand the tenets of entrepreneurial democratization and keep pushing for positive changes, we need to delve deeper into this topic. 

What exactly is entrepreneurial democratization? How did it develop? And where can it go from here? 

What Is Entrepreneurial Democratization? 

Let’s start with the term entrepreneurial democratization. Democracy is a system of government we’re all familiar with—one in which every individual has a say. But democratization in this context refers to accessibility; in other words, how easy is it for a person to engage in this activity? 

Democratized entrepreneurship means it’s easy for people to start businesses of their own, regardless of their background, their current income level, their previous knowledge and experience, and other factors. Over the years, this has increased sharply; today, almost anyone can start a business with minimal hurdles, depending on the model they choose. 

Why Is Entrepreneurial Democratization Important? 

Why is this an important topic? Democratized entrepreneurship offers a lot of advantages. For individuals, it means more freedom and flexibility when it comes to starting businesses. If you’re down on your luck, unemployed with no savings, you still have a chance to make something of yourself by creating a business from scratch. If you’ve spent 30 years building a career in one specific niche, you can still pivot and try to start something new. 

It’s also important from a societal, economic, and cultural perspective. More accessible entrepreneurship means more people are going to be interested in starting businesses. New businesses lead to further technological innovation, more job creation, and profound economic growth in surrounding areas. 

So what is it that spurred this great age of democratized entrepreneurship? 

Website Builders and the Information Age

First, we need to acknowledge the role of the internet and all the marvelous tools that have come along with it. These days, it’s easy to build a website thanks to the prevalence of website builders. Using one of these innovative tools, you can design your website for free using basic templates—even if you have no previous coding or design knowledge and no money to pay a professional for help. 

It’s also enormously beneficial to be able to consult the entirety of the internet when researching your business plan and making plans for the future. With a simple Google search, you can instantly see who your competition is, learn more about your target demographics, and even find a business plan template that you can use as a starting point for your work. 

Marketing Tactics and Outreach

The internet has also changed the landscape of marketing and advertising. These days, digital marketing reigns supreme. With even a small budget, an entrepreneur can easily invest in a strategy that has the power to propel their business to competitive dominance. You can focus on writing and popularizing online content and optimize your site for search engines, practicing search engine optimization (SEO) to rank higher and earn more organic traffic. You can leverage the power of social media platforms, where it’s free to create an account and make new posts. You can also tap into pay per click (PPC) ads to drive guaranteed traffic to your site for a fixed fee per visitor. 

The diversity of marketing options, the low costs, and the low barriers to entry here make it easier than ever to support a growing business.  

Entrepreneurial Interest 

We’re also seeing a new wave of entrepreneurial interest. People have always been interested in starting their own businesses, whether they want to make a lot of money or just have more flexibility in their daily schedule. But we’re seeing a massive resurgence of entrepreneurial interest that has created an environment that’s even more favorable to launching a new business. 

For example, there are dozens of entrepreneurial podcasts to listen to. There are probably countless meetup groups and organizations in your city. There are hundreds of channels where you can find mentorship, peer support, and guidance. No matter where you look, you’ll be able to find encouragement when starting a new business. 

Education 

These days, it’s possible to start a business with minimal education. You don’t need a formal background in business. You don’t need a master’s degree. All you need is a great idea, a solid understanding of business financials, and the confidence to make a compelling presentation to the people who might fund or support your business. 

Loans and Financial Accessibility

This is also an era of unprecedented financial accessibility for entrepreneurs. For starters, we should acknowledge that it’s cheaper to start a business than it’s ever been before. You don’t need a physical retail space; you can sell online. You don’t need a factory to produce goods; you can sell digital services. You don’t even need an office space; you can operate remotely. And you can call upon countless online tools and educational resources to get almost everything you need for free. 

If you do need more money to start a business, it’s relatively easy to get it. Business loans have lax requirements and low interest rates, and active angel investors and VCs are always looking for the next hot startup. 

The Spark of Innovation 

Modern innovation looks different than innovation of the past. To truly innovate 30 years ago, you might have needed to invest millions of dollars into a factory, utilizing some relatively unknown chemical process to make new materials. These days, you can innovate just by writing a new piece of software. 

It’s possible for a single individual to innovate and make technological progress, even with limited experience. A single app can change the world. 

Incubators and Accelerators

Have you noticed any new incubators or accelerators in your city? I’m guessing you have. These organizations are dedicated to helping entrepreneurs succeed, giving them mentorship, direction, advice, and sometimes even funding to make their business plan a reality. And they’re becoming much more popular. Knowing that such an organization exists might be enough to push someone over the edge, encouraging them to pursue entrepreneurship. Getting involved with an accelerator or incubator can also greatly increase your chances of success and give you a chance to help other entrepreneurs like you along the way. 

Software Tools

In addition, the software tools (and the comparison sites that promote them) for small business are extensive, making it easy to find something that fits a need. Today’s entrepreneurs have a multiplicity of tools that are table stakes for managing a small business (e.g. CRM, marketing, finance, etc.). But sometimes overwhelming to make a decision due to analysis paralysis. Luckily, other entrepreneurs can help provide the reviews and feedback to help for quick decision making, which is one of the biggest boon for small business owners. Most entrepreneurs make decisions based on recommendations.

What’s Next? 

Where does it go from here? If we’re lucky, entrepreneurship should become even more democratized. This trend has built a lot of momentum over the years, and it’s likely to accelerate even further. These are just some of the developments that could help it flourish: 

  • Democratized ownership. One key avenue of development could be democratized ownership. Right now, if you want a piece of a company, you’ll have to put in assets of your own as a venture capitalist, angel investor, or similar interested party. Otherwise, you might have access to stock options as an employee if the company eventually goes public. But in the near future, we could see a model that incorporates the blockchain and tokenization to grant employees and partners even more access. 
  • Diversified VC portfolios. Modern venture capitalists are hungry for tech unicorns, and they tend to be fixated on certain types of business models. In the future, we could substantially benefit form an environment with more diversified and distributed portfolios. 
  • New funding models. We could also see the development of new funding models entirely. Equity crowdfunding is already possible (even though you’ll have to jump through some hoops to make it happen), so we could easily see development along these lines in the future. 

Hopefully, we’ll continue to see entrepreneurship become further democratized. With more people starting businesses, more people investing in businesses, and more people interested in entrepreneurship in general, we could see marked economic benefits for decades to come. 

Nate Nead

Nate Nead is the CEO & Managing Member of Nead, LLC, a consulting company that provides strategic advisory services across multiple disciplines including finance, marketing and software development. For over a decade Nate had provided strategic guidance on M&A, capital procurement, technology and marketing solutions for some of the most well-known online brands. He and his team advise Fortune 500 and SMB clients alike. The team is based in Seattle, Washington; El Paso, Texas and West Palm Beach, Florida.

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How Content Will Become More Interactive – ReadWrite

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Frank Landman


Consumers are craving more interactive content, and brands are attempting to give it to them. Over the next several years, we’ll likely see the emergence of multiple new forms of interactive content, and the transformation of classical or traditional online content to a more interactive format. But how exactly will this transformation manifest? And why is it happening in the first place?

What Is Interactive Content?

Interactive content is a broad term that includes any type of content that allows users to actively engage with the material. Their actions can influence the presentation of the content, or they may be able to use the content in new ways. Ordinarily, readers are merely passive consumers of content; they read or listen to the content, and don’t have to take any further action. Interactive content puts them in the driver’s seat, so to speak.

It’s best to understand interactive content with the help of examples. A simple iteration of interactive content is an online calculator; for example, you can easily find websites that offer calculators to help you estimate your monthly mortgage payments, given some initial parameters. To get the full experience from this content, you must enter some information about yourself—namely, the amount of money you want to borrow, your interest rate, and other numerical variables.

However, interactive content can be even more complex. For example, it’s increasingly common for brands to make use of motion graphics, which use simple animations to add life to advertisements, websites, and other visuals. With a simple change, these motion graphics can come to life only after a consumer’s response; for example, you can make the graphic come to life when a consumer hovers over it with a mouse or clicks it directly.

Interactive content is also demonstrated by dynamic presentations of data. Modern platforms (and some kinds of infographics) often present data in charts and graphs, which a user can manipulate directly to see the impact of various variables.

The Benefits of Interactive Content

So why is interactive content about to become more popular?

Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of interactive content:

  • Greater consumer engagement. For starters, interactive content tends to do a better job of holding the attention of consumers and increasing engagement rates across the board. Consumers are much more interested in interactive content than they are in static content. Additionally, they must take some kind of action to get the full value from the content. This draw encourages them to interact with the brand even further.
  • Access to more consumer data. Interactive data can also give companies more access to consumer data, which is especially important if you’re using artificial intelligence (AI)v to boost the power of your content marketing campaign. Take the mortgage calculator as an example; if 10,000 people enter their basic information to figure out mortgage rates, you can use that information to estimate the average amount of money your target demographic wants to borrow. As long as you’re tracking how your consumers are interacting with your content, you can learn something valuable.
  • Higher retention rates. One of the biggest problems modern brands face is consumer retention. It’s hard to get a reader to stay on your site long enough to consume a full piece of content, let alone get them to continue to subscribe to your services for years. But interactive content can boost your brand retention rates and help prevent people from turning to a competitor.
  • Competitive differentiation and memorability. Speaking of competitors, the internet is full of them. If you’re an online brand trying to achieve greater visibility, you know the pain of dealing with hundreds of brands similar to yours—all fighting to achieve higher search engine rankings and bigger streams of traffic. Interactive content isn’t especially common these days, so it can be a great way to stand out from the competition. You can use interactive content as a way to better position your brand, increase its memorability, and help it stand out from the crowd.

The Future of Interactive Content

Any brand can start developing interactive content right now—at least with some rudimentary versions. It doesn’t take much effort to develop a simple calculator or a basic quiz for your consumers. But the future of interactive content is much more advanced.

Where does interactive content go from here?

  • New ways to interact. For starters, consumers will have more ways to interact. Some forms of interactive content will be able to do more with less consumer information, requiring fewer and fewer inputs from individuals to customize the experience. Others will be interactive in new ways; for example, instead of tracking the movement of a mouse cursor, with the right device, a website could track a user’s eye movements. Gesture-based interactions could also be a potential course for development.
  • Cross-device experiences. Our lives are becoming cluttered with a diversity of different devices. Chances are, your household has at least a dozen internet-connected devices, if not more, including smartphones, tablets, laptops, wearables, and even your TV. Interactive content could take advantage of this, drawing data from interactive moments across a wide range of device engagements; it could also present content in a cross-device format; for example, you could begin analyzing data on a wearable device, and continue analyzing it on another screen when you change rooms.
  • Personalization. More brands are hoping to integrate personalization into their content marketing strategies. Rather than giving the same experience to every user who visits your site, brands want to tailor the content to appeal to the individual accessing it, based on things like demographic data, browsing history, and previous experiences on the site. Interactive content could make this easier, giving consumers a chance to personalize their own experiences.
  • “Upgraded” traditional content experiences. We’ll also see traditional forms of online content (like simple blog posts) become “upgraded” with new opportunities for interaction. For example, a blog post can instantly become more engaging if it gives readers and option to learn more about the topic through an interactive visual element.

Why Is This Transformation Taking Place?

In many ways, interactive content represents the future of content marketing. But why is this transformation taking place?

  • Objective value. As we’ve seen, interactive content has tremendous objective value for the brands experimental enough to use it. With the right interactive content strategy, you could increase consumer interest, make your brand more memorable, increase customer retention, and ultimately bring more revenue in for your brand.
  • Consumer demand. Increasingly, consumers want more from their content consumption experiences. The internet is overwhelmed with basic, static written content, and users are beginning to grow fatigued. People want more personalization and they want more direct control over what they consume; brands that are able to give them that experience will be at a decided advantage.
  • Competitive pressure. As more brands begin to experiment with interactive content, there’s going to be more competitive pressure to deal with. If you want to “keep up” with one of your top competitors, you may need to rival their overall interactive content experience. If you’re the only company in the industry that isn’t offering consumer interactions through your content, you’ll quickly fall by the wayside. Accordingly, many brands are attempting to be proactive—and be on the forefront of this trend.

How to Stay on the Forefront

How can you benefit from this rising trend in the content marketing world? Try to stay ahead of the curve. Look for opportunities to transform your existing content into something interactive; how can consumers get more value and more engagement from this? Additionally, consider working with a professional content or design agency; they’ll be able to provide you with strategic recommendations as well as the core material you’ll use to build your campaign.

Frank Landman

Frank is a freelance journalist who has worked in various editorial capacities for over 10 years. He covers trends in technology as they relate to business.

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