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How Artificial Intelligence Can Help Your Business

Artificial Intelligence (AI), often dubbed a part of radical technological developments such as robotics and space science, is past the days of growth solely for these futuristic purposes. In fact, AI has gradually been permeating many businesses in varying industries. From construction, medicine, and public relations, the capabilities offered by AI-powered systems are seemingly endless.

The Power of Artificial Intelligence in Business

  • Two main characteristics make AI powerful in making businesses profitable.
    Machine Learning — machine learning is the process where an AI-powered system can gather data from previous patterns and recreate the same process over again along different variables. A simple example of this is the photo-tagging picture found on websites such as Facebook. The AI-powered system can detect facial features by gathering patterns found in previously tagged photos. Once it compiles this data, the system will automatically suggest tagging the same person with the given facial features.
  • Automation of Processes — another power of AI systems is the automation micro-tasks. These include sending e-mail newsletters, having a 24/7 customer support, and other software applications that would otherwise be inefficient when given to human counterparts. Automated processes have minimal to zero downtime, highly efficient and responsive.

There are several ways to incorporate artificial intelligence into your business.

Here are five of them:
1. Auto-suggestions in e-commerce — If you have an online store and sales have been dismal, you can incorporate AI in the form of auto-suggestions. The system will work when a user types in some information on your website search bar or other search engines, after which some suggestions of products or services can pop up on the user’s screen. This use is also applicable when a customer already bought something in your e-commerce store. It can appear as a section called “People also bought” or “Other useful products” on your website.
2. Responsive customer support — Some businesses have a high demand for customer support. These include SaaS, applications, and online consultations. Due to the increasing need to respond to customers efficiently, businesses must sift through people with fundamental questions and attend to those with complex problems. The AI-powered system can help sort inquiries by showing an up-front helpdesk bot that appears like a human. This bot can answer some common questions, and other difficult ones can be forwarded later on to a human representative during regular working hours.
3. Email marketing — Most emails intended for marketing end up in the junk folder, especially when given a general format. These e-mails are impersonal and would often fail to catch the attention of the reader. With artificial intelligence, the content of emailed newsletters can be more personal. Using data such as GPS settings, search engine terms placed, and demographics, your business can send personalized newsletters that will engage your target market.
4. Data analysis — A lot of businesses are already incorporating AI in their data analysis. Data analysis can involve gathering information on customer trends, employee feedback, and other industry-specific insight that can prove to be useful to business growth. A strong example of this is the robot advisors who are available in online investment companies. These AI-powered advisors are analyzing trends on investments and give sound advice to customers on when to place their assets.
5. Administrative assistance — Administrative work can be pretty overwhelming when you are trying to scale your business growth. Administrators oversee duties in database management, marketing, and other internal tasks. Getting more clients means doing more of these administrative responsibilities and hiring more assistants. An AI-powered system can help lessen the extra cost of hiring more staff by filling in more work under the same amount of time and effort.

A lot of business owners have been considering integrating artificial intelligence to boost their growth. To gain a competitive edge, an entrepreneur must be highly adaptable to advances in technology.

 

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Telework as a Recruitment Tool

Employers in the US, Europe, Japan and numerous other countries are finding that one of most valuable tools for recruitment and retention is offering work options – compressed workweeks, flextime and telecommuting. More and more employees are working 9 day 80 hour 2 week schedules, changing their start or finish times from the usual rush-hour 7-9 am and 4-6 pm commute times, and working from home or satellite office locations.

Telecommuting is increasing exponentially, with an estimated 32 million US employees now teleworking, at least on a part time basis.
Why the popularity of telework? Employers consistently list retention as their number one reason, with recruitment a close second. There are a number of reasons why telework is a benefit for employer, employee and society as a whole. Let’s take a look at some of them:

  • Ecological advantages such as reduction of air pollution and gas consumption
  • Reduction in governmental expenses for infrastructure and road maintenance
  • Competitive advantage in attraction of employees, especially high-tech
  • Increases in employee satisfaction, resulting in increased employee retention
  • Reduction in facility costs for expansion and new real estate
  • Reduced parking requirements
  • Expansion of the labor pool
  • Reduction of non-productive (water cooler) office time
  • Expansion of service hours
  • Improved productivity
  • Improved work quality through faster processing, fewer errors, and shorter response time for communications
  • Reduction of absenteeism and tardiness
  • Enhanced peak performance due to telecommuters working during their most productive hours
  • Maximizing potential by broadening responsibilities
  • Work accomplished with fewer interruptions
  • Assistance in compliance with clean air, ADA and other statutes
  • Reduction in traffic congestion
  • Increased electronic communication with decrease of paper consumption
  • Reduced business disruptions due to natural disaster, bad weather, power outages, transit strikes and other unforeseen events
  • Reduction in traffic accidents
  • Reduction in health insurance costs due to reduction in traffic and stress
  • Safer communities due to more people at home during the day
  • Enhanced rural development
  • Better balance of economic activity between rural and urban areas, bringing economic revival, employment and population stability to remote and rural communities, including to tribal areas
  • Economically struggling former manufacturing areas such as the Mid-Atlantic United States or seasonal/resort areas might be able to retain or attract numerous year round residents and some of their tax base formerly lost to high-tech or service industry areas
  • Reduction of juvenile crime

 

While telework is not for everyone – many employers affirming that those who are continually tardy, not sufficiently self-motivated, or needing the constant interaction of their peers are not well suited for this option – job seekers and employees continually mention that a firm offering this and other work/family options goes to the ‘head of the line’ when they are job searching. Telework can also be a great tool for widening your pool of candidates, not only geographically, but also by being able to include the homebound disabled.

As one employer put it, “This is the way the world is going. If you’re not offering telework, you are losing candidates to me.”

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4 Killer Ways to Kick Toxic People Out of Your Life

Toxic attitudes in the workplace are contagious and can affect company morale in a negative way. Here are a few steps on dealing with toxic attitudes in the workplace.

1. Don’t Engage
Negative people feed off of an audience. If you find yourself on the receiving end of a negative tirade in the break room, don’t add fuel to their fire by engaging their negative ideas (even if you agree with them). Simply nod your head, say “that’s interesting” when they’ve finished and then go back to eating your sandwich. Your toxic coworker will sense that you’re not going to give them the attention that they want and they’ll move onto someone who will.

2. Turn the Tables
If you have a particularly attention hungry coworker who doesn’t go away after you show disinterest, turn the tables on them and be positive. Whatever situation your coworker is complaining about, find a positive aspect to it and interject that positivity into the conversation. Positivity is repellent to negative people. By turning their negative rant into a positive conversation, you’ll completely turn them off and they’ll leave you alone.

If you’re able to define yourself in your office as a positive person, negative attitudes will avoid you and you’ll be able to work in peace.

3. Give Them More Responsibility
If you have an attitude problem in your office and a few bad apples are spoiling the bunch, you may want to give them more responsibility. Now, no one is suggesting that you give them a promotion or make them department head. The goal here is to give them enough responsibility that they’ll have to produce productive ideas but not enough that they would be able to have power over anyone else.

Create a project for them that will make them accountable to everyone in the office. You could have them be the editor of the office newsletter, organize the next luncheon, select the snacks for the next meeting or decide how to organize the office supply closet.

By giving these toxic personalities a taste of accountability, you force them into a situation where they have to come up with ideas, implement them and others will judge their decisions. It’s a humbling process and in most cases will completely extinguish their negative tendencies.

4. Set Up Ground Rules
If you’re experiencing negativity in specific situations like in meetings, conference calls or brainstorming sessions, it’s important to set up ground rules before hand. Negative personalities will find roots wherever they can. Don’t create a situation where negative tendencies can go unchecked.

Make sure that before your meeting begins you lay out what rules you expect your team to follow. Typically, negative people don’t like breaking rules and by setting up positive parameters to your meeting, the toxic attendees will either stay silent or actually become product members of the group.

Toxic personalities don’t have to run rampant in your office. By understanding how to effectively manage the negative personalities on your team, you’ll be able to take back control of your work environment and your workforce’s morale.

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Three Ways an Employer Can Use Vision to Motivate Employees

Vision is a clear concept of a better and brighter tomorrow. An effective vision inspires passion and excites people. Steve Jobs of Apple Computer lured John Scully from Pepsi by asking, “Do you want to spend the rest of your life making sugared water, or do you want a chance to change the world?” (Abcnews.go.com/Technology/steve-jobs-death-20-best-quotes/story?id=14681795#18). Jobs was referring to the home computer revolution that was transforming the everyday lives of so many people. He definitely had an exciting vision.

Having an exhilarating vision can be a big advantage for an employer who is trying to motivate employees. Methods for motivating workers are potentially more effective if connected to a vision. Here are three ways that can be done.

  1. Cheerleading. A church pastor once said that people can easily lose a vision in 30 days. The leader must constantly reaffirm the vision. Therefore, cheerleading and rallying the troops are absolutely necessary. The employer is a far more effective cheerleader if he or she has a clear and compelling vision. If the vision is exciting the employer and the employees should be excited.
  2. Implement employee ideas. Often an effective idea is one that a worker suggested and the boss promoted. A good idea that contributes toward fulfilling the vision is extremely helpful. The employer should implement employee ideas that make a positive impact. When that happens workers will tend to feel like they are part of the vision and are helping to make it a reality.
  3. Affirm employees. Let them know when they have done a good job, or made a good suggestion, and explain the value of their work in light of the vision. A stimulating vision gives the basis for affirmation and shows why the employees’ contributions are important. Encouraging also helps create ownership. The workers are more inclined to buy into the vision and claim it as their own when their efforts are affirmed.

An employer with a thrilling view of the future is more likely to motivate employees. Workers tend to be excited if an exciting tomorrow awaits them. Cheerleading, implementing employee ideas, and affirming employees are more effective if related to a powerful vision.

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Top 5 Industries that offer you the best opportunities to grow

Most of us when we search for a job, we do so because of the stories that we have heard about people who started their career from nothing, but turned out to be something in their field in a very short span of time. Everyone who joins a job or applies for a job, before they think about anything else, they think about achieving something great in the field they are about to join. But most of the time, the reality turns out to be something different, because several months down the line you realize that there in not much scope for your own personal growth and moreover whatever great that could possibly be achieved with the available resources, more or less, already has been achieved. So once that castle of dreams comes crashing down to the ground, you start thinking about “is there something related to your area of interest, that provides you with a good income, and at the same time offers you an opportunity to grow?” Well realistically speaking, there might, and maybe you are still not familiar with those opportunity, because you didn’t do your research well. In any case, you are just several months down the line and you still have enough time to make a switch. So if you are at that point when you are about to make that switch, then you should know about some of the industries that offer you an opportunity to grow.

  1. Technology

Even by 2017 estimates, technology is still the field which offers you the best opportunities to grow. The reason behind this is the new developments or innovations that keep happening in this field. With every new development there is one new area of service, under this one umbrella term, that opens up offering you a job that best suits your goals. So if you are a related to the field of technology, you should not be disheartened as there is still a lot unexplored avenues for you to grow in.

  1. Health Care

Health care is another industry which might never run of opportunities to grow. With the ever increasing rate of privatization of healthcare, new areas of services are opening up that are directly related to health care or that supports the health care needs of the people. Even if doesn’t involve you directly into the niche industry, there are still a lot of opportunities to be found when it comes to providing supporting services to health care, especially related to demand and supply of the products and tools related to the industry. Like technology, healthcare also provides you with an opportunity to continue your research in the various new areas that keep cropping up with the passage of time.

  1. Manufacturing

Though you might feel that this area of the job market is already very saturated, you will be very happy to know that, it’s still running short on talented individuals, who can provide companies with the much needed efficiency. Though most of the big wigs related to manufacturing have shifted to automated systems that has increased their productivity many times over. There is still a lot left in the industry that needs the presence of the human factor very much. Even if you are not interested in working for any particular industry, you can go ahead and think about investing your time and money in setting up your own little manufacturing venture which helps in aiding the larger industry.

  1. Tourism and Hospitality

This is one industry which is catching up the rage all of sudden, especially since last two decades. With the increase in the spending capacity of individuals, and countries welcoming such individuals to get a taste of their history and culture, the tourism and hospitality industry has some exciting opportunities to offer. Not only can you create new products out of thin air to provide a unique experience to the consumers. You can also be rest assured that you are going to find individuals willing to take an interest in what you have to offer. Even if you are not willing to start up something of your own, you can still get into the industry through traditional channels, in order to secure jobs for yourself that offer you amazing money, as well an opportunity to grow depending on your interests and skills.

  1. Media and Communication

This is one industry that encompasses all of the above. Since the growth of the internet, people and business, in order to beat their competition have been engaged in, increasing their brand presence as far as possible. With media and communications industry offering opportunities for digital marketing, journalism, advertising, promotions and research, among others, the opportunities of growth in the industry are endless. Not only can you get amazing job opportunities that promise you growth and income, but there’s a lot that you can do on your own if you are related to media and communication.

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Major Disadvantages of Using Popular Job Boards for Your Professional Search

The digital media has provided a wide range of opportunities to streamline and boost communications particularly in the job search sector. Professional job search is a major project to undertake specifically if you are not clear about the distinction between established job sites with real opportunities and the ones that are just fronts for unqualified or unacceptable offers.

What attracts visitors to Job sites

Major Job boards today have brought forth the modern concept of connecting potential employees with a variety of job opportunities. One of the key issues with this situation is that many job boards are designed to attract both job seekers and potential employers without truly understanding “The Connection” needed between the two.  Most hopeful job seekers fall prey to the elaborate marketing and appeal of the job boards mentioned below:

  • Job boards claiming to use modern predictive algorithms to match you to your perfect professional opportunity match.
  • The ease of seeking a new job from directly an interface that reduces having to make direct calls and applying resumes to different professional offices, the job sites promise to lower the usual stress of handling multiple professional discussions and applications right from a single platform.
  • The overwhelming competition in almost every professional sector makes it hard for potential job seekers to rely on simply their own struggles to get them through to major professional opportunities.

 

Potential pitfalls of using Job boards for your professional search

Lack of personal impressions

Professional networking is hugely co-dependent on personal impressions that you make on the job front. In absence of face-to-face networking, job sites often fail to display your true potential or persona to potential employers and often you lose out on great opportunities due to minor technicalities which would not have been a problem in conventional job interviews.

High level of competition

Job sites do not screen candidates applying for various professional positions. This results in every job offer on the site being inundated with high level of completion. While many of these competitors are not even from your field but employers find it tedious to screen through thousands of applicants and often end up choosing from the first few application in the pile. This reduces your chances of getting a truly deserving position because your applications get lost in the crowd of undeserving noise.

Absence of direct connections

Often Job boards pose a complete project in itself with the posting of regular job descriptions, screening candidates and conducting initial interviews. Therefore, many big firms outsource the project to recruiters and professional headhunters. This reduces your chances of building direct connections within a company and brings down your potential success rates for getting through to an actual experienced people in the field to impress for the position.

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