There’s no doubt about it — running a business is tough.

That said, by using certain types of software, you can make things a great deal easier.

Below you’ll find five examples of business software that’ll help reduce the stress associated with running a business. If you find certain tasks overwhelming, these software suites should help you overcome your challenges with the click of a button.

Let’s begin!

1. CRM Software

As a business grows, it can be hard to manage all your contact information. To help you deal with this problem, you can invest in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software.

CRM software allows you to store all your customer information in one centralized location.

Some CRM suites also provide you with the ability to save notes alongside customer information. This is extremely helpful if you want to note down what happened on a previous call with a customer.

Zoho is an excellent example of CRM software you can use to help manage your customer data.

2. Social Media Management Software

With the help of social media management software, it becomes a lot easier to establish an online presence, even if you’re a busy person. This software will allow you to ‘pre-load’ your social media content, and schedule when you’d like it to go live.

Some software suites will also provide you with detailed analytics based on your social media posts. You can then use this information to optimize your posts so that you achieve better levels of engagement.

Buffer is an example of digital marketing software that can help you manage your social media presence.

3. Email Marketing Software

Using email marketing software, you can send large amounts of personalized email, with relative ease.

For instance, you can set things up so that the subject line contains the name of the recipient. You can even adjust the content of the email, depending on the kinds of things a customer has bought from you.

MailChimp is a popular example of email marketing software that can let you achieve the tasks mentioned above.

4. Invoicing Software

With the help of invoicing software, it becomes a lot easier to bill your clients. This can help you get paid faster, thus making it easier to manage your business finances.

Some invoicing suites also allow you to send automatic reminders if customers have not paid. You can choose how often to send these reminders and what the content of the message will be when someone receives a ‘reminder email.’

Freshbooks is a great example of invoice management software that can help you bill clients.

5. Industry Specific Software

No one industry is the same, and so because of this, you’ll find there are software suites that cater to specific industries. If you’re struggling to manage your business using ‘normal’ software, industry-specific suites can be a better option.

For example, if you run a realtor company, you could invest in property management software. If you’re an attorney, then you’ll need law firm management software.

Alternatively, if you own a retail business like a coffee shop, chances are you’ll need a coffee shop POS system to track your sales, manage your employees, and even improve your revenue.

Due to the nature of this category, It’s hard to provide an example. But if you speak to some other people in the same industry as you, it shouldn’t be too hard to find out what’s on offer.

Will These Types of Software Help You?

If you’re finding it hard to manage all the moving pieces in your business, you should think about investing in some software.

The types of software we’ve covered above should be a good place to start. But as mentioned, you’ll want to find software specific to your industry.

Finding a software suite that meets your needs isn’t always easy, as there are so many options to choose from. But if you try everything that’s on offer, you’ll find some software that’ll take your business to the next level.

Interested in how you can improve the strength of your team? Check out this post for some tips!

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The Raspberry Pi 3 Model B

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B specifications :

  • Broadcom BCM2387 chipset, 1.2GHz Quad-Core ARM Cortex-A53
  • 1GB RAM
  • Dual Core VideoCore IV® Multimedia Co-Processor. Provides Open GL ES 2.0, hardware-accelerated OpenVG, and 1080p30 H.264 high-profile decode. Capable of 1Gpixel/s, 1.5Gtexel/s or 24GFLOPs with texture filtering and DMA infrastructure
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  • Bluetooth 4.1 (Bluetooth Classic and LE)
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  • 4x USB 2.0 ports
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  • HDMI
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Managing Wearables in the Workplace

Wearable technology devices are growing increasingly popular. Sixty-four percent of internet users ages 16 to 64 have used wearable technology or plan on doing so in the future, according to GlobalWebIndex. Wearables include smartwatches, activity trackers, lifeloggers and medical sensors, Consumer Reports says.

People are not only tapping into the benefits of wearable technology for personal use; they also use wearables in the workplace. As a result, employers have the responsibility of managing wearable technology at work. IT professionals must be prepared to solve problems related to wearables in the workplace, particularly security and privacy threats.

Use of wearables in the workplace

The benefit of wearables in the workplace revolves around the data employers can collect about their employees. This information has the potential to improve efficiency and cut costs. Here are three ways wearables are being applied in the workplace.

Cutting healthcare costs

The most common use of wearables in the workplace involves the use of personal activity trackers to improve the health of employees and cut healthcare costs. Most employers spend a large portion of employee benefit expenses on health insurance.

By utilizing the wearables that so many employees already have, employers can encourage the adoption of healthy lifestyle habits as part of wellness campaigns. Employers can then show their employees are healthier, leading to reductions in the cost of health insurance premiums.

According to the National Business Group on Health, 37 percent of large employers used activity trackers for healthcare purposes in 2015 with another 37 percent planning to adopt the technology in coming years.

Monitoring physical labour

Workers in factories, warehouses and other environments with physical labor are starting to see wearable devices become a part of the job. Wearable technology can improve safety, productivity and efficiency by tracking the movement and positioning of employees.

If analysis pinpoints safety risks, employers can address them. Wearables that track important information such as heart rate, blood pressure and hydration can play a role in preventing health incidents.

Accessing information on smaller devices

Wearables offer easy methods for quickly calling up work-related information. The Apple Watch and other smartwatches give users the ability to access email, make calls, check schedules and perform several other tasks without taking out a phone. As a result, some companies are buying smartwatches for their employees.

Challenges and concerns

While the benefits of wearables in the workplace are numerous, there are plenty of concerns centering on privacy and security.

Security

When companies gain access to personal data about employees, securing the data must become paramount. Companies participating in wellness programs must keep personal health information private or risk legal action.

According to Symantec, only 52 percent of wearables have a privacy policy, and many developers have failed to limit the public visibility of user information.

Promotions and firings

One legitimate qualm some employees have about wearables in the office is how they could contribute to their performance review. Is information gained from wearables being used to justify raises, promotions or firings? If so, that would be a legal issue. Employers cannot discriminate against “less healthy” employees or those with a disability.

This is especially an issue for those performing physical labor. If a wearable reflects poor performance, an employer has to take into account any injury or physical disability that could be present.

Spying

With wearables, spying becomes a possibility. Employers should outline when and where all audio, video and location data from wearables will be recorded. They should ensure employees only use devices during work hours.

For example, factory workers don’t need to document their location outside of work, so leaving devices at work is best. This prevents data from being accidentally recorded and helps free employers of any potential legal problems.

How IT professionals can manage wearables

Here are three important tips to keep in mind when managing wearable technology for your employer.

Don’t underestimate your data

When you’re dealing with wearables, information at your fingertips could put both employees and your employer at risk. Activity trackers contain information that is valuable to criminals, competitors and a host of other groups.

Improperly handling security could lead to thieves compromising your entire system and gaining sensitive data about employees and customers.

Choose substance over style

Wearables are essentially accessories. This has led some manufacturers to sacrifice security for usability. As an IT professional, you have to value security first.

While many wearables were not designed for business use, there are more and more options available that have businesses in mind. These products have more robust security features.

Silo personal data

Mobile devices, especially wearables, allow data to move easily, so their operating systems are leaky by design. This doesn’t bode well for companies that are trying to prevent security problems.

By keeping wearable data in encrypted containers, you can control where data lives. For example, limit what emails are sent to smartwatches. This forces employees to use more secure means of communication and helps lower security risk.

Understanding wearables in the workplace

Mobile devices, including wearable technology, are an important aspect of IT management. Campbellsville University’s online Master of Science in IT Management program prepares students to become effective IT managers through courses in security, emerging technology and more. The fully online program allows students to maintain their personal and work responsibilities while pursuing their career goals.

This post was originally published at Campbellsville University.

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4 Web Design Trends That Are Here To Stay

There are times when it seems like the internet is changing more rapidly than anyone can keep up with and as one trend fades another takes its place. Any business looking to stay ahead of the competition should keep up with the latest trends.

As the internet and online marketing become even more important for businesses, having a great site and utilizing the hottest trends can put you above the competition.

However, no matter how often they change, there is one common element to always keep in mind and that is the user. No matter what design trends you employ on your website, User Experience (UX) should always take front and center stage. With that in mind, the following design trends for 2016 are popular because they enhance the UX.

1. Responsive web design

For the past year and a half, there has been a huge amount of focus on responsive web design. In fact, this is so important to the UX that Google implemented new algorithms to ensure that web masters made the appropriate changes.

A responsive web site is one that conforms well to any screen of any size. Since more users are browsing the web and doing searches from mobile devices, the screens they will be looking at can be quite small.

If a website is not responsive there is no way for everything on a page to load which means that the user will not get the full benefit nor will they be able to navigate well. In fact, the experience is so degraded that Google will not even list sites that are not responsive in their mobile searches.

Related: The Most Hotly Contested Web Design Concepts of 2016

2. Social media integration

Few people on earth do not belong to a social site and because of this, businesses would do well to pay heed to social media integration as a must have web design trend. Not only can you lead visitors from your website to your Facebook page, for example, but you can invite your Facebook followers to visit your website.

The more followers you get on social media, the higher your chances will be to rank highly with Google and of course that means you should get much more organic traffic. Together with your marketing agency linked search terms can be added to your social pages to direct traffic to your website which will also add to your ranking with the search engines.

3. Minimalist design on landing pages

Once upon a time in website design, people tried to put everything on a landing page, sometimes overwhelming visitors. However, more and more sites now are focusing on a minimalist landing pages that focus more on a core product, rather than trying to sell everything to everyone.

It makes for an easier user experience, especially if they are coming directly from an ad for a product. You can have navigation to the rest of your site, but through using clean graphics and a minimalist design, you focus the attention of the potential customer.

4. Embedded videos

Another design element that Google just loves is embedded videos. This is most likely because of the fact that visitors to your site are more likely to stick around to watch videos than they would if you had none. Videos quickly go viral because people love video – it’s really just that simple.

When seeking increased amounts of traffic, you want to do well with the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) and one of the most effective ways of ranking highly is to keep your bounce rate as low as possible. If videos will keep visitors on your page longer, then this is truly a web design trend to employ.

No matter what else you choose to do with the design of your website, these trends are a ‘must have’ if you want to develop a site that is more than competitive.

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