Category: Computer & Technology


5 reasons why online video marketing is the new to-do

August 1, 2017

Computer & Technology

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In 1941, the world watched the first TV commercial ever. More than 70 years later, with the booming of the internet and the social networks like Facebook, Youtube, Vine and others, the world witnessed a significant increase in video watching.
Due to this phenomenon, many businesses and web agencies in Lebanon and the world took advantage of this new opportunity by including online videos in their content marketing strategies. They were right to do so, and you should do the same.

Below are 5 reasons why online video marketing is the new to-do for any business willing to succeed online.

Youtube, a search engine not like any other
There’s no doubt that Google is the leading search engine in the world, without a serious contender. And in a totally different style, Youtube comes second. While Google has more than 100 billion searches per month worldwide, the video-based social network has more than a billion users who watch millions of hours of video. So with an optimized and interesting video, you can reach a huge number of viewers within days.
Another benefit of Youtube is the use of its online ads that can make any video be viewed by a specific target market. For example, if marketing for a music video, Youtube ads allow you to show it to users who are listening to the same style of music, and even songs for specific artists.
Finally, when a video is published on Youtube, it can be easily distributed on several other platforms in order to widen the reach.

Videos are also booming on Facebook
If Youtube is the second largest search engine, Facebook, with more than 1.65 billion users, is the biggest social network…ever! According to a study made in the end of 2015 by techcrunch, Facebook doubled its daily average video views from 4 billion to 8 billion in less than a year time. This enormous evolution created a rivalry between the social network and Youtube in video views.
In addition, according to Socialbakers, Facebook videos demonstrated to be the type of posts that is getting the most organic reach. Few years ago, due to an algorithm update, pages started depending on ads to reach more users, and without a media budget, it would become difficult for them to succeed. But here comes the videos.
Also, a media budget would be necessary to broaden the reach of your video campaign as Facebook ads proved to be an effective way to promote content in a targeted way.

Videos help people get connected and attached to a brand
It’s easier for humans to watch a video than read an article, as our brains process visuals faster than texts. In fact, a one-minute video is worth 1.8 million words. For this reason, memorizing a story told in a video is less complicated than one told in an article. This helps users remember the brand, the product or the service that is being marketed in a video, which keeps them connected.

Your competitors are doing it
The impact of videos is obviously known to everyone by now, as more and more businesses are trying to take the lead by producing such content. In fact, in the US, 87% of online marketers use video content, according to Hubspot. This shows that a big part of businesses started adding videos in their marketing strategy, and there’s is a high chance that your competitors are too, and are probably reaching and attracting your target audience.

Videos ROI
One of the most important points, and probably the biggest concern is the Return On Investment of videos. Many studies show that videos are the most effective type of content, and here are some stats from Hubspot to prove it:
Including a video on a landing page increases the conversion by 80%
According to Youtube, video consumption on mobile rises 100% every year
After watching a video, 64% of users are more likely to purchase a product
65% of decision-makers visit the marketer’s website and 39% call a vendor after viewing a video

In conclusion, using online video marketing to promote a brand, a product or a service is not a simple task to do, but is definitely worth doing. However, producing a video and paying to advertise it isn’t enough as the content is still king. Therefore, invest in coming up with a topic, developing and implementing it instead of wasting your time to create an unattractive video that won’t reach your objectives. So for a successful video campaign, collaborate with a web agency to plan and produce it.

3 Reasons why your website speed matters

August 1, 2017

Computer & Technology

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In general, people don’t like to wait, wherever they are, whatever they are doing. Everywhere we are, we witness impatient people cutting the line. It’s in the human’s’ genes to get what we want when we want. And this applies also on our digital life. When looking for a piece of information on the internet, we might check several websites in order to find it as we need a clear answer straight away. Therefore, it is in the businesses benefit to have a website with a fast load time. But don’t worry, it’s up to the web agency who is creating the website to make it fast.

Here are 3 main reasons why your website should open in less than 2 seconds:

Yes, Website Speed IS an SEO Factor

The fight for high ranking on search engines will never end. Every day, millions of businesses do their best in order to position their websites higher than the competition. For this, regular activities should be performed to optimize a website. And one of the very important factors of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is improving website speed.

Google has secrets. Some of them are still undisclosed, and others have been revealed. What is no more a secret for SEO agencies, due to an announcement made in 2010, Google doesn’t like slow websites; therefore, they could be penalized in ranking. Of course, no business would want that, or else it will be outperformed by the competition with faster load page.

Faster access to information = better user experience

Active internet users are faced with hundreds of information daily. This shows that the internet keeps them busy. And we all know that no busy person like to wait. So once users visit a website, they expect to receive the information needed as soon as they click on a page. Otherwise, they will look elsewhere.

This not only affects the user experience but also, in a more complicated way, the ranking of the website. To explain this point, we need your full attention. When a user accesses a slow website, he tends to quickly move away from it. The results of this action are 1) a high bounce rate (the percentage of website visitors who leave a site after viewing one page), 2) less opportunities for the content to be shared which is also an SEO factor, and 3) Google registers the website as irrelevant to the user’s need. As you can guess, these 3 points have a direct relation with the ranking of the website in SERP as it won’t be considered as a significant source of information.

Mobile internet users are on the rise

Since the big wave of smartphones, more and more people are accessing the internet via their mobile. In 2014, 94% of internet users in the Middle East surfed the web with their mobile. This represents a huge number for any business operating in the region. The main reason for users connecting online via their mobile is that they’d need information on-the-go, in other terms, as quick as possible. So making them wait results in the same consequences as the previous point.

In addition, a fast website speed is crucial for online stores, for the reasons mentioned and more. In 2015, around 50% of online shoppers used their mobile to purchase, which also represented a promising opportunity. Therefore, building an ecommerce website with a fast load time increases conversions. How? Well, as you probably know, in order to purchase online, a user passes through a process of several pages. So, a customer attempting to buy from a slow website will end up abandoning his cart.

In conclusion, several studies showed that internet users would wait on average 2 seconds for the page to load before losing patience. According to KissMetrics, a load page of 2 seconds has an abandonment rate of 10%. This rate increases to 25% when adding 2 more seconds to the load page. There are several tools to make sure that the web agency, when building your website, took into consideration the website speed. For example, check Pingdom in order to see if your site fits in the average or needs optimization for a better performance.

6 Hot Tips to Rock Your Social Media Results

August 1, 2017

Computer & Technology

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Social media is a powerful way to build a following, turn prospects into leads, and drive sales.

One of the biggest complaints I hear is that business owners are investing lots of time in social media and not seeing the returns on those efforts.

If you aren’t getting the social media results you are looking for, perhaps it’s time to look at new tactics.

If you are ready to get more out of your social media marketing, here’s 6 techniques to try:

1. Use Facebook Live. Video marketing is a powerful addition to your marketing mix. But live video is shown to keep users watching for 3 times longer than a recorded video.

Fans love the feeling of listening to what you have to share in the moment. Try answering questions and providing tips while live.

Other ways to use Facebook Live is to broadcast an update when you are networking or attending events. Or share a Facebook live update on any launches coming down the pipe.

2. Offer Opt-In Gifts to Grow Your Marketing List. People can’t resist getting a checklist, blueprint, app, or white paper that offers valuable information.

When you give value first, it goes a long way to building trust and rapport with your followers. Plus, this allows you to capture your social media leads into your email marketing list.

Give them something they can’t refuse and send them to a landing page to sign up. That way you can keep in contact via email sharing additional offers and information in a drip campaign.

3. Invite People to Take Action. Be strategic with your calls to action to get the most out of your social media efforts.

In addition to sharing a mix of posts, be sure to offer ways your fans can dive deeper with you. This can include a free consultation, special offers and discount deals, webinars, participation in your Facebook group, and more.

4. Build Your Fan Base Organically. Never hire someone from Fiverr who can add 10,000 fans for a fee. This is a bad idea on many levels.

Instead, find groups with people in your target audience. Be helpful. Start real conversations. Invite them to join your social media page or group.

Don’t be afraid to reach out with private messaging to respond to questions they have or share resources or advice.

So don’t buy followers. It’s about quality of followers, not quantity. It’s better to have 1000 raving fans you have attracted, than to have 10,000 fans who don’t really know you or have investment in the connection.

5. Offer a Mix of Post Content. People love variety. Be creative and provide a variety of content formats including how-to articles, videos, graphics, and infographics.

An ideal content marketing strategy is to always keep your target market in mind and post what you think they will best want to receive from you.

6. Post at the Ideal Time for Best Exposure. Timing is everything. If you share an incredible post, you want to ensure the most people possible can see it!

There are many social media tools to help you see the best times to post content to reach the biggest audience. This may vary from platform to platform.

So don’t guess when you can use analytic tools with reports that help you identify the ideal time to post.

Social media is evolving and growing fast. There is a lot of opportunity get leads, drive sales, and build a following but you have to get creative. You can’t just rely on the old tactics you have used in the past; you need to implement new techniques and tools if you want to stay ahead of the competition.

Your Business Can Benefit From Internet Marketing

August 1, 2017

Computer & Technology

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Are you informing people about your business by promoting it online? You should certainly consider this method if you have not yet attempted to do so. This article should show you what the basics are in internet marketing and give suggestions on how to go about doing it.

Use site wide links for easier navigation across your site. These links appear on each page of a website, and link back to the same page each time. A common way to utilize site-wide links is to direct a visitor to a page to place orders or a contact page. Many websites put these links at the bottom of every page in a font that is easily read. A menu format can be organized with links to direct the user to other areas of interest to them. Add some short descriptions on the site map, and make sure it is easy to navigate.

The structure of your Web site is founded on HTML code, and meta tags form a part of the structure that speaks directly to search engines. You don’t need to worry about these tags affecting the look of your page because no one browsing your site will be able to see them. However, search engines can use them to easily get an idea of the kind of content your page contains. Be sure that the initial meta tags emphasize the most important keywords of your website. Using too many meta tags can do more harm than good. If you use different meta tags on each of your pages, it not only helps you to reach your target audience but also helps the search engines find you.

Text that is important is typically marked with HTML tags, especially the tags typically known as “H tags.” Use a bold tag to draw attention to parts of the text that you want readers to notice immediately. These tags are important to use on your site to emphasize titles and important paragraphs. Using the bold tag will make it easier for your visitors to maneuver through your site and find the information that they are looking for. This will also help search engine spiders find the important content in your pages. Try to incorporate keywords into all of your titles.

You will want to look for other ways you can promote your products online. While there are traditional marketing and SEO techniques that might help you promote your business, don’t write off the benefits of Internet marketing as well. Since the internet has its own culture, sometimes a picture, video or website will become a ‘buzz’. This refers to an internet sensation that is discussed by many users. A lot of ‘buzz’ only lasts a short amount of time, but it can boost sales if used correctly. You cannot create a video that will go ‘viral’ for sure: create interesting and hilarious content, and hope for the best. Watch videos so you can find what appeals to the general internet user.

These are just a few of the strategies out there for internet marketing. Once your business starts to become a viable force, you can utilize these simple tips with other techniques that are more advanced in order to further grow your business.

Improving your software security

August 1, 2017

Computer & Technology

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Software security in today’s era is paramount. Software vendors are exposed to numerous risks that put a company’s intellectual property at risk. Malicious entities deconstruct a vendor’s products to duplicate and distribute illegal copies of unlicensed software.

Secutech’s cross-platform UniKey dongle range alleviates the burden surrounding security whilst providing exceptional functionality options. Unikey provides flexibility of versatile licensing schemes and assists in the management and distribution of software. All UniKey products are driverless, this makes distribution as simple as ‘plug and play’, this means installation times and compatibility issues are avoided. UniKey is a superior product in the market due to its high level of flexibility for software license control. Most notable is its range of licensing options, including feature-based, rental, subscription and more. Additionally, UniKey is supported by a wide range of operating systems in both 32 and 64-bit formats. A variety of development platforms and programming languages are also supported.

SecuTech understands the importance of brand recognition. We offer colour customisation of our UniKey products as well as laser-etching options for text or logos. UniKey’s floating license allows software providers to maintain control of all their dongles’ settings from their home base even after distribution.

Secutech’s comprehensive UniKey range offers sophisticated hardware-based data and software protection solutions for the multifaceted security needs of software companies.

UniKey STD:
UniKey STD combines a customisable and easy to use interface delivers the best in software license control facilitated through the use of a physical dongle and password protection. With UniKey, only users in possession of both the physical dongle and necessary software IDs are able to use your software.

Whether you are a seasoned programmer or a security rookie, UniKey STD offers a cost-effective solution for many developers that enable the licensing of software to one user per dongle. UniKey is a standalone dongle ideal for software products that don’t require networking based features.

Unikey Pro:
UniKey PRO offers the same functionality as the uniKey STD with the inclusion of network functionality. Perfect for developers releasing their software for wider distribution, a single dongle connected to any machine in the network allows a large number of concurrent users to access data.

Additionally, UniKey pro comes equipped with monitor and manage the software’s users. Unikey pro is versatile tool suited to developers licensing software to entire organisations or teams.

Unikey time:
In addition to the power packed features of UniKey PRO UniKey time enables licensing of software which requires strict time-based software restrictions.

UniKey time is the only available product on the market that comes with a real time clock that works independently of the host computer’s clock – making the timing with UniKey time more secure and accurate. By embedding the clock in the dongle itself ensures an accurate and tamper-proof time and date, offering assured observance of real-time based features. UniKey Time is the must-have device for software vendors offering trial or time-based schemes.

Unikey Drive:
The UniKey drive augments the functions of the UniKey pro with added mass storage Flash memory. It offers a complete solution to store your application’s data files and your application securely. Data is stored on the hidden, encrypted partition of the UniKey Drive, of which there is no access to, preventing copying or tampering with the data file in any way.

The application runs on another partition that enables the end user to only view the files. The UniKey drive guarantees integrity of the company’s data and prevents the manipulation of data by users who may have malicious intent.

Conventional licensing solutions unmistakably are not sufficient in today’s market, and factors such as the nature, capability and convenience of software licensing solutions have been ineffective for strong intellectual property protection by software companies. Secutech’s UniKey products assures protection against intellectual property abuse and revenue loss.
If you want to optimise and enhance the security of your software products, visit our website to obtain a free evaluation Kit.

10 Favorite Productivity Apps for Business Owners

August 1, 2017

Computer & Technology

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Your business is running fine, but taking care of all the wok related to accounting, tracking the expenses, employees’ schedule, and answering queries and complaints of clients bogs you down. To overcome these constraints that a small business owner faces, using apps that can save your time and money is the best solution.
The app’s developers have gone all out to create utility-based apps. Choose the ones that work to make your task easy. Here is a list of some apps that are helpful for business growth and management.

Call Scheduler

When starting a business or trying to expand it, you require calling and talking to many persons. You might forget to call someone or miss out calling a critical client. The Scheduler is an app that helps you to pre-schedule any number of calls and text messages, by a fixed date and time. The app sends the messages and calls automatically. In case you cannot connect, it attempts to contact again.

Fuze

If you require an app that helps you to have conferences and meetings with your people, Fuze is the answer. This software can be used on all operating systems and devices. The best audio-visual quality allows you to host online meetings with up to 25 participants for free. Buy the pro-plan that allows connecting to 125 people at a low cost.

Producteev

A good manager of a company has to ensure that everyone working for the firm has a task assigned to him or her every day. You can now do this through Producteev, a free app that works on iOS and Android platforms. You get the app in regular and premium versions, designed to address the needs of organizations of varying sizes. You can assign tasks to individuals, create subtasks and implement privacy settings.

DocuSign

As the owner of business, you need to sign many documents related to your business or banking transactions and more. Going to a place physically takes up a lot of time. You do not need to rush back to your office from an important meeting or go to any location if you download the app DocuSign on your hand-held device.

Evernote

You need space to keep all useful information and ideas you come across every day. Evernote is like a journal that facilitates the storage of little pieces of information in one place. You can store videos and audio clippings, photos, files, and notes up to a maximum limit of 60 MB per month, in the free version. You have to pay a small price for the higher version that can store more data.

Kabanflow

If your business banks on people working from home or different locations, Kabanflow is an online task management app that can prove useful for you. The tool enables you to give an assignment to your colleagues to upload necessary documents and also assign due dates. You can easily visualize the workflow and communicate faster through this tool that works on the hand-held devices and the computer.

Basecamp

Members of your team may need to collaborate for completing a project. Basecamp is an app that provides a single view dashboard with links to a project. The app allows the project managers to exchange information and discuss the details through the discussion font and see files, tasks and the date of completion.

Paypal

Making regular payments is an essential part of business. To pay bills and make payments to different suppliers, you can use the Paypal that offers a convenient platform. Linking your accounts or debit and credit cards to the Paypal makes the transactions easy and fast. You can use it across all devices.

Dropbox

Dropbox is a file-sharing platform that offers many advantages to business owners. The application syncs documents across devices and you can reach them from any location. This is a reliable method of sharing files and folders with your group members for improved collaboration.

Clear

Time management is critical to running a successful business. Clear is a time-management app for iPhones and Android devices that you can use to plan and organize day-to-day work. The app also has the facility of setting reminders to help you. Through the justifiable program, you can pull down and pinch a task and swipe it off the screen once it is over.

Most of the apps mentioned above are free to use or offer a free trial period. Try using a few of them that suits your business needs. If you find that an application is not working for you, there are other flashiest apps, with similar functions, available. You will get some that will prove to be useful in increasing the productivity of your business.

Boost Performance and Stability with System Mechanic Professional

August 1, 2017

Computer & Technology

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Over a few months of use, a computer inevitably slows down and becomes less reliable. While a regular maintenance routine will help to keep your computer performing better, there’s no substitute for carrying out the occasional performance audit to restore performance and reliability. However, unless you’re an advanced user with plenty of time and who has extensive knowledge of the inner workings of Windows, this course of action is generally not advisable. After all, there’s always a chance of things going wrong to the extent that you could end up with an unworkable machine that perhaps might not even be able to boot. Fortunately, System Mechanic Professional provides your one-stop PC tune-up utility for maximum ease of use and saving you time.

Safeguard Your Computer Against Data Corruption

If certain data on your computer gets corrupted, typically either due to a failing hard drive or an improper system shutdown, you can be left with malfunctioning programs, an unstable computer or even one that won’t boot at all. There are many possible reasons for data corruption, including things as simple as a faulty driver installation or malicious software. System Mechanic Professional provides a powerful, industry-leading data recalibration utility that will fix system instability issues related to data integrity. Requiring minimal interaction from the user, the program will automatically scan, detect and repair any faults that it finds, allowing you to continue using your PC without any further problems.

Stay Safe from Online Threats

Malicious software and other online threats remain a major concern of modern life, hence the necessity to take every necessary step to minimize the risk of any damage occurring. Being a multifunctional tool, System Mechanic Professional provides all of the features you need to keep your computer and data safe from a variety of online threats and other possible security threats. The stability guard and system shield work constantly to look out for any rogue programs or potentially malicious lines of code that could harm your PC. It works by targeting the root causes of common problems and by identifying suspicious activities on your computer that are frequently associated with malicious software attacks. The system shield component is itself a triple-certified tool designed to hastily neutralize zero-day threats the moment they become known.

Save Time with Automated Task Scheduling

System Mechanic Professional is designed first and foremost to save you time by requiring minimal user interaction and allowing you to configure automated tasks with ease. The program also includes a component called Active Care, which takes care of everyday maintenance routines, including those concerning security, performance and reliability. It will optimize the contents of your hard drive, improve memory performance and cut start up times all by itself. At the same time, you can also schedule the Net Booster tool to run to periodically scan your Internet connection and make any necessary optimizations to improve performance. Another included tool is the CRUDD Remover, a feature for automatically getting rid of bloatware that commonly comes preinstalled on new computers.

Unifi Communications achieves Advanced Video Specialization from Cisco in the UK

August 1, 2017

Computer & Technology

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London 02/06/2016– In response to rising demand for video conferencing solutions, Unifi Communications have announced today that they have achieved Advanced Video Specialization status from Cisco. This specialisation recognises Unifi Communications as having fulfilled the stringent training and qualification requirements set by Cisco to provide end-to-end business phone systems and collaboration solutions, such as Cisco Business Edition 6000.

Video conferencing is becoming the tool for all organisations wanting to enable all of their stakeholders to work together more effectively. It is being adopted quickly and the demand for innovative, user-centric video endpoints is ramping up for every mid-sized business in the UK.

Based on Eel Pie Island in Twickenham and with nearly 15 years’ experience as a Cisco partner, Unifi Communications have made a name for themselves supporting clients ranging in size from 20 to 2,500 employees to communicate with colleagues and customers more quickly, from any device.

Advanced Video and Collaboration Solutions for our customers

Following years of steadily increasing investment, Cisco have been named as a leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for delivering simple, innovative, and connected user experience and they are revolutionising the communications market with video conferencing solutions that encompass mobile devices, desktop phones and video endpoints to the most advanced room and immersive systems.

“As part of our commitment to our customers, Unifi Communications continually invest time in training to achieve the highest levels of expertise so we can deliver differentiated business value by offering the range of advanced Unified Communications and Video Collaboration solutions that our customers require”, comments Managing Director Rob Coleman.

A business consultant for the most advanced communication trends

The Cisco Advanced Video Specialization indicates that Unifi Communications are a dedicated team of professionals, providing an end-to-end service that translates into cost-effective solutions, including a broad portfolio of network infrastructure, security, Cisco phone systems, wireless products and advanced collaboration solutions such as Cisco Business Edition 6000, Contact Centre and video conferencing based around Cisco TelePresence.

This is supported by Cisco Expressway, which is designed specifically to enable remote and mobile workers to communicate more effectively with their office-based colleagues by using their device of choice, or a mobile app such as Cisco Jabber.

As a highly responsive, customer-focused small business, Unifi Communications’ service portfolio spans the entire Service Delivery Lifecycle – from design, fulfilment, deployment and integration through to maintenance, operational support and managed services.

Rob Coleman adds “Unifi’s success has been built on technical expertise and a commitment to outstanding customer service. Our successful implementations of Cisco Business Edition 6000 and TelePresence solutions have proven that our on-going commitment to Cisco gives our customers the confidence that they are dealing with a reliable partner who offer only the most appropriate Cisco collaboration, networking and video solutions for their requirements.

Their bond with Cisco also provides Unifi Communications with an award-winning partner program to deliver financial strength, with the ability to address budget constraints thanks to Cisco Capital; technical support, with a 24-hour response time for problem resolution and 24-hour on-site response capabilities and an industry-leading portfolio of products and services to provide their customers with an unparalleled offer in the business phone systems market.

Internet of Things for Home Automation

August 1, 2017

Computer & Technology

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As the Internet of Things continues to gain traction and several new devices come in market, home automation has taken the spotlight. The concept of smart home has been there since a long time but some social issues are now being considered too. Smart homes are much more than the simple ability to remotely lock and unlock your front door. Instead it is expected to use actionable situation intelligence in order to detect your entry inside a building, turn on the lights to your pre-set preferences, preheat your stove and put on your favorite music.

Developer working on the IoT projects focus on finding compatibility between home deployment tools and the verticals attachable with them. Home automation requires 5 components to function:
– Sensor: measures temperature, light or motion detection
– Interface: human to machine or/and machine to machine
– Controller: a general purpose computer
– Bus: wired or wireless for transmitting instructions
– Actuator: motorized valves, light switches and motors

These components can be assembled in any manner through a central hub. As developers build systems that manage devices and sensor data, the opportunities are open when mastering the connectivity based on temperature, lighting, video, security, appliances and entertainment.

Many categories of device and services lie under the IoT umbrella. Devices have a certain selection criteria, based on the following characteristics:
– Customer Oriented: These devices are marketed and sent to end users who need not have any technical expertise in using them.
– Always on: Designed to remain on and connected to the Net permanently.
– Useful for real-world impact: It contains the capability to interact with the environment.

Mobile Application Interface

Direct communication between mobile applications and a device makes it easier for users to control events. Security measures need to be followed, like checking whether all sensitive data sent between device and mobile applications are encrypted. Without adequate protection, sensitive data can be monitored by attackers by observing local network traffic. Also, test whether mobile applications employ TSL/SSL certificates.

Security and Privacy Concerns

As Developers continue to build out amazing applications and hardware for homes, security and privacy measures need to be followed as well. Privacy and Security are always at the forefront of design. Few key recommendations while developing a device include:
– Build security into devices at the outset, rather than as an afterthought
– Train employees about the importance security
– Monitor connected devices throughout their expected life cycle, and where possible, provide security patches to cover known risks

The future

Developers obviously have the best vantage point on how the future will shape out since they are the creators of the application. Every new invention comes from imagination. Through a series of universal standards, every device would add value to a person’s persona. Developers need to realize that next generation platforms need to be able to abstract devices so that on boarding is made simpler.

Project Management Skills

August 1, 2017

Computer & Technology

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What project manager skills, traits, characteristics, attributes behaviours, techniques, make a difference in successfully managing projects. Most respondents easily generated four to five items which they believed made the difference between average and superior project performance. The result was nearly 1400 statements. These statements were summarised into six skill areas.

Eighty four percent of the respondents mentioned “being a good communicator” as an essential project manager skill. Being persuasive or being able to sell one’s ideas was frequently mentioned as a characteristic of a good communicator within the project management context. Many people also cited the importance of receiving information, or good listening skills. As one systems engineer exclaimed: “The good project managers manage not by the seat of their pants but by the soles of their feet!”

Organisational skills represented a second major set of competencies.
Characteristics included in this category were planning and goal setting abilities, along with the ability to be analytical. The ability to prioritize, captured in the phrases “stays on track” and “keeps the project goals in perspective,” was also identified as significant.

While successful project managers were viewed as good problem solvers, what really differentiated them from their so-so counterparts was their problem finding ability. Because of their exceptional communication skills, goal clarity and planning, effective project managers were aware of issues before they became problems. Problem finding gave them greater degrees of freedom, enabling them to avoid being seriously side-tracked by problems caused by unforeseen events.

The important team building skills involved developing empathetic relationships with other members of the project team. Being sensitive to the needs of others, motivating people, and building a strong sense of team spirit were identified as essential for effectively managing a project. “The best project managers use a lot of ‘we’ statements in describing the project, “wrote one computer programmer. Being clear about the project’s objectives and subsequently breaking down the project into its component parts. (E.g. schedules) helped project participants to understand their interdependencies and the need for team work.

Several different attributes and behaviours were catalogued under leadership skills. These included setting a good example, seeing the big picture, being enthusiastic, having a positive outlook, taking initiative, and trusting people. Having a vision is closely related to goal clarity. The leadership component of this competency was best expressed by one financial analyst as “the ability to see the forest for the trees”.

Since, as is often lamented, the only constant in managing a project is change, successful project managers require coping or stress-management skills. Respondents indicated that both flexibility and creativity were involved in effectively dealing (or coping) with change, as were patience and persistence. What project manager’s experience are generally high levels of stress. How well they handle stress (grace under pressure) significantly affects their eventual success or failure.

The final cluster of skills was labelled technological. Successful project managers were seen as having relevant experience or knowledge about the technology required by the project. Seldom, however, were effective project managers seen as technological “experts”. Indeed expertise was often felt to be detrimental because it decreased flexibility and the willingness to consider alternate perspectives. Project managers do need to be sufficiently well versed in the technology to be able to ask the right questions because, as one senior military officer pointed out, “you’ve got to be able to know when people are blowing smoke at you.”

Project Management Skills
1. Communication Skills (84%)
• Listening
• Persuading
2. Organisational Skills (75%)
• Planning
• Goal-Setting
• Analysing
3. Team Building Skills (72%)
• Empathy
• Motivation
• Esprit de corps
4. Leadership Skills (68%)
• Sets example
• Energetic
• Vision (big picture)
• Delegates
• Positive
5. Coping Skills (59%)
• Flexibility
• Creativity
• Patience
• Persistence
6. Technical Skills (46%)
• Experience
• Project knowledge
Note: the percentage numbers in parentheses represent the percentage of project managers whose response was included in this cluster.