How Artificial Intelligence Will Change Our World

Remember those sci-fi films and television shows that we all watched as children and many of us still watch today? They showed us some fairly high tech devices that would change the way we lived and worked. But it was all just science fiction right? Take a look around, technology has advanced rapidly and continues to advance as new developments in artificial intelligence are made every day. We have devices that enable us to communicate with anyone around the world, look up important information in just seconds and even talk to us, read us stories and suggest a good restaurant for our next date night. Artificial intelligence and modern technology are here to make our lives easier, or are they?

c3po

Sure, the idea of artificial intelligence is interesting and the abilities of new autonomous devices are beyond what we could have expected. The US has a restaurant run entirely by robots using some of the latest artificial intelligence technology. That sounds like something any tourist or sci-fi fan would like to see, but how does that affect the economy and the workforce?

If artificial intelligence is being designed to make our lives easier by taking over those difficult or mundane jobs, how are we supposed to make a living? Artificial intelligence can be used in a variety of robotic applications from manufacturing and agriculture, to retail, even pizza making. Without our careers, we couldn’t purchase the products robots are selling.

Let’s take another look at this. We already use artificial intelligence in our daily lives to make studying, research and entertainment easier and more convenient. What can artificial intelligence do for the handicapped? We could use robotics to not only aid the physically challenged in their homes, but to help them walk, move about and become part of the world around them. This is what artificial intelligence can do for us and what it is being developed to do very soon. AI can also be used to run personal health scans instantly, reducing the need for regular doctor visits.

So, how will artificial intelligence change our world? By completing the tasks that are too dangerous for mankind and making it possible for people to get more done while their robotic counterparts perform the manual labor they wouldn’t normally have time for, we could see an employment shortage oddly partnered with a higher quality of living. What are your thoughts on the topic? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think about AI and how it will change our world.

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10 Things You Didn’t Know About UK Small Businesses

Are you a small business owner in the UK? Are you considering opening a small business but are unsure about the UK market? Read our list of the 10 Things You Didn’t Know About UK Small Businesses and see if it inspires you to start that small business that you have always been dreaming of.

small-business

  • The number of women-owned UK small businesses grew by 54% over the past 5 years.
  • Despite owning a sizable percentage of UK businesses, women attract only 5% of the country’s equity capital. And, when it comes to first-year funding, women received on average 80% less capital than men.
  • Last year, there were 5.4 million private sector businesses in the UK, which is an increase of 3% since 2014.
  • Last year in the UK there were 1,028 businesses per 10,000 resident adults.
  • A large portion, almost 1/3 of UK businesses are in located in London or the South East with 976,000 being in London and 878,000 in the South East.
  • The World Economic Forum and World Bank has the UK ranked number 6 of 189 in the world for ease of doing business.
  • The internet represents a £19 billion business opportunity for small business owners in the UK.
  • The number of foreign-owned businesses in the UK has decreased by 3% since 2009, but their contribution to UK value added has increased by almost 19%.
  • Almost a quarter of foreign-owned businesses in the UK are owned from within the USA.
  • Small businesses in the UK accounted for 99.3% of all private sector businesses at the start of 2015.

Offering jobs as well as goods and services, small to medium businesses are an important part of the UK economy. If you are looking to start a small business in the UK, do your research, get your funding and start attracting those customers today!

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How A Strong US Dollar Will Impact UK Businesses?

A strong US dollar can mean a lot of different things for the world’s economies. What impact could it have on UK businesses? If you are a business owner in the UK, should you be concerned about the rise in value of the US dollar? Or should you dismiss it as something that occurs often in currency values? Whether the impact is good or bad, the US dollar is on the rise and UK business owners could begin feeling the effects soon.

Strong US Dollar

From tourism to goods and services, every UK business can expect to see some sort of impact. In fact, the tourism trade will receive the most noticeable effect of a rising US dollar as more vacationers from the US will visit the UK. This could also mean that businesses in and around tourist destinations will see more business as vacationers tend to spend more money of impulse items when travelling. What does this mean for the hospitality industry? Hotel and restaurant owners will also see an increase in sales as the tourism industry picks up.

What about the businesses selling their products abroad? Will they see any impact from a rising US dollar? With consumer spending in the US on the rise, if your UK business sells products in the US, you will be sure to see an increase in sales and profits even though the £ may be dropping slightly. So far, a US dollar that is rising in value doesn’t look so bad. There is another side to this though.

As the US dollar strengthens, exports from the US will increase in price for foreign firms, and trading could be affected for companies dealing in more than one currency. This could mean that UK businesses would have to be more careful with their currency conversion timing and ensure that they closely follow the trends in the currency markets to get the most value out of their own currency.

UK companies with operations in the US also need to be sure that their assets and liabilities are valued in the same currency as much as possible. This is to ensure that any strengthening or weakening in either of the currencies do not affect their ability to finance their operations or business growth.

There are many things that UK businesses can do to protect themselves from a rising US dollar. By following the currency markets closely and remaining focused, many UK business owners will remain successful until the pound regains its growth.

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5 Surprising Facts About The UK Economy

The economy, something that all of us talk about either in cafes, during lunch breaks at work or when the conversation takes a turn for the boring and you need a last ditch effort to revive it. Whether you understand the UK economy or not, it is always a go-to topic for discussions with coworkers, family and friends. Aside from the typical “economy speak” that we may have learned from listening to our parents, we don’t have anything new to say when the topic arises. For those times, we have created our list of 5 Surprising Facts About the UK Economy. Read along and keep these in mind whenever you need to show off your knowledge of our economy.

ukeconomy

Fact #1. The UK economy sees more growth in the north. You don’t have to be in London to be successful in the UK. In fact, more new businesses are founded in the north in areas such as Manchester, than any other area in the UK. There has been an average economic growth of 74% in the north compared to London’s 42%.

Fact #2. Britain spends less on investments than any other G7 economy. In 2013, the UK spent 15% of GDP on investment which is just behind other G7 economies such as Germany and Italy with 17%. In comparison, France spent 25% of their GDP on investments.

Fact #3. The UK’s homebuilding rate is among the worst in the world. The UK’s homebuilding rate of 0.21% is among the lowest in the Western world but that does not signal a housing shortage just yet. This is a good indication of consumer uncertainty and usually follows a definitive pattern.

Fact #4. The number of foreign-owned businesses in the UK has decreased by 3% since 2009, but their contribution to UK value added has increased by almost 19%.

Fact #5. Almost a quarter of foreign-owned businesses in the UK are owned from within the USA. Foreign investment is an important part of any economy as it not only adds a financial boost to the country, but it also shows that there is global confidence in our country as well.

Whether traditional or digital, the UK economy is strong and has proven this through many recessions, downturns and economic shifts throughout history. These facts are just some of the interesting points of our economy that will ensure you always have something to talk about whenever needed in conversation.

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10 Easy Steps to Improve Your Company’s Online Presence

10 Easy Steps to Improve Your Company’s Online Presence

seo

As a business owner, there are many ways that you can improve your company’s online presence to attract more visitors to your website. We have listed ten of the easiest and most effective ways that have helped businesses in a wide range of industries and market niches.

Search Engine Marketing

Search engine optimization and search engine marketing will help your website attract more visitors by putting it on the first page of the search results. By utilizing a variety of techniques including keyword placement, metatags and others, business owners can increase their Google and Yahoo rankings ensuring their business website it seen by more people.

Article Marketing

Article marketing is an online marketing tool where companies hire content writers to create articles that contain quality information and search engine benefits based on the specific keywords the company is targeting. These articles can be included on your site, on your blog or submitted to one of the many free online article submission sites.

Pay-Per-Click or Sponsored Link Advertising

Free promotion online may seem like good business sense, but one of the most common rules of advertising is that you get what you pay for and you have more control over it. Pay-per-click and sponsored listing opportunities enable businesses to pay to achieve a higher position in the sponsored link section of search engines. You are paying to generate visitors to your site or landing page and PPC can be used as a short-term traffic generation technique to attract more visitors.

Social Media

Social media is one very useful way that many businesses improve their online presence and gain more visitors. Create a business page on Facebook, Twitter or any of the social media networks and reach more potential customers on a more personal level.

Blogging

Blogging gives your business a chance to offer product information, new product or service ideas or to just give customers a behind the scenes look at your business. Articles can be written to include many SEO strategies as well.

Exchange Links

A link exchange network will help your business grow its online presence while helping partner sites as well. Choose links from sites that are popular and have high traffic levels.

Use RSS Feeds

An RSS feed helps your site visitors stay in touch with what is going on with your website. Choose an RSS feed like Google Reader or Google Alerts and add the button to your homepage. This is a really good way to drive repeat traffic.

Share the News

One of the best ways to grow your online presence is to track and retain visitors. Having a way to easily capture contact information from visitors to add them to your contact list is vital. Writing a regularly newsletter (2-4 times per month) to communicate directly with your clients/customers about recent news, events, and to stay in front of your audience helps with growth. Newsletter distribution with links back to your site can also lead directly to increased traffic from recipients.

Add Pages

A general rule of thumb of increasing SEO performance is to add traffic. Having more cached pages that are indexed by Google and other search engines helps gives your site more impact in search engines. Additionally, you can set up additional pages as independent landing pages to help increase sales conversion for specific products as they become easier to find for visitors who do not have to navigate through your site to get to sales pages.

Go Mobile

As the iPhone and other multi-purpose cell phone products increase their internet technology and features, companies have greater ability to contact consumers. Understanding all of these opportunities can be a tremendous advantage to your online presence. Text messaging, mobile updating, and interactivity between your site and the mobile environment can all help grow and retain traffic.

As a business owner, there are many ways that you can improve your company’s online presence to attract more visitors to your website. We have listed ten of the easiest and most effective ways that have helped businesses in a wide range of industries and market niches.

Search Engine Marketing

Search engine optimization and search engine marketing will help your website attract more visitors by putting it on the first page of the search results. By utilizing a variety of techniques including keyword placement, metatags and others, business owners can increase their Google and Yahoo rankings ensuring their business website it seen by more people.

Article Marketing

Article marketing is an online marketing tool where companies hire content writers to create articles that contain quality information and search engine benefits based on the specific keywords the company is targeting. These articles can be included on your site, on your blog or submitted to one of the many free online article submission sites.

Pay-Per-Click or Sponsored Link Advertising

Free promotion online may seem like good business sense, but one of the most common rules of advertising is that you get what you pay for and you have more control over it. Pay-per-click and sponsored listing opportunities enable businesses to pay to achieve a higher position in the sponsored link section of search engines. You are paying to generate visitors to your site or landing page and PPC can be used as a short-term traffic generation technique to attract more visitors.

Social Media

Social media is one very useful way that many businesses improve their online presence and gain more visitors. Create a business page on Facebook, Twitter or any of the social media networks and reach more potential customers on a more personal level.

Blogging

Blogging gives your business a chance to offer product information, new product or service ideas or to just give customers a behind the scenes look at your business. Articles can be written to include many SEO strategies as well.

Exchange Links

A link exchange network will help your business grow its online presence while helping partner sites as well. Choose links from sites that are popular and have high traffic levels.

Use RSS Feeds

An RSS feed helps your site visitors stay in touch with what is going on with your website. Choose an RSS feed like Google Reader or Google Alerts and add the button to your homepage. This is a really good way to drive repeat traffic.

Share the News

One of the best ways to grow your online presence is to track and retain visitors. Having a way to easily capture contact information from visitors to add them to your contact list is vital. Writing a regularly newsletter (2-4 times per month) to communicate directly with your clients/customers about recent news, events, and to stay in front of your audience helps with growth. Newsletter distribution with links back to your site can also lead directly to increased traffic from recipients.

Add Pages

A general rule of thumb of increasing SEO performance is to add traffic. Having more cached pages that are indexed by Google and other search engines helps gives your site more impact in search engines. Additionally, you can set up additional pages as independent landing pages to help increase sales conversion for specific products as they become easier to find for visitors who do not have to navigate through your site to get to sales pages.

Go Mobile

As the iPhone and other multi-purpose cell phone products increase their internet technology and features, companies have greater ability to contact consumers. Understanding all of these opportunities can be a tremendous advantage to your online presence. Text messaging, mobile updating, and interactivity between your site and the mobile environment can all help grow and retain traffic.

www.stoneventures.info

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Why Is Consumer Confidence So Important ?

Why Is Consumer Confidence So Important?

confidence

What is consumer confidence and why is it so important? Consumer confidence is an economic indicator that measures how confident consumers are about the overall state of the economy. That’s easy enough right? Consumer confidence also measures how confident people feel about their own income’s stability. This confidence impacts how they shop and how much they spend. This makes consumer confidence one of the most important indicators for the overall shape of the economy.

When the economy expands, consumer confidence increases. Likewise, consumer confidence decreases when the economy contracts. While consumers don’t usually have perfect information, consumer confidence is considered a lagging indicator of stock market performance.

How Useful Are Consumer Confidence Indicators?

Many of the UK’s investors, manufacturers, retailers, banks and government agencies use a wide range of consumer assessments when planning their actions. Let’s look at an example of this. If weak consumer confidence is indicating a decline in spending, manufacturers will decrease their inventory. Banks will reduce lending activities including mortgages and credit cards. Homebuilders will plan for the decline in home construction volumes and build less homes and the government prepare for a reduction in tax revenues. As you can see, weak consumer confidence plays an important role in the overall economy and touches every industry. When confidence decreases, spending and risk-taking tend to decrease.

Let’s look at another example. Consumer confidence is improving. Manufacturers will increase production and inventory levels. Employers will begin hiring. Builders will prepare for higher housing construction rates and banks will increase lending activity.

Factors That Impact Consumer Confidence

There are even more factors that affect consumer confidence. Consumer spending is impacted by factors like monetary or fiscal policy, inflation, purchasing power and supply of goods. This makes it important for investors and business owners to review important economic indicators if they are to gauge the economy’s overall health. It may be as simple as watching the news or reading the financial report, or following the stock markets and watching for any indicators that the economy is slowing down.

The question remains, are consumers in the UK confident about the economy?

www.stoneventures.info

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How Will Google Change Our World in The Next Decade?

How Will Google Change Our World in The Next Decade?

google meme

For a company that was started in a garage in 1998, Google has grown into one of the most used and most well-known technology giants in the world. Google affects many aspects of our lives from how we search the internet, to our mobile phone use and how we run our businesses. We have seen what Google has to offer and we have embraced it, but how will Google change the world over the next decade? What will Google bring us next?

Let’s take a look at some of Google’s newest projects that are being created right now.

Google Glass

While Google’s head-mounted optical display does have some really cool features the cost of the current model puts it out of reach for many people. That hasn’t stopped many businesses and governments to use Google Glass in many innovative ways. Recently, Nepal has used Google Glass to track its wild animals, and the poachers that threaten the country’s endangered flora and fauna. Google has promised many improvements to the Google Glass platform making it easier and more affordable in the next decade.

Self-Driving Car

Google’s self-driving car is set to revolutionize the way we get from Point A to Point B. Using intelligent software, Google Chauffeur, could be used by the world’s top automakers to make smarter cars that can drive and park themselves.

Smart Contact Lens

Google is set to release a smart contact lens that includes a mini glucose sensor and wireless chip that helps diabetics measure the sugar levels in their tears. This is only the beginning for this technology as there are many more advances in the smart contact lens design that could include sharper vision over increased distances.

Google Loon

There are still many areas of the world that don’t have internet access and Google wants to change that. Using Wi-Fi enabled hot air balloons, Google wants to create a 4G network floating high in the skies. Google is currently working on longer flight times and more dependable Wi-Fi signals.

Machine Vision

Google is working on giving computers corresponding perception capabilities enabling them to reason, think and do things better than we can. A computer can now listen to music and build a description of their perception. This means that it can also annotate images and video and describe visual objects to its users.

The Artificial Neural Network

Google’s artificial neural network is working to create a computer that can simulate what happens inside the human brain more efficiently than we can. This is similar to the Machine Vision project, but it taps into the workings of the human brain. This technology is already in use in Google Street View and could be used in more applications soon.

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10 Things That Will Impact Small Businesses When We Exit The EU

10 Things That Will Impact Small Businesses When We Exit The EU

brexit meme

Despite what many people thought, Brexit happened and the UK may or may not be better for it. Both sides have strong arguments as to why their opinions are right and while the arguments and debates about Brexit will still be heard throughout the UK, it is business as usual for many small businesses throughout the country. Or is it?

Brexit has brought with it a great deal of uncertainty for small business owners and it has many of them wondering if their businesses will remain successful. Leaving the EU will impact many of the UK’s small businesses and we have created our own list of the “10 Things That Will Impact Small Businesses When We Exit The EU”

Economic Uncertainty

While the UK economy is currently very healthy, Brexit might change that. Many large companies have threatened to leave the UK, when Brexit happens and this could have an effect on the local and overall economies.

Trade

While many business owners think that trade with the EU will stop, it won’t. It will just be different and small businesses will continue to be affected by EU law and regulations. Trade with the EU won’t dry up, changes will be made and small business owners will adapt to these changes.

Competition

With countries deciding to make life difficult for the UK, small businesses can respond by becoming more competitive. This will ensure that the UK will remain an attractive place to do business regardless what effect Brexit will or won’t have.

Unsteady Financial Markets

The financial markets will be affected by Brexit and this could make borrowing more difficult for small business owners. Investors like to be sure that their investments will pay off and they could be hesitant about lending to UK businesses.

Immigration and Work Permits

Many small businesses in the UK rely on foreign workers, many of whom come from the EU. Brexit will cause new legislation to be introduced enabling these workers to remain in the UK. Without employees, many UK businesses might close.

Distribution Woes

If your small business does any European distribution, you may have to separate that distribution from your UK and US distribution. That means higher shipping costs, lower margins and increased workload.

New Laws, Rules and Regulations

With Brexit, there will be hundreds of laws, rules and agreements governing everything from trade and immigration to agricultural subsidies rewritten. This will affect many small business contractual agreements creating more work for UK business owners.

Marketing

Many UK small businesses will need to increase their marketing activity and become more creative. Identify your strengths and communicate them to your customers.

Pricing

There will be a pressure to push prices down. If your business sees this downward price pressure, know what your costs are and set a minimum price for your services or products. Watch your mark ups or margins to be sure they do not fall too low.

Cost Cutting

Keeping your overhead down is good for your business and cost cutting is something that every small business owner faces. Be sure that you don’t cut costs so low that your business or your customers suffer.

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Smart Phone Apps That Can Revolutionize Your Business

Smart Phone Apps That Can Revolutionize Your Business

A recent survey has revealed that small businesses that developed their own apps made a big difference compared to those that didn’t. Yes, even small business needs an app to win over its competitors. Of course, it is not a new thing for businesses to have their own apps as a way of boosting their marketing or sales efforts. However, many small business managers are still not aware of the benefits of having a mobile app, for instance, to drive their success.

The survey further translates that small business owners opt to acquire a mobile or smartphone app for their company. The top 3 reasons have been found that owners want to improve customer services, to boost their sales, and to overcome other businesses.

Are you still not convinced that a smart phone app can revolutionize a business? Well, perhaps you need to check the following reasons that business owners aim to achieve with the help smart phone apps.

Improve the Level of Customer Service

Seventy-six percent of the companies surveyed stated that they want to improve the quality of their customer service. For this reason, there are smart phone apps that can be used to connect with on-the-go customers as well as improve the line of communication between the business and its customers.

Additionally, one satisfied spa business owner also stated that with an app that could be used by customers to book appointments through a cellular phone. Most of the clients are on-the-go and not on their computers but still they are able to engage and have their appointments booked in no time.

Increase Potential Sales of Business

Following the first reason is the aim of companies of getting more sales. For instance, a business can do this by offering incentives to new customers if they download their app. Your business can do this too if are willing to revolutionize the way you do business.

On the other hand, you can also do this if you are able to put your business on top of the minds of your customers and to make it more accessible. Smart phone apps can do this just like the successful coffee delivery truck business. This can be done by allowing push notifications so that potential customers will know the current location of the delivery truck and increase possibility of sales.

Running with the Big Players

The final reason why businesses engage in smart phone apps is to beat the competition in the market. Small businesses can do this because they are able to compete with larger competitors with the help of mobile phone apps. For example, one sportswear retailer was able to attract new users with the introduction of contests and raffles. This can be done when they are able to download from 150-200 new apps.

According to the successful retailer, they are able to make their business more accessible to their customers in real time which gives them an edge over their bigger competitors. Moreover, smart phone apps allow more visibility in particular markets compared to those who didn’t engage in this concept.

 

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CRM – How Great Customer Relationships Can Be Built Using a Simple CRM System

CRM – How Great Customer Relationships Can Be Built Using a Simple CRM System

Understanding customer relationship management (CRM) is essential particularly when a company offers services or sales to its customers. While it is commonly used as a description of business-to-customer relationship, it is also used as a tool in the management of business-to-business relationships. But, how crucial is it to build an excellent customer relationship? Is it possible to build one by merely using a simple CRM system?

Impact of CRM Solutions

Nowadays, CRM solutions provide organizations with the data to assist them in offering products and services that customers want. Likewise, it can provide better customer services, assist sales teams in selling more effectively, attain deals, offer customer retention, and get an understanding on who the customers are.

Usability of CRM Software

According to some, CRM software is difficult to use because it is primed for stability, security and scalability as the focal points. Although it is not the primary part of CRM, vendors nowadays make it a point to include usability as their focal point. This is intended in order to make the workflow as intuitive and as simple as possible. It is also made easier to navigate in as little as 3 clicks or less to meet the needs of the sales team.

Technological Innovation Affects CRM Strategies

The way businesses reach out to their customers has been changed through introduction of new technologies as well as the Internet. In this manner, they have changed the way customers purchase goods, and they are able to collect data about their customers as well. With the introduction of these technologies, companies are able to manage customer relationships electronically.

Benefits of CRM in Business

The main benefit of moving from a current system to CRM enabled systems is the pleasure of having all business data accessed and stored from one location only. The idea of keeping all data in central locations will allow the management and employees to access recent data the moment the need will arise. In this case, all departments can work collaboratively easily. At the same time, it will assist organizations to gain an efficient way to improve the business process.\

Recent Trends in CRM Approaches

In the advent of technological innovation comes social media and the spread of mobile devices have enabled CRM providers to upgrade their offerings. For example, they are able to introduce new features to cater to the needs of customers using new technologies. Social media will allow customers to engage in open forums so that they can share experiences with brands.

Additionally, companies allowed the use of different tools that monitor social conversations so that they can add value to interactions made by customers in social media. This will come from the number of mentions made to how frequently they use certain keywords.

New trends involving smartphones and other gadgets have become a must-have for professionals in marketing and sales. In this regard, they can access information about the customer and perform certain tasks even when they are not inside their offices.

 

 

 

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