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Repair VS. Recycle: Key Factors to Consider

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As the pandemic has left many consumers with less disposable income and more time on their hands, interest in refurbishing or repairing electronics has gained new momentum.

When presented with their options, however, many consumers aren’t sure what action to take moving forward. Should you repair or recycle your broken electronics? Carefully considering each approach can make it easier for you to move forward confidently. 

Reasons to Repair 

Whether it’s been broken for years or you just dropped it today, there are several reasons you may want to repair your device:

Access Data

For many, the data is more important than the device itself. Losing personal photos, work data or school documents can cause heartbreak and stress.

Despite this risk, many still do not use cloud-based backup services such as Google Drive, Dropbox or iCloud.

Luckily, the most common damage to electronics (cracked screens, broken charging ports, and liquid damage) usually does not affect the memory of the device, meaning a repair will give you access to the data again.

Some repair shops even offer data recovery services, often saving you money and giving you access to your data without having to fully repair the device.

Financed Device

How we purchase and use cell phones and technology has changed significantly over the years. What used to be a once every two-year purchase of a few hundred dollars can now easily exceed $1000.

Furthermore, these purchases are often made on payment plans, stretching out years. Even if you break the device, you’ll have to keep making those monthly payments, and in most cases, purchasing a new device will simply add additional payments to your plan.

Many people find that it’s worth making repairs to their device to avoid making additional payments for a device that isn’t yet paid off. 


Upgrading is exciting but can often be a lot of work and have unexpected costs.

When you choose to simply repair your existing device, you can continue to use the same accessories you’ve already purchased, including the charger, the case, and any other accessories you’ve added to it.

Choosing to replace your device, on the other hand, doesn’t just mean that you’ll face the cost of a new device, but that you’ll find yourself paying for new accessories and possibly having to replace every charger in your home, car and office.

Environmental Impact

Repairing electronics and keeping them around for as long as possible is the first line of defense to preventing e-waste and reducing your environmental impact.

In fact, 85% of the emissions impact of a smartphone comes from its production.

Opting to repair your smartphone means it holds on to all the energy and materials it uses during manufacturing and helps prevent e-waste from ending up in landfills.

Spend Local

Many electronic repair shops are locally owned and operated, whereas most electronic manufacturers and retailers are big businesses often with overseas production.

Making repairs to your existing device allows you to support those members of the local community, which is particularly important during times of economic uncertainty.

A lot of these repair shops have adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic by offering curbside service, mail-in repairs and home pick up and drop off. 

Reasons to Recycle 

Sometimes, as a consumer, you might want to choose not to try to repair your device. Recycling can also present a great option.

Frequently, the device can still be repaired and sold or donated. In other cases, recycling your devices can help cut down on overall waste.

Are you ready to upgrade to a new device, rather than holding on to the old one? Consider these reasons to recycle:

New Technology

Every year, new advances in cell phone and electronics technology become available.

Upgrading could mean a higher resolution camera, improved battery life, or access to faster data speeds with 5G.

In some cases, if you’re working with an older device, you may find that certain apps are no longer supported on your current device. For example, many older Mac computers don’t have the compatibility to run essential applications such as the new Microsoft office. 

Help Support those in Need

You can help someone less fortunate by recycling for charity. Many charities, including women’s shelters, will provide individuals in need with old devices.

These devices can allow people in need to contact friends and family members or gain access to the internet to help with job searches. And, yes, you can find help to wipe all information, or factory reset your devices for data protection.

Other cell phone recyclers also support nonprofit charities by using the proceeds from your recycled device. Choosing to recycle your device for charity can offer enormous benefits to those in need. 


Many newer models of smartphones are incredibly difficult to repair, meaning it might not be worth the cost.

Apple’s screen repair costs jumped considerably with the arrival of the iPhone X and the use of OLED displays.

Currently, it costs between $279 and $399 to replace broken screens at most repair shops, including the Apple store.

The situation is the same with Samsung Galaxy smartphones – replacing a cracked screen on most newer models starts around $300.  


Not all replacement cell phone parts are created equal. When repair shops buy replacement parts, such as screens, there are numerous qualities or grades to choose from. 

Furthermore, there is no universal standard for part quality, meaning that one repair shop’s ‘A Grade’ may be comparable to another shop’s ‘A++ Grade’.

Many of these parts will work the same or similar to the original but quality may differ. It’s important to know what you’re paying for ahead of time. 

Device Downtime

Repairs can lead to considerable downtime. Many people rely on their devices to stay connected, and in the midst of COVID-19 quarantines.

Our connectivity is more important than ever.

You may need your device to access schoolwork, stay on top of work, or check-in with friends and family members that you can’t see in person.

Between ordering parts and often time-consuming repairs, it can take several days to get a working device back in your hands. Let’s be honest, many people cannot afford that much time without their device.

You must also consider the opportunity cost as the cost of the repairs themselves: for example, if not having your phone prevents you from working, you may face several days’ lost income while you wait for repairs. 

Risk Further Damage

DIY repairs risk causing further damage. Sure, there’s a YouTube video out there that can allow you to see firsthand how to take on almost any repair job, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

Many repairs require specialized tools, for example, newer iPhone models require the replacement screen to be “programmed” to function properly. Others need a steady hand in order to reduce the risk of further errors.

Simply opening the phone on your own can also void your manufacturer’s warranty, which means that the manufacturer won’t take on any responsibility for future repairs and defects.

The decision to repair or recycle always rests with you, and it may be different depending on your immediate circumstances.

Is it better to repair or recycle your device? Carefully consider all these criteria before making a decision, or talk to your local repair shop or recycler to learn more about your options. 

Image Credit: picjumbo; Pexels

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Advanced Tech Continues to Fail the Diversity Test: An IT Consultancy Hopes to Change That

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Despite the tech industry’s talk about diversity, progress has been slow.

As of this year, 3.8% of Facebook’s workforce is Black — up from 3% five years ago. Women have made slightly more progress, at 23% today compared to 15% in 2014. Figures are similarly disappointing at Apple and Google. 

Diversifying the tech industry isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s a business issue. In more advanced tech sectors, diverse candidates rarely even get the chance to interview. Yet companies with more diverse leadership generate 19% more revenue.  

One company hoping to even the playing field through tenacity and innovation is IBEX IT Business Experts. Led by president and CEO Tracey Grace, a Black woman herself, IBEX is working to bring inclusivity back to an industry that lost it long ago.

How did diversity in tech become so difficult?

Looking at tech now, no one would think the industry found its footing thanks to the efforts of trailblazing women.

Back in the 1940s, a group of six women developed the field of programming in the Army during World War II. Decades ago, people viewed the construction of hardware as the most difficult part of the job. Men built the machines, then a handful of women including Jean Jennings Bartik and Frances Elizabeth Holberton created the software. They had a difficult task ahead, though: they had to come up with the concepts behind software before they could begin coding. Their achievements created the foundation of modern engineering and the entire tech sector.

Those women were white, but women of color played an important role in early tech as well. The women mathematicians who worked at NASA during the 1960s and beyond (given long overdue recognition in the 2016 film Hidden Figures) helped make space travel possible. Working as literal “human computers,” Black women including Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Dorothy Vaughan performed the calculations that allowed Armstrong and company to land on the moon.

As time passed, though, people and businesses began to realize the importance of the work these women were doing. Instead of celebrating their achievements by investing in a field where women were already leading the way, the tech industry attracted scores of white men who wanted to get in on the rise of a new and important market. The people who had made that market possible were shuffled to the back. Tech exploded into a massively profitable industry, and talented people who didn’t match the white male mold found themselves on the outside looking in.

Now, after decades of exclusion of minorities and women in tech, IBEX has said enough is enough.

IBEX pushing tech inclusivity forward

IBEX operates differently from other IT groups. Focusing specifically on advanced disciplines including AI, blockchain, and machine intelligence, IBEX’s consultants can work on several types of projects that most consulting groups do not have the experience to handle. By keeping a variety of highly skilled specialists in house, IBEX can provide a much deeper level of partnership and expertise than comparable firms.

The business not only excels in its field but also uses its powers for good. Guided by Grace’s vision, IBEX leverages its advanced tech talent to identify and execute on opportunities to improve the lives of people who have traditionally been locked out of the best options. Instead of pursuing profit at the exclusion of all else — an unfortunately common attitude within tech circles — IBEX partners with businesses to effect meaningful, lasting change wherever it goes.

Several years after founding IBEX in 2012, Grace saw a need for more diversity in the supplier side of technology, which led her to start Certifiably Diverse in 2017. “Leaders can’t just hire a diverse team and call it a day,� says Grace.“Diverse teams produce better business outcomes, but they’re not enough to fix entrenched inequalities. To make a dent, companies have to insist that their suppliers and managers embrace diversity, too.� 

Certifiably Diverse handles all the traditional duties of a standard vendor management platform without overlooking minority contributors. Overseeing the activities of both companies, Grace is uniquely positioned to understand and attack the issues of exclusion that have been prevalent in tech for decades.

Today, IBEX works to motivate members of minority groups who cannot afford the price of college to master tech skills via alternative paths. New e-learning courses from IBEX are designed to help more people develop the skills the tech sector needs, bolstering IBEX’s own talent pool while enriching communities that have been passed over by traditional education.

IBEX has already made great strides in closing the gap as an IT consultancy, but the same achievement for the greater tech industry remains a distant goal. As Grace and IBEX inspire others to join their cause, their efforts will mark the beginning of a turning point that will make tech a welcoming place for talent of all backgrounds.

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Challenges of Adopting AI in Businesses

challege adopt AI

Over the past decade, the discussion surrounding Artificial Intelligence has made waves and garnered more attention. Businesses are working towards adopting AI to harness its potential, but it comes with its challenges.

AI is now a hot topic of discussion in the business world, with big guns like Google, Netflix, Amazon, etc, benefitting largely from AI solutions and machine learning algorithms. Not just large businesses but small and medium based businesses too.

In fact, by 2025, the global AI market is expected to be almost $126 billion, now that’s huge.

There has been pressure on businesses to adopt AI solutions to get ahead. With a plethora of articles proving why it’s important to integrate AI in business practices. Because AI has proved beneficial to the successful running of businesses.

An Accenture report revealed that AI can increase business productivity by 40% and boost profitability by 38%.

However, we can’t be blind to the challenges adopting AI has posed for businesses. These challenges make the idea of the successful integration of AI seem far fetched or even unattainable.

An Alegion survey reported that nearly 8 out of 10 enterprise organizations currently engaged in AI and ML projects have stalled.

The same study also revealed that 81% of the respondents admit the process of training AI with data is more difficult than they expected.

This has shown that the expectations for businesses adopting AI might be different from reality.  

Below are the top 7 challenges businesses face in the journey of AI implementation.

1. Data Challenges

I bet you saw that one coming since AI feeds heavily on data. 

However, there’s a lot that can go wrong with the required data for AI. Factors like the volume of data, collection of data, labeling of data, and accuracy of data come to play.

Because, for successful AI solutions, both the quality and quantity of data matters. AI needs vast amounts of data for optimum performance, and a refined dataset to arrive at accurate predictions. 

According to a 2019 report by O’Reilly, the issue of data was the second-highest percentage in ranking on obstacles in AI adoption. 

AI models can only perform to the standard of the data provided, they can’t go beyond what they have been fed.

There are different data challenges that businesses face, let’s begin with the volume of data.

 Volume Of Data

The amount of data required by AI to make intelligent decisions is beyond comprehension.

Undoubtedly, businesses now generate more data compared to before, but the question arises, do businesses have enough data to feed AI?  

Businesses don’t have enough data to satisfy AI, especially when there are limitations in data collection due to privacy and security concerns. 

The same Allegion report revealed that 51% of the respondents said they didn’t have enough data.

This challenges the data infrastructure of most businesses. Businesses now need to generate more data than usual

To fix this, companies should ask: Is their present volume of data enough for the AI model? How can they generate more data?

Businesses need to know their current data acquisition and ways to acquire more data to match their AI model requirements. 

Businesses can acquire more data through the use of external data sources like Knoema which provides 100 million time-series datasets. Also, the use of carefully created synthetic data is helpful. 

Evaluating the current volume of data a business generates in comparison to what AI needs would open doors for data expansion ideas.

Collection of Data 

There are quite a number of issues that come with the collection of data. 

Issues like inaccurate answers, insufficient representatives, biased views, loopholes, and ambiguity in data are major factors that affect AI’s decisions. 

For example, the AI bias controversy that has sparked a grave concern.

Gartner predicted that 85% of AI projects will deliver erroneous outcomes due to bias in data, algorithms, the teams managing them, etc. 

There has been an outcry of AI being biased against women, people of color, etc. However, AI is not a conscious being and can’t form opinions, it only acts based on the data available. 

Therefore, this is the fault of humans, because data is provided by people, and people can be biased and stereotypical. 

This usually occurs due to the mode of data collection, data collected can’t represent everyone. 

This limits the wealth of data AI has at its disposal, leading to inaccurate decisions.

ML models require error-free datasets to provide accurate predictions for successful AI solutions.

Businesses have to employ efficient techniques and processes for collecting data.

Labeling of Data

AI relies on ML’s supervised learning to arrive at conclusions. Therefore, data needs to be labeled, categorized, and correct to use AI models.

AI’s data requirements make it difficult to efficiently label data, 96% of enterprises (insidebigdatadotcom) have run into problems with data labeling required to train AI.

The use of web-based data labeling tools can be employed. For example, the Computer Vision Annotation Tool (CVAT), which helps in annotating images and videos. 

2. Transparency Challenges 

In simplest terms, how does AI work? It arrives at conclusions and makes predictions with the data provided through the help of ML’s algorithms. 

Sounds simple right? Well, that’s not all. 

For complicated AI decisions, corporations will begin to experience the black box problem, this is where the picture gets blurry.  

The black box model is not clear on how it arrived at a certain conclusion, this leads to distrust and doubts about AI’s accuracy.

Because of the validity of the prediction or current suggestion is questioned. 

The rationale behind AI’s decisions needs to be transparent in order to build trust with businesses. 

  1. That’s why they need for explainable AI continues to grow as this makes adopting AI challenging for businesses

and has to be given more attention.

Although, the LIME (local interpretable model-agnostic explanations) approach has been helpful towards solving this problem.

3. Workforce Reception Challenges 

The non-technical workforce can find AI integration intimidating since its usage requires advanced training. 

So seamless usage and normalcy of AI in the workplace is a difficult goal to achieve. 

AI’s adoption can pose a state of confusion amongst employees. Questions like what is the need for AI? How to use this technology? Which of their responsibilities is the AI going to take over? arises. 

Despite numerous insights on how AI is not the enemy and not here to replace people, the role of AI remains misunderstood. 

The instant a business adopts AI, employees feel threatened and incompetent. 

Employees begin to feel a sudden pressure to prove their relevance. They will feel like they are in constant competition with a machine, this negatively affects the workplace vibes. 

Educating employees on what AI adoption means for the business and them overall, will help in preventing false assumptions or unrest amongst staff.

4. Expertise Scarcity Challenges 

Expertise scarcity is a major challenge in adopting AI for businesses. Also, it’s hard to hire the right people since most adopters don’t know the technicality that involves AI.

According to Deloitte’s global study of AI early adopters, 68 percent report a moderate-to-extreme AI skills gap.

AI is a growing and evolving technology, keeping up with its complexities and needs is a major problem for aspiring adopters.

The scarcity of AI’s skill set is one that hinders a successful business adoption of AI solutions. 

A survey by Gartner revealed the biggest challenge in AI adoption to be a lack of skills  

According to Deloitte, by 2024, the US is projected to face a shortage of 250,000 data scientists, based on current supply and demand. 

A prerequisite of a successful AI adoption is the use of Data Scientists.

However, hiring one is a challenge, except a business decides to outsource its AI projects. 

Also, businesses can use AI platforms with no requirement for a data scientist, else they will need to carefully and cautiously invest in a data scientist.

One of the solutions to this problem is education, educating the technical team will pave the opportunity to have citizen data scientists.

Businesses have to prioritize educating themselves of this technological industry if at all they desire a successful AI adoption.  

5. Expectations vs Reality Challenges 

There’s a lot of hype about the possibilities AI poses for businesses. When business owners consume the vast information out there containing the promises of AI, their expectations go beyond reality.

They forget that AI is a journey, not a destination. This makes businesses ignorant about the challenges that come with adopting AI. 

The confusion then sets in on what AI solutions their business actually needs, it’s important to know that AI is still growing and it’s not here to do everything for your business. 

Unfortunately, many businesses jump into the bandwagon of adopting AI with no blueprint on what they need AI for.

Also, how prepared are they to implement AI in their activities?

An AI business strategy should include which AI possibilities align with its current business goals, and preparing the business to adopt AI. 

Factors like the current capacity and expertise of business technology and data infrastructure are paramount to successfully house AI models. 

If this part of a business is weak and lacks the necessary efficiency, their reality will not match their expectations.

6. Business Use Case Challenges 

Prioritizing the area of AI application in the business is one of the common challenges whilst adopting AI. 

AI solutions are vast, however, businesses find it hard to prioritize or select the most important problem to get started with and see ROI. 

A survey by Gartner revealed that AI was mostly used either to boost the customer experience or to fight fraud. 

In the bid to play it safe and experiment, businesses limit AI to a small part of the business that brings very little impact to the business revenue. This leads to the inability to see the ROI of AI in business. 

A report by RELX revealed that 30% of the respondents cite an unproven return on investment (ROI) in AI adoption. 

Because adopting the solutions of AI and Machine Learning is a serious investment, and one with great expectations of a high level of ROI. 

According to IDC, the top AI use cases based on the 2019 market share were automated customer service agents, sales process automation, and automated threat intelligence and prevention systems.

7. Budget Constraints Challenges 

Not all businesses have the resources to invest in AI models.  

According to a report by Harvard Business Review, 40% of executives say an obstacle to AI initiatives is that technologies and expertise are too expensive. 

The same RELX report also disclosed that 50% of companies that have not yet adopted AI cite budget constraints as the primary reason. 

Small business enterprises can tap into free and paid simple AI solutions. Large businesses that want to create tailor-made solutions to fit their business use cases,

But for businesses looking to create tailor-made solutions to fit their business use cases, they are bound to experience budget constraints 

One of the solutions to managing AI budget issues is to outsource AI projects than carrying it out in the house. 

Also, enterprise software vendors and cloud providers provide ready to go AI services to curb Infrastructural costs. 


Adopting AI is challenging for businesses but definitely worth the effort because AI is here to stay.

These challenges will cease to become obstacles as AI becomes normalized and prioritized over time.

AI promises and possibilities can be exciting and distracting altogether. So don’t get too excited that you don’t create a clearly defined path to accomplish those solutions. 

Before investing time and money in AI, it’s important to make your business ready in every possible way to work with AI. 

Preparing your business for the change and disruption AI is about to bring is crucial.

We are habitual beings, breaking employees out of their work routines to adopt AI is a challenge, hence the need for a planned strategy. 

Having a deep and healthy understanding of what AI means for your business is a good sign of your readiness to adopt AI. 

Finally, applying AI in the core parts of your business will help to track, and measure the ROI of AI implementation to give you a clear picture of AI contributions to your business.

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Is Your Business Ready for Artificial Intelligence?

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If you haven’t implemented an artificial intelligence (AI) solution into your business yet, you may feel like you’re missing the boat. And in many ways, I’d agree with you. But is your business ready for artificial intelligence?

Some studies show that nearly 99% of companies are investing in AI in some way, shape or form. AI isn’t a “will we, won’t we” type of technology. AI will be the de-facto standard, much like an operating system or software, it will be embedded into every business technology in the not so distant future.

But that doesn’t mean you should just jump on the bandwagon for fear of falling behind. There are a lot of considerations to take into account before even dipping your toes in the AI water — or to carry through on my first analogy, to ensure you aren’t putting the cart (or wagon) before the horse.

Proper Planning of AI Implementation.

AI projects fail because of backlash due to a lack of proper planning and scoping. To ensure a successful artificial intelligence initiative, businesses need thoughtful preparation.

Take into consideration things like ensuring that AI doesn’t exist in isolation but is integrated into broader business processes are key to success.

What Questions Should You be Asking?

Plus, before rolling out any AI initiative, you need to ask a number of important questions.

Questions like what is the business opportunity? And do you have the resources you need to implement process transformation? Are there security implications?

What data do you need to solve the problem and what will you need to acquire it?

And maybe most important, are there any ethical implications for implementing an AI solution?

To help you get clear on these questions and more, here are a few things you must consider before seeking out an AI solution or hiring a team of machine learning engineers to build something in-house.

Understand what artificial intelligence is good at, and what it isn’t.

The question may seem trivial, but a lot of organizations we talk to don’t understand what problems are good and not good machine learning problems. Artificial intelligence is not a solve-all so make sure the problem you’re trying to find a solution for is appropriate.

Some common tasks AI is great for includes forecasting, anomaly detection, object detection, pattern detection, auto-generation, enhancement and reconstruction.

Have a well-defined problem

You need to consider what is the problem and why you are trying to solve it. If the scope is too broad, your initiative will quickly fail. For example, pathology of a whole-body offers too many variables but focusing within one body part is much better and will warrant better results.

Keep your scope narrow and build from there.

Identify the performance criteria for AI

Like any well-defined business initiative, before you begin, you need to identify what success looks like. Are you hoping to achieve greater accuracy than a human could achieve? Are you hoping to simply automate a task to save time?

Good performance criteria for an AI initiative will define performance on a narrow criterion with a given percent accuracy rate.

Determine the team and technology capability

Does your organization have the technical ability to work with AI? Currently, there are 300,000 machine learning engineers available and several million open positions.

Machine learning experts can earn as much as football players. Working with AI often requires understanding arcane mathematical and computer science concepts that most software engineers simply don’t have.

Finally, do you have the right tools to create and support artificial intelligence and machine learning processes?

Understand the long-term impacts

As I mentioned, the challenge with bottom up projects is that they often fail because of a lack of political will in organizations.

AI is simply not understood by most people in the organization and even framing a business argument for deploying AI is not always clear.

Obviously, a clear understanding of ROI will help but even this isn’t enough because in the end, like any other technology deployment, the ROI has to be compared to other non-AI alternatives.

Lastly, it is likely that AI will displace individuals. In one of the companies I worked for, we developed an AI solution that resulted in a 60% reduction in engineering issues for a very expensive manufacturing process.

Obviously, this would have had a significant impact on the business but in the end, after two years, the solution still did not gain as much traction as we would have desired because it would have entailed the elimination of an entire team.

Training data for machine learning

Do you have the data you need to effectively train a model? Plus, is that data accessible?

Artificial intelligence governance

Developing AI is only part of the process. Can you deploy and support the AI in production, deprecate it, or determine if the AI is performing to specs? Do you have a mechanism to enable broad deployment and management or the people to perform the work needed?

Few organizations have a complete strategy for how the AI is to be used or managed by their business. For example, a simple question of whether to deploy the AI into the cloud, on-premise, or deploy to the edge is not always clear.

Finally, is your AI solution “future-proofed.� If changes in technology or capability occur – how easily can the organization adapt?

Once you’ve gone through these set of questions and considerations, you’ll be ready to take on an AI solution (AI Dynamics, Inc, Bellevue, WA) or kick off an AI initiative within your organization. And that’s when the fun really begins.

Image Credit: Michael Dziedzic; Unsplash

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16 Best ETL Tools for Your Business

Best ETL Tools

Introduction to Top ETL Software Guide

In today’s world, data is the lifeblood of the business landscape. Data contains all of a corporation’s important information. Without this data, companies couldn’t grow and thrive to become what they are today.

An analytics report by Deloitte contains a survey asking companies how data analytics has helped them. 55% of respondents stated that data analytics fairly or significantly improved their competitive positioning.

Beating the competition is only one of many benefits that comes from using data to your advantage. Data also helps improve logistics, drive sales, budget more efficiently, and a score of other positive effects. It all depends on how you use your company’s data.

It’s next to impossible for anyone to navigate through all of their business data on their own. Data is being added and altered every single day. Business owners should look to ETL tools to help them manage and utilize their important data.

Extract, Transform, and Load

What ETL Tools Do

ETL stands for Extract, Transform, and Load. These tools extract data from a source, transform it to the correct format, and then load it into your choice of data storage–a data warehouse. You can set ETL tools to process data in this matter on a scheduled timeframe, or set up a trigger that initiates the cycle. Centralizing the data into a data warehouse is the difficult part and sets the stage for analysis into the inner workings of your organization.

Once you have all the data in your data warehouse, you can use your favorite  reporting/BI tool (Tableau, Looker, etc.) to correlate and analyze all that valuable data to make smart data-driven decisions.

Here are the Top ETL Tools in 2020:

  • ETLrobot for consistent and understandable data extraction
      – Best overall ETL tool for businesses
  • Blendo for data flow management and efficiency
      – Best ETL tool for real-time data analysis
  • Stitch for data pattern identification
      – Best ETL tool for data processing consolidation
  • Xplenty for data pipeline construction
      – Best ETL tool for all levels of tech experience
  • Informatica for powerful data performance
      – Best ETL tool for AI use
  • Alooma for all types of business data
      – Best ETL tool for scalable data processing
  • Talend for its capability to improve data-driven decisions
      – Best ETL tool for uncovering how to increase revenue and save money
  • IRI Voracity for its ability to help businesses better control their data
      – Best ETL tool for fast data processing
  • Etleap for Virtual Private Cloud capability
      – Best ETL tool for Amazon Web Services
  • Pentaho Platform for improving communications between data managers and consumers
      – Best ETL tool for increasing data transparency
  • CloverDX for customized data processing
      – Best ETL tool for financial services and fintech organizations
  • Fivetran for data management and revisions
      – Best ETL tool for pre-built data pipelines
  • Segment for its ability to separate operations and customer data
      – Best ETL too for customer data
  • Elastic for its cost-effective data solutions
      – Best ETL tool for app data
  • Apache Nifi for hands-on functionality and data visualization capabilities
      – Best ETL tool for graphs
  • Azure for reducing overhead business costs
      – Best ETL tool for Microsoft-based platforms

Selecting the Right ETL Tool

When looking at ETL tool options, you first want to determine what you will use it for. Your data is a means to an end, so set a goal you hope your choice of ETL tool will help accomplish. As you go through the list of tools below, ask these questions:

  • What role will the ETL tool play? Do you want it to compile transaction data, migrate application data, or integrate new data from a merger or acquisition?
  • How much data do you need to be processed? Larger amounts of data require a stronger or larger ETL tool.
  • Is there a niche feature that benefits your organization? Only select ETL tools might provide exactly what you’re looking for in terms of sources and target databases.
  • Price is always a consideration.  Find the tool that meets your budget.  Note, many ETL tools require programmers to configure or program which substantially drives up the cost.

ETL tools are versatile and can accomplish these plus many other goals your business has. Once you’ve decided on what you want it to do, you can narrow down your options.

Top ETL Software Available

This guide will outline some of the most popular ETL tools out there. While they all have similar functions, some of them are better at certain things than others. Take a look at the individual features that set them apart and see which one best fits your business.

1. ETLrobot

– Best overall ETL tool for businesses



Here you have your own personal data robot to do your bidding. ETLrobot does exactly what it says, extracting your data, transforming it, and loading it to your preferred data warehouse around the clock. Even when you’re not working, ETLrobot is.  Not only is ETLrobot the most affordable tool, but it is also great at de-duplicating data and maintaining a consistent and understandable data format.

Setting up ETLrobot is simple. You decide how you want your data to be moved and it’ll do the work for you. Later, you can add integrations that give your data more worth.  If you don’t initially see a source or target you need, they are good to work with and fast to add new integrations.

2. Blendo

– Best ETL tool for real-time data analysis



Trial and error is a process most are familiar with in the business world. Sometimes you don’t know what your best option is until you’ve tried them all. If you’re not using data, you’re basically throwing darts with a blindfold, hoping to hit the bullseye. Then you wonder how you did it.

Blendo changes that. It helps you manage your data flows, but also helps you identify the most effective use of your data. This real-time analysis takes out both trial and error, and creates a more streamlined process for your business to follow.

3. Stitch

– Best ETL tool for data processing consolidation



A stitch refers to a loop of thread that connects fabric together. Numerous stitches create a final product, like a sweater or a hat. When it comes to data, Stitch uses this approach to connect all of the tools your business uses to create one final product for data analysis.

There are tools for compiling, loading, and analyzing data. This can create a complex thread that is difficult to follow. Using Stitch allows you to consolidate all of your data procession to spend less time gathering it and more time using it for the benefit of your organization.

4. Xplenty

– Best ETL tool for all levels of tech experience



Your data likely comes from more than one source. If that’s the case, you’ll want to be able to integrate all of your data sources to get the best picture of your business. Xplenty helps you build data pipelines to accomplish this.

No matter your tech experience, you’ll be able to build data pipelines with Xplenty’s help. The more you learn about the program, the more advanced pipelines you can build. It’s a way to help you grow alongside your business, for maximum success.

5. Informatica

– Best ETL tool for AI use



If you’re here for the numbers, here are some stats about Informatica. It handles 15 trillion cloud transactions per month, a number that is rapidly going. How is it getting so much business? By proving itself as a top ETL tool which has led it to be the software of choice for 85 Fortune 100 companies.

Something that sets Informatica apart is its use of AI to improve how your company uses data. This approach helps you stay ahead of the curve, making real-time decisions that can launch your company ahead of the competition.

6. Alooma

– Best ETL tool for scalable data processing



Some organizations only need to handle small amounts of data. Alooma is scalable, meaning no matter the amount of data you need to process, their tools will work for you. As your organization grows, Alooma can take on the extra workload.

Just as the size of your data input might fluctuate, so can your strategy. Your level of structure can change depending on what you want to get out of your data, and Alooma can help you quickly make alterations. It can even adjust in real-time to make sure you’re getting what you want.

7. Talend

– Best ETL tool for uncovering how to increase revenue and save money



Your data should be put to use. There’s no use in storing it without a purpose. That’s why Talend focuses on helping businesses discover ways to save money and increase revenue. Data analytics uses the numbers to make that happen.

When it comes to your business, you don’t just want data, you want the best data available. Utilizing poor data could cost you money, and even end your entire operation. Talend provides high-quality data in real-time so that every data-driven decision you make counts.

8. IRI Voracity

– Best ETL tool for fast data processing

IRI Verocity


Some people are very picky about where their data goes and how it’s being used. IRI Voracity understands that and allows you to control your data at every stage. Those who like a heavy hand on their data processing can get the maximum value out of it.

Now that might sound like a tedious process designed for a select few, but IRI Voracity actually helps you use your data faster than ever. Even with a more watchful eye, its software is able to manage tons of data at a time, helping you get a bigger look without spending hours trying to find it.

9. Etleap

– Best ETL tool for Amazon Web Services



The clever name isn’t the only selling point for Etleap. It specializes in Amazon Web Services, allowing you to set up your own Virtual Private Cloud and run your data to your perfect specifications.

Even if AWS and VPC aren’t your acronyms of choice, Etleap has all the data analysis tools you need to get your business moving. You’ll save time and energy with this tool, and reap the benefits of your newfound data.

10. Pentaho Platform

– Best ETL tool for increasing data transparency

Pentaho Platform


Pentaho is a product provided by data solutions company Hitachi Vantara. Pentaho Platform is Hitachi’s data management and analytics program for organizations. Its end goal is to improve the flow of communication between data managers and consumers.

While many companies are looking to use data for their own needs, using it for the benefit of the consumer is also a beneficial practice. Data promotes transparency and boosts trust, both things a company needs to succeed.

11. CloverDX

– Best ETL tool for financial services and fintech organizations



There’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to ETL data processing. Different companies across different industries will want to use their data for different ends. CloverDX keeps this in mind, structuring software to fit the needs of each user.

CloverDX has a number of examples on their site that portray this. Banks need high quality reporting and security. FinTech providers need to handle a lot of data fast. These are two very different approaches, and they can both be done with CloverDX.

12. Fivetran

– Best ETL tool for pre-built data pipelines



Business owners want to worry about what the data is telling them, not how to manage it. Fivetran has all of its data pipelines pre-built for you. Just plug in what you want, and you can worry about the analytics rather than the process.

Fivetran also ensures that everything continues to run smoothly for you. It monitors the integrity of their pipelines 24/7 and makes it easy to make changes to your ETL strategy to get the data you need.

13. Segment

– Best ETL too for customer data



Customer data can differ in many ways from operational data. Segment is your go-to ETL tool if customer data is what you need the most. This helps you attract and retain more customers than ever by using the numbers to perfect your sales and marketing strategy.

Knowing what your hottest product is, how many people leave your website without purchasing, and what your most popular demographic is are all examples of data that you can use to make your business strategy more effective.

14. Elastic

– Best ETL tool for app data



Data is a fairly concrete set of numbers, so where does elasticity come into play? Elastic believes you should only pay for the resources you use. It uses an elastic payscale that tailors to your needs, helping you manage your data without breaking the bank.

Once you start using Elastic, you’ll be able to easily search through and analyze the data you input. You can even take a look at app data, something some developers will be very grateful for.

15. Apache Nifi

– Best ETL tool for graphs

Apache Nifi


Many people prefer to view their data in customized graphs, just as they did in math classes across the nation. If graphing is your style, look no further than Apache Nifi. It provides a solution that brings your ideal graphs to life, getting you up close and personal with your data.

Apache Nifi is a more hands-on ETL tool. While highly configurable with the ability to build as you please, you’ll need to put in the effort to construct your perfect design. Once you’ve done so, you’ll have the perfect data powerhouse for your business.

16. Azure 

– Best ETL tool for Microsoft-based platforms

Microsoft Azure


Are you an avid fan of Microsoft products? Here’s a chance to expand your arsenal. The Azure Data Factory is Microsoft’s take at an ETL solution. If you already trust their products, this might be an easy decision for you.

This product is worth more than its name alone. Build your data flows and put them to work with Azure’s goal of helping you cut down on your business’ overhead costs by implementing their software.

Final Thoughts

Data is critical to the future of business. If you’re not using it, you’re already falling behind. While some companies are OK without adapting right now, the rapid shift to technology will force them to adapt sooner than later.

No matter what your data needs are, there’s an ETL tool for you. Companies that take advantage of the volumes of information at their fingertips will have an edge over anyone who fails to do so. List your goals and needs, and analyze these ETL. Watch how data can transform your business.

The post 16 Best ETL Tools for Your Business appeared first on ReadWrite.

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Build Team Culture Remotely With These 7 Tools

black female remote worker on phone and laptop at desk

How do you bring your team together when remote work is keeping them apart? 

The COVID-19 crisis has forced many businesses to ask themselves this question, and answers aren’t easy to come by. Teams that may have started working remotely just a few months ago are now facing the reality that they will continue working remotely for some time, perhaps permanently. 

Thankfully, there are many tools perfectly suited to keeping everyone on your team connected and on track. Some of them have long been favorites of remote workers, while others have evolved to be used in new and exciting ways. Whether they improve access to information or streamline digital communication, tools like these are a crucial component of any team working out of the office. If you’re looking to maximize cohesion among your remote team, be sure to check out the following:

1. Guru

A corporate wiki like Guru is a great place to centralize and preserve knowledge about your company. Because of their collaborative nature, corporate wikis can be updated and edited directly by the employees who know the most about those subjects. This can give your team a sense of ownership over their role, boosting trust and morale along the way.

Moreover, a team separated by distance may not have access to the same knowledge management resources they did when everyone was in the office. Having a central hub of information can eliminate time-wasting searches, long email threads and confusion — boosting productivity in the process.

2. Slack

If your team is not already using Slack, now is a good time to start. Slack is a channel-based messaging platform, meaning that you can use it in a variety of ways for your business. Create a thread for your entire team to share ideas. Put together project-based spaces to encourage better group communication. You can even chat privately with team members, making it easier to provide individual feedback. 

A standout feature of Slack is the ability to set active hours. Work with your team to set realistic working hours, then encourage them to mark those on their Slack profiles. Doing this ensures that everyone is working at roughly the same time, creating the much-needed sense of “office hours� in the digital office.

3. Shared Calendar

When it comes to work time, everyone needs to be on the same page. Using a shared calendar will keep your team on schedule with deadlines, mandatory meetings, and tasks. Though it may sound intricate, a shared calendar doesn’t have to be complex — it can be streamlined to suit your business’s needs. A basic Google Calendar can be shared by team members, or you can use something more elaborate like Calendar.

Whatever you choose, make sure everyone who needs access has it; it’s important to ensure that no employee feels left out of the loop on important company timetables. Be wary of giving too many people the power to edit the calendar — you don’t want it to become too complicated for most employees to effectively use. Ideally, you’re looking for something that has the exact amount of bells and whistles your team needs.

4. Zoom Professional

Commit to a Zoom Professional account for your team. Face-to-face interaction is more effective than interaction via a chat or phone call, and if you can’t meet in person, video meetings are the way to go. With something like Zoom Professional in place, you will be able to hold meetings with as much human contact as possible for remote workers. 

While a basic account certainly provides you the ability to meet and see each other, a Professional account has added benefits. Meetings can be longer than 40 minutes if needed, and meetings can be recorded for later reference to catch up those who couldn’t attend the original meeting.

5. Project Management Software

Ensure that everyone is focused on the right tasks at the right time with project management software. There are plenty of options available, so carefully eye the market to see what works best for you and your team. Ultimately, you want something that most closely mimics your in-office project management process while still maximizing remote capabilities.

A shared workspace will help your team from feeling alone in their work, which in turn will keep them motivated. Providing clear deadlines, expectations and access to project updates creates a better remote work environment for your team — the closest thing to an office that remote teams can come by. 

6. Google Drive

Simple but effective, Google Drive has long been a staple of teams needing to share content digitally. A major loss in remote work can be the ability to work collaboratively in real time. 

Utilizing Google Drive can restore your team’s ability to work on the same document, spreadsheet, or slide show simultaneously. Multiple people can have the file open at once, and each person’s edits and comments are assigned an individual color so you know who is providing what feedback. 

Additionally, Google Drive integrates easily into several of the other tools you can use to keep your team together while you work remotely. It also serves as Cloud backup for your important files, guaranteeing that everything is accessible no matter where your team is working.

7. WooBoard

Just because your team is working remotely doesn’t mean that play can’t go remote, too. Tools that keep your work efficient and collaborative are important, but so are the ones that help you boost morale and recognize achievement. Utilizing something like WooBoard allows you to encourage team members, even when you can’t give them a shout-out in person.

Positive reinforcement improves employee productivity. When your team knows you think they are doing a good job, they’re going to work better. Being able to share in each other’s achievements makes working together a more positive experience for all. 

New tools are popping up every day that are designed to help your team. What it means to work together is changing, and utilizing some or all of these tools will help you remain a cohesive, effective team — no matter where you are.

The post Build Team Culture Remotely With These 7 Tools appeared first on ReadWrite.


Could Tokenized Property Change the Real Estate Market for the Better?

"real estate"
The real estate market has issues that end up making housing more complicated for buyers, sellers, and investors. Millennials and younger generations are finding it harder to buy their first home due to inflated prices in most areas. And many of us lived through the 2008 economic crash that resulted from bad lending practices and location-specific housing bubbles. Here is how tokenized property could change the real estate market for the better.

What Issues Add to Housing Complexity?

On top of the plethora of problems, high housing costs in urban areas and predatory rental agreements have resulted in unnecessary complexity and limited accessibility.
Asset tokenization — the practice of utilizing the blockchain to turn a physical asset into a liquid, fungible token — could be used to remediate many of these problems. But could it really work?

Asset Tokenization Basics

In case you aren’t familiar, asset tokenization allows you to transform any meaningful asset (including physical assets and intangible assets, like intellectual property) into a digital token. These tokens can be exchanged like currency, or like shares of stock within the stock market.
There are many different angles you can take with tokenization and many competing philosophies for how it should be executed. However, the basic principles typically remain the same.
If asset tokenization were applied to the real estate market, it could allow individual properties to be bought and sold in terms of tokens, or shares of equity. Historically, these properties have sold as single units.
But what exactly are the benefits, and what would this mean for the future of the real estate market?

The Benefits of Tokenized Real Estate

Let’s look at some of the top benefits of tokenized real estate:
  • Accessibility. First, tokenizing properties could instantly make them more accessible. If you’ve always wanted to invest in real estate, but you never had the capital to do it, you would now have the opportunity to invest in a small portion of an existing property.

    If you’re buying your first home, you may be able to buy in with a lower initial down payment, and gradually accumulate tokens as shares of equity in the home.

  • Higher liquidity. One of the downsides of real estate is its illiquid nature. If you decide to rebalance your portfolio, or if you suddenly need the cash, there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to sell your property.

    With tokenization, you should be able to sell a portion of your equity in the property more readily.

  • Rental options. Today, homeowners are increasingly turning to options that allow them to rent their property to others, whether it’s renting a room to a long-term tenant, or listing the property on a site like Airbnb.

    Via asset tokenization, there could be a wider variety of options for tenants — including the ability to earn tokenized shares of the property in exchange for their recurring rental payments.

  • Real-time pricing discovery. With price fluctuations in the asset token market, investors and property owners can monitor price change in real-time, rather than relying on periodic appraisals or making predictions based purely on the conditions of the surrounding neighborhood.

  • Lower transaction costs. As with most forms of cryptocurrency, there’s significant potential for lower transaction costs. In the real estate world, this is extremely important, since getting a mortgage and securing a deal can be extremely costly.

  • Group purchasing power. Tokenization also lends itself to group purchasing power. It’s easier than ever to buy a property with other people, which is ideal if you intend to live together.

The Challenges of Tokenized Real Estate

Of course, it’s not so simple to achieve these benefits in practice. There are several hurdles that prevent us from realizing tokenized real estate:
  • Integrations with current systems. Optimizing a tokenized real estate exchange would be difficult considering current systems; for example, how would you record the deed without the help of a titling company?

  • Regulatory hurdles. Countries are still trying to figure out how they want to handle cryptocurrency. New forms of tokenized assets would be even more complex to figure out.

  • Price stability. As we saw with Bitcoin in 2017, when new, poorly understood forms of currency emerge, pricing tends to be a bit unstable. This can make the market unpredictable, at least for a time, following the adoption of a tokenized form of exchange.

  • Consumer confidence. If this system is going to become widespread, people need to have faith in it. It would take some time and demonstrated benefits to persuade the general public to go along with it.

  • Marketing. Marketing a real estate transaction is easier said than done. Between securities laws preventing or restricting general solicitation and the general difficulties of making opportunities known, marketing a real estate deal is equally important and difficult.
  • Technical difficulty. There are also several technical hurdles that need to be overcome. For starters, someone needs to develop the blockchain infrastructure necessary to allow the tokenized exchange to take place.

    Beyond that, consumers, homeowners, and investors would need to learn how to navigate the system, and cryptocurrency has proven challenging for average people in the past.


Asset tokenization could be a powerful force for the future of the real estate market, and many other markets. But for now, it seems relegated to the speculative territory.

As the world becomes more familiar with the power and functionality of the blockchain, we may gradually shift to a more digitized, accessible, and secure world.

The post Could Tokenized Property Change the Real Estate Market for the Better? appeared first on ReadWrite.

cyber attack cyber security Data and Security Hack hacking Software TikTok

How to Protect Your TikTok Account from Hackers


TikTok, a mobile video-sharing service owned by Beijing-based technology company ByteDance, has been around since 2016. Its popularity shifted into hyper-drive over the past two years, with the user count exceeding 2 billion (according to Craig Chapple, a mobile insights strategist) globally at the time of this publication.

TikTok generated a whopping 315 million installs in Q1 2020 alone, which eclipses any other app’s achievements in terms of quarterly growth.

It’s common knowledge that cybercriminals follow the trends.

Cybercriminals are following the trends — so they treat the hype around TikTok as an opportunity to extend their reach. Haters, spammers, con artists, and malware distributors can weaponize hacked accounts in a snap. Therefore, it’s in every user’s interest to ascertain that their video blogging experience isn’t vulnerable to exploitation.

The good news is, you can benefit from TikTok’s built-in security and privacy features to raise the bar for malicious actors. This article provides simple steps to harden the defenses and make your account a hard nut to crack. Before delving into the protection facet of the matter, though, let’s see what security concerns about this service have been unearthed to date.

Known TikTok Security Loopholes

In early January 2020, experts at cybersecurity company Check Point Research discovered a series of TikTok vulnerabilities that might undermine the protection of one’s account. According to the white hats, a hypothetical attacker could take advantage of these flaws to do the following:

  • Compromise an account and alter its content
  • Erase videos
  • Upload new videos
  • Change the status of private videos to “publicâ€�
  • Obtain the victim’s email address and other sensitive information related to the account

SMS link spoofing is one of the malicious techniques piggybacking on TikTok imperfections. It can cause a great deal of harm with very little effort. This foul play is fueled by a somewhat crude implementation of a feature called “Text yourself a link to download TikTok,� which is available through the platform’s official website.

(Image by Check Point Research, “Tik or Tok? Is TikTok secure enough?� article)

A malefactor can use a proxy tool to skew the underlying HTTP query that consists of a user’s phone number and the legitimate app download link. This interference allows the hacker to substitute the URL with a custom value and thereby send malware-riddled text messages on behalf of TikTok.

Malware distribution and scams are the obvious use cases of this technique. The resulting sketchy site can be a credential phishing page or have exploits onboard.

Offensive mechanisms such as cross-site request forgery (CSRF) or cross-site scripting (XSS) may also kick in to execute malicious JavaScript code surreptitiously. This abuse can entail particularly disruptive outcomes, making it easy for an adversary to tamper with the victim’s browser cookies and perform different actions in their name.

What does the cybercriminal do next?

This access can pave the crook’s way towards removing arbitrary videos, adding new ones, approving followers, and making private content public. The info-stealing facet of this exploitation puts the victim’s sensitive data at risk, including their email address, payment details, and birth date. Thankfully, the company behind TikTok has since released patches for these issues.

Another pitfall is that the service isn’t too fair and square when it comes to users’ privacy.

In March 2020, security researchers exposed more than 50 iOS and iPadOS applications that regularly read the clipboard information. TikTok ended up on that list, too.

Whereas it’s not entirely clear what the application does with this data, such activity resembles eavesdropping at its worst. An additional concern is that an attacker who succeeds in compromising the TikTok app will be able to keep a record of everything the user copies to the device’s clipboard, including credit card details and login credentials for other services.

A malefactor with advanced tech skills can broaden the attack surface.

For instance, a feature called Universal Clipboard plays into crooks’ hands in this regard. It is intended to facilitate the process of copying and pasting between different devices under Apple’s umbrella.

Therefore, if an attacker takes over a TikTok account used on an iOS or iPadOS gadget, they may be able to access sensitive information on a related Mac computer.

For the record, the latest version of TikTok is no longer peeking into clipboard data. However, the aftertaste of past foul play remains. All of the reported caveats have called forth some restrictive moves at the level of governments and military branch departments.

In December 2019, the U.S. Navy banned personnel from using this service, and so did the U.S. Army shortly afterward.

TikTok Account Security Tips

Because a TikTok account is a goldmine of the user’s sensitive information, cybercriminals are lured to find ways to circumvent its defenses and get in. The following red flags may indicate a compromise and should urge you to take immediate action:

  • Your TikTok password, security email address, or phone number tied to the account has been changed.
  • Your username or nickname has been modified.
  • Someone is removing or adding videos behind your back.
  • Messages are being sent without your permission.

This brings us to the techniques that will keep perpetrators from gaining unauthorized access to your account. Below is a summary of TikTok security best practices:

1. Use a Strong Password

No matter how vanilla this recommendation may sound, it’s the stronghold of your account’s intactness. In addition to making your password at least 12 characters long, include special characters (%, $, &, etc.), uppercase letters, and numerals.

Also, make sure it looks as random as possible to prevent crooks from guessing it based on your personal details available on publicly accessible resources such as social networks.

2. Refrain from Reusing Passwords

Data breaches happen, so you don’t want your authentication info for another account to match the TikTok password. Using the same password across different services is a classic instance of a potential single point of failure (SPOF).

3. “Log In with Verification� Feature Can Make Your Day

If you enable the verification by adding your phone number to the profile details, the TikTok platform will be creating a one-time password (OTP) every time you sign in. But note the issue above with your phone number.

As opposed to the better-known two-factor authentication (2FA), the phone technique replaces password protection rather than boosting its efficiency. By the way, the video blogging service under scrutiny doesn’t currently provide 2FA.

A text message with TikTok verification code inside

4. Prevent Your Password from Being Automatically Saved

It goes without saying that password saving is a handy option. In fact, TikTok does it by default.

The whole convenience, though, can be overshadowed by the security risks stemming from this mechanism.

Consider turning the auto password save OFF to err on the side of caution.

  • Tap the Me icon at the bottom right of TikTok main screen.
  • Head to Settings and privacy
  • Select Manage my account
  • Then slide the Save login info toggle to the left — that turns it OFF.

Switch OFF the Save login info option

5. Stay Abreast of Account Usage Statistics

The app’s Your Devices pane lets you know what devices your account is opened on your mobile at any given time.

You may have previously signed in from somebody else’s gadget and forgot to exit the account. This is a benign scenario, though.

If the list includes a smartphone you can’t identify, it might be a heads-up. To make sure you are in the clear, go to Manage my Account, proceed to Security, and take a look at the account activity stats and the list of logged-in devices.

TikTok account activity stats

6. Stay Away from Sketchy Links

Cybercriminals may try to social-engineer you into tapping a hyperlink that leads to a malicious web page hosting a harmful payload. These links may arrive via booby-trapped text messages, phishing emails sent by strangers, or malicious redirects caused by malware.

As one of the abuse techniques demonstrates — the messages can as well impersonate TikTok. Don’t be gullible and ignore them.

7. Think What You Share

Don’t spill any personally identifiable information (PII) such as the email address or phone number in video descriptions. A seasoned hacker may mishandle the info to compromise your account.

What to Do If Your TikTok Account Has Been Hacked?

If you spot the slightest sign of a breach, go ahead and change your account password without a second thought.

Here’s how you do it: go to Settings and privacy — proceed to Manage my account, and follow the on-screen prompts to complete the procedure. As part of the attack remediation, be sure to check the accuracy of your account information on the same screen.

In case you are having issues with this, go to the Report a problem subsection under Support to access the Feedback and help screen. Then, tap the paper sheet icon in the top right corner to submit a support ticket describing your situation in detail.

TikTok Feedback and help section

All in all, TikTok is a great service bringing so many bells and whistles to your fingertips and allowing you to express yourself via nifty videos.

It’s not perfect in terms of security, though. Do your homework and tweak some settings to prevent your account from being low-hanging fruit for a cyberattack. Stay safe.

The post How to Protect Your TikTok Account from Hackers appeared first on ReadWrite.

AI customer AI Customer Service IT

Customer Experience AI Isn’t an IT Project

customer experience

The global pandemic has illuminated many shortcomings of business today. One example is the lack of infrastructure to seamlessly provide world-class customer experience and give prospects the necessary information — like receiving healthcare, paying bills, securing or altering travel and more.

But interest and adoption of on-demand experiences are rising as it’s proven to have near-double digit sales lifts. However, incorporating new technology is a process involving many moving pieces. The IT department often leads these types of initiatives, but have they been the gatekeeper too long? 

While it may sound counterintuitive at first, IT shouldn’t own user experiences. Despite a smooth implementation and the abundance of customer data available, initiatives like conversational experiences that facilitate on-demand engagement fail because of misplaced department priorities. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Especially today, customers want to engage with your brand. They just need to be able to do it on their own time and terms, not waiting hours in a queue to speak with a call-center rep. AI can meet this need head-on, giving everyone time back in their day to focus on what matters.

Alignment of Business Outcomes and Priorities 

When speaking on the importance of a technology’s features and capabilities, IT and customer experience teams will have different perspectives and goals.

While IT might obsess over the natural language understanding (NLU) intricacies or backend integrations, customer experience leads will tie in their own business problems and practical outcomes for success.

While both parties are focused on accessible data and insights, customer experience teams are more keenly aware of the importance of personalization because they see the role it plays in fostering meaningful engagements.

Additionally, investment in technology often begs the question, should this solution be built or bought?

Those companies that can build technology are an elite group, as there is a vast field of knowledge required to build a user experience that works — which is why companies often resort to partners and third-party providers.

But this is not without its hiccups. Vendors still need to understand design, and content to make on-demand experiences seamless and relevant. 

For a guiding light: Solve user pain points and enable effortless experiences. Without this, teams may run in circles and lose ROI because of technical tangents and playthings.

Deploy Technology on Use Cases that Matter

It’s common for AI to go through “practice runs� with proof of concepts or pilots. Unfortunately, these rarely make the cut for high-quality outputs.

Often, these runs don’t face the unique complexities of real-world engagement, like curveball, unrelated or multi-faceted questions from users. Practically speaking, the success of AI completing just a single-task is hardly going to be worth the time and cost investment.

For on-demand conversations, practicality is key. Only when stakeholders and customer teams see AI deliver a wide-scope, will everyone think bigger about what is possible. 

It’s not that IT, sales, marketing or experience teams want to hinder a business outcome. Everyone simply has their own goals on their shoulders and this reality muddies the water.

When customer satisfaction, revenue generation, and reduced costs are the goals of experience design, the company is much more likely to see the business impact. 

UX is the Driving Force 

The next couple of years will yield mixed results for conversational AI deployment.

Many companies are placing too much weight on their IT team and pushing UX experts to the wayside.

A brighter future exists for brands that empower their experience teams to lead deployments. This shift will create a true competitive advantage and provide the on-demand experiences customers expect.

The post Customer Experience AI Isn’t an IT Project appeared first on ReadWrite.

Product Reviews

PuroPro Hybrid Active Noise Canceling Volume Limiting Headphones: Quality Audio and Hearing Protection

noise-canceling headphones

Headphones have become a larger part of our life — from video conference calls for our remote work to video games and moving streaming. While headphones are being used to hear better — there has been a growth in noise-canceling headphones to block out surrounding noise, too.

Working from home during COVID has made having a decent pair of headphones mandatory to remaining calm and peaceful.  Here is: PuroPro Hybrid Active Noise Canceling Volume Limiting Headphones: Quality Audio and Hearing Protection

Priced at $199, the Puro Sound Labs PuroPro Hybrid Active Noise Cancelling Volume Limiting Headphones provide quality audio along with hearing protection. Here’s my review.

Headphone Features

These are wireless, over-ear Bluetooth headphones. Features include 32h playtime, high-resolution audio, and memory foam ear cups.

The noise-canceling feature limits volume to 85dB and 95dB max volume, which goes a long way to protecting ears from permanent hearing damage. Organizations like OSHA believe that 85dB is the maximum safe sound listening level. These headphones give you eight hours of safe listening at 85dB and 50 minutes at 95dB.

The Puro Balanced Response® Curve is a proprietary technology that delivers clear audio and dynamic bass within those 85dB and 95dB volume limits. There are also two levels of ANC so you can adjust to ambient noise.

Level 1 has a deep noise reduction of 32dB while Level 2 gives you a general noise reduction of 15dB. Also, there are five microphones, including four for noise canceling and one for communicating via calls.

Pros and Cons

The best aspects of these headphones include its long battery life, simple device connection, its volume-limiting feature, audio quality, and the two levels of active noise canceling. The playtime with ANC is 28 hours and 32 without as well as 300 hours of standby time. Another plus is the foldable design. These are so much easier to carry around with you — and it’s unlikely you’ll sit on them in the car and break them.

On the downside, there are limited choices for personalization and design options, which more people like to see today in terms of colors and other design features.

The current design with protein leather and ear cups also may not suit everyone’s design preferences, especially since so many people are more used to in-ear buds. However, I found the ear cups comfortable, with no pressure or sweat from wearing them for over two hours.

The last con is that it would be good to have some other features like a mute button for when I’m using them on conference calls. Many other headphones offer that feature in this same price range.

In the Box

The headphones come with a hard case to protect them on-the-go as well as a 3.5mm limiter audio cable and charging cable.

Where to Buy

You can buy these headphones from the Puro Sound Labs website as well as from Amazon, Best Buy, Guitar Center, and other select online retailers. Puro Sound Labs has free delivery. They offer a one-year warranty and a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Final Thoughts

PuroPro offers headphones that work well for listening and for keeping sound away from our ears, protecting hearing in the process. These headphones are reasonably priced for the technology they offer in terms of the unique sound and noise-canceling features.

The foldable design makes it easy to take with you and use them while traveling.

Although it’s missing the feature — mute button — I find the audio quality, hearing protection,  and noise-canceling features much more valuable.

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