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How Amazon Stays Ahead of the Game

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Amazon is no stranger to staying ahead in the tech industry, and its web services sector is no different. Amazon Web Services, or AWS, leads the online computing industry offering services at prices that no competitor will be willing to match. How did AWS manage to gain such a competitive advantage whilst keeping long-term sustainability a goal? Here are a few key points in their strategy that have helped them be successful:

  • Be an Opinion Leader: “The idea seems to be to dominate not so much by the traditional “vendor lock-in” of hooking customers on proprietary technology, but by making itself the center of the styles and habits of cloud computing.”
  • Look to the Long Term: Mr. Jassy, head of AWS, said “We’re extremely long-term oriented,” he added. “We’re trying to build a relationship with our customers that will outlast all of us in this room.”
  • Know Your Strengths: Amazon has developed some of its competitive edge by buying technology from smaller firms and applying it to their giant infrastructure.

Knowing which fields your business can improve in will help it develop core competencies that will give your company a competitive edge. AWS has understood this, and with it has built a service with which no competitor can compete. Its intelligent business tactics lend AWS access to the latest technology before it becomes available to their competitors, and securing their position at the top. Applying these tactics to your own company will help you stay ahead of your competition, and stay there.

Read the full article in the New York Times here.

Over-Demanding Employers Spurring “Gig Economy”

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Corporate life in New York City is infamous for being grueling, demanding, fast paced, and intense. Still, the bustle of the city that never sleeps attracts the brightest minds. Yet despite the recent upturn in the economy, workers are unhappier than ever with the increasing demand that seems to have gotten out of hand as of late. People are working more hours for less money, and frustrated with the results. Additionally, the cost of living in New York has rapidly outgrown average salary growth. Here are a few key ways that employees are adapting to what is increasingly shifting towards what experts are calling “the gig economy:”

  • Freelancing Becomes Norm: With employees feeling like they’re working around the clock anyways, many are figuring: why not work for myself? Many employees are supplementing their income (or replacing it entirely) with freelance work where they often make more money than they otherwise would have.
  • Layoffs Burdening Star Employees: Managers seeing big returns from layoffs of low performing employees are continuing to do so at the expense of over-burdened high efficiency employees, resulting in only 19% of employees in industries like the tech industry being “very happy” with their job.
  • Growth is Misleading: Most of the job growth has been in the healthcare, fast food and retail industries where salaries average below $25,000 a year.

So what does this trend mean for your business? Expect your competition to be not only rival agencies and businesses, but you must also be weary of freelancers who are looking to take your clients and can do so at a lower price. Graphic design and PR will get cheaper as supply becomes more accessible as freelancers flood the market, while those still at agencies will likely feel a similar strain. However, top talent will still be attracted to top firms, and the compensation and perks will be there to compensate them for premium work.

Read the full article in Crain’s New York Business

Using the Latest Technology to Increase Productivity

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Part of maintaining a competitive edge in business is making sure you are keeping up to do with the latest technology. The right network and infrastructure can dramatically increase the efficiency of your employees and your company. That said, here are some infrastructure-enhancing technologies that can revolutionize the way your company does business:

  • High Performance Mobile Networks:With over half of all workers using their phones to access work-related content, it is important to have a solid phone and network that will be there when you need it.
  • Social Networking: Interact and target your audience using social media to drive sales and raise awareness for your brand.
  • Cloud Computing: Access your data anywhere with cloud computing technology. Increasing your productivity, data security, and efficiency, you should look into adopting software like Google Drive or Dropbox for your company.

Technology is core to keeping a business up to date. Adopting the technologies above will make for happier employees who are able to effectively do their job by empowering them to effectively manage their data and target your appropriate audience.

Here is the full article on Tech.co

4 Things to Know Before Working for a Startup

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Between the struggle to find work right out of college and the glamorized lifestyle, startups are becoming an attractive option to millennials who are heading out of college. The culture is often seen as a work-hard play-hard environment where power lunches are followed by extravagant outings at night clubs in big city centers. But the truth is most startups take hundred hour weeks to get going, and are often difficult to get paid from. Here are some of the key things to know when you’re thinking about working for one:

Success Won’t Happen Overnight: “The best-kept secret in the startup world is that there is no such thing as an overnight success,” wrote George Bradt, founder of executive onboarding group PrimeGenesis in an article for Forbes. “Success typically takes six to seven years — if you survive the first three.”

Entrepreneurship Comes From Within: Being your own boss may sound great, but you’ll have to wear many hats on your road to success. From learning to code to becoming a proper salesman – you’ll be on top of many things at once.

You Don’t Have to Do it All Yourself: Don’t be afraid to outsource some things that other companies will be doing better and cheaper in order to make your company’s product better.

Funding is Hard Work: Securing funding from any source is a true challenge, and entrepreneurs today are further into debt than any other generation.

Ultimately, starting your own business can be one of the most rewarding things you can do in life. But be prepared to face the risks, uncertainty, and high probability of failure when you jump in, especially at a young age. Make no mistake – there is no such things as overnight success: it takes years of extreme persistence and refining your business in order to achieve success; be prepared for the challenges ahead.

 

Read the full article in The Huffington Post here.

The Technicalities of a ‘Tech’ Startup

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With “tech startups” being everyone’s favorite buzzword – are we simply diluting the term? “Tech” startups like Uber and Airbnb (yes, they are still labeled as startups) are taking over the world,  but what about them makes them a “Tech” company? Of course, technology is a key part of how they do business, but that is true of any company. The truth lies at the core of the word “tech” and what people associate with it: research, innovation, and long term thinking, not necessarily just producing hardware or software. The chief economist at Moody Analytics, Mark Zandi, suggests that the label of “tech” sends the message “you want to work for me. You want to buy things from me at a higher price. You want to give me capital at a lower cost.”

Ultimately, is the classification of “tech” just marketing? Likely so. Alex Payne, an early Twitter engineer and tech investor, wrote in 2012: “Calling practically all growing contemporary businesses ‘technology companies’ is about as useful as calling the enterprises of the industrial era ‘factory companies.’ ” Would calling Uber a transportation startup or Airbnb a hospitality startup be as exciting? Likely not. What is sure is that “tech startups” are looking to revolutionize your way of life no matter what industry they’re doing it through.

Read the full article in the New York Times here.

 

3 Tips to Keep Your Start-Up Afloat

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Here at Voice of Reason, we are no strangers to start ups and start up culture. We see many of them rise and fall, and we know it takes much more than just hard work to really see success. Proper strategy and business will drive results within your company. Here are a few tips to ensure your business is headed in the right direction:

  • Know Your Target Market: Understand your customer and know what matters to them. Knowing what they want from your product is key to delivering what they need.
  • Have a Sound Business Model: Proper strategy for value creation and capture will ensure sustainability in your business. Dumping money into unnecessary products and services will hurt your bottom line.
  • Make Sound, Rational Decisions: It is important to be passionate and dedicated to your business, but ensure your decision making is based on hard data, and not your emotions. Too often charismatic leaders will bring their company to ruins because of ideas that should have been altered or even terminated completely.

Running your own business is one of the most challenging endeavors anyone could possibly take on, but with proper guidance, rationale, and hard work, your business will prosper. Know your customer, understand the value your business creates, and success will follow.

Click here to read the full article in Stanford Business

The Price on Your Privacy

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What lengths would you go to in order to avoid having your information sold to a company? You consent to having your information used by Facebook, Hulu, and other web sites in order for them to optimize your experience. But what if a web site gets sold? Well your information now belongs to that new company and guess what: they can use it however they’d like! Many sites state that they will not sell your information to anyone. For example, Nest, an internet-connected thermostat company purchased by Google for $3.2 Billion currently states that your information is not for sale and does not sell its customer list to third person parties. However, how much can you trust the service once it gets bought?

The information being sold can be extremely valuable in targeting you as it is extremely personal. For example, a Texas-based dating company by the name of Truth.com had information on 42 million of its customers’ names, birth dates, sexual orientation, race, religion, criminal convictions, photos, videos, contact information and more. When the company was sold, the state of Texas had to intervene and stop it from using the data gathered from all of its customers as it had promised to protect customer privacy in the user agreement. Because of cases like this, companies are rushing to weaken the language protecting your privacy, and making it easier to be sold. Does a company selling your information bother you? If so, you should consider reading the Terms and agreements before you decide to give your information away.

Read the full story in The New York Times here.

The Key to Entrepreneurship: Patience and Discipline

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The New York Times’ Adam Bryant sat down with Jim Dolce, CEO of mobile security firm Lookout, to ask him about his experience in leadership, and what has led him to his success. As a seasoned entrepreneur, Dolce attributes his patience and company’s structure to his success. Here are a few key points from the interview:

  • On being patient in a fast paced environment: “It takes discipline … When you’re impatient, you attempt to get something done so that you can then, in serial fashion, go to the next thing. Instead, you have to go wide and work multiple issues at the same time and be patient on each of them.”
  • Accountability in Corporate Culture: “If we’re pushing down responsibility into the organization and empowering people to make decisions, then there has to be accountability. Otherwise, you’re just delivering the empowerment into a black hole.”
  • What He’s Learned From Being a Serial Entrepreneur: “When you’re working in a venture-funded start-up, time is of the essence. Investors get impatient. So the lesson there is that real breakthrough innovation is best achieved a step at a time. Technology is something that can be consumed in small bites. You don’t have to take a big bite all at once. “
  • What Advice Would You Give to Would-Be Entrepreneurs? “Make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into and know that this is going to be hard and there’s going to be a lot of heavy lifting and there’s going to be a lot of disappointment.”

Becoming an entrepreneur involves a lot of hard work, stress, and uncertainty. However, there are fewer things more rewarding in life than having your own business succeed. Through patience and realistic expectations, discipline and accountability, you too can find success with your firm.

For the full article on The New York Times click here.

Apple’s 5 Big Announcements That Are Important For Your Business

Apple’s WWDC 2015 took place yesterday announcing all of its upcoming releases. How will their upcoming developments affect your business? Here are a few of their new developments which we believe will be important for you:
  1. El Capitan:This is the name of the newest version of Mac OSX. It will be a free upgrade for current Mac machines and boasts increased speeds and a more refined version of Spotlight.
  2. iOS9: Your iPhone’s new operating system will feature improvements to Siri and multitasking. It also introduces a new battery conservation mode. This should make buying a new iPhone 6 or 6+ more compelling.
  3. Apple Pay: Apple Pay has being introduced in the UK, expanding payment options for you and your business abroad.
  4. News: This is the name of the new app that features content based on your history and current context to bring you up to the minute  news that is relevant to you. News will be launching with free articles from The New York Times.
  5. Swift: Swift is Apple’s new open source programming language which will have a huge impact in the programming community.
Having your company adapt to these upcoming technologies shouldn’t be a hassle but it’s important to know what they are and how to utilize them. When it comes to adapting to the latest technology, the goal is to make it an invaluable tool, not an expensive hurdle to overcome.
Don’t fall behind, be in the know.

Apple WWDC 2015 Recap from Mashable

Gain a Competitive Edge in E-Commerce by Optimizing Your Mobile Site

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With mobile transactions gaining an increasingly large share of the e-commerce pie, small business owners need to start asking themselves: how can I best accommodate mobile shoppers?

Mobile’s global average share of e-commerce is 34% and in countries like Japan and South Korea that share is over 50%. While US conversion rates from mobile shoppers are still around 2.46% compared to Japan’s 9.35%, it is still important to note that one can gain a significant competitive advantage from optimizing their mobile e-commerce suite.

Here are a few common shortcomings of small business and easy solutions:

  • Use Mobile Solutions that Make Sense: Opt for all-in-one desktop and mobile e-commerce solution with write-once-publish-everywhere capabilities that will streamline your online presence into a cohesive entity.
  • Ensure Your Site is Mobile Accessible: Avoid large images or too much information in a single page as most mobile users are still running off of the slower 3G network. 40% of users will abandon a site if doesn’t load within 3 seconds so ensure your site will load quickly to avoid losing potential customers.
  • Use Everything that Mobile Has to Offer: Mobile users give your site a lot of information when they go onto your website. Take advantage of this data by adding elements that personalize the user experience for the customer.

Recently, Google has started to give an overwhelming priority in its search engine rankings to websites that are optimized for mobile. Ensuring your site is mobile-friendly will sharpen your competitive edge and vastly improve your online presence. Don’t let your business fall behind – optimize your e-commerce site today!

Click here for the full article on GetElastic