Tech & Geopolitics: How to Take Advantage of the Current Political Landscape

There is no denying that we are living in tumultuous times. Political upheavals are racking seemingly every inhabited area and continent in the world, with the possible exceptions of Australia and the Indian subcontinent:

      Famine in Nigeria, South Sudan, Yemen, and Somalia is threatening the lives 20 million people. This famine (the first declared by the UN in 6 years) is mostly due to ongoing combat in the region, not food availability issues;

      The well-known rebellion in Syria has resulted in one of the worst humanitarian disasters in human history, with the refugee strain sending shockwaves throughout the world. Look no further to the rise of authoritarianism in Turkey due north of Syria to see proof of this;

      In the rest of Asia, Russia seems to be flexing their muscles in every corner of the planet, presumably trying to re exert a Soviet-Era hegemony, or at least trying to rejoin the ranks of Global Superpowers. Southeast of Russia, North Korea is also flexing its muscles, keep the world on the edge of its seat. Plus South Korea’s President was recently ousted under corruption charges;

      The EU is cracking under populist pressures, most notably with the so-called Brexit. But France, the Netherlands, and potentially Germany are experiencing a rise in nativist populism;

      The United States of America is also undergoing a rise in nativist populism with the election of Donald Trump to the Presidency. Additional widespread chaos throughout the government is clear;

      Oh, and Climate Change is still threatening the lives of every being on the planet. In fact, Climate Change is the driving impetus behind many of our current problems.

All of these atrocities represent problems – problems with solutions. None of these solutions can be truly described as easy, and most are inscrutable – at least at first. But there is a ray of hope, a glimmer of sunlight: we are also neck deep in a world-altering era of technological advancement and innovation.

Political upheavals cause massive problems around the planet, altering world orders and frequently leaving nothing but death and misery behind. However, technological innovation may very well help us solve them, saving potentially millions of lives and trillions of dollars which can then be applied to other causes. There’s a ton of precedent for this:

      The innovation of Agriculture allowed cultures to support larger populations, leading eventually to concentrated political bodies, and eventually to the modern nation-state;

      The Age of Exploration and The Enlightenment walk hand-in-hand, both driven by the scientific discoveries of Da Vinci, Galileo, and (admittedly later) Darwin, and the advancements in shipbuilding (leading to the discovery of the New World);

      Antibiotics dramatically increased the lifespan of the average person and have given us the ability to fight back against our age-old enemies (and occasional ally): Germs;

And we find ourselves back in the modern era, with digital devices changing everything from governance to healthcare. The general thrust of this post is to clearly make the case that yes, the world is not in great shape right now, but now is not the time to sit back on one’s laurels. The problems exist – now it’s time to be proactive and to create the solution.

Invest in Yourself

The first, last, and biggest any individual has is themselves. Yes, this is a cheesy sentiment, but it’s still true. Still skeptical? Warren Buffett, the legendary gajillionaire (that’s the official term there, folks), once said:

      “Invest in as much of yourself as you can, you are your own biggest asset by far.”

In other words, the biggest resource you have is to trust in yourself and to pursue your dreams. At no time in the world has it been easier to affect massive change in the world with a small movement. Not only that, but technology has served as an equalizer in the entrepreneurial world; i.e. the technology to create a potentially billion-dollar company is easily accessed – and (relatively) inexpensive.

While Mr. Buffett was talking more generally about investing in improving your skills, his point can be readily applied to investing in your ideas. Even if you don’t have the technological know-how to achieve your dreams, the solution may be a click away. Companies like SDI specialize in taking the spark of an entrepreneurial idea and turning it into a living dream. Before we go, there another quote (often misattributed to Ghandi) we’d like to leave you with:

      “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

While this quote has graced many a bumper sticker and is pretty cliche, it does nicely play us out. There are many problems in the world, but the solution starts with us.

Give us a call at 408.802.2885/408.621.8481 – or click to contact us!

How The Digital Era Can Help Launch Your New Business into Success

With so much changing so quickly, it can be hard to keep up. In no case is this truer than in the case of the newly launched business. Launching a business is the riskiest part of any venture (with the possible expansion with major growth initiatives) and few entrepreneurs have the time or brain space to keep up.

Enter SDI, a top Development company in Silicon Valley. We build technological solutions for a wide variety of startups, industries, and entrepreneurs:

But the biggest service we provide by far is helping business with automation and digitization (for the lack of a better word) of their internal processes. In non-technical terms, we help businesses harness the power of the internet to help launch, sustain and grow organizations. Every day, more technology is invented that improve business efficiencies through increased automation, superior data reporting, and clear lines of communication.

As tech evangelists, we wholeheartedly believe that the best way for a business to succeed in these modern times is to set up as much as possible online: organizational hierarchies, payroll, general HRM, account/order management, even general accounting. Through a mixed bag of tricks, including bots, AI, and Automation, SDI gives businesses the tools they need to become a global success.

Payroll and Human Resources

Payroll was possibly created by Lucifer himself as a way to eternally torment business owners. Not that business owners don’t hate paying employees (though many do); it’s just that payroll is extremely complicated, and can represent a significant headache to all parties involved. Payroll is about more than just giving out wages; it’s also about determining how much employees should be paid.

SDI specializes in writing code that not only automatically takes care of the standard payroll stuff (i.e. making sure your employees receive their paycheck), but also in tying it to a broader, more comprehensive HRM system. HRMS can be used to not only attract the right talent but determine how to compensate talent.

Compensation can be based off multiple data points, including what a business can afford, what the industry standard is, and what skills or qualifications an employee or potential employee might have that make them more attractive. Our algorithms can even help determine how to retain talent, including a payment growth plan. Plus, we can integrate with QuickBooks, so all information can be automatically transported right into the new Payroll system/

Sales and Marketing

For Sales oriented businesses, Salesforce is one of the biggest, baddest, and best tools available. As a Customer Resource Management (CRM) system, Salesforce helps businesses of all sizes cultivate improved relations with their userbase. And, probably not surprisingly, SDI specializes in Salesforce Integration.

That means that, with our help, businesses create internal, custom software systems that have full integration with Salesforce. This means all that Salesforce offers businesses can accessed from a business’ own personal business system. Business owners can utilize the power of Salesforce, combined with the power of a personalized software, to grow their organization to unparalleled levels.

More importantly in the digital era, Salesforce helps organizations tap into the power of Social Networking. Even better, SDI has a full time marketing team, whose expertise lies in building marketing strategies that utilize social networks to the fullest extent. With Salesforce and our team working for them, our clients are able to create clear, comprehensive strategies attract more users and grow brand visibility.

Communication and Hierarchies

Pretty much every organizational failure in history not deliberately planned has been due to the lack of clear communication. It seems like such a small thing, communication. But when communication becomes muddled or unclear, fatal mistakes happen. Communication is an all-important factor of life, not just business. With the right tools and developers, systems can be put in place that automatically and clearly outline all communication channels, even leaving room for the unexpected.

Why is this important? When an employee doesn’t know to whom they report, information gets lost. When a manager doesn’t know who to reach out to for resources, productivity falls. When an Admin is unsure what type of data should be collected, business goals go unmet. And when a business owner doesn’t have an established organizational plan, businesses fail.

Having a clear hierarchy is a huge part of clear communication, as in the event of an issue with a direct boss, or in the event of management system failure. It tells employees exactly how authority flows within an organization. Don’t think this is all that important? Then look no further than one of the oldest organizational structures in history: the military. Since people first began killing one another, the military has had a complex hierarchy with different ranks, subranks and so on. Fuzzy communication can lose a battle before it’s even begun.

Bring Your Business Online Today

Getting ready to launch a new venture, or need to update your existing system? Give us a call at 408.802.2885/408.621.8481 – or click to contact us!

Build Software for Pharmacies and Hospitals

Hospitals save millions of lives every year; pharmacies help maintain and improve the health of millions every year (thus also saving millions). But in addition to their primary cause of saving lives and promoting good health, they also have a business to run. For most in these industries, this is a fine line to walk: we deserve a profit, but no one wants to deny care to those in need to save a shilling or two.

So in order to have a successful enterprise in this industry, you need to be innovative in multiple spheres. Improved technologies for long-term savings are a must. Medical equipment is a rapidly evolving field and it’s important to make sure your business has top of the line equipment.

This make you more attractive as a State-of-the-Art facility; plus tech is becoming ever better at detecting disease and ailments early on. Early detection means prevention, plus decreased costs associated with lethal, emergency, and expensive diseases such as cancer. In addition to the hardware, pharmacies and hospitals need to invest in the backend software infrastructure.

While research and top of the line medical devices help save lives and are necessary for success, hospitals and pharmacies also need to manage behind the scene processes. These processes include routine operations like filling subscriptions, or managing employees. Improving these “hum-drum” activities can help streamline your business into a lean, green, healing machine.

Not brag, but SDI has an inordinate amount of experience in building software to improve backend processes to improve business efficiencies – including in the healthcare industry. We specialize in creating not industry-specific, but business-specific. More precisely, our master coders program software infrastructures that span entire organizations, fitting like a custom-made glove.

With Machine Learning, our programmers create masterpieces that can help Hospitals and Pharmacies reduce overhead without reducing care, or abandoning your employees. But you have to make the first step. As a software development company, we can build the path to your dream; you just have to tell us what that dream is.

Intrigued, but looking for the inspiration to truly help your business become a massive success? Let’s take a look at some of the top software examples for pharmacies and hospitals. We’re going to break theses down into the two sectors, with pharmacies first.

Top Software for Pharmacies

1. Lagniappe Pharmacy Services

This software is ideal for SMB pharmacies. With processes for drug/prescription imaging, it helps pharmacists rapidly (and accurately) fill prescriptions. And this is all while helping to increase your overall revenue stream. Plus, its POS system boasts top of the line for haptic interface – or a touchscreen, in not nerd terms.

2. CareTend

CareTend is an end-to-end system that connects Pharmacists to upstream suppliers and downstream buyers. It provides easy access to drugs with strictly limited distribution, with an emphasis on clinical, specialty, and oncological services. Plus, it makes it easier for pharmacists to check in with their customers, reminding them of refills and prescription renewals before it becomes a problem.

3. Prime Care for LTC

Prime Care is an excellent software infrastructure, perhaps one of the top 3 or 5 out there, but particularly excel in helping pharmacies that specialize in long-term care: Skilled Nursing Facilities or Mental Health Hospitals. Specifically, Prime Care helps these businesses improve general business operations through a comprehensive management system.

Top Software for Hospitals

1. PineappleHR

PineappleHR services multiple industries, but tend to excel in Government and Healthcare. What they do is provide a robust Employee management system that will change your world. It’s automated processes for scheduling and organization wide communications help keep your employees up to date – both while they’re mobile or at their desk.

2. TheraOffice

TheraOffice is excellent on multiple levels. First, it’s excellent data reporting interface makes understanding complex information simple and efficient. Plus, it utilizes some pretty awesome algorithms for improved metrics. Improved metrics leads to better decision making and more money. Plus, TheraOffice is well ahead of the mobile first generation, creating an interface with excellent functionality across all devices.

3. Health Data Archiver

This is great for hospitals that were early adopters of software technology, but now find their once great systems old, outdated, and inefficient. It sets up an infrastructure that allows your employees to use the features of your new system with all of the data and records from your old system. Health Data Archiver performs a comprehensive system conversion and simultaneous sunsetting of legacy systems. Best of all, it does this without taking your system down – or emptying your wallet.

This doesn’t even begin to scrape the surface of how much technology can help improve the internal and external functionings of a hospital or pharmacy. Hopefully, this article helped you spark that inspirational flame, but even if it didn’t then reach out to our business strategists at 408.802.2885/408.621.8481, or email us.

How ChatBots Grow Brands and Improve Customer Retention

ChatBots received a lot of attention within the bubble of Silicon Valley and the Tech world, including on this very publication. But in the broader landscape of the US, only 78% of adults (i.e. those who hold the purse strings) know what a ChatBot is – or have even heard the phrase. While the chances are that they’ve interacted with a ChatBot, the term is generally unknown.

This lack of awareness around this innovative new tech is partly due to Facebook and their lackluster launch of ChatBots on Messenger. While they made a big fuss around it at first, the marketing push quickly fell off, causing a general lack of clarity around exactly what is a ChatBot. Still, the push behind ChatBots continue, and for good reason.

Bots truly do have a unique ability to help promote businesses and help grow a marketing campaign to epic levels. A few key examples include Lionsgate usage of a ChatBot to help grow their upcoming Power Rangers film, and the Dominos Pizza Bot. More than that, Facebook (despite tis dropping the marketing ball) is committed to pushing ChatBots on their Messenger platform; a platform that has over 1 billion users.

Generally speaking, ChatBots can be divided into 3 categories in ascending order of intelligence:

1. Human Supported

This is a ChatBot that can only respond if real live human being is on the other end. This can be a tricky deal and is often the least successful and most expensive long term.

2. Decision Tree

Creating a limited tree that can help guide a chatbot through a conversation with a user. Limited Chatbots based off Decision Trees tend to not be as accurate, but ones that lean closer to AI are quite popular.

3. Machine Learning

Machine Learning and AI are also popular buzzwords these days and for good reason. ChatBots that fall into this category use Natural Language Processes to understand, interact and even learn from conversations. AIs tend to be very successful, but do cost more money and time.

The ChatBot Market

There are some other big movements in the ChatBot sector that indicate this market may be ready to really take off. The biggest and most notable is the inclusion of Payments for Messenger’s ChatBots. Facebook’s largest ChatBot rival is Kik, who has possibly over 300 million users (they do not disclose actual active user data).

With over 20,000 Bots hosted on their platform, Kik represents a pretty sizeable player in this area; they are in fact one of the rare tech Unicorns (it has a valuation over over $1 billion US). Since the launch of the platform in 2015, Kik has probably had over 2 billion messages exchanged and has received the attention of notable tech giants like the Chinese investment firm Tencent.

That being said, Kik has suffered from the same lack of awareness that Messenger has faced, potentially undergoing issues with growing its possible market. What’s needed from this new industry is a slight pivot; currently most Bots developers utilize their Bots as a replacement for an app. But a ChatBot’s true potential is its ability to connect technological innovations with offline businesses.

First, ChatBots have barely been around for a year. They started off rough, with a popular example being Poncho, the WeatherBot. Poncho was, to be brutally honest, pretty terrible when it first launched. That being said, it rapidly improved (faster than even most apps have) and now has an engagement comparable to an app (about 60% within the first week). Again, they gained numbers comparable to an app – in about a year.

Secondly, Facebook has added the ability for developers to accept payments from Users. Kik appears to be following closely behind, nipping closely at the Social Media giant’s heels. We’ve seen what happens to a tech market when the payment capabilities are added – when Apple added allowed it for their apps.

What happened when they did? The entire profitable app industry was born. In other words, we are looking at the ground floor of a burgeoning market, one that could be worth potential billions an revolutionize the world of business. Furthermore, this isn’t relegated to the world of online industry: the ability for ChatBots to accept payments also have the potential to connect offline retailers to the world of technological innovation.

Kik seems to be following in the steps of WeChat, which also uses a ChatBot. With a WeChat Bot, Users can be at a restaurant and view the restaurant’s menu. They can order the food they want; and, of course, users can pay through the ChatBot. Bots represent a fundamental change in how people use tech to interact with the offline world, as well as the online.

Whether you’re tech savvy or tech illiterate, a hatBot may very well be the tool your business needs to reach unparalleled heights. Don’t have a business? Maybe it’s time to open up your own ChatBot Store and Platform.

Give us a call at 408.802.2885/408.621.8481 – or click to contact us!

How to Make an Emoji App and Sell It

An Emoji is, according to almighty Google, “a small digital image…[that] express[es] an idea, emotion, etc., in electronic communication.” These little ideograms have become quite notorious in the last few years, but actually are as old as mobile phones. They first began back in the 1990s, appearing on early cell phones in Japan (Emoji is actually the combination of 2 Japanese words “Picture” and “Character”).

However, Emojis achieved true fame after Apple – and then Android – began to include Emojis on Smart Phones. For over 30 years, Emojis have delighted and amused. Emojis easily made the transition into mobile apps and today Emoji apps are some of the most downloaded apps in the world. More importantly to the entrepreneurs out there, Emojis are now an exceptionally common way of digital communication.

Apple and Android are adding more Emoticons and Emojis every day. As SmartPhones begin to pervade most of the planet, Emoji apps are actually growing in popularity. Believe it or not, Emoji Apps alone represent millions of dollars in annual revenue. When you factor in Emojis as part of Messaging Apps more broadly, it becomes a multi-billion dollar industry. Messaging Apps also represent the largest app user market in the world, with more engagement than even Social Media Apps.

That all sounds great, right? The best part is that making an emoji app is actually pretty simple. With the right development team, a clear and easy to use interface, and the right engagement strategy, an Emoji app can easily top the App Store charts. Plus, with the right guide to App Store Optimization, marketing an app is a cinch.

There are plenty of tricks that can help improve engagement, but the crux of this post won’t be about engagement. If you want to learn more about how to create a winning engagement strategy, please reach out to our team of expert designers. This post, however, will discuss two separate strategies on how to make money off an Emoji app.

How to Make an Emoji App and Sell It

The App Exit Plan is a time-honored strategy in our business. Essentially, the idea here is to develop an app with the sole intention of selling it to the highest bidder. While this sounds like a joke, it’s actually one of the most effective ways to turn a quick and tidy profit; sometimes, as the case with Walmart’s 3 billion dollar purchase of Jet.com.

If done correctly, an app owner can go from conception to massive profits in 2 years or less. But what does “done correctly” entail? As with most of life, a fishing analogy sums this up best: if Walmart is a fish, a baited hook is necessary to catch it. But the bait changes depending on the type of fish you want to catch. The first step in developing a successful app exit strategy is to figure out who the big fish are in the Messaging App game.

But the bait itself also has to be attractive, which means an Emoji app has to have a substantial user base and a unique approach to the highly competitive market. The app’s uniqueness can be a feature that can give a potential buyer a leg up on other large competitors; or it can simply be that it has a massive, engaged user base.

Other Revenue Generation Tricks

An app exit plan is an effective way to make money, but it’s not the only way. More than that, there is no reason an emoji app can’t be generating money while you’re waiting for the right fish to bite. So here are some other ways the Savvy Emoji app owner can generate some cash:

    ♦ Ad Modules are a difficult monetization strategy at the best of times. While a favored revenue generation tactic, when done wrong, Ads can be intrusive, ineffective, and actually harmful to your business. Messaging/Emoji Apps, in particular, is a hard nut to crack for advertisers. However, Swyft Media has done an excellent job of creating a new approach: turning iconic brands into hit Emojis.

    ♦ In addition to creating an app, you can also sell the emoticon font itself. Successful emoji apps generally contain both standard “Unicode” emojis (which can be packaged and sold to other Messaging Platforms) and the ability to create custom images, which can be sold as a simple image.

    ♦ Emojis and their close cousin Stickers can be sold as packets as well – i.e. improvements or updates to existing Emoji Libraries. This is an effective way to not only improve your own online presence as an Emoji expert but to generate a continual revenue stream.

There are many ways to generate a revenue – call us at 408.802.2885/408.621.8481 (or click to contact us) to discuss more ideas!

How to Automate Your Business with Bots

2016 was a big year in significant technological advancements:

    ♦ Elon Musk’s successfully launching and landing an unmanned rocket (plus the more recent 2017 announcement of the first manned mission next year);

    ♦ Amazon’s Echo (with AI software Alexa), Google Home, and Jarvis are the first real examples of Home Automation;

    ♦ Augmented Reality and Virtual Realities are beginning to change how we interact with both computers and the real world environment;

    ♦ The capabilities of Digital Personal Assistants have reached a near mythic status – and they’re only getting better;

There has also been a less obvious change in the very foundation of how programmers approach coding. Most readers have probably heard about Bots (especially if you’re on Facebook Messenger frequently) in one form or another. That being said, most readers probably are a little unsure as to what exactly a Bot is. Most importantly, anyone who has used an app or interacted with a website in the last year or so has used a bot – and probably didn’t even know it.

This is due to the second point in the above paragraph – people simply don’t understand what a Bot is. So first, a brief dive into the history of a Bot and the general capabilities of this new tool. But the real meat of this post will be about how bots, using complex programming tools borrowed from Machine Learning and AI, will revolutionize how businesses are conducted.

The Brief History of Bots

The first bots were ChatBots (a simpler version of what is on Messenger and now Google’s Chat platform Allo). They were simple creatures who were programmed with a series of automated responses. Bots were used for extremely basic tasks:

♦ Information retrieval (i.e. recent or local News);

♦ Task Reminder Alerts;

♦ Find local stores and/or restaurants.

There were many basic tasks that these little bits of code could accomplish. But rapidly, they became something more. Using Machine Learning (Structured Prediction, Semantic Analysis, Decision Trees, Support Vector Machines, etc), coders were able to create Bots that were so much more than a simple fetch machine.

How Automation is Changing the World of Business

Today, programmers used Bots to automate routine tasks of all types. In fact one of the most celebrated business uses of a bot is how easy it makes to sell to online users. The popular example is ordering a pizza; but the point is that the easier it is for a consumer to buy something, the more likely they are to purchase it.

However, this glosses over the true power it has to revolutionize how business is conducted. The true power of bots (as you may have guessed) lies in automation. Tasks that once required a person to initiate can now occur automatically. Consider a basic task that most businesses encounter: order placement.

Before bots, a new order would have to go to living person who would then need to send it down to the next person in the workflow. Then, the downstream person would have to initiate the next steps, whether that’s manufacturing the product, providing the service, and so on. Then the downline employee would have to start the next stage.

Business that use Bots can automate all of those tasks. Each one of those employees are freed from what is a rote mindless task – and can thus focus on the big tasks that make businesses a success (like growing business and improving revenue generation). Automation of these routine tasks through Bots is where the future of business lies. Think of all those tasks a bot can take over for a user:

    ♦ Automated responses to FAQ;

    ♦ Contact forms;

    ♦ Notification emails;

    ♦ Retrieving data;

    ♦ And so on;

But Wait, There’s More

Bots can be used to boost business in other ways too, including allowing SMB owners to build a website in mere minutes. RightClick.io is the best example of this, utilizing a massively cool chat Bot that asks a series of questions to help users to build an entire website, unique to their specific industry. Along with the robust editing tool suite activated with (perhaps not surprisingly) a simple right click, this is a Bot that burgeoning business simply cannot ignore.

There are even bots that can help Business Owners build other Bots (Facebook and Amazon both provide this service); but the only way to develop a bot truly unique to a specific business is to get a programming team that knows what they’re doing. SDI has the development experience that can only be gained from thousands of programming projects.

For almost 2 decades we have striven to innovate our own services, to continually provide better development support – like Bots – to our current and potential clients. We use AI, Machine Learning and our own custom Bot kits every single day. We know what processes can be automated and what still need that human touch. In other words, we know how to unlock the true potential of a business – in any and all industries.

Give us a call at 408.802.2885/408.621.8481 – or click to contact us!