Category Archives: General

A Look Into The Future Of IoT

IoT (The Internet of Things) has grown rapidly in the last 5 years and it is continuing to grow in intelligence. The global market value of IoT is expected to reach $7.1 trillionby 2020. This clearly suggests that nearly every industry will be strongly impacted by IoT in the near future. 

IoT will have a significant impact in our day to day lives, not only in the way we do business,  but also in that every device we interact with will be connected to IoT. 

A world of massive possibilities lies in the future and we should be ready to accept IoT in all spheres of our life.  

What is IoT?

IoT stands for the Internet of Things. It is a network of physical devices which are connected to the internet and to other connected devices in order to collect and share data. 

Some examples of IoT include a smart microwave that can automatically cook food without any human intervention to set the time for cooking or self driving cars that can make travel easier without the need for human assisted driving. Sounds like a fairy tale but it’s true.

Top IoT Trends that Will Lead to Digital Transformation 

A Connected Business Framework: IoT will help to build a connected business framework where logistics, devices, consumers and workforce will be connected together leading to an improved business ecosystem. This will make data sharing across all segments easier and the insights derived will be used to build strategies that will be more valuable than the existing ones. 

Device Security Will Be Crucial: As devices become interconnected with each other, the threat to security will not be limited to just public networks. More and more private networks are set to come under scrutiny, meaning threats can arise from your smartphone or your smarthome.

Systematic Enterprise Processes Will Be In Place: Automation will be adopted by most  companies. When such automation starts to happen at scale, it will lead to systematic enterprise processes that will greatly improve efficiency. 

Machine Learning and Blockchain Will Empower IoT: Both machine learning and blockchain are set to play a crucial role in the development of IoT. In fact, both of these will become established elements that will serve as the backbone of IoT. 

Smart Home Devices Will Rise in Popularity:IoT powered smart home devices are set to become a part of every household in the near future. People who are currently not feeling the need to have IoT enabled home devices will start buying smart home devices. This is set to become one of the hottest IoT trends. Amazon AlexaGoogle Homehome automation range from WemoPhilips Hue lighting are some of the examples of smart home devices that will soar in popularity in the near future. 

The Need for IoT Management 

IoT device management will be extremely crucial because the current IoT device landscape is still immature. For an IoT friendly world which is secure and makes life easier, device management capabilities need to evolve rapidly. 

In an interesting case study by Cloud Management Suite, it was discovered that Plan B, a UK based managed services provider which specializes in difficult program delivery found it frustrating to keep track of software across an array of devices spread over 20 countries and 1300 different users. A large number of the devices were purchased outside of the organization, hence the manual software maintenance was extremely slow and was adding to the cost burden. When the company adopted an IoT Device Management solution, it was able to drastically bring the costs down and the management of devices became easier. The solution used an agentless tool, providing effective management over systems based on a network or connected via Virtual Private Network (VPN). It was easily operated from the cloud, meaning, the tool required no server installation or configuration. Moreover, the solution incorporated a self-upgrading capability with a multi-tenancy feature, that enabled MSPs to proactively manage multiple customer environments from 30 – 30,000 endpoints. 

IoT device management is the process of maintaining the device firmware and software so that it functions smoothly and securely. Constant monitoring, device maintenance, configuration and authentication plays a crucial role in maintaining the entire IoT framework.

Here are some pointers that will lead to effective management of IoT devices:

  • Centralized password management:One should be able to change the passwords of each of the connected devices from one central location. 
  • Automatic software updates: All the connected devices should be automatically checked for vulnerability. You should be able to manage unpatched vulnerabilities at the click of a button. With predictive patch management, effective network security should be achieved on a scale leading to a secured IoT world. 
  • Better Groupings: Different devices in the IoT network will be provided by different IoT providers but there should be a system to group all the functions together to achieve optimum performance. For example, if I need to switch on the TV, AC and Fridge of my house then I should be able to do that at the click of a button without the need to press 3 different switches to operate 3 different devices. AWS IoT 1-Click is an example of such software provided by Amazon. 

  • Artificial Intelligence: Devices should be smart enough to sense the need of operation, meaning lights should switch off automatically when there is no one in the room. Artificial intelligence is what will drive the efficiency of IoT. 

Conclusion 

The entire world is slowly moving towards IoT. We all will be highly dependent on IoT connected devices in the next 5 years. IoT is rightfully regarded as the ‘next generation of internet’. However, security will become tougher and both consumers and manufacturers must take every step necessary to leave no vulnerabilities. 

10 Top Builders For Small Business Websites

In today’s market, it’s common for even the smallest companies to conduct at least some business online. And whether you own an ecommerce store or need to allow for online bookings, you can’t really have an online presence without a website.

But if you’re not tech-savvy and you can’t afford a freelance web developer with all your other startup costs to cover, are you out of luck?

Definitely not. There are a variety of website builders that help small business owners build a powerful and well designed website—at low costs.

Here are the 10 best tools to use to build your small business website on a budget.

The Top Website Builders for Small Business

The best way to build a small business website varies from business to business.

When you’re searching for a website builder, think carefully about what you need for your small business website. If you think you could fully customize your small business website to your needs with a given tool, then that’s probably the best tool for you.

While searching for the best tool, you want to find a balance: The perfect platform is one that has a broad set of functionalities but, at the same time, is easy and intuitive to use.

In general, a good website builder:

  • Helps you easily choose your domain name.
  • Offers a variety of website templates.
  • Has mobile design capabilities.
  • Makes photo uploads and gallery uploads easy.
  • Offers a shopping cart service (if you’re selling products online).
  • Syncs with your social media accounts.
  • Gives access to an attentive customer support team.
  • Has a pricing structure that doesn’t break the bank!

Because there are many tools for building a small business website these days, we’re here to help you filter out some of the noise. 

These 10 tools are a great fit for building a small business website on a budget.

1. Wix

If you’re looking for a host with a large (very large) array of design templates, then Wix might be the small business website builder for you.

Wix offers hundreds and hundreds of free design templates that work for just about any type of business. Sort through their templates by category: business, photography, videography, restaurants and food, design, and so on.

This builder has an easy-to-use template that allows for drag-and-drop creation of your website—making the actually building part of creating a website easy and painless. 

And they also offer mobile capability and free and secure online web hosting.

Wix offers hundreds of templates, unlimited pages, and web hosting for free. But they also offer premium subscription levels, with the eCommerce (best for small business) and Unlimited (best for entrepreneurs and freelancer) at $8.50 per month and $7 per month respectively.

2. Squarespace

Squarespace is a small business website builder largely known as a service for creative industries and ecommerce companies. However, Squarespace still has something to offer for most small businesses.

Squarespace has a wide variety of beautifully designed templates—if you want your small business website to have real visual appeal, a Squarespace website will really wow your customers.

Due to the visual aspect of these perfectly templated Squarespace websites, this service won’t allow as much customizability as other small business website builders will. However, if you’re looking for an easy way to craft a professional-looking website, Squarespace is a no-brainer. 

While Squarespace isn’t the cheapest website builder on this list, they do offer a very simple pricing structure: The Business plan comes at $18 per month, with a wide array of features suitable for most businesses.

3. Weebly

Weebly is another small business website builder that has been around for a while (since 2007) and has remained popular with small businesses.

Weebly is a free creator that works for businesses that need websites, online stores, or blogs.

It has a powerful drag-and-drop editor, making it one of the more customizable (but easy-to-use) services available to small business owners. You can also use their App Market to customize your web development in any way you want.

This small business website tool also goes beyond just website building, offering email marketing services, SEO functionality, ecommerce services, and blogging capabilities.  

The free offerings from Weebly are especially good compared to other competitors, but the paid subscriptions start at $8 per month and offer you more functionality.

4. Duda

Duda provides an easy small business website building solution that’s an especially good service if you’re looking for desktop, tablet, and mobile capabilities. With Duda, you can convert your standard desktop website into a mobile site or build a mobile site from scratch.

But Duda isn’t just for mobile; they also help small business owners create well-designed desktop sites with their easy-to-use site-builder interface.

As a plus, Duda comes with an intuitive social media integration and a helpful built-in analytics system.

If you want a website that’s responsive on a desktop, tablet, or smartphone, the Business plan is $7.13 per month for a year (if you score their summer 2017 sale!). Mobile-only functionality comes free, or with a Premium plan on sale for $3.60 per month for a year.

5. WordPress

WordPress is a small business favorite, but its reach goes far beyond the small biz category: 1 in 5 websites are built using it.

WordPress offers one of the easiest website and blog building platform for beginners. So if you’re just starting your business and need an easy small business website service to use, WordPress is a safe bet.

There are more than 350 applicable templates for small businesses, and you can customize each template to make it your own—with your own fonts, images, logo, colors, and just about anything else with CSS.

WordPress also comes with a strong analytics tool and SEO capabilities—which is great if you’re interested in how people are finding your site, and how it’s performing on the internet.

With WordPress, you can get free plans, or gain more functionality with their Premium plan that’s $8.25 per month and the Business plan that’s $24.92 per month.

A 2017 DevWP blog post asked the interesting question: Do You Need a WordPress Website For Your Small Business? It argues that a Facebook page may be sufficient for some businesses like a hookah bar or restaurant that only require a page that offers their contact details, photos, and reviews. It’s certainly worth a read before taking the WordPress plunge!

6. Yola

Yola is a great website builder for small business owners who want the easiest possible experience. With Yola, you can create a powerful and well-designed site with absolutely no code or tech skills necessary. In fact, Yola claims that you can make one of their free websites in minutes.

There’s hundreds of professionally designed templates that you can customize for your business.

You can start with their free subscription and add on premium features once your business grows. The Bronze level starts at $4.16 per month, the Silver at $8.33 per month, and the Gold at $16.66 per month.

7. Sitey

Sitey is a simple but powerful small business website builder.

This builder offers a little bit of everything for a small business owner who’s looking for a functional and easy-to-use website—you get Google-friendly desktop and mobile development, 24-hour hosting, 100s of templates, e-shop capabilities, and more.

You can get a lot of functionality with their free subscription—50MB of storage, 5MB for file uploads, and 1GB of bandwidth. The most popular paid subscription level is the Pro, which costs $7.99 per month.

8. Shopify

Shopify is probably your best small business website builder if you’re building an online store. 

The platform offers many different ways to sell your product and integrate with other shopping environments—through an online store, Facebook shop, Amazon, and so on.

Shopify also equips your website with different tools that help you sell on the go—at trade shows, different marketplaces, or just about anywhere in person.

All in, if you sell a product and you want to have a major ecommerce presence, then Shopify is probably the best small business website builder for you. 

Shopify comes with a free 14-day trial, but their Basic plan starts at $29 per month.

9. Webs

Webs is another small business website builder that offers all the core functionalities as the top tools available to business owners—many templates, drag-and-drop capabilities, social connectivity, and so on.

But where Webs really shines is its SEO capabilities. If your website is built with Webs, you’ll save a step becoming an SEO expert. Webs guides you through setting your website up for search engine success—letting you customize your website development based on your needs.

Other than that, Webs is one of the oldest website builders in the industry and a solid option for small business owners who need a powerful and intuitive website. Webs starts at $5.99 per month.  

10. Jimdo

With more than 15 million built sites under its belt, Jimdo is another great small business website builder.

Jimdo can help you create a simple, single-page website to a more complex online store—making it a good option for any type of business.

While Jimdo can create a website of any kind, its strength is in online stores. However, you probably have to pay for a subscription service with Jimdo to get functionality that’s as good as the free options with the services listed above.

As a small business or startup owner, you’re always busy. With so many other things on your plate, you need a small business website builder that’s easy to use but fully functional. 

Any of the list above are cheap options for setting up a stellar website, so think through what you need for your small business website, and take the plunge!