RFID a Solution to Inventory and Shipment Tracking

Tracking a package either in the warehouse or while it is in transit has been a source of headaches. RFID technology eliminates this issue almost entirely, a computer tied to a warehouse scanner can identify specific item to a specific location immediately, no longer will someone have to go hunting for an item in a warehouse. It eases tracking woes by being scanned at different checkpoints and depending on the type of RFID chip being used, it can even provide specific up to date location information without needing to call up a shipping company or having to look for a tracking number.

The current standard method of tracking shipments uses barcodes and scanners, something most of us are familiar with. RFID technology simplifies the process by sending out a broad signal that registers when the signal into contact with an RFID chip, it does not need to be directly facing it and also does not need to be directly in front of it at a close range. This would allow for a faster scanning process saving time when receiving or sending out shipments of any size.

Barcodes can and have been effectively utilized as a method of tracking and logging shipments, but they are not without their flaws. Exposure to elements, malfunctioning scanners, an improperly set label, are just a some of the things can lead to an improper scan and thus an interruption of the work process. RFID eliminate this because each chip is assigned the specific data it carries digitally, and the signal that ‘activates’ the RFID to receive the data from it is not dependent on directly facing close to a scanner. The benefit of RFID is that it reduces the chance of errors in scanning and allows a more efficient process of receiving and shipping of packages. Some RFID tags can also be rewritten, allowing them to be used over and over reducing the costs of using these tags, however the true cost savings is in the ability to track and locate your inventory in quicker and more efficient manner. While scannable barcodes have long been the process to label packages and shipment, the time is fast approaching where barcodes will be entirely replaced by RFID chips.

The 21st Century and the Wonders of RFID

The evolution of technology has always been something rather poetic to think about, we encounter a problem so we devise a solution to said problem. After that we come up with a better solution and then we continue to improve upon that solution, because something working as it is meant to is not a signal that we should stop trying to develop or improve something. Take a look at inventory tracking and management, originally it could be a very tedious task involving stacks of paperwork and making sure you had it all in order. Now? We have Radio-Frequency Identification, (RFID).

RFID technology isn’t exactly a new technology by any definition, but it’s effectiveness and frequency of use is becoming better and bigger respectively. In fact, it was first conceptualized by the Soviet Union in 1945. It did not see common use until they were used in electronic toll pass systems to help states collect tolls from drivers. As expected, the uses for RFID today extend far beyond the collection of road and highway tolls.

RFID is useful because it has the ability to store many kinds of information, but without needing a power source to read the information. Passive RFID tags are powered by the radio waves of an RFID tag reader, which allows us to use RFID in everything from inventory tracking, shipment tracking, toelectronic locks, that only open when the correct information is scanned by the reader in the lock. RFID has uses in a large and varying array of industries and is only going to grow. In 2014 the market for RFID was just under 9 billion dollars. By the end of this decade its market is projected to double . It is a rapidly growing market and the companies that leverage this technology, will realize the increased profitability and increased control of their inventories, shipments, and security.

Listed below are just some of the uses for RFID technology:

  • Inventory Tacking
  • Tracking of Shipment
  • Security Access
  • Tolls and Payments like with credit cards.
  • Tracking and locating personal items.
  • Medical Devise and Treatment Tracking
  • Sporting Event Access and Fan Behavior Analysis

 

Digital Face to Face Communication

Remember when you had to drive to go to meetings and calls and all of that? Guess what we don’t have to worry about that nearly as much anymore. While COVID-19 has brought a lot of things to a standstill we have the opportunity to take advantage of the digital world we live in and can just have conversations with people online! And the best part is the technology at our disposal makes these digital meetings almost as effective as an in person one!

Whether it’s for an interview, a cold call, a company meeting, or even a demo of some kind, we can do all of these different calls and appointments online. Even some doctors are doing this for certain appointments! But how do you replicate some of the things you would do in person and what other advantages might there be for an online call?

Screen sharing is a function that many of you are probably familiar with to some extent. This allows you to share with your client whatever it is you are looking at on your screen, or vice-versa. You can share anything from a PowerPoint to even a video with audio depending on the app you are using. This is one of the most common features across all the different kinds of apps used for online communication.

Another feature that has been becoming more common as of late is the ‘waiting room’ function. This function means that someone will not be able to directly dial into a meeting but rather dial into a waiting room and wait to be let in my either the host of the meeting or an administrator of the meeting. This function is a way to ensure your meeting will not randomly be interrupted by unexpected company, just like a lock on a door of a regular meeting room.

One newer and more interesting feature that is becoming more common is commonly referred to as ‘background changing’. This is a function where the user’s device detects a person’s face and then replaces the background behind them with an alternate image. This could be useful for when you want to keep a person from seeing things behind you, or simply just remove distractions that may be happening in the background that are out of your control. This technology is still being developed, for best results having a single-color sheet or screen behind you will improve results depending on the app you use.

Technology continues to be our friend in times like this, and while face to face meetings may not be a thing for now, digital technology continues to allow us to overcome some of the challenges we encounter in our world. Why climb the tall mountain when we can just drill through it?

Digital Expos

One of the challenges we are faced with because of COVID is we cannot do as much face to face as we used to. Fortunately, this has been rectified mostly by digital meetings, but what about larger gatherings? As businesses open back up again, things may be safe in smaller scales, but large gatherings of people, especially from all over the country or even the world are still going to be very limited for a while?

Expos and tradeshows are something most people in all industries are familiar with.  Most Expos and tradeshows are annual or semiannual events that give us opportunities to meet people from all over the country or world and collaborate, network with people and learn about new products and services and rediscover current products and serves we may have overlooked. How do we still get our message out to our clients and prospects until these trade shows reopen?

This is where the digital aspect comes in, create a digital presentation or your own personal tradeshow. Develop a digital version to showcase your products or services and reach out to your clients and prospects one on one. Making pitches is already a part of your process, turning them into digital pitches is a simple addition or tweak to the process. For those who are looking for new products and ideas this will allow them to stay current without leaving their offices. The digital world we live in gives us the ability to keep our clients and prospects up to date and remain connected with them. Those of us who take advantage of the technologies available to us will be all the better for it on the other side of this all.

To quote Jack Welch, “Technology will not replace people, however people who embrace technology will replace those who do not.”

 

Technology in a Post COVID World

There are moments or events in one’s life that leave a permanent impact or cause a permanent change in their life. There are even fewer moments or events that leave an impact or change on EVERYONE’s life. But COVID-19 is one of these events and one has to wonder just how things may change when all is said and done and the answer is simple: technology. Our biggest asset throughout this global trial has been our link to technology, whether it’s used to map out the impact of the outbreak, or simply keep us together through cyber space. This and other similar technologies have been one of the positives to come out of this lock down.

While it was already commonplace, well before COVID became known, digital face to face communication has become much more meaningful and used during lockdowns. It has always helped to keep friendships strong over great distances. But now this technology is being used for much more than that, businesses have been using these digital face-to-face technologies to keep their businesses operational. From launching new product lines to making virtual sales calls and setting up team conferences, businesses are up and running. Mastering these technologies to compete in the new digital age of sale and marketing as well as managing a team working remotely will be critical to success and survival as we move into the new post CCOVID 19 world.

A key thing to remember with all of this is that even if one doesn’t fully understand all the aspects that go into a more digitally run business, the resources are out there for one to learn. Online instructional videos for various tech applications were already commonplace long before the lockdown began, and more sources have continued to come out since the lockdown began. Anyone can acquire an understanding and skills to work in this ever-changing digital world. The earlier one starts this process, the bigger advantage they will get once the world begins to open up again.

Where Do We Go From Here?

As summer nears, and our restrictions begin to hopefully lift on being stuck inside, one may wonder how things have changed after all of this. Suffice it to say that no matter how you look at it, the world we step back out into after this will be very different than when the lock downs began. People may look sideways at someone because they coughed, but we will get over that eventually. But how should you do things differently now? Let’s take a look at some things that will have changed when we all finally step outside again.

The most noticeable change will be in jobs that have a mostly digital element to it. There is a very good chance that many jobs will now be able to done at least part time from home, thus limiting what a business may need to physically support in a building. Another aspect about work that may change again is for those who have someone at home, such as kids or a pet, who have suddenly gotten used to you being around a lot more and may wonder why things have changed again. This is especially true for pets who may become anxious upon seeing you leave after being there for so long. Consider taking some time to get them used to the idea of you being gone during the day again.

Going back to the topic of physically going back to work, things will likely be different at work as well. People will be less likely to go out for lunch, rather opting to bring their own lunch in to avoid going other places. Communal coffee pots will likely no longer be used, with everyone preferring to make their cup of coffee being seen as a safer method, the good news with this means you don’t have to worry about someone ruining a pot of coffee by making it too strong or weak.  You will likely see office spaces more spread out, putting more distance between people, but it is important to remember that while these changes will be jarring, you will likely find yourself happy to be back in the office. While working from home has its perks and many may still switch between coming in and working from home, you cannot replicate the culture and social interactions of the office in your own house, your pets and kids do not make for those kinds of substitutes.

Digital changes will likely continue to influence the work environment as well, you can easily expect many more meetings to occur via an online method rather than a face to face meeting. Even if a face to face meeting does occur, don’t be surprised if people stop trying to shake your hand, don’t worry it won’t be anything against you, it is simply just one of the many health practices we have picked up in our time in lock down.

Speaking of one’s health, another to consider is your health and safety, this isn’t something you should get scared over or anything. Much more strict health practices have been put in place and will continue to be put in place after this is over. You may even find yourself going outdoors to exercise by jogging or working out at home as opposed to going to a gym, so that expensive membership may not be needed anymore! The best thing you can for yourself is simply keep up the habits you began when the lock downs first started. This will pass, but in no way will this be the last time something like this happens, but do not let that make you afraid to go outside. There is much we have missed these last few months, and soon it will be time to go out and make up for all that lost time.

Staying Secure Online

Back during the late 90’s and early 2000’s, computer technology was a lot simpler than it was now, and being proficient with Paint or that old pinball game qualified you to be considered “skilled” with computers. In 2020 things are infinitely more advanced and complicated than many probably thought possible, and as things get more complicated, so to do attempts to steal information from others. But there are several tips you can follow to help minimize your risk of being targeted or taken advantage of online.

These days everyone has a smart phone, and while smart phones have their own security tools such as facial ID and finger print scanners to unlock said phone, computers and online accounts do not use these. But there is one thing you can do with your phone to help tighten your security online. Mobile Authenticators are becoming much more commonplace, and their purpose is simple; to tie your phone number to an account and allow to phone to verify certain details about your account. Linking your phone to your accounts can grant you the ability to get text notifications about security codes, or if a possible breach attempt has been detected. Phone’s linked can also help you to reset your password should you forget it. You can also download mobile authenticator apps that allow you to generate various security codes for different app accounts. A similar type of authentication is known as Dual Authentication, aka two-factor authentication. (2FA) This is similar to using a mobile device but it is not always tied to a mobile device, it can be tied to an email account or other method of verifying your account info. This is commonly used with banks but it is being quickly adapted by other services.

This is far from the only way to help secure an account however, a much more commonly used; as well as older method, is security questions. Security questions are commonly associated with bank accounts, but they are often used as a method of getting into your account if you forget your password. Common ones you may see would be questions that ask for a pet’s name or a city you would like to visit. It is recommended that you do not provide answers that many people know. For example, if you have a pet and love to talk about it on social media, it would be ill-advised to have one your questions be said pet’s name. You should pick questions and answers that only you would know, thus limiting the risk of someone getting into your account by reading your social media history.

Speaking of social media, let’s take a moment to consider the information you may post online. Identity thieves will often look on social media accounts that are not secure or set to private. The more information that you make publicly available, the more you put yourself at risk to be taken advantage of. So, make sure you set your accounts to private as much as you can, make sure information you post is only visible to friends, and some scrutiny to the friends you add on social media can be advised as well.

When it comes to passwords you may be tempted to reuse the same one multiple times to help you remember it easier. DO NOT DO THIS. If just one of these accounts are compromised, then very other account with that password will be just as vulnerable. Furthermore, do not make your passwords simple to guess, no matter how funny or clever you think you are; 1,2,3,4,5 is not a good password and is the kind of thing an idiot would put on his luggage lock. Have lowercase and capital letters in it, as well as numbers and special characters as well. Avoid birthdays and loved one’s names because they will be some of the first guesses some people try.

Above all else, use common sense online, as I have said previously, common sense is your biggest ally online. Use two factor or mobile authentication, don’t store sensitive info online, do not react to things immediately, take a moment and consider things before reacting. Don’t click on suspicious links, don’t give money to the old executive prince in Saudi Arabia, don’t put your passwords online, and don’t panic everything will be fine!

Technology is Your Friend in These Trying Times

As the last few weeks have shown, the world has very quickly began adjusting for a world that operates online more than it used to. More people are working from home than ever, students are being taught online, and you can even have Netflix Watch parties with your friends from the comfort of your own bed! Now some of you may be a little bit new to this, and some of you may be expert binge-watchers who are ready to stream everything on the Internet. Either way, there is still plenty to learn about the technology and applications available to you from the comfort of your own home.

Probably one of the most crucial types of applications that is being used during these times are video chat applications. While many are quite familiar with Facetime and Skype, they aren’t the only apps that let you video chat your friends and family. There are many great apps out there that allow you to digitally talk with people such as WhatsApp, Discord or Google Hangouts. One thing to consider is that there is no perfect one size fits all video chat application. For many trying to quickly find a video chat app because you miss your friends and family can be daunting just for the reason of you may have never done it before. The good news is almost every video chat app is either free, or has a free plan that has been expanded in response to COVID-19 lockdowns. Read articles online talking about the pros and cons of each kind of chat app, and make an informed decision for yourself.

Now what about entertainment? Talking with friends and family is a great way to pass the time, but they won’t be able to pass ALL the time, this is where streaming can come in handy. Even people living under a rock have heard of apps like Netflix or HBO, have heard of shows like Stranger Things or Game of Thrones, all of these are available to watch on various apps, and they all have free trials! Some companies have even extended their free trials or put up content to watch that does not require an active subscription to watch! For someone who is stuck inside all day, that definitely sounds like a good deal to me.

Now all of this content available at the tip of your fingers sounds like a fantastic deal and it is, but one thing that still needs to be taken seriously is security. With so much of the world now being digital as opposed to in person, people see this as an opportunity to take advantage of those who have little experience and may not know what they are doing. There are several tips you can follow to help minimize your chances of being targeted by people with less than pure intentions online.

The first piece of advice is also the biggest, DO NOT USE THE SAME PASSWORD FOR EVERYTHING. With many new accounts possibly needing to be made in quick succession for things online, it can be tempting to pick one password for everything to save time. If you do this, and just one of those accounts gets compromised, you’re going to have a bad time! Another thing to be aware of is scams, while we should always be on the look out from scams from our favorite Nigerian Prince who wants to wire us millions in oil money if we provide our banking info, COVID-19 has also brought about a new wave of scams. Popular scams often involve apparently miraculous medical items relating to treating the virus, and some can take a lot more than just your money. Another common scam is virus-linked websites masquerading as official news sources.

A lot of this may sound scary and worrying to some, but much of this can be avoided just by staying calm and using common sense. Don’t click on suspicious links, pay attention to info from only trusted sources, and think before reacting to some alert you may see on your computer. The times we live in right now are unusual, and they are admittedly a little scary, but this is not the end of the world. We will all get through this, and though the world may be very different in a few months’ time, we will all still be here ready for business.

 

Working From Home in a Quarantined World

Five months ago, everyone had plans, some had wedding plans, some had vacation plans, and some people just got up and went to work like they do every day. Five months, later, vacations and weddings are canceled, but a lot of us still need to work, not necessarily GO to work, but we need to work regardless. Luckily for those of us who fall into this category, we live in an age where remote working is easier and more accessible than ever. As lockdowns and restrictions grow and extend, I hope that the tips below can help maximize your productivity while working remotely from home.

The first big thing you should do is ensure that you don’t change your routine too much. Many may think that because they are working from home, they don’t need to worry about cleaning up in the morning, you may want to skip that morning shower for a few extra z’s. Don’t do this, keeping as much of your work routine while you’re at home will help keep you productive and keep your mindset on the work at hand. Try to keep your habits the same, obviously you can’t do everything the same exact way you do at work but the more you recreate it at home, the less likely you are to fall into the main pitfall of working at home; distraction.

Distraction is the single largest production halter while you’re working from home. The office environment is nice for minimizing distractions throughout your day, but you do not have that luxury while at home, you have to manage it yourself. Self-discipline is your biggest ally in combating distractions while at home, but there are some other things you can do to help with that. First: KEEP YOUR WORK AREA CLEAN! This is the single biggest thing you can to help your concentration while you’re working, a dirty work area makes for a distracted day. If you keep your office space clean you can keep your area for work at home just as clean if not cleaner given you live there.

Another question you may have is ‘what should I wear?’, you may not be going outside of your house but that does not mean you should just park in front of your computer wearing PJ’s. Going back to the previous point of recreating your routine as much as possible, wear clothes similar to what you would wear to work, as this will again help your mind keep itself oriented to work while at home.

Another thing to consider is the isolation and effects it can have on one’s mental state. While some may be fine with little contact for days or weeks at a time, humans crave contact with others, phone calls are one thing but video chatting apps like Zoom or Facetime can help alleviate some of the loneliness one feels while being cooped up inside. Come up with activities such as reading or learning new things to help keep yourself engaged and stave off boredom.

Staving off the boredom serves a second purpose besides just general entertainment, as this pandemic worsens and lockdowns extend, keeping one’s head up may become more difficult than usual. Remember that you are not alone in dealing with this, even if there is no one physically with you where you live, we live in a day and age where people are merely a phone or video call away. Take advantage of the technology we have to help keep your spirits up. And above all else, wash your hands!

 

Loyalty to a Brand

Why do people line up hours ahead of time; regardless of weather, to be one of the first to get a new iPhone? Why do people like Coke over Pepsi or vice-versa? Why did people root for the Chicago Cubs for 108 years before they finally won a World Series? The answer is probably one you could guess rather quickly: Loyalty.

Loyalty as a concept should not be unfamiliar to anyone at all, the concept of which has been around almost as long as humanity has existed. But what about loyalty to a brand or symbol? In Ancient Rome, the Aquila; or Eagle, was a symbol of extreme importance. They were the symbols of the Roman Legionnaires and were carried into every battle fought. On the rare occasion one was lost, monumental efforts were made to recover them, the recovery of which was said to have an effect equivalent to that of a whole military victory.

So, what does this have to do with the Brands and Logos of today? None of us are certainly buying anything specifically because we fought for it. While most of these logos and brands may not have military significance, we as a species have evolved beyond seeing symbols as just something of military or religious importance. Think about your favorite sports team, or favorite place to buy a cup of coffee. Odds are that as you think about this, the symbol of associated with them also immediately comes to mind. This isn’t to say we root for something because they have a nice logo, but because we associate ourselves with it in some way. The stronger our association with that logo or brand, the more loyal we are to it.

While a sports team may be the most immediate way to show loyalty to a logo or brand, the same concept can be applied to a company as well. We have all seen apparel from software companies, banks, restaurants and theme parks being worn by everyday folks. Those companies have developed loyalty to their brand to the point where people make fashion statements with them. They associate with those brands the same way they do with their favorite team.

But how does a company earn this loyalty from their clients? Simple: Don’t be ordinary. And let people know who you are before you say or do anything. The biggest advantage we have when it comes to securing new clients is that we follow up our first impressions with continuous reliability. Which means we have the opportunity to influence that first interaction to make it memorable, and then follow through on it, you can do this as well! Wear it, own it.