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Editor’s Note: This is part of an ongoing series on digital integration, cutting-edge technology from Commercient. Our goal is to help modernize your business and improve sales.

It’s no secret that the world has become a more connected and digital one. This has transformed the business landscape into a technology-driven playing field where tech has become an essential part of doing business.

Industry leaders are leveraging cutting-edge technologies to stay ahead of the game and drive sales. As technology continues to evolve, businesses have become increasingly competitive in their efforts to survive and succeed. To ensure the continued survival of your business, you must adapt to this digital world by embracing innovative technologies. Failure to do so will leave your business at the mercy of circumstances.

Technologies That Help Businesses Increase Sales

There are several innovative technologies that can be leveraged to help your business successfully increase sales. Here are a few technologies that have dramatically changed the sales game.

Cloud CRM Software

Cloud-based Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is an invaluable tool that can be used to dramatically increase sales. CRM software empowers salespeople with real-time customer data. This gives salespeople greater visibility into their sales pipeline and they are better equipped to close more deals leading to increased sales.

CRM software also provides your sales team with the means to foster more meaningful relationships with their customers and improve customer relations. Implementing the right CRM solution in your business can help streamline the sales process, increase productivity and efficiency, improve customer relationships, close more deals, and much more. Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics 365, and Zoho CRM are just three options to consider.

ERP Software

At the most basic level, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software is used to control production, logistics, accounting, inventory, distribution, and other functions in a business. There are many benefits to implementing ERP software including automation of manual processes, increased productivity, efficiencies, and more.

Popular ERPs include those from Sage, SYSPRO, QuickBooks, SAP and others. Many have evolved into the cloud, which offers an even more powerful and affordable solution vs. on-premise ERP software.

Data Integration Technology

Used separately, ERP and CRM has many benefits, but the data remains siloed. To realize the full benefits of these two systems combined, a seamless CRM and ERP integration is necessary. The objective is to create an end-to-end system where applications “talk” to one another. This allows a business to receive the benefits of both these tools in a combined manner.

Commercient SYNC, the #1 data integration app for sales, is a powerful app that can help your sales team make the most of data in order to optimize data-driven sales strategies and maximize profits. SYNC seamlessly integrates your CRM and ERP giving you a 360-degree view of all your customer data, providing a single source of information for your sales team. We currently integrate over 85 ERPs and several popular CRMs.

Your sales team can access ERP data directly in CRM, giving one access point for all that data. This includes customer information, sales history, invoicing, serial numbers invoiced, inventory, multi ship to addresses, and more.

SYNC provides timely access to accurate data, and your sales team will be aware of inventory, ordering patterns and customer buying behavior. SYNC enables you to derive meaningful insights from customer data, and promotes data-driven decision-making. This also helps improve customer service and support, thereby increasing sales and customer satisfaction in the process.

Artificial Intelligence

It’s a well-known fact that customers have become increasingly impatient. Waiting for a response to an inquiry has become a thing of the past. Businesses now have to respond instantly, or risk losing a potential sale.

By using conversational chatbots with artificial intelligence, you can provide your customers with better customer service by instantly responding to customer queries or concerns.

Social Media Platforms

The relationship between a business and its customers has evolved. Interactions have become closer, informal and more instant. Your business can harness the power of social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, and more, to connect and bond with potential and existing customers and drive sales.

Is your business taking advantage of the power of technology to increase sales? If not, find out how Commercient can help you by contacting us today!

SYNC ERP and CRM

Innovative technology has become a competitive edge that wields the power to drive business success and accelerate profits exponentially. Large corporations such as Laurentide Controls and Sentury Tire, credit a large portion of their success to technology upgrades that revealed new and innovative ways of doing business. Their business success is proof that the long-term benefits of investing in technology far outweighs the cost.

Leverage The Power of Technology

1. Enable Easy Access to Data By Integrating Business Systems

Many corporations today are burdened by multiple business systems that aren’t connected, which can complicate processes and hinder operations. Using these systems, like ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) and CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software, can result in siloed databases. Extracting data for reports from multiple systems becomes a time-consuming process that produces outdated, less valuable information.

The most effective way to bring together and analyze data in real-time is to integrate business systems. Integration allows a company to unlock the true value of business data, and transforms it into meaningful and valuable information which is critical in today’s data-driven world.

Commercient SYNC, the #1 data integration platform for sales, connects sales and accounting systems, enabling easy access to data by allowing a company to view all the data stored in these systems on one platform. Businesses can view ERP data directly within CRM, giving real-time visibility into the overall performance of operations.

Your data is updated in real-time in both your ERP and CRM software simultaneously, and can be accessed from any system on any device, ensuring that the right data is delivered to the right people, every time.

This data, from ERP to CRM, includes customer information, sales history, terms, serial numbers, inventory, invoicing info, etc. From CRM to ERP, new accounts, customers and invoices are SYNC’d.

Hilton Cordero, Territory Sales Manager of Sentury Tire, a leading tire manufacturer, turned to Commercient SYNC to help give visibility of vital sales data to his team, which would otherwise be stuck in Sage 100.

By integrating Sage 100 and Salesforce, Commercient SYNC provided clarity to all the vital data in Sage 100 for report building, and drastically reduced an 8 hour process to just a mere hour, saving the team hours of data entry work every day.

Cordero explained that he would only get quarterly reports until SYNC was implemented: “I can now get reports from Sage 100 up-to-the-minute, and I can look into my reports once a day now.”

Read the Sentury Tire Success Story here.

2. Adopt a Customer-Focused Approach and Use Customer Data to Increase Sales

Operating since 1968, Québec-based Laurentide Controls Ltd. is the recognized leading provider of automation, measurement, process control, and reliability solutions to industries in Eastern Canada.As part of their key strategy, Laurentide Controls implemented Salesforce to help modernize their sales system, and increase overall sales and efficiency.

“One of the reasons we decided to go with Salesforce was the ability to include [ERP] data in it, such as during an integration with our IFS system,” explained Simon Chapleau, CIO at Laurentide Controls.

That need for integration to get important customer data from IFS into Salesforce led them to Commercient SYNC, which can be deployed rapidly, is affordable, and features premiere support. Commercient SYNC helped Laurentide Controls increase revenue and provide better customer service.

Simon Chapleau, CIO at Laurentide Controls, discussed how Commercient SYNC has helped qualify Opportunities in Salesforce.

“It’s allowed us to get the data out of the silos [from IFS], and make it available to our [inside sales team in real-time]… to make a decision right away, whether that opportunity is worth pursuing, or that customer is worth pursuing,” he explained. Chapleau went on to say the company’s sales teams have been able to increase their Opportunity Win Rates, which is helping to close more deals.

Commercient SYNC also helped their outside sales team. “[Customer data] is available for them on their mobile device, in real-time,” Chapleau said. “They know what cases are open, what orders are open, what orders are being delayed for some reason or not, what service requests are open, which one is at a critical stage… [Our sales teams] are able to track what’s happening in real-time, and intervene and facilitate things.

Chapleau also commended Commercient’s premier support team: “It has been great, really helpful in aiding us in setting it up. They’re very responsive and always there to help when we needed it. [Support also helped with] understanding the data, how to SYNC it, how to make it available in Salesforce in a way that makes sense.”

Read the Laurentide Controls Customer Success Story here.

3. Optimize Business Processes

Implementing new technologies designed to improve efficiencies and optimize business processes makes a significant contribution to managing costs. Commercient SYNC helps boost employee productivity and allows them to work more efficiently.Commercient helped Sentury Tire to optimize their sales processes by integrating their sales and accounting systems. Prior to Commercient SYNC, their remote sales team didn’t have access to important data in Sage 100.

“There was no visibility to the information, which only lived in Sage 100,” said Hilton Cordero. “The sales team would have to manually search through emails, and sometimes an email might be forgotten, and [Commercient’s bi-directional SYNC] gives visibility of Sage 100 to the entire sales team.”

With Salesforce, Sage 100, and Commercient’s two-way SYNC, Sentury Tire now have efficient, streamlined processes.

4. Make Your Business Part of The Internet of Things

Commercient’s IoT Pulse enables companies to take productivity to new heights by automating your migration, via an integration of your ERP to the internet and with more than 1,100 internet apps for your ERP. Integrating data across all of your business systems with Commercient’s IoT Pulse will help promote productivity and allow the automation of daily tasks.

In Conclusion

By combining business and technology expertise, Commercient helps industry leaders by providing leading data integration technology designed to drive results and increase profits. Contact us today to find out how we can bring you closer to making your next billion.

SYNC Demo integrate CRM ERP

The evolution of game-changing technologies is leveling the playing field in many industries. The adoption of these technologies is on the rise, giving cognizance to forward-thinkers in various industries to reimagine what’s possible.

2019 will see an increase in technology-driven organizations, as more businesses embark on the digital transformation journey. With artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and robotic process automation (RPA) poised to usher in a new way of doing business, traditional business processes will soon cease to exist.

Advancements in natural language processing and sentiment analysis will revolutionize the service industry as we know it. And it won’t be long before the Internet of Things (IoT) becomes a standard in every industry.

Commercient is ready for the Top 5 technology trends in business with our apps, like SYNC, the #1 data integration platform for sales, which connects your ERP and CRM, such as SYSPRO and Salesforce, and many others. Your sales team will have access to important ERP information such as customer data, sales history, invoicing, terms, serial numbers, inventory, and more. From CRM to ERP, you’ll be able to SYNC your new orders, new and updated customers, etc.

The Top 5 Technology Trends Predictions for Businesses in 2019

There are a number of emerging technologies that could impact businesses in the near future, but these 5 technology trends will demand increased attention going forward, and should be your main focus in 2019.

1. Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Artificial Intelligence is everywhere; from navigation apps to smart devices, people around the world use AI on a daily basis. There is a growing interest from every industry about the benefits to be gained from using AI. But what exactly is Artificial Intelligence, and how can it benefit your business?

Artificial Intelligence refers to the ability of machines to emulate human intelligence, and perform tasks much faster and more accurately than humanly possible. AI works by making use of algorithms and fast, repetitive processing to combine and analyze large amounts of data, allowing machines to learn automatically from patterns and features in the data. AI can solve many challenges faced by businesses today. Using AI solutions in your day-to-day business operations can help increase sales, improve customer experience and minimize labor-intensive operating expenses.

AI has unprecedented potential, and organizations will flourish or wither depending on whether or not they realize this potential.

2. Machine Learning (ML)

Machine Learning is a branch of Artificial Intelligence that provides machines with the ability to automatically learn and progressively improve their performance, without human intervention or programming.

The power of ML lies in self-teaching algorithms, which automatically study and analyze large amounts of data in order to identify patterns and make predictions or decisions. Systems can learn automatically from experience, and provide improved results as time goes on.

Machine Learning will have a major impact on an organization’s efficiency and profitability, and will enable businesses to predict customer behavior, make product recommendations, automate business processes, and detect fraud. With the real-time insights gained from using ML, businesses will have a better chance of identifying profitable opportunities and avoiding unknown risks, thus gaining an advantage over their competition.

3. Chatbots

The birth of chatbots and virtual assistants was made possible by Artificial Intelligence. Google’s Home, Microsoft’s Cortana, Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri all make use of AI-based algorithms.

A chatbot is a computer program designed to convincingly imitate human conversations. Chatbots can help improve customer service, streamline the shopping process, personalize communication, improve response rates and automate repetitive tasks.

The chatbots we interact with today are built to perform simple tasks, but with the help of machine learning technologies, chatbots will be capable of more contextually relevant interactions.

Gartner predicts that by 2020, 85% of customer relationships will be managed without human interaction.

4. Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

Like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is another technology that is automating jobs. Based on AI and ML, RPA uses software to automate human activities that are manual, rule-based and repetitive. RPA robots work by mimicking human actions and interacting with software applications to perform time consuming tasks, such as data entry, transaction processing or responding to simple customer queries.

RPA is part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and will gain popularity in the years to come. This will drive a new wave of productivity and will help improve accuracy, efficiency and reduce costs across industries.

Manufacturing firms have been using robots on their assembly lines for many years, but as their capabilities advance, technologies such as Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence will give Robotic Process Automation the ability to provide many more benefits to industries across the globe.

5. The Internet of Things (IoT)

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of physical objects such as smart devices, vehicles, home appliances, machines and more, that are connected to the internet. Connecting these objects to the internet and to one another enables them to communicate, collect and share data, without human intervention.

IoT is the driver behind the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and businesses have much to gain now and in the near future from it. IoT can provide businesses with real-time control over business processes, predictive maintenance capabilities, improve customer service, increase employee productivity, and gain unprecedented levels of insight to make better business decisions.

The integration of IoT is already in place in various industries, and the possibilities of how IoT can transform and modernize business operations are continue to grow.

No industry will go untouched by digital transformation. As these technologies continue to evolve, businesses should identify the opportunities they can provide, and capitalize on their potential in order to stay in the game.

Take part in the Fourth Industrial Revolution today, and contact Commericient to find out how we can help you.

About the Author

Anna Kinnear is a Sage Financials Consultant at Edgeware, and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting Science from the University of South Africa. She has always had a passion for reading and writing.

Technology has changed every aspect of the way businesses operate. It has improved the way teams communicate and has made team collaboration possible across time and space. In fact, you can now use technology to change the way your employees work together. In this blog, we’ll show you just how you can use technology to improve team collaboration.

Leverage Online Communication Tools

If you want to improve team collaboration,one of the best ways you can achieve this is by leveraging online communication tools, such as Slack and Skype. These tools allow multiple users to stay connected and work together on projects from any location on nearly any connected device.

With Slack, users can send direct messages and share documents and files with a single person or a group of employees. There is also the ability to organize conversations into different channels.

In essence, online communication channels save your employees from having to email colleagues, go from office to office, and leave voicemails every time they complete some element of work and pass it along to other team members. And the best part is you can connect your online communication tools to your ERP system by using Commercient IoT Pulse, which will not only help you to improve team collaboration, but will also help you to automate tasks. Check out all the apps that you connect with your ERP system using IoT Pulse on our integrations page.

Integrate Your Business Applications

Another great way you can improve team collaboration is by integrating your business applications. For example, if you have standalone CRM and ERP systems, by integrating the two using one of our SYNC data integration apps, you can see your ERP data in your CRM, and vice versa.

Commercient SYNC serves to keep you and your employees up-to-date with the changes made to your ERP and CRM system simultaneously, which helps to keep everyone on the same page. This helps to facilitate smooth workplace collaboration, creating a more positive day-to-day experience for your team.

Deploy Project Management Tools

Deploying project management tools can also help improve team collaboration. These tools can be used to enable collaborative working, and help teams reduce time spent on unnecessary administrative tasks.

For instance, tools like Asana allow users to assign and handle tasks effectively in one place removing the need for email communication between team members and creating projects that are easily tracked across your team. It gives everyone on your team visibility into what’s going on each task and gives each of your team members the ability to share attachments, follow conversations, comment on tasks, give feedback and much more. And what’s even better is that if you connect Asana to your ERP system using Commercient IoT Pulse, you’ll be able to automate tasks between your ERP system and Asana.

You can start improving your business today by leveraging Commercient SYNC and IoT Pulse. Contact us today; we’d love to work with you.

Since technology is constantly evolving, small businesses everywhere must adapt to suit the needs of the ever-demanding customer. Over the years there have been great advancements in cloud services, data management and IT services. However, with all these options, deciding on the correct path for your business may be daunting. In fact, many small business owners actually avoid addressing their IT problems due to uncertainty and lack of knowledge. That doesn’t have to be you. With a little research and careful planning, you can overcome those IT challenges and save both time and money in the process. In this post, we’ll go over three big technology challenges businesses face and how you can overcome them.

Challenge #1: Choosing the right technology according to company’s needs

Investing in new technology can seem like a daunting and overwhelming task. The many stories of failed implementations, the abundance of choice, and the fear of choosing the wrong tools can lead any business to hesitation in acquiring new technologies. In order to stay competitive, businesses must take the plunge. The good news is that you do not have to make irrational or uneducated decisions because there are key aspects to look at before making a decision.

Choosing the right technology correctly the first time can be done by:

  • Knowing your business’s strengths

Focus on points in your company where you are succeeding and where you can improve. Consult with managers and employees to assess pain points and in turn understand how much time is spent on specific activities and where optimisation is needed. For example, slow Wi-fi speeds may slow down day-to-day operations. Scaling up to a faster package would increase productivity and increase business growth.

  • Knowing your employees

Understand the skill sets of your employees. Trying to implement new technology to a team that refuses to adapt is a futile endevour. To avoid such an issue, ensure that you understand the strengths of your team and where they will need support. A piece of technology that requires significant investment in constant training may not be worth it.

  • Being User friendly

User friendly technology is extremely important, as having a product that causes frustration amongst staff may result in decreased productivity.

  • Researching the technology of interest

Researching a product before you buy is similar to test driving a car before you purchase it. You need to ensure you assess what products are on the market and find reviews from other users. Allowing the key users of the technology to lead research efforts, will ensure they benefit from the new product or system.

  • Ensuring technical support is available

Through the implementation process, the chances of having a highly trained team are unlikely. To ensure the smooth transition from the old to new system, support, in the form of training, security, upgrades and troubleshooting services are vital. 

Choosing the right technology means choosing the right system that not only delivers the capacity you need today, but can also meet tomorrow’s expansion needs. At the same time, you need to ensure you are not paying for more capacity than you need. Fortunately enough, there are now apps like Commercient SYNC that allow you to pay per user, per month, and has the flexibility to scale up as your business grows.

Challenge #2: Integrating applications

Integrating applications is another challenge that businesses often face. Sometimes newer technologies do not integrate well with older systems or legacy applications. Independent systems also prove to be an issue, as they act in isolation and are not able to be integrated. Due to this, operational and employee efficiency can take a huge hit such as integration issues like: duplication will be forced of tasks and the inability to quickly find and track data. Integrating applications assists in comparing performance with a variety of others and helps with business management procedures. Furthermore, IT facilities are developed easier and when customers have expectations, they can be responded to in good time. 

This is why it is important to check whether your existing systems will integrate with any new technologies you want to leverage. In essence, your payments system should work with your accounting system, and your accounting system with your CRM, which then should work with your marketing tools, and so on. 

CRM integration allows all your sales team’s essential functions to be in one place. This creates a space where emails, accounting, customer support and document management can be dealt with and linked.

Integrations can take place in one of three ways:

  • Native integrations are built into the CRM software

They are the easiest to use and can be turned on with one click, within your CRM. Moreover, it enables you to work with common business tools. However, limitations occur with this integration platform; as they are only available for a small number of business tools.

  • 3-rd party integrations are developed by independent companies

This integration platform is especially useful when many business tools are being utilised by a small business team. They are able to connect a wide range of business tools with your CRM and provide a large range of opportunities. 

  • Custom integrations are created using APIs (application programme interfaces).

This integration platform is a software-to-software interface that allows programs to connect and communicate with each other on a larger scale. All cloud-based businesses utilise APIs, which allows other types of software to access your CRM. 

Custom CRM integrations often requires technical expertise, however, when all your applications are connected, your business can operate more efficiently, and employees can be more productive. You can experience this with Commercient SYNC, which serves to integrate your CRM and ERP system, which automates data migration and frequent tasks by connecting your ERP with thousands of internet apps, such as marketing systems CRM (like Salesforce), email, social media, etc. You can have assurance that your data is protected and is seamlessly transferred from one application to another.

Commercient SYNC, the #1 data integration platform for sales, makes it possible to see important accounting data directly in your sales system. It keeps you up-to-date with changes made to your ERP and CRM system simultaneously. It supports over 85 ERPs and most major CRMs. Commercient handles everything, including hosting, so you don’t have to hire an IT specialist to install it and a server. SYNC helps businesses streamline sales and customer service, cut costs, increase customer satisfaction, and drive profitability.

Within CRM, your sales team will have access to ERP information such as customer information, sales history, invoicing, terms, serial numbers invoiced, inventory, A/R information, multi ship to addresses, and more. New accounts, sales, opportunities, etc., created in CRM are SYNC’d back to ERP, avoiding double data entry and possible errors.

Challenge #3: Securing company data

Cybercriminals are becoming more sophisticated, and small businesses are being targeted now more than ever before, which means they are at much more risk from a security breach than larger ones. Imagine if your business data fell into the wrong hands, just a single breach can be enough to completely ruin people’s trust in your brand; employee information, customer payments and business strategies are personal which need to be kept out of the hands of criminals. Taking these important steps mentioned below is essential to ensure your company doesn’t become a target. 

  • Create BOYD (Bring your own device) policies

With over 68% of employees accessing files from their smartphones, it is essential to create policies to keep sensitive data safe. Outdated operating systems and lack of encryption on smart devices are a cause for concern in terms of data leakage. Software installation, updates and maintenance should be provided to employees utilising smart devices. 

  • Utilise identity and access management (IAM)

IAM allows companies to control and monitor who accesses specific data through identity mapping as well as restricted data. Real-time and continuous risk analysis can be maintained to ensure data is accessed securely. 

  • The use of encryption

Encryption is beneficial for both data and devices on the move. Ensuring mobile devices and USBs as well as sensitive data are encrypted while moving to and from the cloud reduces the risk of data breaches. A type of encryption is known as, cloud cryptography and one of the benefits of this is that if, unauthorised users tried to breach through the security systems, businesses would be notified and the only ones who have access to this information are the ones with cryptography keys.

In order to overcome the challenge one must take the necessary steps to secure your sensitive data. This includes leveraging cloud-based apps like Commercient SYNC, which provide you with a safe and secure way to quickly take payments in your ERP, CRM or eCommerce system. In addition, you’ll have access to effective and updated anti-malware solutions, administering employee cybersecurity training, policies governing internet usage, BYOD’s, and access to sensitive company data.

The right technology will stay with your business even as it grows. Choosing the correct technology, ensuring smooth integration and a safe data platform can all be achieved with a little knowledge and know how. Allow Commercient help you overcome the most common technology challenges faced by companies. Our ERP and CRM  experts can help you choose the right application for your company. We can also assist with integrating your existing applications. Commercient provides you with a secure cloud environment for your business data. If you have any other technology challenges that you want to know how to overcome, We are here to help you in the best way we can. Contact us today!

About The Author 

Shana Vilensky currently works in the finance sector while studying law part-time through the University of South Africa. She is passionate about technology, research and writing.

These days, many businesses are currently adopting new technology to gain a competitive advantage, it might be tempting to rush and do the same. Too often, businesses invest in technologies without taking the time to make an evaluation of whether they really need what’s being offered, and end up regretting it in the end. In order to save yourself from an expensive disappointment, here are five questions you should ask yourself before adopting new technology.

Is There A Learning Curve?

Before you adopt any new technology, you need to determine if there is a learning curve. It’s vital to know how much time and training your team will need to get it up and running. If you go with technology that is complicated and requires extensive training and research, your employees will most likely show some degree of resistance. As a result, your project may never get off the ground. Tor swift adoption, a system that’s simple and easy-to-use like our SYNC Data Integration App, which is rapidly deployable without any heavy lifting from your team, is always best.

Does It Enable Collaboration Anytime, Anywhere?

Not only do you want technology that is easy to use, but you should also seek out tech that will enable collaboration anytime and anywhere. Such technologies will create new ways for your employees to do their work, making it easier to communicate and share knowledge. For instance, with our SYNC App, everyone on your sales team can be on the same page and see inventory, search customer records, and complete orders in real time. It also enables your sales reps to provide premiere customer service anytime and anywhere.

Is It Scalable?

Before adopting the next solution for your business, check to make sure it’s scalable, as well. If you are expecting future business growth, you have to ask yourself, “Will this new technology be scalable as usage grows? How expensive will it be to add additional users to the software?” Your software should be able to expand to handle your growth, and if you factor in scaling from the beginning, it will be much easier to deal with later.

How Well Does The Software Integrate With Other Systems?

As a small business, you probably use different applications to manage your various business operations. For example, you might you use an e-commerce platform, CRM system, or other types of third-party software. When researching new technology, you should seek to adopt a solution that will integrate well with your other business applications, as this can often augment and enhance the core capabilities and functionality of your software. This will help you get more work done from one platform. See all the benefits you can reap by integrating your systems with our SYNC Data Integration and IoT Pulse Apps.

Is It Secure?

Will your new technology pose any risk to data security? This is one of the biggest questions you should ask before adopting new technology. Security is always important because you will want to make sure your personal information, along with your employees’ and customers’ information is protected. If a user were to log in and have his or her personal information compromised, it would be a disaster!

At Commercient, with our SYNC Data Integration and IoT Pulse Apps, we provide all customers with a safe and secure environment for integrating data. So when you leverage any of our apps you can that extra piece of mind. And, we are always here to help you.

Fall is approaching rapidly, and besides the wonderful weather, falling leaves, and shorter days, it also means that students are returning to school.  In that spirit, we have compiled some of the best tech for college students.  We are not going to talk about dorms or apartments–these items are a matter of personal tastes and so many articles have covered them it is unlikely we could break new ground.  Instead, we have spoken with college students and ascertained what tech they cannot live without.  In other words, if you only buy a few things for your student this fall, these are the things to purchase.

Backpacks. No matter where you send your child to college, whether it be an urban campus like NYU or Georgia State, or a more traditional, insular college like Carleton College or Cornell, they are going to need a way to tote their books, notebooks, laptop, and tech to and from classes. Today’s backpacks aren’t like the old-school rucksack made of canvas and straps.  The best backpacks need to have compartments for cords and tech, need to be water-resistant, and need to be sturdy enough to protect the contents should the bag fall or drop.  Some of the higher end versions can even charge devices and include a hard drive. Here are the picks from the students we surveyed.  Co-alition and AMPL are both gadget-oriented picks if a bit on the pricey side.  Herschel backpacks are the college-student gold standard, and at a price of less than $100, can be replaced easily should they tear.  The North Face also has a wide variety of sturdy backpacks at all price ranges.

Laptop. Forget the tablets. They are hard to type on and remember that this list is about absolute necessity.  A well-made laptop with plenty of memory, options for gaming, and high functionality is a must.  Students will be doing everything from taking notes in class to researching term papers and coordinating their social lives on this machine. Even if money is tight, there are great options for every budget. If portability is the most important issue, look into an Apple MacBook Air. For creative types, the 2017 MacBook Pro, with its gorgeous display, is a great option. For a durable, powerful option with great features and 8G of memory, the Asus ZenBook UX330 is a fantastic option at a great price. If the price of tech is overwhelming for you, eBay has a great site with refurbished technology.

Headphones. For parents, this may seem frivolous.  They managed to get through their 4 years of college without them.  Bear in mind that Millennials and Generation Z are used to a barrage of constant white noise, what with people on their phones, typing on laptops, and watching videos. Every student we spoke with said that the ability to be able to block out distractions and listen to music or podcasts while they study is imperative. Headphones offer a portal to focus on the task at hand.  Audio-Technica has a great wired version at a good price, while wireless fans can find quality,  bargain-priced versions through BeatsX or SkullCandy.

Apps.  Many apps that are helpful for students are free, but if you do want to purchase one that you can be sure they will use, Amazon Prime for Students is probably the best choice. They have great deals on items that students would want, including textbooks. It also gives your student an option for entertainment when they need to unwind, because Amazon video has a staggering choice. For on-campus safety,  Circle of 6 is a great app to reassure nervous parents. To make the deluge of group projects easier on your student, try GroupMe.  To help with studying, Brainscape offers a nifty app to create flashcards. To facilitate and encourage your student to call home more often, make sure to install FaceTime or Google Hangouts. The list is endless, and many apps are either low- or no-cost, which is great for students (and parents) on a budget.

 

If you are a college student and need to amp up your resume and earn a bit of pocket money at the same time, Commercient is offering paid internships in a variety of positions.

For North Americans, football season is right around the corner. Technology is changing sports just as it is changing every aspect of our lives.  Here are some of the best ways that football and tech are merging.  Of course, much of this applies to any sport–soccer, rugby, baseball–all of them are using technology for everything from marketing to training. Below, we discuss how technology and sports can work together to create the best experience for fans and players alike.

Connected stadiums  

With ticket prices to major events on the rise, as well as the costs for parking, concessions, and game day souvenirs, sporting venues need to keep bringing in fans. Think about it–if a fan can sit in comfort at home and enjoy a game with their friends in HD, why would they pay exorbitant rates to go to a game? That is where connected stadiums come in.

Connected stadiums seek to enhance and improve the fan experience in every aspect. The issues that some fans have with going to live events–parking issues, long lines at concessions and restrooms, and no wifi connectivity–are all eliminated with the new connected stadiums.  Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta’s newest offering, will take the crown of the most connected stadium in the world. Chelsea FC is embracing the digital fan experience at their new venue.

With full connectivity and digitization, fans will be able to order food and drinks to their seats.  They can find the closest restroom with the shortest lines, and an app will help them with parking. The app also lets fans watch instant replays, acquire stats about players, and update their fantasy leagues. Eventually, stadium owners hope to incorporate VR into the fan experience.  Regardless, today’s stadiums are making every effort to make an immersive fan experience well worth the price of admission.

Virtual reality

Virtual reality and sports seem like a natural fit.  For fans, the VR experience will allow them to view the games from the players’ perspectives.  In addition, some of the major U.S. sports leagues like the NBA (National Basketball Association) are offering VR coverages of games.  In addition, other sports leagues are following suit. NextVR, a VR broadcasting startup, has already covered NFL games and the Super Bowl, the live-stream broadcast of the International Champions Cup (ICC) soccer games, a NASCAR race and some NHL games.

For the players and coaches, VR can be used to influence athlete training.  For example, Florida State University and Texas A&M have their players wired while at practice and games so they know how much effort the player expends. In addition, the STRIVR training module captures 3-D footage of football action and uses that to help players learn playbooks without impact. Sports teams can also use it to replay and analyze the game from different perspectives. Soccer clubs like Dutch team Ajax are already using VR technology to great effect, both to enhance the fan experience and in training.

Watching games and tailgating

Tech for every part of the game has gotten better. We no longer have to smuggle alcohol in pants pockets and risk getting caught. The Drinking Jacket has a solution for that. According to their site, the jacket has a built-in bottle opener, neoprene koozie pocket, hidden flask pocket, drinking mitts and sunglass holder. Now dipsomaniac fans can smuggle alcohol into stadiums with style. For soccer, Formula 1, and rugby fans, Sport Right Now has an award-winning verified sports news app that culls the latest news from every source and puts it into one place. Although the company is still a startup, NeuLion seamlessly syncs live video, live audio and live data (stats) to create dynamic live and interactive TV-like experience over the Internet to any device. interactive digital video experience that gives fans an action-packed experience anytime, anywhere. Features include live event player, DVR functionality, slow-motion viewing, 4K delivery, real-time highlights, and instant replay. This is ideal for fans both attending games and those at home.

Sporting events are no longer passive.  Sports fans expect an active connection with the teams and players, and new technology is making sports an immersive and interactive spectator journey. For the players, new tech to monitor biometrics and performance should help to keep players safer.  In short, sports have fully embraced the digital age, and it can only make the experience better.

This week’s tech blog is dedicated to our readers.  We know that you all are swamped all day long, so if you are taking 5 minutes from your day to read this, we appreciate it.  As a thank you, here is a list of great tech to make your life a bit easier.

We all have days where it seems that you don’t have time to get anything done.  Your to-do list is so lengthy that you cannot remember if you ate, much less whether you have left your lights on or charged your phone.  I have compiled a list of the best tech gadgets to help busy professionals keep on task and manage their time.

To manage your diet and eat healthy food even when time is nonexistent, the good people at Tovala have you covered.  You may not have time to cook for yourself and healthy options are few and far between.  Or maybe you just hate to cook. The company’s motto is that you should never have to compromise between convenience, health, and taste. They offer a clean-eating meal delivery service with everything included.  There is no prep work involved other than acquiring a fork. You then place the trays into the Tovala, scan the barcode, and the oven automatically cooks your food perfectly by switching between convection, baking, and steaming. The oven even sends you a notification once the food is done so you aren’t stuck in the kitchen waiting. It includes an app so that if you feel inclined to cook your own meals Tovala will walk you through the process, and even lets you know about the nutritional value of the food.

To manage your home, a smart home hub is a necessity. If you are unfamiliar with the technology, smart hubs connect a variety of compatible smart devices. This allows you to control an array of devices and functions and also gives you access to a wealth of information. You can do simple things like stream music or order food, but you can also control electronic devices such as lights and thermostats. There is a myriad of connectable smart devices now, so functionality keeps growing. You can unlock doors, turn on sprinklers, and control plugs and thermostats. The Roomba even has smart technology now, so if your carpet needs a quick clean before you get home, they have an app for that. Home hubs run the gamut in pricing and performance, so choose what features are most important for you.  Amazon Echo has a great one, but if the price tag is too high for you,  the Wink Hub 2 has a nice option for less than $100.

To manage your technology, there is so much great tech out there to help you keep up with your business no matter where you are. The Anker Power Port 6 is a multi-port USB Hub can connect up to 6 USB devices at once from a single outlet. Charge your phone, a tablet, and any other device you need from one place. To avoid carrying a bulky wallet and multiple cards try the Wocket Smart Wallet. With biometric security, your multiple cards become a single card to conduct any transactions.  To keep up with all of your passwords, try LastPass.  This clever little app remembers all of your passwords so that you don’t have to. Unlike traditional password extensions and apps, no one can get access to your passwords even if your devices are stolen. This comes in handy when you treat yourself to a new phone or computer.

 

Commercient has the newest technology to help you manage all aspects of your business.  Our newest brainchild, IoT Pulse, lets you connect to over 750 apps. Access to this app is currently by invitation only, so click here to learn more and get on the waiting list.

There is a ton of great stuff going on this week in the tech world.  Here is my roundup of some of the best.

The folks at Tesla must never sleep.  The state of South Australia has had some energy concerns of late. In order to help alleviate them, the crew at Tesla and Neoen Energy have made a wager to create the world’s largest lithium-ion battery. Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla, bet that the company could build 100 megawatts of capacity in 100 days or he would give the State its money back. The government of South Australia asked him to prove it.  In a collaboration with local energy company Neoen, Tesla built a grid-scale energy storage system to be used in conjunction with the Hornsdale Wind Farm. The storage system will provide power for some 30,000 homes according to Tesla.  Musk has also promised to complete the build in 100 days. We should see the final product this December. Whether you like Elon Musk or not, the guy keeps his word.

Amazon Prime Day starts today. If you have a minor Amazon addiction like I do, Prime Day is like Christmas, New Year’s and Black Friday rolled into one bargain-filled circus of consumerism. The difference is that you can sit in the comfort of your home and shop to your heart’s content.  All you need is a decent wifi network and a debit card.  Some of the best deals are on electronics, including 50% on the Amazon Echo, which is priced at $89.99, and $30 off on the awesome Kindle Paperwhite, making it only $89.99. Whatever your interest, Amazon will have something for you.  Even if you don’t have a Prime account, you can get a free trial for a month and take full advantage of the deals.

Laser tag is back, and I for one am really excited. Drone maker Skyrocket has created Recoil, an updated version of the laser tag we all loved in the 80s. The basic idea is the same–you shoot lasers at other players, and if you hit them, they die.  Unlike the old game, there is a neat bit of tech added. You use Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, and your phone to track players’ positions in real time. The app’s tracking capabilities add the fun of airstrikes and land mines, which means that if one player calls in an airstrike opposing players have to get out of the area immediately or be “killed” in the game.

Commercient has some news, as well.  Our SYNC application has two new listings on the Salesforce app exchange.  We now have SYNC for SAP and Salesforce and SYNC for NetSuite and Salesforce.