Business and Technology News from NUS

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Solar Technology Leads Revolution Towards Renewable Future


Solar technology is one of the most positive, exciting innovations in technological advancement today. In short, solar power is the conversion of energy that is powered by the energy that emits from the sun into electricity. Just one of multiple renewable energies making profound positive impact as of late, solar technology could house the power to bring the world to a cleaner, healthier version of its current state. Solar technology is increasingly proving its value to the planet and to humanity’s needs as well, and in doing so, it further propels itself forward as the leading impactor in renewable energy. Even so, it can be difficult to know if solar energy holds the most value for you. Using a solar savings calculator would help you decide by calculating your potential savings from using solar panels.

People continuously seem to underestimate the power of renewable energies. For example, over the last summer, renewable energies generated more electricity than brown coal. Reports have been commissioned that prove that renewable energies generate quite significant amounts of energy when it is most needed producing a staggering 32% more than brown coal during peak demand times during the summer, between 11am and 7pm. While studies are ongoing, the constantly positive reinforcements and results seem to directly relate to the positive outlooks of both scientists and invested members of the public.

Like all brilliant innovations of their time, solar technology was once deemed to be waste of energy and time. These days, however, the renewable energy source is anything but a joke. Since 2015, the number of cities around the world that are getting 70% or more of their total electricity supply from renewable energy has more than doubled. This is a testament to the momentum that has – and continues to – been building surrounding the potential of renewable energies. We have the power and the means to change our habits, and as a direct consequence, the means to change world as we know it as well.

The modern economy is built on energy. The global transition away from harmful fossil fuels will be a lengthy process, but it will be one that has already gained much positive backing – particularly by the younger generations who will have to survive on this planet longer than the older generations. The allure of renewable energy sounds great morally, but will it ultimately end up costing the economy more?

Unlike other “revolutionary” transitions at the hands of technological advancement, solar technology is not only just as reliable as the fossil fuels we are so accustomed to using, but it is also just as convenient while being significantly less expensive to run, making them the obvious choice for the future shift. Solar technology is at the forefront of this drive towards the renewable future, and it is leading the parade filled with hope, purpose, and determination.

Solar technology is renewable energy’s most exciting and innovative feat of positive reinforcement towards the kind of future where younger generations can enjoy the planet, flora and fauna can thrive, and the planet can experience a healthy realisation of the future it so strongly deserves. This is the best possible step towards that kind of future…let’s keep walking in that direction.

Social Media Marketing and the Evolution of Online Marketing


In today’s digital world, everything is becoming nimble – entertainment, marketing, banking and even customer service. Almost all digitally-savvy businesses use social media marketing to promote their brand and amplify their online presence, whether it be through their in-house team or a reputable digital marketing agency. Better yet, it also lends a boost to survive the increasing competition and keep up with the latest consumer trends.

Here are four digital marketing strategies to do just that.

  1. Audio or voice search

With more users going mobile, voice search is now extremely prominent and its usage has enjoyed a steep climb. What’s more, the market predicts that the growth of voice assistant users are expected to be at tens of millions every year.

While the numbers paint a positive picture, businesses will have to look out for the accurate display of results. If businesses need to be the first result that matches the user’s query, it must optimize its content accordingly.

  1. Marrying AI and blockchain

Blockchain has been creating quite a stir amid finance companies. However, it does not have to be tied only to this one space. Its potential to expand into social media marketing is immense. It will help marketers track and analyze data, and micro-target promotions to consumers. Data security is also an added benefit.

  1. Influencer Marketing

In today’s world, where advertisements are almost omnipresent, consumers are more prone to gravitate towards people they can relate to – and most often, they are either experts in a domain or famous personalities. Albeit its effectiveness, influencer marketing does come with an expensive price tag.

  1. Chatbots

Chatbots are now simplifying business needs and consumer wants. While it’s a great way to cut labor costs, chatbots take some research and implementation time. For companies, this is a great tool to interact with customers faster, and quickly measure and resolve pain points users face. While the technology has been around for quite some time, this time around it’s stealing the spotlight largely due to its expected growth rates.

The global market for chatbots is expected to cross a staggering value of over $1.25 billion in the next seven years. The chatbot industry has never had it better – chatbots are now being actively deployed by thousands of business across the globe, with many touting that it will grow at over 24.3% annually.

The Rise of Seo and Why It Is Important for Businesses


As a business owner, you may have heard of search engine optimization (SEO) but didn’t pay too much attention to it. And why would you? Most business owners aren’t skilled in online marketing which is also one of the reasons why many companies aren’t getting the online attention they need. See, SEO is extremely important when it comes to attracting visitors and improving a website’s searchability. In other words, if you’re not using SEO on your website, you’re not going to be seen. But there are more reasons why your website needs SEO and we’re going to talk about them right now.

SEO means a better experience for the user

Like all websites out there, you want to gather organic rankings and receive full visibility on search engines. However, what many people don’t know is that user experience is a huge contributing factor to organic rankings and visibility. Search engines have made it so that a positive user experience results in search engine visibility. This is where SEO plays a crucial role as it offers users the right information in only a couple of clicks.

SEO makes people buy more

The truth is most people research products prior to purchasing it. A study that was completed by GE Capital Retail Bank showed that 81% of shoppers researched and compared products online prior to purchasing them. This means, as a business, you want to be on the first page of search engines and easily accessible to potential customers. In order to have your business on the first page, you need traffic which is why you need SEO on your website.

SEO increases user engagement and traffic

The entire purpose of SEO is to drive users to your website. If you use SEO correctly, you’ll have an endless stream of users going on to your website. SEO allows people to find what they’re looking for with ease which places them one step closer to making a purchase. You can use SEO to target specific communities, cities, and regions, displaying your brand’s message on a local level. Through this, your presence will be more visible on search engines such as Google.

SEO is worth the investment

When you see the term, “search engine optimization” the first thing that comes to your head is expenses. Just the term alone looks expensive but in reality, it’s worth the investment. The fact of the matter is that everyone looks for products and services online, which mean it’s your job to make sure your business is being seen on search engines, particularly Google. With SEO best practices constantly changing with Google’s search algorithm, it’s best to consult with a well-regarded SEO company to help improve your business’ online presence. They will be able to implement on-page SEO on your website, get high-quality backlinks and ultimately drive more traffic and sales to your business.

SEO builds trust

Through the use of SEO, you’ll be able to create trust among users. SEO helps improve user experience and an effective website. As a business owner, you need to monitor the user’s experience by looking at user behavior and response. However, it’s important to know that trust and credibility isn’t earned overnight. It takes a lot of energy and commitment in order to build a successful brand.

Simple Ways to Secure Your Home


Your home is your personal sanctuary. It’s the one place where you feel completely safe. With that being said, we all know the importance of protecting our home against break-ins. Whether you’re moving into a new home or are looking to update your home’s security features, it’s not as complex as you may think. In fact, a couple of minor adjustments can greatly improve the security of your home.

Look at your entry points

The first thing you should focus on is your entry points. Naturally, your first-floor windows and front/back doors are the main targets when it comes to burglary. But this doesn’t mean you need to invest in new windows and doors. Instead, look at what your windows and doors are missing. Adding curtains to your windows can reduce the odds of break-ins as most burglars case the home prior to breaking in. Installing security shutters is also a good idea in reducing their sightlines, which will also help prevent potential break-ins.

Give the vibe of human presence

No burglar wants to break into a home that’s full of people. If anything, they want to slip in and out without being seen. Most burglaries happen between 10am and 3pm. which are typical working hours for most people. However, if you give the illusion that people are during the day, it’ll decrease the chances of your home being broken into. Leave some lights on, have a car parked in the driveway, and allow landscapers or cleaners to work during the day.

Hide your valuables

When a thief enters your home, they’re not interested in going through your home with a fine-tooth comb. They are looking to grab the first valuable thing they see. Instead of hiding things in typical areas such as the freezer or dresser drawer, either leave your valuables in plain sight or get more creative with your hiding spots. Thieves are on a time limit, so they’re not looking for a challenge.

Get a home security system

Homes without security systems are 3 times more likely to be broken into – why? Because there’s nothing to deter them. Now, homes with security systems are able to shake up the thief and deter intruders who are scared of getting caught. A home security system also alarms neighbors and the police that your home has been broken into. If you’re not interested in a home security system, a motion detector with an alarm as well.

Light is important

While you may not think of it as a big deal, lighting is a huge factor when a thief in determining whether to break into a home or not. Thieves stay away from homes with exterior lighting, so place motion lights around the entrances of your home. When it comes to interior lighting, you can use timers for your lamps or download an app which allows you to control the lights inside your home.

Understanding the Different Facets of Web Development


Web development can be a complex field in the technology industry. As the digital era of developed societies continues to grow and mold new generations, websites and browser databases are becoming the necessary to business and companies worldwide. What used to be available in just certain countries, is now expanding more than ever before. The tech industry continues to grow because of how technology dependent humans have become. Consumers rely on technology for most daily tasks. From setting alarms on their mobile phones to help them wake up in the morning to utilizing one cup coffee machines to get their caffeine boosts, consumers need technology. Internet and social media interactions are how most consumers do their majority of communicating. As online digital communication shifts the way humans interact with each other, it’s important that web developers have a thorough understanding of consumer behavior and their target audiences.

A web development company comes from many angles. Their job is dependent on consumers visiting their sites. For this reason, the front-end developers must be creative in their design elements to foster a site that consumers flock to helping build ad revenue and an overall client base with a strong consumer following. Front-end developers focus their efforts on writing HTML, CSS, and Javascript. These types of coding languages create the back-end of what a consumer sees and clicks on. These types of developers are important because not only are they required to be tech savvy and knowledgeable, but they also must have a unique understanding of how consumers will interact with the site and what their initial thoughts on the site will be. They must work closely with other developers and the digital media team to accomplish their daily tasks and goals.

Front-end developers work well with back-end developers to gain a logical understanding of the technology and databases that will house the site. Back-end developers work to create and manage internet databases. There job is everything before the browser link is clicked. These developers learn programming language like C, C#, C++, Python, etc, to create the most efficient databases and programs available. These type of developers are often very logical in their analytical thinking abilities and the way the go about their daily jobs and performance. They must have critical thinking skills in order to complete each given task.

In combining both types of developers, a full stack developer does both jobs. This type of web developer is able to understand all playing fields of web development. Because of the horizontal plane of skills they possess, they are able to fit into any web development role. These types of developers have been slightly criticized within their own industry because some experts argue that being a jack of all trades in the tech field means being a master of none. Because the technology industry puts a high value on talented experts in niche markets, being able to perform all tasks means to them, only a general knowledge of each area is understood. This claim is not true for all full stack developers. Some may feel threatened due to their broad amount of skills for varying jobs. These types of developers are highly competitive among tech companies.

Java Developers – Essential Or a Dying Breed?


The war for developer talent is getting hotter day by day. Coding is needed for everything, from building mobile apps to re-designing the website user experience. Java is the closest thing to a lingua franca in the IT industry. Java is a computing platform used to develop and share applications for desktop and server environments, and also an object-oriented programming language accompanied with a compiler.

Getting the Hiring Process Right

Engineers are kings and Java coders are indispensable to companies and society alike. Here are some tips to aid the hiring process for Java developers:

Hire Slowly

Hire slowly, goes an old dictum. Hiring should be undertaken in a slow and judicious manner in order to attract competent candidates. The technical competency can be assessed through a Java test or any other online exam platform. It is also a truism that top talent is unlikely to hang on for the long term and will inevitably gravitate to better things. A wise HR policy consists in making maximum use of top-notch available talent and simultaneously looking for fresh blood.

Check for Cultural Fit

Software development is a team effort and cultural fit therefore assumes as much importance as coding skills in many instances. Peer recommendations make immense sense in this context; A-level developers tend to recommend A-level developers as they would gel better with each other. On the other hand, B-level programmers would recommend C-level counterparts so as to look better in comparison.

Cut out the Flab

A smaller and leaner organization holds immense appeal for many. People are willing to forego an opportunity at a Google or a Facebook so as to code to their heart’s content and not wade through endless layers of bureaucracy in an impersonal work environment. They want to work at a smaller enterprise, make a difference and see their code in action. Small to midsize companies can use this to their advantage when pitted against the likes of giants such as Facebook and Google. Companies that offer the best financial payouts and perks are often found lacking in providing less tangible rewards such as job satisfaction. The bigger the company, smaller is an individual’s role and vice-versa, at least at the start of a career.

Evaluate Real-Life

The interviewers should never commit the cardinal sin of assigning a code challenge as part of the recruitment process. They should rather allot a real problem from the company stable so as to provide an insight into the project work that is done in-house and ascertain whether the candidate is a right fit for job at hand.

Be Flexible

We live in a fast-paced world where programming languages get stale faster than fashion. The interviewers should refrain from asking staid questions such as the mechanism of merging two arrays in Java and rather focus on algorithms and how candidates approach a problem. It is easier to learn a new language than acquiring problem-solving techniques.

In conclusion, hiring the best talent is of paramount importance and companies should not leave any stone unturned in recruiting the best Java developers.

The Age of Cryptocurrencies and Value: Developments and Changes in the Market


The internet age has brought about change into every aspect of life and finance was not left out of the equation. Money, the bloodline of all modern day hustle, is also becoming a digitalized concept with millions of people playing around with numbers instead of banknotes over financial networks. Blockchain, or Bitcoin as it is better known, is the latest breakthrough in such a trend, as digital currencies have been skyrocketing in value recently to raise controversy, interest and suspicion at the same time. Information is key in this paradigm and visiting a cryptocurrency blog helps understand the dynamics of the digital revolution of money. Without insight into such dynamics, people have little control over their investments and might very well lose significant sums of money due to errors or shifts in the market.

The newly emergent Bitcoin trend has become so massively popular and widespread that in 2017, the value of a Bitcoin has surpassed the value of gold in the markets, with $1,290 per coin compared to $1,228 for an ounce of gold. The Bitcoin revolution has already infiltrated the corporate world with companies such as WordPress,, Reddit, Microsoft and Shopify accepting Bitcoin as a legitimate form of payment. With 21 million units in existence and 16.2 million in circulation, every ‘miner’ adds 12.5 coins into the market every ten minutes, creating a surge of expansion. Many see the technology as a viable source of investment as in 2017, the annual return on investment for Bitcoin was 155% and even more people are wondering when and if central banks will be issuing their own coins in the future. Banks such as Barclays, BBVA, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Credit Suisse, JP Morgan, State Street, Royal Bank of Scotland and UBS have already initiated programs to promote Bitcoin investments while the Australian government has plans to reduce taxes on Bitcoin transactions. In the US, the government is preparing for the release of ‘Fedcoins’, official US Bitcoin currencies which will be exchanged for physical money in the future, showing the essence and power of digital currencies in today’s governance.

Naturally, being the most powerful and dominant economic authority in the world, the United States houses one of the most applicable and profitable markets for Bitcoins, raising attention to possibilities. The Securities and Exchange Commission has recently launched ‘FinHub’, an online portal for “engaging with companies using blockchain, artificial intelligence and more” and provide the SEC’s existing services at a single access point to promote communications between corporations and the public. One of the primary concerns regarding blockchain technology is the issue of disinformation against which the SEC hopes to create an informed public through such an investment as the platform will help investors file complaints against misbehaving companies or services. Scam websites are quite common in the digital currency business and the website intends to educate blockchain investors about possible risks. Among the website’s services is the ‘online meeting’ function that enables people to request appointments with companies or authorities for direct intervention. The SEC also is currently planning to hold its second ‘Fintech’ forum in 2019 to house representatives from the blockchain business and initiate discussion regarding some of the most dominant issues in the market today as well as promoting innovations in the field.

Such measures should be taken seriously as in September of this year, the Bitcoin prices have dropped by more than 20% within two days, creating a shockwave in the markets. Cryptocurrencies such as Etherum, Litecoin and Ripple were all subjected to significant losses in value while Goldman Sachs postponed its plans to enter the Bitcoin trading markets. Many speculate that the recent rise in Bitcoin value was due to the possibility of the banking giants entering the business as the markets readied themselves for a large-scale financial operation. However, the plans did not materialize and the value of Bitcoin dropped to $6,400 from $20,000 in December of 2017 with high possibility of the price dropping further down to below $5,000. The volatility of the market is deterring serious investors from taking action while internet giants such as Google, Facebook and Twitter are directly blocking cryptocurrency advertisements to avoid legal complications. The Securities and Exchange Commission has so far blocked several intentions for Bitcoin trading investments including those of Proshares, Direxion and Winklevoss. As the general sentiment in the markets is turning away from fascination to suspicion, many are wondering if Bitcoin was yet another bubble or not, making it harder for investors or authorities to foresee the currency’s future place and position within the markets.

A Bite of the Apple – Marketing in the Food and Hospitality industry


No matter the industry, marketing plays a significant role in keeping that industry alive. Marketing is the core of making a business flourish or fall into disarray; the perfect marketing strategy can launch a business into stardom, and a poorly-managed marketing tactic can cause even the strongest business to go into meltdown. The hospitality industry, for example, is ripe with new and successful marketing tactics such as a coffee subscription with your regular order that makes it cheaper overall, or a group discount with your restaurant booking.

The bottom line is that it is all about the customer. The food and beverages industry is entirely dependent on the customer’s preferences, opinions, and purchasing dependability. And seeing as the industry revolves around the customer, so should the marketing tactics of any food and beverages institution. Here are the two biggest and most important reasons why your marketing must evolve solely around your prospective and existing customers.

First and foremost, marketing in the food and beverage industry must cater to the current trends. It is a widely-known fact that customers of any industry tend to flock towards the latest trends in a bit to have tried them for themselves. Catering to the curiosity in your potential customers will always yield success – while the trend lasts. Constant market research into the next big thing in food and beverages will not only keep you ahead of the game, but allow you the opportunity to build your business’ reputation (and yours by association) quicker.

Additionally, the trends do not always work for very long. Instead of investing wholeheartedly in the trends, invest a little and then make it your mission to interact and communicate honestly and openly with your customers to find out what is working and how they feel about it. Customers want the hospitality industry to speak to them and to give them what they ask for. The aim of the game in hospitality is to appease entirely to the customer’s taste buds. In this way, listening to the customer has never been more integral to a business’ success – if the customer does not enjoy what you put in front of them, they will not want to pay for it.

Before they even walk in the door, individuals are your customers. Rather than catering specifically and exclusively to those that order from your store, make it a priority to cater to everyone in the area – even before they walk into (or up to) your establishment. Consumers are not likely to give their business to a restaurant, café, or pop up food truck if they are not offering something that customers genuinely want. This is an age-old fact, but it is one that has been gaining more traction as time has gone on.

For this reason, it is more important than ever to be entirely inclusive rather than figuratively exclusive. The food and beverage businesses that market for the many rather than the few are the ones that make it in the long-term.

Behaviour Analytics and A.I. Changing the Future of E-Commerce


E-commerce represents a perfect intersection of technology and people. In the past decade, there has been a massive boost to the e-commerce sector with a rising number of people choosing online shopping options in favour of traditional retail. The driving force behind this revolution has been cutting edge technology that has improved not only the logistics of e-commerce but also how customers interact with brands. The online retail experience is still evolving, with customers relying more and more on their social connections, online recommendations and advertisements to drive their purchase and repurchase decisions. Here are 3 ways technology is changing the future of e-commerce:

  1. Customer Behavioural Analytics

Web analytics and behavioural analytics are two fields that have started to gain importance in improving the online shopping experience of customers. Even though customers prefer to research products and services that suit their needs, they still expect online retailers to offer them options in terms of their preferences. Online behavioural analytics offers a lot of data on customer buying behaviour that can help retailers improve and tailor their merchandising, marketing, advertising and other strategies. Web analytics can also track how much time customers spend on certain sites and hire e-commerce website design services to improve engagement.

  1. Increasing Supply-Chain Efficiency

While online shopping, customers expect super-fast, seamless and efficient shipping, delivery, return and exchange processes. As a result, retailers also need to match up to such expectations by improving customer experience for existing customers. Retail technology can help businesses do just that – by streamlining these processes and eliminating any inefficient operations so as to optimise the entire process. In addition, several supply chain practices such as real-time delivery, cross docking, third party logistics and cross functional integration can also be integrated to make the online shopping experience more satisfying. Further, some companies are taking innovative steps in this regard, to combine online, offline, logistics and data across a single value chain. This was a model proposed by Alibaba’s founder Jack Ma, called New Retail, where retailers, both large businesses and niche category specialists, can leverage technology in order to serve the customer efficiently.

  1. Use of Artificial Intelligence

Although artificial intelligence in e-commerce seems like a futuristic thought, more and more companies in recent times are incorporating AI into their business processes to enhance customer experiences. AI can be used effectively to provide highly personalised and customised experiences to consumers, for example the use of chatbots on websites to learn customers’ preferences and suggest products accordingly. AI is also increasingly being used to analyse customer data, track buying behaviour, influence and predict consumer behaviour and many other processes to enable automation and increase efficiency.

Technology has thus redefined e-commerce by allowing brands and businesses to find new and innovative ways to interact with their customers. The proper use of technology can allow companies to gain a competitive advantage over other brands in the market; however the acceptance or rejection of such new technologies will depend upon its ease of use and its cost effectiveness.

Mileage Allowance: What Singapore Can Learn From the States


Mileage reimbursement refers to the IRS standard compensation that you grant your workers for utilizing their own autos, vans, pickups, or trucks for business-related errands. The U.S. government sets a mileage reimbursement rate every year, for example, 2018’s rate is 54.5 pennies for every business mile driven. Consider an employee or business representative who drives 10 miles to meet a customer and 10 miles to come back to the workplace. In this particular case, they’re entitled to a mileage reimbursement of  $10.90 (20 X $0.545).

Workers are usually required to monitor the mileage they drive for business, including other details like date of travel, type of business errand, origin/destination location, and total miles travelled.  The recordkeeping comes in handy when they fill the mileage reimbursement forms provided by their employers. Depending on what mileage reimbursement best practices an organization follows, the workers can use a single to state information about all the business trips they’ve made or ask for multiple forms. As a business owner, you must include details related to mileage reimbursement in the employee handbook and/or talk about the deadlines, exemptions and qualifications during orientation.

Under the Federal Law, you’re not required to provide mileage reimbursement to your employees. However, from employee satisfaction fulfilment to tax deduction, offering mileage reimbursement to your employees has numerous advantages. When you don’t compensate your workers for the time and effort they put in while running business errands, they’d most likely be disappointed and unhappy with their job. Remember, having disgruntled employees not only reduces the overall productivity at your workplace, but also deters future candidates from applying for a job at your establishment.

Mileage reimbursement is also considered a tax-deductible business expense, which means, you can avail a tax break from the IRS by submitting Form 1040 and Schedule C or Form 4562. Remember, according to the Fair Labor Standards Act, you’re required to pay a minimum wage to your workers after they’ve been compensated for their miles. The mileage reimbursement amount cannot be included in the minimum wage. If your uncovered mileage expense brings down your employee’s salary below minimum wage, you can be penalized and/or be taken to small claims court.

You can either include mileage reimbursement with the employee’s payroll or use a direct check/deposit. Most businesses tend to reimburse their workers separate from their regular wages, however, you can opt a method that’s mutually convenient for both parties. The industry standard is to compensate mileage within a definitive timeframe (say, 2 weeks) after receiving the reimbursement form from your employees. Since, mileage reimbursement falls under the “accountable plan” and are considered business expenses, avoid including the amount on the employee’s Form W-2.

In today’s rapidly-evolving, technologically advanced world, a variety of payroll software are being marketed to business owners who are looking to simplify the whole process of mileage reimbursement. Instead of occupying your resources with manual labour, who are likely to make mistakes, you can let our machine overlords take care of everything.

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