It is amazing how technology has evolved over the past decade to make our lives easier at home or the office. For those of us not able to keep up with some of the best technologies out there you can leverage, I have picked three useful categories with suggestions for you to explore.

 

Data Storage

There are many businesses in Jamaica with outdated physical hardware storing important files. These pieces of hardware could meet their fate anytime soon, having most likely been through a few resuscitations from the tech doctor. Real challenges such as power surges, wear and tear or viruses could lead to data loss, especially if backup measures are not in place.

An option worth considering when upgrading your technology is to go the cloud-based (or “managed services”) route. This allows services such as data storage and backup to be supported on someone else’s infrastructure at a small monthly or annual fee. All you would need is a stable Internet connection to synchronise files to this environment which would typically have both security and disaster recovery needs already taken care of.

Other benefits of going cloud-based versus in-house include the avoidance of heavy upfront equipment costs (which depreciates rapidly on balance sheet), as well as it optimises operating expenses via a leaner internal technical team.

Large companies may engage an enterprise cloud/managed services provider directly however, for small-medium businesses or personal use, here are the top cloud storage options for 2019 according to TechRadar.com; most offering a free trial. DropBox is also widely used but unfortunately did not make this list.

 

Collaboration

The most common tool used for collaborating is electronic mail, but many of us can attest to the absurd number of daily e-mails received which can be intimidating, tedious and time-consuming to keep up.

Some business people these days find themselves using Whatsapp groups to collaborate more-so than e-mails. Even Whatsapp video calls are used to conduct first interviews depending on the role. We are getting more creative in finding what works within our circumstance especially if there are constraints coupled with time-sensitive deliverables.

Moreover, e-mails are slowly becoming more of a formality or “proofing” mechanism which is exercised at the tail end of collaborative efforts; versus being the clutch method.

There are however tools specifically designed for collaboration and my top three picks include Trello, Slack and Zoho Projects. They allow us to input project goals or objectives, the respective tasks and due dates to achieve; amongst other useful benefits. You will also get excellent reports to see overall view of project or business performance in a simple, graphical manner. Forget getting this type of tracking and analysis with Whatapp groups and email threads.

When you integrate any of the above tools with real-time communication via Skype or Google Hangouts, your business becomes a collaborative monster.

 

Automation

Your smartphone can do things like open/close your gate or door, view/control cameras, turn on/off lights or appliances, or water your lawn if you know how to set this up. These actions can be automated via triggers such as specific times, motion detection or temperature changes.

Ideally, if you are interested in a smarter, more efficient home or business through IOT (Internet of Things) devices, the first thing you want to do is identify a hub, which all your devices will connect through. According to Reviews.com, the top hubs are the SmartThings by Samsung or the Echo Plus by Amazon. They both have very user-friendly setup instructions along with their own native apps on Android and IOS to control all connected devices. Once you have picked a hub, you can browse the Internet for compatible devices that you would find useful. Many persons start with smart switches and plugs, then progress to more clever things like getting a notification when the postman drops something in the mailbox (using a presence sensor with your hub).

 

Neil H Lawrence is the CEO of Growth-Tech, a technological company and leading Wi-fi provider in Jamaica with a vision to see connectivity, like oxygen, available to everyone everywhere. He can be contacted at 876 946 9776 or by email at info@bumblebeebiz.buzz.

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