Artificial Intelligence Is a Must, Not a Need

WHAT DOES ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE MEAN?

Artificial Intelligence refers to the vicinity of science and engineering focusing on developing the machines as intelligent as the humans. They are created to be fitted into place on behaviors that human regard as intelligent i.e. simulation of human behaviors which they consider as intelligent via the use of machines.

It is all concerned with developing the intelligent computer programs. The main objective behind the adoption of AI is to enable a machine to discover, analyze and crack the problems in parallel.

It is not essential that the computer programs developed are as intelligent as humans in all aspects. But in some aspects, the machine fitted with artificial intelligence can be even more intelligent than humans.

The future of artificial intelligence will change everything in our lives.

WHY DO WE NEED ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE?

The integration of artificial intelligence into the computer programs, assists to create more efficient and effective systems. The opportunity in the form of AI is challenging and efficient at the same time.

The glaring pitfall to be kept in mind while talking about the efficiencies and the opportunities offered by this hi-tech world is that the amount of data being generated on a daily basis is rapidly increasing and it is becoming impossible to mine and analyze the data fully. The amount of data generation has made it impossible for the humans to deal with i.e. it has exceeded the capabilities of humans that they can extract the valuable information out of it.

The skilled professionals in the field of data science with the expertise and their skill sets try to create correlations between various inputs in order to draw out a specific output. But with the sheer volume of data, it has become relatively impossible to correlate every possible input.

This is where Artificial Intelligence can help. Incorporating AI into the systems lets you purify the raw facts into useful and palatable information.

The driver seat in the field of artificial intelligence is handled by the fresh and innovative codes generally referred to as algorithms.

Let us consider an example to understand how the AI works:

Facebook is a very popular social media platform. Facebook deciphers the user’s likes, the activities etc. and then determine what all content is to be placed on his/her news feed. The longer the time you remain active on Facebook, the more and more data is being generated and stored in the warehouse.

The systems incorporated with AI uses the deep learning to get the incessant feedbacks on its algorithms as the users interact. This way the algorithms generally referred to as coding assist the Facebook to analyze the interactions of the users to determine the content to be mentioned on the news feed.

Not only Facebook, even Twitter uses the concept of AI to position the tweets based on the users’ relevance and interests and also suggest them the tweets as per their interests.

Disaster Recovery Plan

A disaster recovery plan is a documented process to recover and protect a business IT infrastructure in the event of a disaster. Basically, it provides a clear idea on various actions to be taken before, during and after a disaster.

Disasters are natural or man-made. Examples include industrial accidents, oil spills, stampedes, fires, nuclear explosions/nuclear radiation and acts of war etc. Other types of man-made disasters include the more cosmic scenarios of catastrophic global warming, nuclear war, and bioterrorism whereas natural disasters are earthquakes, floods, heat waves, hurricanes/cyclones, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, tornadoes and landslides, cosmic and asteroid threats.

Disaster cannot be eliminated, but proactive preparation can mitigate data loss and disruption to operations. Organizations require a disaster recovery plan that includes formal Plan to consider the impacts of disruptions to all essential businesses processes and their dependencies. Phase wise plan consists of the precautions to minimize the effects of a disaster so the organization can continue to operate or quickly resume mission-critical functions.

The Disaster Recovery Plan is to be prepared by the Disaster Recovery Committee, which includes representatives from all critical departments or areas of the department’s functions. The committee should have at least one representative from management, computing, risk management, records management, security, and building maintenance. The committee’s responsibility is to prepare a timeline to establish a reasonable deadline for completing the written plan. The also responsible to identify critical and noncritical departments. A procedure used to determine the critical needs of a department is to document all the functions performed by each department. Once the primary functions have been recognized, the operations and processes are then ranked in order of priority: essential, important and non-essential.

Typically, disaster recovery planning involves an analysis of business processes and continuity needs. Before generating a detailed plan, an organization often performs a business impact analysis (BIA) and risk analysis (RA), and it establishes the recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO). The RTO describes the target amount of time a business application can be down, typically measured in hours, minutes or seconds. The RPO describes the previous point in time when an application must be recovered.

The plan should define the roles and responsibilities of disaster recovery team members and outline the criteria to launch the plan into action, however, there is no one right type of disaster recovery plan, nor is there a one-size-fits-all disaster recovery plan. Basically, there are three basic strategies that feature in all disaster recovery plans: (a) preventive measures, (b) detective measures, and (c) corrective measures.

(a) Preventive measures: will try to prevent a disaster from occurring. These measures seek to identify and reduce risks. They are designed to mitigate or prevent an event from happening. These measures may include keeping data backed up and off-site, using surge protectors, installing generators and conducting routine inspections.

(b) Detective measures: These measures include installing fire alarms, using up-to-date antivirus software, holding employee training sessions, and installing server and network monitoring software.

(c) Corrective measures: These measures focus on fixing or restoring the systems after a disaster. Corrective measures may consist keeping critical documents in the Disaster Recovery Plan.

The Plan should include a list of first-level contacts and persons/departments within the company, who can declare a disaster and activate DR operations. It should also include an outline and content stating the exact procedures to be followed by a disaster. At least 2-4 potential DR sites with hardware/software that meets or exceeds the current production environment should be made available. DR best practices indicate that DR sites should be at least 50 miles away from the existing production site so that the Recovery Point Objective (RPO)/Restoration Time Objective (RTO) requirements are satisfied

The recovery plan must provide for initial and ongoing employee training. Skills are needed in the reconstruction and salvage phases of the recovery process. Your initial training can be accomplished through professional seminars, special in-house educational programs, the wise use of consultants and vendors, and individual study tailored to the needs of your department. A minimal amount of training is necessary to assist professional restorers/recovery contractors and others having little knowledge of your information, level of importance, or general operations

An entire documented plan has to be tested entirely and all testing report should be logged for future prospect. This testing should be treated as live run and with ample of time. After testing procedures have been completed, an initial “dry run” of the plan is performed by conducting a structured walk-through test. The test will provide additional information regarding any further steps that may need to be included, changes in procedures that are not effective, and other appropriate adjustments. These may not become evident unless an actual dry-run test is performed. The plan is subsequently updated to correct any problems identified during the test. Initially, testing of the plan is done in sections and after normal business hours to minimize disruptions to the overall operations of the organization. As the plan is further polished, future tests occur during normal business hours.

Once the disaster recovery plan has been written and tested, the plan is then submitted to management for approval. It is top management’s ultimate responsibility that the organization has a documented and tested plan. Management is responsible for establishing the policies, procedures, and responsibilities for comprehensive contingency planning, and reviewing and approving the contingency plan annually, documenting such reviews in writing.

Another important aspect that is often overlooked involves the frequency with which DR Plans are updated. Yearly updates are recommended but some industries or organizations require more frequent updates because business processes evolve or because of quicker data growth. To stay relevant, disaster recovery plans should be an integral part of all business analysis processes and should be revisited at every major corporate acquisition, at every new product launch, and at every new system development milestone.

Your business doesn’t remain the same; businesses grow, change and realign. An effective disaster recovery plan must be regularly reviewed and updated to make sure it reflects the current state of the business and meets the goals of the company. Not only should it be reviewed, but it must be tested to ensure it would be a success if implemented.

How to Become a Successful Distributor in the FMCG Sector

The Fast Moving Consumer Goods or the FMCG sector is a place where goods are sold at a relatively low price and includes products which sell out much quicker than other products. They mostly keep perishable items as opposed to durable items. For example, packaged foods, beverages, toiletries, over-the-counter drugs etc.; whereas durable items include kitchen appliances, textiles, items which can be used for many years. FMCG goods mainly compose of items which have low shelf life. Because it includes items which are required by masses in their daily lifestyle and because this sector has a huge demand, it is essential that this sector divides it work amongst various other short segments. The major segments in the FMCG sector are Manufacturer – Packaging – Sales and Distributorship – Retailer/Wholesaler.

A distributor is someone who will ensure that all your products reach the right people. Whether it is business to business or business to personal. In any emerging market, as demand for a product increases, so does the need for distributors. From everyday use items like cooking oil, packaged foods like biscuits, snacks and everything else with an expiry date, every new trend which comes up as a team of dedicated distributors hard at work to find quality manufacturers and help them bring their product to retail.

Steps to follow to become a Distributor:

Decide what type of distribution business you will run: Distributors can be split into two categories based on who they serve. The first category is, retail distributors buy from wholesalers or manufacturers and sell products directly to consumers. The second Category is, wholesale merchant distributors buy from manufacturers and resell the products to retailers or other distributors. You need to decide which type suits you best and work upon that.

Decide what you would like to distribute: You could focus on a specific product or offer a variety of items. You could base your decisions on a product about which you may feel passionately or any product which you think is not available much in the market. While many large companies are served by equally large distributors, these distributors are unwilling or unable to serve smaller, more specialized business.

Estimate your start-up costs: In addition to a business plan, you will also need some idea of how much money it will take to get your business up and running. As a distributor, your major area of expense will be your inventory. This means that your start-up costs will go parallel as to what product or products you choose to sell. If you are selling a single product then the pricing will depend on how many retailers you are targeting.

Figure out how to sell your products: This will depend largely on who your customers are and what type of products you’re selling. In any case, you have to chalk down specific goals on what methods you can adapt to sell your goods. One of the best ways to do so is to connect more and more with the manufacturers as well as the Retailer/Wholesalers. The more connections you build, the better opportunities you get. This can mean anything from advertising to personal meetings with store owners to search-engine optimization (SEO).

Form your company legally: You’ll have to legally create the company before you can do business. Check with your state regulations and see if you need to create an operating agreement or another type of founding document. Gather any business partners you have for this venture and have them sign any legal documents you fill out

Make your business licensed and registered: You will have to register your business with the correct places or business association as and when required. Your company should be listed in the legal list of companies. Other legal steps may be required to get your business started.

Contact manufacturers or wholesalers of your products: You will need to find sources from which you will buy your product. To locate manufacturers and wholesalers, you will need to build Relationships and connections which will help you to define your work. Networking is the foundation of the distribution industry. You must gain a deep understanding of your target market and clients to develop stronger partnerships. Keep communication open and available.

Purchase inventory: Once you’ve found a source for product, it’s time to place your first order. You’ll need to purchase however much inventory you need. Keeping in mind the budgetary and space constraints you will also need to buy products pertaining to the limit of your users. This is especially true of products with a short shelf-life or FMCG goods. Also, consider the logistics you will require to distribute your goods.

Find a location for your business: The size of the space you need to hold your inventory will be determined by the size of your product and your delivery method. You should consider starting off small as your business builds a reputation. As your business grows, you can move into larger facilities that can accommodate your inventory needs.

Create a website for your business: Creating a customer friendly website is essential in today’s business model. The website should describe prices and product offerings. This is especially important if you sell directly to consumers. You can also invest in search engine optimization (SEO) that directs potential customers directly to your website by placing it higher in search engine results.

Market your product to potential customers. Send out your catalogue to potential customers in your area. The tools of marketing that you can find in today’s digitally marketed world are immense and of huge influence.

Marketing Prints

In the past lithography and traditional printing methods were used if the artist wanted to market reproductions of original artwork. While effective, these methods had serious drawbacks:

First and foremost, a high output number would compromise the value of any reproduction. Second, the quality of 4 color copies limited the color rendition of such reproductions. Also, the choice of substrates was dismal compared to giclée. The advent of high-end digital printmaking has opened a new world for artists: more paper choices, better color, limited production.

On a pure marketing standpoint, artists who have shows and lectures can now suggest giclees to potential buyers. Collectors in particular want to buy art that is not made in mass quantities. When buying a giclée they are assured to possess something rare and exquisite.

Giclees are well established in the art world; they are bought and sold in world class auctions as well as in galleries. Many museums display giclees.

Listen to your clients: I recently had a call from a portrait artist. She has a business where customers come to her for family portraits she makes on watercolor paper. She had a few inquiries regarding making copies so that more than one household could have the portrait of their loved ones. At the same time they asked for a quality print, possibly on the same paper. We reproduced the original and it was virtually impossible to distinguish it from the giclée. Now the artist was happy to make additional income and the families had as many portraits as they wanted!

No matter what the market is, whether it consists of commissioned art or not, high quality reproductions can generate an additional stream of income given the proper marketing.

How can you increase the value of your artwork?

One proven method is to create posters (It has been done for a long time by artists and photographers) and sell the posters at art shows. This creates a buzz and facilitates the selling of your work in a poster format to be displayed in various locations. A well designed poster is one of the best advertisements!

Second, create art and make high quality giclée reproductions without ever selling your originals. Make for example an artist proof edition of 25, sign it and release it as the only art available.

If you wish to be able to sell your original you can do so and still increase the value of your art. Start with small limited editions. As soon they are sold out the value will increase. Always establish and maintain a personal relationship with every past, current and potential buyer of your art! Buyers connect emotionally with the art as well as the creator. They will be more receptive to collecting more work if they feel a bond.

Use the Internet

Create a website with a portfolio so people can see the art. Add the URL to business cards, posters, postcards etc. Optimize the site for keywords you want to target (i.e. abstract paintings, oil paintings of flowers, portraits on oil etc.)

The artist is encouraged to pre-sell the complete limited edition if a LE is decided. It is a good idea to track the collectors and notify them when the particular edition is sold out. Another advantage of having a website is to create a newsletter notifying people of limited edition publication as well as accomplishments and new art. These practices reinforce the added value of their current (or potential) purchase. Last but not least, ask for a Certificate of Authenticity from the printmaker.

Taking Meaningful Action

Productivity. Priorities. Planning.

There are a lot of buzz words right now (and they all seem to start with the letter P!) that are intended to help us make the most of our time and efforts.

But in all the buzz about how to get more done, there is surprisingly little talk about what, exactly, we should be doing. Are all “to do” items created equal? Checking things off a list doesn’t guarantee that we are moving ourselves forward.

Growth Activities

Some things on our list need to get done, and you could argue that they are “important.” Many people fill their days doing client projects and customer service. After all, we have to deliver on our promises. But those are not growth activities.

Of course, we also fill a surprising amount of our time with “distractions.” Some are more obvious than others. Many of us lose hours in reading and responding to e-mails, which might feel like “work” but how productive are we really being?

How many of your activities are true “growth activities.” What things will grow your business? Expand your impact? Allow you to make a bigger difference? Really fulfill your purpose?

When you really look at it, those things happen primarily in two ways. When you create things. And when you connect with people.

Create

As a Content Creation Coach, these types of activities are dear to my heart. I see the power of creating new things. Of putting your ideas into tangible pieces. Whether you are writing a blog article or a book, creating a program, shooting a video, making a new presentation… creating things generates value.

You are increasing the assets of your business. You are putting valuable things into the marketplace (even if they don’t cost money). You are giving value that expands your worth and inevitably returns to you.

I often ask people, “What are you creating next to grow your business?”

The most powerful thing about creating content and other pieces in your business is that it gives you something new to share. Creating something new doesn’t mean anything if others don’t see it.

Which leads me to the second type of growth activity…

Connect

When you connect with other people, that is when all sorts of magical things happen. You might end up with a new client. You could find out about a fantastic opportunity. You could impact that person and create a ripple effect in their life and beyond.

The incredible web of possibilities that exists in a conversation with another person is huge. There is a real art to finding the places where your interests, needs, and capabilities intersect. That’s why it’s called “networking”!

Being able to impact someone else is at the core of our purpose. Each of us brings our own area of expertise and focus to each interaction, of course. But if we approach it openly, each conversation is an opportunity to live out our purpose.

That’s real growth.

And business growth follows real growth.

I’ve been spending a lot of my time recently connecting with others. And I often share things that I have created with the people I am connecting with. Sharing value and making a difference. Win win!

Looking at your task list, how many items involve creating something new or connecting with others?(And sitting at your computer writing e-mails doesn’t count!) Identify some real growth activities to put into your schedule.