Operating in the 4th Industrial Revolution

by Karen Butner

Writing in the Harvard Business Review, Michael Hammer once defined operations innovation as "truly deep change" in core activities and processes. However, he added, this entails more than mere operational improvement or excellence—it necessitates "a departure from familiar norms and requires major changes in how departments conduct their work and relate to one another." More than a decade later, well into the era of digital operations, such deep change is more essential than ever.

A new industrial revolution is upon us—one in which digital technologies redefine business strategy and operational execution. Executives are pressured to innovate and make intelligent investments in game-changing technological advances such as the Internet of Things (IoT), mobility, cloud computing and analytics. With digital technology powering this operations revolution, technological change is at the forefront of operations executives’ awareness.

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How to find your office Zen

 How to find your office Zen

Sometimes we all need to step away from our work and take a little break. But often, actually leaving the office isn’t an option. So what do you do when you need a quick mental vacation? Thankfully, the same technology that helps you stay productive can help you productively relax, too. Here are five tech tips that can help you find your balance, right in the midst of a hectic workday.

Block out the noise
If you work in a noisy office environment, noise-reducing headphones can mute three-fourths of the commotion around you.Built-in microprocessors go beyond simply drowning out unwanted distractions. They actively make things quieter by analyzing background noise and creating an inverse sound wave that cancels out offending sounds.

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EMV Technology for Your Business

You may have noticed that a lot of newer credit cards have chips imbedded in them.  This new technology is more secure for the consumer, but for it to be "really" more secure, businesses that accept credit cards need the new readers.  Additionally, there's a shift in liability from the card issuer to the business.  We installed our new chip card reader back in September.  In addition to the old swipe cards and chip cards, our new reader will accept Apple Pay and Google Wallet.  For your business, if you're not up to speed this article is a good introduction into the world of EMV.

What is EMV chip card technology? Is it really more secure than magnetic stripe technology? Is compliance worth the cost of upgrading? It’s been over a month since the "EMV liability shift" went into effect in the U.S. on October 1, 2015, but many businesses still have unanswered questions.

To help you get the answers you need to minimize your liability, we’ve enlisted expert insight from Lorena Kubera, VP & GM of HP Retail Solutions Global Business Unit, and Cory McElroy, Director of Product Management & Marketing for HP Retail Solutions.

Here’s what you need to know to master the EMV shift.

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The Seasons Change -- Be Prepared

As summer turns to fall, it’s easy to get caught up in seasonal activities like choosing Halloween costumes, picking apples and pumpkins, or for small business, even getting ready for the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.

But if a disaster struck your business, would you be ready? Seasonal changes provide an ideal time to check your business’s emergency preparedness plans, especially for weather-related emergencies. FEMA reports that between 40 and 60 percent of small businesses never reopen following a disaster. Blocking out some time on a quarterly basis to think proactively about unexpected and unfortunate events can help your business stay strong through difficult times.

Review your emergency preparedness plans each quarter

“Defeating Downtime, Keep Your Business Weatherproof,” a SCORE webinar with Jennifer Shaheen of Technology Therapy Group, Shaheen reminds us that no matter how big or small your business, every company has essential supplies and equipment. “Make a list of items your business can’t survive without,” she advises, by taking an inventory of important equipment and breakables. You may have taken a similar inventory in the past when you obtained or updated your insurance policy. But a routine check of essential items and expensive tools accounts for any new pieces of equipment or changes to your business.

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Investing in business class PCs and Laptops

About once a quarter or so, one of our clients contacts us about an issue with a low-cost consumer level PC or laptop they acquired. Usually the questions involve connecting the machine to their network, removing some of the junk or demo programs, or why their new machine won't run their company's specialized software.  It will take our engineers and techs an hour or two to get these machines working properly and occassionally, it can't be done.  Here's an article from Hewlett Packard's Technology at work Blog that talks about why it's worth investing in business-class PCs and laptops for your business or organization.

Think back to the last time you bought a new PC or laptop for your business. Did you approach the purchase the same way you would for a personal device? And if you had a problem, were you satisfied with the level of service you received?

Many small and medium-sized businesses purchase consumer-grade PCs and notebooks by default,1 not realizing the amount of difference a business-class model can make.2,3 Consumer-grade devices can work fine for many organizations, but businesses with more stringent performance, reliability, and support needs can save time and frustration by moving up to business-class devices.

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