SMB Nation Blog

SMB Nation has been serving the Bainbridge Island area since 2001, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Sage Bots

Recently many MSPs and partners attended a lecture on “How to Throw an Election” discussing bots with the notorious Tcat. The well-attended event was to further our technology conversations beyond the LAN and even MSP land. The context was actually SECURITY and that is always a crowd pleaser. Funny thing is, an election bot rehash article emerged here just as I was writing the blog. If anything, this report from the NY Daily News is interesting.

But the real reason we’re here is to talk business bots. A tip of the hat to Sage (the accounting software firm) for hosting a one-day bot “BOTlanta” workshop in Atlanta as part of the Sage Summit 2017 conference (in part this made me think about the above Tcat lecture). “At BOTlanta, Sage’s chief of AI and bots, Kriti Sharma, will outline the importance of establishing a bot code of ethics and provide an interactive step-by-step guide on how to create a bot of your own.” This free day-long workshop was open to the Atlanta community. Bravo!

Kriti Sharma BOT CHICK

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bot Chick: Kriti Sharma


At the Sage Summit keynote, Sharma introduced PEGG, a voice chat bot that resides on the Amazon Echo device. Beyond cool, you can use the most natural interface of all (voice) to manage the Sage One cloud-based accounting system. For example, you can as management reporting questions such as “How much does Microsoft owe me?” You can watch the keynote speech here as I shot a point of view (POV) vid (see below).

  pegg keynote

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now the good stuff. I had 1:1 interview with Sharma (“the bot chick”) after her bot presentation. First Sharma clarified that Pegg was launched as a chat bot for Facebook messenger and Skype. You could essentially type commands. At Sage Summit 2017, the voice portion of the Pegg chat bot was introduced. Point well taken.

“We use analytics to help design and improve Pegg. It’s the only way.” Shared Sharma. “Over 20,000 people are using Pegg and we can discover new features that people want. Our development time using a chat bot is much faster than traditional application development.” She emphasized voice integration as a way to get more tasks done and “open up the industry to a new wave of users who don’t have accounting expertise.”
Interestingly, Pegg is best thought of as having strengths in management reporting and revenue side transactions such as issuing an invoice. “You can’t trigger a payment from Pegg as we haven’t built a global payment solution yet.” Sharma added. “So security isn’t that different from a keyboard or mobile interface. We don’t want to give an account balance without some type of voice signature.”

Finally, I asked her if the industry is “early” with artificial intelligence with the likes of IBM Watson, Amazon Alexa and now Pegg. “Yes and no. The way I see it is that Watson and Alexa are very general. Pegg is solving a use case defined for a particular industry. And I want to speak of ethics. Bots should not pretend to be humans.” Sharma concluded. With that, refer back to paragraph one concerning Twitter bots and elections.

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Get Ready for IoT by Taking 3 Essential Steps

by Oliver Schabenberger

To prepare for IoT, companies need to take advantage of big data and advanced analytics, and adapt their culture, so they are ready for the transformation.

In the early 1990s, the general public made its earliest forays into using the Internet. At the time, no one could have imagined where the IOT one photo shutterstock 468787469 A2technology would lead. Social media, e-commerce, mobile apps, cloud computing, software as a service -- the list is endless. Entire classes of applications -- even industries -- were not even a gleam in their creators' eyes. Today these internet-based technologies have transformed the way we live and work.

Fast-forward more than 25 years. We are at a similar stage in the latest iteration of the internet -- the Internet of Things (IoT). Pundits of all stripes predict that the IoT will change everything. Connected cars. Better patient monitoring devices. Industrial machines that track their own maintenance requirements. Intelligent street lights. Everything will be connected.

As with the original internet, we have no idea where the IoT will take us. And before we see the full impact of the predicted and unforeseen advances, we will need to remove significant technical obstacles, notably security and lack of standards.

Still, despite the roadblocks, companies that get ahead of the IoT curve will undoubtedly benefit from a lasting competitive advantage as they forge new markets. So what can your company do today to prepare for the future of IoT? The following are the top three best practices:

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Now Sales Is Buying Bright Shiny Objects, Too

 

 

Maas Companies ImagePublished on May 18, 2017

Jill Rowley

I’ve seen this movie before, over in MarTech. I spent a decade at Eloqua building the marketing automation space from 2002-2012. Scott Brinker coined the term Chief Marketing Technologist in 2010 and has documented the “category” growth from ~ 150 applications to over 5,000 in 2017. Anything that could be automated was automated - at least at some companies - often without much thought as to the strategic plan underlying these sparkly new toys.

Marketing Technology Landscape 1

 

 

Now, the same thing is happening in SalesTech. Here’s one glimpse at this expanding universe from Nancy Nardin at Smart Selling Tools:

Smart Technology landscape 1

And here’s a more analytical look at the landscape, minus all the players:

 

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4 Signs to Immediately Identify Someone With True Emotional Intelligence

Imagine the immense possibilities of working with a team that possesses these traits.

 

By Marcel Schwantes  Principal and founder, Leadership From the Core

 

brain ei 01 2017 209901

CREDIT: Getty Images
 
In a recent report, top human resources officers from global companies were asked what they see as the 10 job skills required by the year 2020 for workers to thrive.

One of those critical skills for success that made the top 10 list? Wait for it ... emotional intelligence.

According to emotional intelligence (E.I.) experts, E.I. has become an important predictor of job success, surpassing technical ability. In 2011, a CareerBuilder survey of more than 2,600 U.S. hiring managers and human resources professionals revealed that 71 percent valued emotional intelligence in an employee over a high IQ.

What to Look for in People With High Emotional Intelligence
If you're looking to work in a high-performing tribe of people with E.I, or build your own E.I. superpower culture, you need to know some of the key behaviors that show up in its five tenets of self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills.

1. Look for people who show up with their true selves.
Transparency is a hot commodity in the relationship economy. Sometimes the tendency is for employees and bosses to hide, withdraw, stonewall, or put on the mask of false charisma or dictatorship to avoid tough situations or conflict. And that mask hides who we truly are as we order people around or forcefully command attention. In teams that thrive, you'll find people showing up with raw authenticity. It's leading in conversations and interactions with your mind and your heart, during good times and bad. You show up with:

  • Excellence
  • Integrity
  • Emotional honesty
  • A great attitude
  • An openness to feedback
  • A self-awareness of not only your feelings, but of those of others in your sphere of influence


2. Look for resilient people who display flexibility.
Priorities shift in almost every company and every job. Surround yourself with people who are flexible during change and will jump on every opportunity to help during a transition. They have the flexibility to deal with uncertain and unpredictable situations--a hallmark of true E.I. You also want to be around people with resilient minds. They deal in the factual (what's really true) and the here and now, and leave the ghosts of their past in the past. The most resilient people recover from bad situations by saying no to anyone who interferes with their goals and schedules, and especially their values and beliefs. Resilient people don't allow themselves to feel guilty about things that have nothing to do with them. They know they are not responsible for the actions and drama of others, and they never beat themselves up for something someone else did.

3. Look for people who manage their emotions better than most.
This falls under self-management (or self-regulation) in emotional intelligence and is a personal competence found in most high-performing teams. The question behind self-management is simple but rare: Can I manage my emotions and behavior to a positive outcome? Internationally known psychologist and best-selling author Daniel Goleman says this about people with manage their emotions well:

Reasonable people--the ones who maintain control over their emotions--are the people who can sustain safe, fair environments. In these settings, drama is very low and productivity is very high. Top performers flock to these organizations and are not apt to leave them.

 

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HPE Partners with ClearCenter to Simplify IT for Small and Medium Businesses

By GlobeNewswire, June 05, 2017, 05:00:00 PM EDT

New partnership offers preloaded ClearOS on HPE ProLiant servers to make SMB IT simple, secure and affordable

PALO ALTO, Calif., June 05, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Hewlett Packard Enterprise (NYSE:HPE) today announced an exclusive partnership with ClearCenter, a leading open source platform provider, to offer ClearOS, a Linux-based operating system on HPE ProLiant servers. Tailored to fit the IT needs of small and medium businesses by consolidating server, gateway and networking functionality, HPE and ClearCenter deliver a powerful IT solution with a simple web-based user interface and a built-in application marketplace, making IT deployments for SMBs simple, secure and economical.

IT for SMBs is complex, with conflicting technology choices and trade-offs making it difficult for companies to identify the right solutions for their short- and long-term needs. HPE is joining forces with ClearCenter to help channel partners deliver cloudlike simplicity and on premise security in one affordable solution that will grow with the business.

In addition, HPE is announcing new servers for SMB customers, including the new ProLiant MicroServer, as part of its Gen 10 portfolio. Designed specifically for Small Office/Home Office (SOHO), the ProLiant MicroServer includes the new ProLiant ML30 and ProLiant DL20 servers refreshed with new Kaby Lake processors from Intel.

The ProLiant MicroServer Gen10 boasts several upgrades including:

AMD graphics embedded in the chip, enabling high-resolution applications like media streaming.
Dual DisplayPort connectors, equipping two monitors with 4K experience.
Optional GPU support on a PCIe slot, which allows users to connect a total of five monitors to the MicroServer or a five screen extended display.

"At HPE, we are committed to providing our SMB customers with simple, secure and cost effective solutions that are easy to deploy," said Peter Schrady, senior vice president and general manager, ProLiant Servers, Hewlett Packard Enterprise. "Through our exclusive partnership with ClearCenter to deliver ClearOS, we will enable customers to create a ready-to-use server at no additional cost with more than 100 applications to choose from so businesses can build the IT solution that is just right for them."

Small and medium businesses need easy-to-use solutions that are secure and affordable. HPE will be offering ClearOS pre-loaded on the new HPE ProLiant MicroServer Gen10, as well as ML110, ML30 and DL20. HPE ProLiant preloaded with ClearOS is ready to use out of the box, easy to customize and integrates into any IT environment.

 

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