HR Technology

Posted on

A company’s Human Resources department is invaluable. Besides managing the hiring and discipline process, this team also handles employee benefits, career development, and training. Thankfully, there are a variety of software programs designed to assist Human Resource Managers with their tasks. This week, we’re exploring various HR software types and our favorite choices in each category.

General

As previously mentioned, there are multiple facets to the HR role. If you are seeking a program that can manage payroll, hiring, paid time off, and benefits, there is a variety available. The benefit of this type of software is that it typically includes a customizable dashboard that helps users visualize their progress and easily locate tasks. Additionally, these software programs are often scalable based on company size which can result in cost savings.

BambooHR

Our team favors this product because it is very user-friendly, making it the perfect choice for small and medium-sized businesses. Administrators can track applicants, manage benefits, onboarding, and records, and store and analyze employee performance records. To manage payroll, there is an extended software that features a similar user interface.

GoCo.io

This program assists with hiring, payroll, benefits, compliance, and more.  We recommend this product because it syncs with all other systems, and reduces the amount of time spent entering data. Because all the information is stored in one place, it creates valuable insight. Also, employees have the option to access the software from their own dashboard, where they can easily make PTO requests, benefit changes, etc.

Payroll         

Managing payroll can be a daunting task and requires a lot of time and effort. HR managers who use technology to assist in this will be able to pay employees via direct deposit, pay taxes, and manage user accounts easily. Because this is such an important aspect of the role, there are numerous software options available.

Paychex

The biggest benefit to using Paychex for payroll is that there are different solutions for small and large companies. This is because Paychex knows that the HR environments in smaller businesses are very different and the dashboards should be tailored to them. This software allows for data to be entered and reports to be generated quickly. Employees enjoy this software because they can access all information online. If desired, this program can also be used to manage employee benefits.

Gusto

Although this software has multiple applications, Gusto specializes in payroll services. Administrators will enjoy the program’s simple onboarding process, which allows employees to enter their own information. Implementing the pay itself is easy because popular payroll programs such as QuickBooks can be easily integrated into the software. Additionally, the software automates local, state, and federal taxes, which further reduces workload.

Recruiting

Depending on the size of your company, recruiting can require a dedicated employee or entire team. This is a critical business function and sorting through large amounts of information can be daunting. Although some websites and companies claim they can automate this task for business owners, those who want to keep this task in-house can rely on technology to help ease the process.

Jobvite

This award winning technology caught our attention because of its multiple applications and customizable dashboard. This includes hiring, engagement, onboarding, branding, and videos, which can be accessed by the company’s smartphone app. Jobvite has been around for over ten years and uses their customer feedback to better their operations. This feedback has also allowed the company to collect various statistics, including those that state companies have a 27% faster time-to-hire and 30% lower candidate acquisition cost.

Ideal

A majority of a recruiter’s time is spent thumbing through resumes and sourcing candidates. With Ideal, artificial intelligence is used to automate these tasks. Other programs, such as CareerBuilder, ZipRecruiter, or other ATS and CRM, can be easily integrated into this software so the entire candidate pool can be accessed and analyzed. Applicants benefit from this software because it updates employees on the recruiting process, and automates communication to increase satisfaction.

Retention

It can be challenging for business owners to handle the day-to-day operations while still keeping employees engaged and satisfied. Especially in today’s workforce, having programs designed to improve employee retention is crucial. However, studies show that almost 90% of organizations’ engagement and reward systems are ineffective. These programs will ensure your engagement is effective.

High Ground

The makers of this software claim that their product, “changes the way employees develop, recognize, and reward one another and participate in surveys.” Their technology allows customization for each role within the company and provides the opportunity for real-time coaching and feedback, recognition, rewards, and surveys. All of this information will be compiled into a mobile-friendly platform so administrators can manage their workforce on-the-go.

Officevibe

This software has solutions for managers aiming to improve their teams’ performance and HR executives who are seeking a stronger company culture.  Weekly surveys can be sent out, allowing employees to easily communicate their feedback. Additionally, anonymous conversations promote honesty. For administrators, these responses are compiled into a report and actionable advice is generated.

What is Blockchain?

Posted on

What is Blockchain?

For the last few years, companies like Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan have been talking about their belief in the power of blockchain technology and its popularity. The technology is predicted to transform the way transactions are processed, but how? This week’s blog takes a deeper look into the technology’s functions and performance.

Blockchain technology was developed to allow financial data to be communicated to various locations. To put it simply, blockchain is a public ledger that incorporates real-time financial data from multiple parties. This system isn’t owned by any corporation; rather, it is monitored by the entire network. Each of the parties must agree on a change in order for it to be implemented. This group administration allows operation without a central authority, which saves time and money.

There are many terms correlated with this technology, including but not limited to:

  • Block: A collection of transactions that are grouped chronologically.
  • Block Height: The block’s chronological order (Height 0 is the first block).
  • Bitcoin: A cyber currency traditionally recorded through blockchains.
  • Hash: A method of identifying each transaction through a random set of encrypted numbers. Also within the record is the previous “hash” number, to establish a chronological order, a list of other transactions within the same group, or “block,” and a public key.
  • Ledger: A detailed record of the transactions storing.
  • Node: A computer connected to the system.
  • Private Key: a set of numbers that proves that you are associated with a specific transaction.
  • Proof of Stake: When the amount of existing cryptocurrency you own is used to determine the amount you can mine.
  • Proof of Work: The amount of computational power spent performing the transaction, which is used for verification and approval.

How can blockchain technology be beneficial?

Most often, this technology is used for Bitcoin. This is largely because Bitcoin was created to be untraceable and not subject to governmental and industrial regulations. For the financial industry, the possibilities of this technology are endless. In the future, taxes could be paid by blockchain and existing payment apps could be replaced by the technology. The biggest benefit is its ability to operate without much administration. This means banks could operate without requiring labor for bookkeeping and oversight. Additionally, the technology can be used in supply chains to record and track progress and inventory.

Our Favorite IoT Devices for the Home

Posted on

The internet of things industry is growing rapidly, and every day there are new products being introduced. With this fast development, it can be confusing for shoppers to find quality products. We want our customers to choose devices that are high performing, affordable, and secure. This list of smart home products highlights devices that our team members have enjoyed using and have positive online reviews in order to advise readers.

Best Smart Speaker

Because of its early development, Amazon’s Echo is a very popular smart speaker that has earned our choice for top smart speaker. This device, like all smart speakers, can play music, narrate news, control smart home assets, and answer questions.  We favor this specific speaker because it is able to connect to a larger variety of smart home devices and perform a larger number of functions. These functions are being added to every day, and currently, we enjoy its ability to order pizza, read recipes, and request an Uber. Each of these functions is performed with the help of a high-quality speaker, which produces impressive sound quality.

Best Smart Lighting

The Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance A19- Gen 3 is our top pick for smart lighting because of its abilities and connectivity. Users will need to install a hue system that will allow them to ultimately control their lighting via an application. Through this app, users will be able to turn lights on and off, dim the lights, and change their color to one of 16 million options.  This can be done in real-time or set to schedules. Additionally, this bulb is designed to integrate with a variety of other apps and smart-home systems. Popular systems that can be synced include Amazon’s Alexa, Nest, and Apple’s Siri.

Best Smart Security

Although there are a variety of smart cameras and smoke/flood/etc. detectors, our team wanted to focus on the best all-encompassing security systems. We put the Abode Starter Kit at the top of our list because of its ability to be customized and integrated with a variety of systems. Included in this kit are a hub with a siren and backup battery, two door/window sensors, a security camera, a motion detector, and a key fob which arms and disarms the system. Although the camera doesn’t offer live streaming, it takes three pictures when it detects motion. Both free and paid access to these images are available, depending on how long and where you want them stored. This technology can pair with Amazon’s Alexa and Nest, among others and be controlled through both Android and iOS apps. We chose this as our top pick because of its affordability and ability to be customized through device additions and plans.

Best Smart Thermostat

For the many households that have used this technology, it is no surprise that the Nest Learning Thermostat earned a place at the top of our list. This device can be controlled through smartphones, computers, and other smart home devices.  Within a week of using the device, the Nest will learn your temperature preferences and adjust itself accordingly. When the home is unoccupied, the nest will turn itself down to help save energy, which is just one factor that contributed to the device’s Energy Star rating. The device itself also has a superior face, which will light up when it detects motion to show the time, temperature, or weather.

Best Smart Vacuum

With every smart vacuum developed, there are new features and abilities. We think that the Neato Botvac deserves its title of “Best Smart Vacuum” because of its power and connectivity.  This device can be started, scheduled, or steered from both its LCD screen and iOS and Android devices. It has superior suction power, leaving behind a reliable clean. To navigate, the robot uses lasers for assistance and is able to compute an efficient path around each room.  If you have a larger house that competes with the battery life, you can switch from “Turbo” to “Eco” mode.  During “Eco” mode, we found the room to be quieter but still powerful enough to amply clean.

Best Smart Blinds

Hunter Douglas Shades have made their way to the top of our list because of their affordability, quality control, and abilities. These devices are controllable via a very user-friendly smartphone app as well as the two remotes. Connections to home control systems are available as well, most notably to the Crestron, Control4, and Savant systems. Users can select which individual blinds are adjusted when making changes, allowing for customized environments in each room. These changes can be made in real-time or scheduled “scenes” can be created.

This list highlights smart systems that are most popularly used and that our team members have experience with. If you have any questions about these devices, please feel free to reach out! Stay tuned to our blog to find out more about the technology industry, recommended IT practices, and company highlights!

How Information Security is adapting to the IoT

Posted on

Gartner, Inc. predicts that there will be 8.4 billion connected devices around the world by the end of 2017. By 2020, other studies estimate this number will reach more than 50 billion. These devices will be used in cars, homes, businesses, cities, doctors’ offices, manufacturers, and more. They will store credit card information, medical information, your home’s layout and occupancy habits, and other private data. Commercially, AT&T reports that 85% of surveyed enterprises intend to deploy IoT devices. With this industry emerging and beginning to grow so quickly, it is important to step back and realize the effects these devices will cause and begin addressing IoT security.

A recent HP study estimates that 70% of the most commonly used devices contain vulnerabilities. Ensuring the security of these devices is critical protecting this sensitive information. Recently, the Federal Trade Commission filed a suit against an IoT device manufacturer who sold insecure products. They allege that this company failed to provide adequate security and also misrepresented their level of security. This is not the first suit of this type, which shows their commitment to protecting customers from vulnerabilities and companies who produce dangerous goods. The FTC also published a report titled “Internet of Things, Privacy, and Security in a Connected World,” which described threats and gave recommendations for the IoT industry.

An IoT device is only as secure as the network it is connected to. That is why it is important to create a comprehensive security plan before the IoT devices are put into place in order to ensure their sustainability. Not only will this null any existing vulnerabilities, but it will also be less expensive than incorporating these devices later.  This includes not only purchasing secure devices, but also ensuring the network and applications’ vulnerabilities are addressed. Our team predicts that as this industry grows, it will implement common security practices that will become standard for these devices and the companies and homes that implement them.

With the growth of the IoT industry, it is critical that both software and service providers create standards that will ensure security. These practices should not only protect against hackers, but also random product malfunctions.  We believe in the benefits of IoT devices and look forward to seeing what industry standards will be created and what product and security improvements will be made. To learn more about online security, technology tips and tricks, industry news, and company highlights, stay tuned to our blog!

What Is Data Encryption and How Does It Work?

Data encryption is a way to make the original data, known as plain text, undecipherable to anyone who doesn’t have a decryption key or password. All of the data is transformed into a formula made of only prime numbers, and both the encryption and decryption must utilize the same algorithm in order to properly perform this task. This prevents outside parties from accessing critical data. People access encrypted data every day when they use password accessible phones, emails, or software. read more

Cryptolocker

These days, it seems like there are new computer security threats every day. Threats such as ransomware are becoming more and more popular and it is important for businesses to stay proactive in their security in order to prevent these attacks. Ransomware is true to its read more