How Can AI Boost Your Sales?

Wouldn’t it be nice if life were more automated? Thankfully it is. Before we start panicking that robots will steal our jobs, let’s focus instead on how robotics and AI can improve our jobs. Some industries (like sales) depend on personal touches, but there’s more to sales than just a phone call.

The best sales tend to stem from lengthy research. When aspects of research are automated, an algorithm can quickly identify buying trends. Data extracted by AI gives a more rounded picture of a sales target than old school methods. Decisions can be made based on data rather than hunches. This efficiency can cut the time ordinarily spent at the top of the funnel.

The same way travel companies use an AI algorithm for setting airfare prices, sales companies can use AI to customize price proposals for the most advantageous deals. AI can also be helpful in determining whether a customer is likely to go for an up or cross-sale. Sometimes the cross or upsell with the wrong target can end a deal in its tracks. Reliable forecasting can fix that.

Sales organizations that resist the imminent AI advances will likely struggle. Historically the sales industry is slow to adapt to big tech changes. As more companies digitize operations, the days of cold calling will become extinct. Even today, many corporate email and phone systems have machine learning in place to screen out unwanted solicitation.

Companies that embrace AI will reap its rewards. Consumer buying choices are already largely effected by AI. An algorithm determines what streaming choices are best suited to our tastes. Our phones know more about our buying choices than we do. Tracking pixels embedded in web pages generate retargeting that aims to get you to buy that thing you were looking at online. Organizations with the highest level of customer satisfaction are doing so by pivoting their sales strategy based on machine learned data.

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2020 – The Year of Ransomware

Data security continues to be the biggest threat to most organizations in the US. With the new revelations (and subsequent charges in the 2018 Equifax breach) cybercrime will remain a trending topic. Many consumers are still waiting for a piece of their settlement from the class action lawsuit as a result of the breach.

What worries experts more than traditional hacking are the alarming rise in ransomware attacks. Ransomware differs from malware or a typical security breach in that victims’ software is held hostage until hackers are paid. Ransomware has become much more innovative. Some companies even specialize in it.

In the past ransomware was somewhat rare as it required criminals to be well-versed in coding. Today’s digital intruders are much savvier and work with third party programmers. This phenomenon is not all that different from Software as a Service (SaaS). Instead of useful, problem solving software, Ransomware as a Service (RaaS) lives in the shadows of the internet. Developers are creating and selling products that make ransomware easier to deploy.

One of the most egregious instances of ransomware occurred in 2016 when Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center paid over $17,000 in bitcoin to get their operations back online. For hackers, medical records are a hot commodity as they have endless potential for blackmail.

The idea of hackers getting into medical and government records is a frightening notion, but scarier still is the remote capability to shut down operations of vital services. This is especially precarious when considering electric power grids. With an efficient RaaS program, even a low-level cybercriminal could potentially bring an organization to a total standstill. Cyberwarfare will likely replace the battlefields of yore. Instead of striking cities with drones, one could use ransomware or malware to suspend electricity and other forms of digital communications.

The best way to avoid paying out for ransomware attacks is to always be backing up your systems and data. Diversify backups between cloud and hard storage. With growing dependence on cloud storage comes a greater need for quality cloud security. As futuristic as ransomware attacks sound, having a contingency plan is another strategic way to avoid the fall-out. Just as your office has a plan for a fire or tornado, so too must there be a plan for data breaches and ransom attacks. As they say, a good offense is a good defense.

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The Faulty App at the Center of the Iowa Caucus Mess

It’s no question the Iowa Democratic Caucus of 2020 was a mess. Reporting was delayed for days and what data did come out is subject to much scrutiny as data sets did not match up. While the 2020 election cycle moves on, many are left wondering what happened?

The simplest answer is that the app developed by former campaign staffers broke. Traditionally, the Iowa Caucus relied on precincts dialing in their results. This year, an external app was used so that election officials could report their results. The app was not previously tested and wasn’t able to handle the volume of submissions. The phone lines were also not equipped to handle the volume of inbound calls from election officials, leaving many people on hold for hours.

Cybersecurity experts are baffled by the lack of testing. The Iowa Democratic Party is reassuring media outlets that no hacking occurred, and the data was not compromised. With such seemingly minimal oversight, it’s hard to trust the future use of such an app. The results of future elections will likely be called into question if efforts to modernize processes aren’t fully vetted. The big world impact could be a continued decline in public trust of elections, which has serious implications.

What the situation in Iowa taught us is that critical voter data is vulnerable when newly developed technology is rushed into use. Unfortunately for the state of Iowa, this snafu has called into question its significance as a gauge for predicting election outcomes.

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