We’ve heard of artificial intelligence in movies like Terminator and I, Robot. But the real applications of artificial intelligence include analyzing complex data sets, driving vehicles, providing more insightful user experiences, and even setting dinner plans or weeding out spam callers. While these applications have grown incredibly in the private sectors, government agencies like the IRS have also started to employ artificial intelligence as a utility for improving communication, taxpayer assistance, and even detecting tax evasion.

Several government tax agencies have already employed the use of chatbots to answer taxpayer questions. The most recent example comes in the form of Canada’s Charlie the Chatbot. A similar system is no doubt in the works for the IRS, which will hopefully help taxpayers avoid long wait times on the phone and get clarification on confusing documentation on the IRS website. Artificial intelligence has a consumer-facing goal of making lives easier, so it’s not far off to expect time-saving applications like chatbots.

While this appeals to taxpayers and consumers, the ideal application for an agency like the IRS is in tracking tax evasion, and increasing the likelihood of collecting tax payments from delinquent tax payers or non-filers. Such an application comes into the picture as the Internal Revenue Service ramps up data collection and analysis by using artificial intelligence to create graphs and present relationships between data to identify people who may be avoiding their taxes. But the usability goes as far as analyzing the scripts between IRS agents and taxpayers in order to find out how to effectively solicit tax payments, and ultimately “get a check sent.”

In an effort to fulfill these objectives, the IRS has even engaged in relationships with data firms to investigate potential tax evasion. IRS commissioner Charler Rettig even reveals the benefits of these new partnerships with this quote: “If I get a first name and a cell phone number, you’d be shocked how much information Palantir can provide.” Palantir refers to Palantir Technologies, a private data analytics company based in California. The initiatives are still fairly new and uncertain considering the budget of the IRS.

Additional implications come from the already detached nature of the organization becoming more automated, pushing human interaction even further from the taxpayer. Often, taxpayers are already confused as to the reason for IRS notifications, and making the communication process automated could become frustrating and ultimately leave taxpayers even more uninformed.

While the involvement of artificial intelligence in tax processes remains uncertain, human interaction will always be close by. Taxpayers should be wary of the fact that the evolution of technology within agencies like the IRS makes it much harder to conduct nefarious actions like tax evasion.

Talley’s experienced team of tax professionals provides comprehensive tax compliance and consulting services so you can preserve, enhance and pass on to the next generation the assets and wealth that you’ve worked hard to build. We welcome the opportunity to discuss with you the current opportunities available to you, your family and business. For more information, contact us today.

In today’s technologically advanced society, data is a driving force behind most if not every single industry. In fact, data is big business that is predicted to reach over a quarter of a trillion dollars by 2022. That’s not to say that the industry is wrought with failure. While there is no definite solution when it comes to such a new and unpredictable industry, here are four questions we can ask to analyze and potentially improve data-driven decision making.

How was the data sourced? Ultimately data is messy business, and data has a great potential to be entirely inaccurate. There is the element of human interaction, which is typically troubled by mistakes made when entering data like inventory, product purchases, etc. Lastly, and often the most overlooked, is the use of outdated data. Using a list or report from the wrong quarter or even wrong fiscal year can lead to disastrous consequences for businesses.

How was the data analyzed? Besides being misinterpreted by the people handling the data, accurate date can be misrepresented by computer models. Traditionally, we trust a spreadsheet/model to predict accurate results based on data input. The problem is twofold though: these models are not always entirely foolproof and even worse, some models contain enormous bias. Simply put, some models are entirely too simple and misrepresent data, while more complex models can muddle the data. In both cases, the claims of such models are often overly dramatic in either direction.

What doesn’t the data tell us? Data may be massively helpful to businesses in predicting shopper behavior or tracking performance, but it is just that, predicting. Humans cannot be entirely represented by data. This is called availability bias, and basically explains the phenomenon where decisions are made based only on available data or models and does not account for information that is not represented by what is not immediately available. Typical examples can include basing the amount of labor hours to give employees on hourly sales or extending loans to people based on established credit data. These are not always entirely representative of the entire situation, and ultimately reflect the danger of not asking this third question.

How can we use data to redesign products and business models? In other words, how do we utilize and/or apply data in business today to affect change in the way products are created, marketed, and sold as well as how businesses operate? This is multiple questions in one, but it is one of the most important to consider, because without an aim or goal for the data, it’s pointless to interact with it.

Data is such an incredibly valuable asset to business today, and utilizing it correctly and to its full potential can yield incredible results. It can be the difference between maximum efficiency and blatant inefficiency.

From technology-based accounting solutions to management information, analysis, and reporting, Talley LLP is the premier business consulting firm for entrepreneurs and their closely-held businesses. For more information on how to leverage your business’s data technology, contact Talley today.

Source: Harvard Business Review, 11 Feb. 2020,

Big data is only getting bigger as business usage increases and more companies change the way they look at their processes in 2020. More than analyzing buying patterns or customer relationships, big data can allow entrepreneurs to improve their financial forecasting and future trends.

Predicting company success and finding potential opportunities is a common goal for any entrepreneur. By leveraging real-time/big data metrics, finance teams can gain valuable insight into trends, improving their ability to take advantage of upcoming opportunities or mitigate risk. When considering the benefits, implementing big data metrics does not have to overcomplicate your existing financial reporting methods.

Utilize the resources you already have in place. Businesses big and small are already housing stores of information in their existing business or sales management systems. For example, customer relationship management systems hold valuable details about sales, sizing, markets, and more than can be referenced across departments. However, all that data means little without the ability to effectively distinguish between what is important and what is just white noise. These details, although large in quantity, can allow forecasts to adjust as events occur if properly utilized.

Don’t be afraid to let go of old technology. The typical Excel spreadsheet forecast focused on historical trends is very limiting when considering how extensive your decision-driving data may be and the way activities affect different parts of your business. These simple documents continue to emphasize the inefficiency of solely using historical data to make future business decisions. By embracing real-time metrics and overall real-time forecasts, entrepreneurs can gain a greater understanding of how specific actions affect their forecasts.

From technology-based accounting solutions to management information, analysis, and reporting, Talley LLP is the premier business consulting firm for entrepreneurs and their closely-held businesses. For more information on how to leverage your business’s data technology, contact Talley today.

McDonald’s made several acquisitions this year to improve the customer experience at their brick and mortar stores. To start with, the fast-food giant acquired Dynamic Yield and implemented its personalization and decision technology in over 8,000 of its menu boards. This past month, McDonald’s announced a second deal with a voice recognition leader, Apprente, to improve drive-thru voice ordering systems. Considering the size and success of McDonald’s, the company’s willingness to pursue new technology shows there is always room for system improvements.

Although McDonald’s approach to upgrading their restaurants doesn’t come at a low price, the investment can improve both workflow and customer satisfaction. The Dynamic Yield acquisition is valued at over $300 million, and an additional billion dollars is expected to be spent on other upgrades and renovations. The addition of self-service kiosks, digital menu boards, a new mobile app, and the upgraded voice ordering systems is just the beginning of their Velocity Growth Plan according to McDonald’s CEO, Steve Eastbrook.

Looking at Apprente, the Silicon Valley-based startup provides McDonald’s with a way to automate their drive-thrus and eventually their kiosks. The voice recognition software was specifically created to speed up food ordering lines and can understand different accents and languages using neuroscience-based AI technology. Since drive-thru orders make up 70% of McDonald’s sales, moving cars through lines faster will benefit the majority of their customer base. The Apprente system has already been tested in some Chicago locations with employees overseeing the accuracy of voice generated orders. For now, workers fix any errors, but McDonald’s hopes one day to leave the whole ordering process to the machines.

Fast-food fanatics should only expect more changes to their dining experience going forward. It seems McDonald’s and other restaurant chains hope to drive sales through an increased reliance on technology and AI. The success of these efforts is sure to be tested as their newest acquisitions are implemented.

Talley LLP understands the challenges facing entrepreneurs with generating and protecting income. Whether you’re looking to improve your profitability or build your brand through a business transaction or capital raise, Talley is the premier consulting and financial services firm dedicated to strategic business solutions that deliver meaningful results.

Cybersecurity concerns only seem to be getting more complex as online tech grows and an increasing amount of smart devices infiltrate different aspects of consumer life. Most recently, a phone application named FaceApp, which has gained more than a hundred million downloads in recent weeks, has become a cause of concern for the privacy of its users with the FBI being asked to investigate the case. Experts are worried that the app’s terms of service may be signing users up for more than just a few photo filters.

Created in 2017, FaceApp was developed by the Russian company Wireless Lab with the purpose of morphing users faces into an older or younger likeness, adding a smile to their picture, or transforming facial features to be male or female. Although seemingly innocent fun, many downloaders may have not realized what the user agreement gave developers permissions to.

The official terms of service essentially grant FaceApp a “perpetual, irrevocable, nonexclusive, royalty-free, worldwide, fully-paid, transferable sub-licensable license” to use your “name, username or likeness”  however they desire. The long-term implications of the open-ended policy have users and even government officials concerned. A Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer has even requested that the FBI investigate how the data is being used and where the information is going considering the parent company is outside of the U.S.

FaceApp’s CEO Yaroslav Goncharov responded to concerns saying the system doesn’t access any other information or photos on your phone and most saved photos are deleted from their system after 48 hours. Currently, with no way to confirm if this is actually true, it may be best for users to be cautious of their interactions with the app and be diligent in reviewing other programs terms of service thoroughly before agreeing to them. Even if the photos and data seem to be safe now, there is no telling what can happen in the future.

It’s critical that individuals and organizations recognize the importance of both the technical and human elements in establishing security solutions, procedures and policies, regardless of industry or size. To find out more about how Talley & Company has helped its clients with technology solutions that secure, protect, and enhance their businesses, give us a call today.

In recent years, health scientists have begun emphasizing research related to preventing illnesses and diseases before they become harmful. The Stanford University School of Medicine is a particular champion of the cause, dedicating studies to what they call precision health, or “predicting, preventing, and curing disease precisely.” In their most recent study, the group utilized “Big Data” on over a hundred patients to preemptively identify sixty-seven issues including high blood pressure, lymphoma, diabetes, infections, sleep apnea and more.

Researchers started by creating a biological baseline of participants health. Using wearable trackers, microbial and molecular profiles, blood and stool samples, and genome sequences, they determined what being “healthy” for each person meant and began tracking the metrics daily over a three to eight-year period. Like all data, the information meant little without the ability to distinguish between what was important and what was not. As they observed changes in the different variables, the group began seeing abnormalities that could be matched to potential health problems.

The genetic sequencing found thirteen disease-related concerns including heart defects, which were later confirmed with cardiac testing. One individual’s spleen was enlarged which led doctors to identify lymphoma and allowed the patient to get treatment early. Heart rate monitoring led to the discovery of sleep apnea, and elevated heart rates showed the beginnings infections. High blood pressure was found in eighteen individuals, while other irregularities indicated precancers, low hemoglobin, and arterial plaques all before the patients exhibited symptoms. 

Additionally, with all the collected information the scientists were able to make preliminary determinations on biomarkers and molecular markers for diseases and cardiovascular disease risk. With positive results, the research team is looking to continue and expand the study in the hopes of helping more people. The important lesson of Stanford’s findings, applicable to most businesses large or small, is seen in how the team converted “Big Data” into proactive data that can ultimately save lives.

From technology-based accounting solutions to management information, analysis, and reporting, Talley LLP is the premier business consulting firm for entrepreneurs and their closely-held businesses. For more information on how to leverage your business’s data technology, contact Talley today.

Has the thought ever crossed your mind that smart devices are becoming too smart? Recently, Amazon admitted their Alexa devices collect speech recordings that are later listened to and analyzed by employees across the globe. As smart products infiltrate more and more genres from doorbells to lighting, the amount of data intercepted may leave some curious as to what companies are doing with their information.

Amazon stated that employees listen to, transcribe, and annotate conversations had with the device to improve Alexa’s speech recognition. Workers may hear everything from a request to play a popular song to your trivia answers with the hubs built-in games. In one case, there were reports that two staff members even believed to be hearing a domestic violence situation occurring but legally could not take action. When they may encounter upsetting conversations like this, workers may use the internal group chat room to release stress, since interfering in these matters would breach security.

Amazon’s response to the public’s worries of their conversations being tracked was to assure customers that there are policies in place that hide user’s personal information and that they do not tolerate any system abuse. To protect identities, they use several forms of authentication and a controlled environment for their workers. Although in this case, Amazon has told the public the information is solely for performance improvements, as seen in the reports of Roomba’s robotic vacuum tracking floor plans or Target analyzing baby product purchases to market to pregnant women, who’s to say this big data won’t be leveraged some other way in the future. For now, the information seems secure, but with the new found knowledge in hand, Alexa users may be more careful with what they are asking the smart device.

Now more than ever, the small to mid-sized business owner can develop the same Big Data analysis as larger corporations—an important step in achieving a competitive position in your industry. From technology-based accounting solutions to management information, analysis, and reporting, Talley LLP is the premier business consulting firm for entrepreneurs and their closely-held businesses. For more information on how to leverage your business’s data technology, contact Talley today.

For most of us—but business owners especially—time is scarce. There is always more to do than hours in the day. So what tech solutions are you leveraging to be more productive with the time you have? When time is money, tech solutions can bring in a lot more of both. See how these five options might enhance the day-to-day operations of your business.

Virtual Meeting Tools – Nothing beats a face-to-face meeting when it comes to cementing a business partnership or getting a deal done. But with the use of virtual communication tools like Skype and GoToMeeting, business leaders can spend finite resources on in-person meetings in ways that provide the greatest return. For example, web conferences can be used to present preliminary proposals and, based on initial feedback, be modified for a later in-person presentation to clients in refined form.

Bookkeeping Applications – With so many viable and cost-effective accounting applications for small businesses, no one should be manually tracking income and expenses across multiple tables, spreadsheets and systems. Software and cloud-based options allow business decision-makers to create and track professional invoices, see payments and outstanding balances at a glance, enter bills and print checks, and reconcile for tax purposes.

Online Timesheet and Payroll Services – Online time-tracking solutions make it easy for employees to submit timesheets (and managers to approve them) from anywhere and everywhere. To choose the right system for your business, think about the ways different employees would use it and where their data will need to go, from payroll to billing to reporting. If you have an existing accounting program like QuickBooks in place, a payroll solution that syncs data and issues paychecks to employees can be a great option.

Social Media Tools – It’s a full-time job creating a strategy for a business’s social media presence, selecting the channels that best suit outlined goals, and then implementing a plan of action. Programs like Buffer and HootSuite help connect accounts so businesses can plan, schedule and post to multiple outlets at one time. Leaders can set up a schedule for sharing content based on the best time for it to be released. Plus, you get the chance to see comparative analytics that can improve future planning.

Customer Service Support – With tech applications like Desk.com and Zendesk, a business can be small but still have a big customer service presence. Help desk solutions can increase the number of positive interactions customers have with you company, improve their opinions of your brand, and raise their intent to purchase from your business. Support staff can field inquiries from email, phone calls, live chat or social media using one main system, giving customers the chance to choose their preferred form of interaction.

If accounting, timesheet or payroll technologies are on your list of productivity tools to investigate, Talley can provide you with important points to consider when choosing the right tool for your business. Contact us and we’ll be glad to assist.

Amazon first disrupted book stores, then retail chains and electronic stores. Who would they go after next? Earlier this week, in a move that most likely surprised few, Amazon revealed its new vision for the future of grocery stores: Amazon Go. The new service offered by the online retail giant allows customers to walk into the store, grab what they want and simply leave the building, skipping the lines and without pulling out your wallet or purse.

Amazon says the company brought together the most advanced machine learning and artificial intelligence to eliminate cash registers in a new 1,800-square-foot store located at 2131 Seventh Avenue in Seattle. The store is currently open to Amazon employees and is scheduled to open to the public in early 2017.

As seen in a video released by the company, shoppers use their Amazon Go app on their smartphones to login at a kiosk and then proceed to pick up items. The virtual system automatically registers every time a customer picks up or puts down an item and accounts are only charged once someone leaves the store with an item. According to Amazon, the store only offers a selection of ready-to-eat breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack options, as well as essentials such as bread and milk.

Reaction to the Amazon’s latest foray into grocery stores is split between people who welcome the added convenience and those concerned by what this means for cashier workers’ jobs. If this innovation is broadly accepted over time by retailers, it would without a doubt change the landscape of the retail industry, and in a big way.

Talley & Company and its affiliate, Group 11 Advisors, keep clients on track with how to properly leverage technology to meet the needs of their growing businesses.  From outsourced accounting solutions to management information, analysis and reporting, we are the premier business consulting practice to entrepreneurs and their closely-held businesses.

Call Talley & Company today to see how technology can be an asset to your business and not just an expense.

Here’s something you might not know: Over 75,000 beers and 21,500 hot dogs are expected to be served during this year’s Super Bowl. But what happens when you mix the Denver Broncos, Carolina Panthers and a host stadium located deep in the heart of Silicon Valley? You get the most technologically advanced Super Bowl to date.
This Sunday, Levi’s Stadium plays host to the biggest prime time football event of the year: Super Bowl 50.  Given the fact that it is located in an area with a rich history of innovative technology, it’s only natural that the Santa Clara stadium would want to flex its technological muscles.
Levi’s Stadium has 400 miles of fiber and copper cable and 1,200 WiFi access points ready and waiting to  handle the data needs of a sold out crowd, all so fans at the big game can post selfies with their friends, snapchats of the latest play, and order food straight from their smart phones with the Super Bowl app. “We built this stadium based on three pillars,” Al Guido, the 49ers’ chief operating officer said, “technology, sustainability and the fan experience.”
Levi’s Stadium boasts 10 times the bandwidth the NFL mandates at other stadiums, and was battle tested last March when the stadium played host to WrestleMania 31. The “Super Bowl” of wrestling saw more than 76,000 fans take to their smart phones to the tune of 4.3 terabytes of data. That’s the data equivalent of downloading more than 68,000 hours of music. Stadium officials predict that this year’s data usage during the championship game will top last year’s Super Bowl record of 6.4 terabytes set in Arizona.
Everyone remembers the power outage during Super Bowl XLVII (aka the “Blackout Bowl”) that lasted more than half an hour.  On this Super Bowl Sunday, we’ll see if Levi’s Stadium’s network can handle the data-storm caused by all the smartphone-wielding football fanatics.
We’ll keep our fingers crossed.
Leading-edge businesses are partnering with The Talley Group to leverage technology to meet the needs of their growing businesses.  From IT infrastructure solutions to management information, analysis and reporting, we are the premier business consulting practice to entrepreneurs and their closely-held businesses.
For more information on how Talley can help your business leverage technology, contact us today.

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