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.
The latest reports from Yahoo indicate that it plans to spin off its core business and leave little else behind, while allowing Yahoo shareholders to keep their stake in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba. Yahoo’s most recent move underscores the profound changes the internet environment has underwent and how Yahoo failed to adjust to change. Why does this all matter? Entrepreneurs can learn a valuable lesson from Yahoo’s inability to reinvent itself in the smartphone age.
For many people in the mid-1990s, Yahoo was the hub of the internet. After all, who didn’t have a Yahoo email address that we’re now too embarrassed to disclose the name of? (I’m sure a support group exists for all of us out there!) Fast forward twenty years later and the internet environment is almost unrecognizable when compared to Yahoo’s heyday. Since then, it has been overshadowed by internet companies (Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc.) better able to keep pace with the times.
Taking a Reactive vs. Proactive Approach to Change. Yahoo wasn’t turning a blind eye to the obvious changes the internet was experiencing. Google and Amazon rose to prominence during the same dot-com boom as Yahoo, yet they now look radically different. Whereas Yahoo focused on its core business and tried to reactively adapt it to the change, other internet companies forged ahead into uncharted territory: Google took a proactive approach and expanded past search, building successful smartphone software, email and word processing services, and the very popular browser, Google Chrome. Amazon, not satisfied with being the largest e-retailer in the world, became a streaming video/music provider and a provider of global internet infrastructure that other businesses pay to utilize.
The lesson being that failure to innovate and keep up with the changing times can humble even the largest of companies. While Yahoo concentrated on its core business, these other companies were pioneering new services and products. Google, Amazon, and Facebook have all taken a proactive approach to the rapid pace of online change, in part because they have been helping drive that change themselves by constantly innovating.
Talley & Company understands the challenges facing entrepreneurs with generating and protecting income. Whether you’re looking to improve your profitability, build your brand through a business transaction, or wish to guarantee a legacy for your family, Talley & Company is the consulting and financial services firm dedicated to strategic business solutions that deliver meaningful results.
The FBI and Justice Department are investigating whether or not officials associated with the St. Louis Cardinals gained unauthorized access to networks belonging to the Houston Astros, a rival baseball team. If the accusations hold true it would represent the first known case of corporate espionage through network hacking between professional sports teams, according to The New York Times. And it all happened because of poor password practices.
The cardinal rule of passwords: They should be unique, secret, and changed often. It appears Mr. Luhnow ignored these principles and simply reused the network passwords he used at the Cardinals for his new program at the Astros.
The Cardinals’ front office might have used Luhnow’s old Cardinals network password to access the Astros’ network after Luhnow’s departure. Through this access, the Cardinals could have obtained valuable inside information about the players the Astros are looking to recruit, potential offers and opened doors to poach desirable recruits with counteroffers — potentially changing the course of the season.
Most people associate cyber espionage or data breaches as a complex endeavor involving malware, Trojans, phishing attacks and teams of hackers that target “big business” and the government. That misconception is the result of the media’s focus on high-profile data breaches involving large corporations and government organizations, but the truth is that it is a larger problem that affects all organizations, both large and small.
Many small and mid-sized organizations have a limited understanding of the complex digital environments they’re dealing with and the repercussions of not properly protecting themselves against online threats: Cybercrime costs businesses $445,000,000,000 each year, with most of the damage done in the aftermath of an attack. Potential fines, loss of revenue, and hiring people to fix security issues can have a serious impact on a company’s bottom line, especially given the fact it takes an average of 32 days to resolve a single cyber-crime incident.
It’s critical that 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.