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Data Privacy – Why Users Should Care and How the Tech Industry Should Safeguard Data – ReadWrite

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Nigel Cannings


It is probably obvious to most people that certain personal information should be tightly protected — especially bank details, health records, and passwords. The motivation might be to protect us from criminal activity, embarrassment, or just because it is not anyone else’s business. Users should care about data privacy — and the tech industry should safeguard your data.

It’s essential to understand that ALL personal data is now the fuel of the digital economy.

And that means that there is an entire industry worth billions of dollars devoted to finding everything out about YOU. Your friends. Your shopping habits. Where you live and who you live with. Everything is up for grabs and harnessed for one simple reason.  To make it easier to target you with adverts persuading you to buy things you might not purchase otherwise. 

Data Privacy – Why Users Should Care and How the Tech Industry Should Safeguard Data 

We all know about adverts that follow us around the Internet (a process known as remarketing). Many people have stories about how a conversation with someone about buying something or maybe seeing a movie, somehow led to an advert about it.

They are convinced that their phone is listening to everything they are saying. And, your phone IS listening – but not for the reasons you think. Actually, it’s down to the incredible power of today’s predictive algorithms. They probably know more about what you will want to do or buy next than you do. Based on billions and billions of interactions observed from other people just like you.

Some big life and tech industry questions

The big question is: if you know that your “important” information is protected, does tracking matter? Should you care if your other data is being used to track you? Especially if it results in free or low-priced apps that make your life easier or more pleasurable. Be it Facebook, Instagram, Gmail or Uber.

The first issue is simply a very human one. “I’m just not sure that I’m that comfortable with someone having access to everything that I’m doing.” No one reads 1984 and thinks that seems like a wonderful way to live. It just feels wrong.

There are real and practical data issues that need to be addressed.

There is a lot more at play than simply being sold a new appliance. We now know that democracy itself can be manipulated by the very technology that also sells us washing powder.

1960’s Simulamatics Corporation

The idea is not new. It actually goes back to the early 60s and the rise of the Simulamatics Corporation. It came up with the idea of identifying groups of people and computerizing them so that their behavior could be predicted.

The computer power and availability of data was a fraction of that available today. But the idea was there. And if you believe the Simulmatics Corporation, their data and predictions were enough to forecast and swing elections. (For more information on the dawn of this type of data science, read the fascinating If Then by Jill Lepore.)

Cambridge Analytica

Fast forward to the present day, and we are still feeling the effects of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Where the process of mining publicly available data, made it possible to push one country to break with its largest trading partner. And another to elect the worst or best President it has ever had.   

One wryly amusing side story from the Brexit campaign is that contrary to popular belief, Cambridge Analytica had no involvement in that campaign at all, according to a three-year probe by the Information Commissioner.

However, they did find that “there are systemic vulnerabilities in our democratic systems” caused by the availability of personal data. That alone should be enough to make us demand that our data is better protected and regulated.

Things are changing. Slowly. And not always in ways where the motives are entirely transparent.

Convenience – not always benevolent

Take two recent examples – Apple vs. Facebook and Google against everyone else.

Apple vs. Facebook 

In its latest update to its mobile operating system, iOS 14, Apple has released a new security feature that centers around the IDFA (Identifier for Advertisers — Look it up — too good to miss).

Oh, Joy!! This is a unique identifier for every iPhone and iPad, which allows advertisers to track the effectiveness of their advertising. Apple has decided to make this an opt-in feature for users. It supplies a one-time pop-up box that asks users whether they want to be tracked by Facebook or not. Verizon has made it so on their phone system — you can opt-out.

On the face of it, it seems obvious, why would you wouldn’t want to be tracked?

Mark Zuckerberg, not perhaps someone you would normally feel sympathy with, says this change “threatens the personalized ads that millions of small businesses rely on to find and reach customers.”

The reality is that Facebook also owns Instagram and WhatsApp, and Apple owns iMessage. 

Facebook sees the changes, not as a way to protect consumers, but to cripple Facebook. “Apple has every incentive to use their dominant platform position to interfere with how our apps and other apps work, which they regularly do to preference their own.” 

Google vs. Everyone Else

Google controls the world’s most popular browser, Chrome, and has announced that it is implanting sweeping changes to “third-party cookies.”

These are the nasties that track you across the internet. When your browser knows that you were recently on Site A, looking at a particular product, it can shove an advert at you to tempt you to buy the same thing. 

The proposal is that these cookies will be replaced with a type of group ID. This identifies you as part of a particular “tribe” of people who Google thinks have similar interests. Google will supposedly stop third-party cookies — SOMETIME NEXT YEAR — 2022. They will already have all they need in their data storage by then.

We only have to wait another year for the implementation by Google

It sounds fantastic because third-party tracking is considered to be one of the most intrusive aspects of web browsing. Why? Because it sprays your data around the internet in an unregulated manner, leaking privacy with every new site you visit.

So — after another year — the change will dramatically limit the ability of almost every company on the internet to target specific ads at you. Because they will no longer be able to rely on collecting data second-hand through third-party cookies.  

Best for Google

Except for Google. Who is one of the largest collectors of *first* party data on the internet? Google collects data from your searches through Gmail and Google Maps. If the company’s ability to target you is better, and everyone else’s is worse, surely this means that more money gets spent on Google ads, at the expense of other advertisers?

What both cases show is that it is unlikely big tech companies will act in your best interest when it comes to the management of personal data.

Especially if that personal data is what fuels their bottom line. Is a degree of regulation and perhaps some technology rethinking needed?

Europe has led the way to protect private data — GDPR

Europe has led the way in terms of the regulation of private data, and the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) is probably the most comprehensive data privacy law ever enacted.

But does GDPR have any real teeth?

It is estimated that $9 billion was spent in preparation for GDPR. For the last calendar year, DLA Piper estimates that fines across the whole of Europe stand at about 114m Euros.

With the enormous focus on data privacy — that fines can be up to 4% of global turnover, it doesn’t seem that GDPR hasn’t quite got into its stride yet.

Data Privacy – Consumer — why you should care. in the

The future of data privacy probably rests in the hands of the consumer. And the willingness of all of us to pay for the services that are subsidized by the money made from our data.

Tim Berners-Lee, famously the inventor of the World Wide Web, has gone on a mission to reclaim personal data with the idea of data “Pods.” These pods put personal data is in the hands of the individual, and are only handed out on a very selective basis. For this to work, we need to rearchitect the internet. And consider how far convenience trumps privacy.  

Think about something as simple as email. Who doesn’t love being able to go on to Gmail and search for email? Or start a new email and have Google suggest whole sentences for you?

All of this connection relies (today) on Google having full access to your data.

What about Alexa? How great to walk into the kitchen, and switch on the radio. But more than 20 times a day, that same Alexa device is activating and sending data to Amazon accidentally: And somewhere in an office block in Romania, someone is listening to it.

To secure our data, we must start to think more about local processing of data. Including searchable encryption and homomorphic data processing. All ways of minimizing data leakage. It can all be done. And we can do much of it right now. 

But it needs someone to pay. For all our talk about how we want our data to stay “ours,” it is our data that is picking up the tab right now.

Image Credit: andres ayrton; pexels; thank you!

Nigel Cannings

CTO at Intelligent Voice

Nigel Cannings is the CTO at Intelligent Voice. He has over 25 years’ experience in both Law and Technology, is the founder of Intelligent Voice Ltd and a pioneer in all things voice. Nigel is also a regular speaker at industry events not limited to NVIDIA, IBM, HPE and AI Financial Summits.

Politics

How to Find a Professional Design Team

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Low-Cost Business Ideas for 2022


A business that wants to grow and scale will need a design team. According to Firstsiteguide, 70% of small-to-mid-sized enterprises invest more in their digital presence. As companies began to move online, the demand for user-friendly software to attract large numbers of customers has increased.

If existing enterprises require designers to create a website or application, startups also hire specialists to develop a product design. Software is essential for sales and recognition, so managers carefully approach personnel selection. If you’re looking for an experienced design team and want to know how to choose the best one, check out the tips for finding the perfect candidates.

When to Look for Designers

The online market is constantly improving, and with new digital features, customers are no longer willing to collaborate on the old model. To avoid losing your clients, you should keep up with innovations: update a legacy interface, introduce new communication ways and think about a payment system. Rapid adaptation gives the company a guarantee of maintaining sales and image.

Selling software needs a convenient and simple design, but only some entrepreneurs decide to improve it. To determine if it’s time to involve a designer in the project, analyze your situation:

  • you do not have a selling website design or your product design;
  • you are constantly selling your product or service using the software;
  • you are not satisfied with your design quality at the moment;
  • your potential users are not willing to interact with the content;
  • your product design is different from the design of the application.

If you are familiar with these issues, your business needs an experienced team of designers who will analyze the product and create a modern structure for productive work with clients and partners.

Types of Design Teams

Before starting the search for specialists, managers decide on cooperation options. There are two types of employees: in-house and outsourced. Each has its pros and cons, making a choice more difficult.

In-house Designers

In-house specialists are full-time employees engaged only in the company’s project. They are fully involved in internal workflows and communicate closely with the team. In-house designers understand the product they work with, its values, and its philosophy. It is much easier for the manager to control the result of such an employee and set new tasks at no additional cost.

In-house designers are well-versed only in a particular industry, so tasks from other niches can cause them difficulty. Also, constant work on one project can lead an employee to burnout and dismissal. The primary in-house designer disadvantage is the expense of sickness and vacation pay. While outsourcing teams only budget for working hours, a full-time employee also counts on vacation pay.

Outsourcing Team

The outsourcing team is specialists who come to the company for a specific project or task. They help businesses free up time for more important things or help with tasks businesses can’t handle. Each outsourcing specialist offers a wide range of knowledge as they constantly interact with different niches.

A significant advantage of companies providing outsourcing or outstaff services is strict personnel selection. They choose only experienced employees and introduce them to the modern features of the digital environment. Outsourced teams do not require payment in the event of an employee’s illness or vacation. If one of the employees falls ill or is unsuitable for your project, they replace them with another in a short time.

The main disadvantage of outsourcing is the price. You need to pay for each hour of work of each specialist, reducing the quality of cost control. Also, you will be unable to assign additional tasks to an outsourced designer in other areas, which sometimes burdens internal processes. Outsourcing workers cannot be trained for themselves, as they come to your company for a certain period and work only on the agreed tasks.

Signs of a Professional Design Team

Meeting future colleagues for the first time can take time to determine their competence fully. Since candidates want to make a good impression, they will highlight their good qualities while glossing over their flaws. Catch the details to avoid falling for this trick and make the right decision.

Creative Portfolio

The portfolio of a professional design team should impress every beholder. And this does not apply to individual works but to the entire portfolio. When selecting candidates, check the quality of each design rather than picking only the best.

To understand your compatibility with potential employees, find a project similar to yours in their examples. If the design team already has experience in your industry, they know how to interact with your audience and hook them for a successful sale. Experienced specialists will tell you about your niche’s design features, what design details they can add to software development, and which ones you should avoid.

Teamwork Ability

If you are hiring an outsourcing team for a project or using an outstaff, you need to determine how these people will interact with your full-time employees. Since designers communicate closely with developers and project managers, they will have to find a common language to understand and support each other. At the interview, ask your future designers about their attitude to working in a team with employees from different departments.

Organizational Skills

The outsourcing design team is fully responsible for the work specified in the contract. The project implementation is a long, complex process, but the specialist must adhere to the designated deadlines. The ability to self-organize and write a clear action plan to avoid going over budget is an important criterion when selecting web designers.

A person’s design skills, as well as managerial skills, play a significant role in the successful completion of a project. Experienced workers will competently build an action plan, and you will be calm about the timing of work completion.

Continuous Improvement

One of the vital signs of a good specialist in any field is the desire to grow and develop. Progress does not stand still, and the digital environment offers new solutions for IT engineers. Since any leader wants to make gradual progress in their product, they will opt for a designer who wants to learn something new and implement it into current projects.

An experienced worker will make changes to avoid confusing the client and let them get used to the latest software version. Thanks to the constant improvement of the user experience, the business will not only scale but also increase sales.

Where to Find a Professional Design Team

Finding a reliable outsourcing development team is a manager’s first and most challenging task. Many entrepreneurs need help finding professionals with extensive experience in their industry and how to make sure that they are experts.

The best way to search quickly is word of mouth. Ask for recommendations from your friends or colleagues who will tell you the right decision. You can also search the Internet yourself. The most popular sites for designers are Clutch, Dribbble, and Behance. These resources provide complete information about the company, customer reviews, ratings, and examples of work. Having found an attractive offer, you can read reviews about the design team on third-party resources and conclude.

Hiring employees is a responsible job that must be approached with caution. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to learn as much as you can about designers’ expertise. Hiring the right people can build a successful business and achieve your goals faster than your competitors.

Featured Image Credit: Provided by the Author; Thank you!

Elina Nazarova

Chief Marketing Officer of Powercode

Elina is accountable for digital strategy development and implementation. She is certified in business and startups development and has more than 5 years of experience in content writing and management. Her core belief is that well-designed digital transformation is able to lead any business to success.

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No Cookies? Retention.com Helps Provide Privacy-First Actionable Data

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Brad Anderson


The ongoing struggle over safe data management continues to heat up. Third-party cookies have had a bad rap for years, and while their future for providing actionable data remains murky, it doesn’t look good.

This leaves businesses scrambling to look for new, more ethical ways to collect and utilize customer data. This is especially the case in an information-first environment that has no intention of reducing the importance of analytics going forward.

Retention.com is a revolutionary e-commerce retention marketing solutions provider that has been sounding the alarm on the demise of third-party cookies for a while now. In response, the innovative brand has developed industry-leading identity resolution technology. This offers timely aid to companies looking for alternative customer data management solutions.

Retention.com has created a unique, user-friendly approach to first-party actionable data. Before considering its impact, though, let’s start with the major issue facing marketers at the moment: the slow but steady death of third-party cookies.

The Delayed (But Inevitable) Doom of Third-Party Cookies

Digital marketing has always relied on cookies. This browser-based form of tracking analyzes basic user behaviors, from dwell time and frequency of site visits to past purchases.

Sometimes brands gather this information directly from a consumer for internal use. Often, though, it’s collected by others and utilized across various other websites without consent — something called third-party cookies.

Third-party cookies are an unpopular form of data collection.

In fact, they’re not just unpopular. They’re unsafe, which is why Google has announced it will phase them out in the name of greater data protection and consumer security. However, the search engine giant has delayed this deprecation process to 2024 (as of the time of this writing).

Even with the delay, the removal of third-party cookies still poses very real concerns for e-commerce businesses. Any company that doesn’t want to be caught flat-footed by the shift when it does finally take place needs to find an alternative to third-party data now.

The Struggle to Capture Actionable Data from Customers

For those who lean on third-party data to market and engage with consumers, the impending doom of third-party cookies is a monumental concern.

Even for those who don’t tap the unsavory data source, it still leaves them with the challenge of capturing customer data first-hand — something referred to as first-party data. Brands can glean first-party data through various tools like surveys and sign-up forms, but these are only effective up to a certain point.

For instance, consider a customer who visits an e-commerce site from their desktop computer. The visitor ignores a request to sign up for their newsletter. They start looking at products and then leave without making a purchase.

They could be at any point in the sales journey. Perhaps they are discovering information on a sales page, adding items to their cart, or even looking for a promotional code. Regardless, if they leave before clicking that all-important “complete purchase” button, they disappear into the ether. They leave no possible way of following up.

To make matters worse, they might hop back onto the site later from their phone, and the company wouldn’t even know that it’s them. The visitor would have to start the purchase process all over again, too, making the likelihood of completing the activity that much lower.

All of this can be resolved with actionable data.

When a brand has basic customer data, it can reserve its clients’ past activity. It then catalogs their preferences and streamlines future purchases. With third-party data on the way out and a cookieless future ahead, though, companies must find effective ways to collect first-party data if they want to boost ROI.

That’s where Retention.com comes into the picture.

Retention.com Streamlines First-Party Data Collection

Retention.com has developed a solution to first-party data collection in the form of its identity resolution software, Reclaim. This addresses a key area of underperforming ROI that the e-commerce retention marketing solutions provider refers to as “abandonment revenue.”

The definition of the term is in the name. When potential customers abandon a sales funnel, they leave unrealized revenue behind. When a company doesn’t have its website visitors’ personal information, it can’t follow up or provide personalized interactions.

Reclaim boosts abandonment revenue as much as 10 times over. The software does this by quickly and effectively tying unidentified customers to first-party cookies. This turns anonymous e-commerce site users into bonafide, real-world individuals.

The ability to identify who is on a site can have a dramatic effect on engagement (and consequentially ROI) by triggering different activities, such as cart abandonment emails and SMS flows. This leads to more browsing and greater dwell time.

One of the key factors of Retention.com’s revolutionary marketing software is its ease of use. Reclaim doesn’t require days of setup and integration. It takes hours to implement the code and proliferate it across an e-commerce site. This creates a quick-and-easy, set-it-and-forget-it solution that businesses can use to start tapping into their abandonment revenue streams. The software is even designed to scale along with businesses as they grow.

No Cookies, No Problem

As third-party cookies continue to die a slow death, every e-commerce business faces the prospect of a dramatic change to the status quo. The question is, which enterprises will be able to find creative solutions to help them operate in a cookieless environment?

Retention.com offers a simple, effective way to outsource the issue of first-party data collection. Its Reclaim software takes less than a day to implement and integrates with countless e-commerce applications.

This fast application leads to near-immediate results in the form of boosted abandonment revenue. Customers begin receiving SMS and email communications through ethical first-party cookie connections that offer personalized messages and encourage results-oriented engagement.

To top it off, the service is affordable, and customers only pay for incremental performance. Retention.com even offers its “Flow Insurance” as a 100% guaranteed refund if clients don’t see their abandonment flow revenue improve.

From the ease of use to its impressive impact, Retention.com’s software solutions are showing e-commerce companies that it’s perfectly possible to not just survive but thrive in a cookieless world.

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay; Pexels; Thank you!

Brad Anderson

Editor In Chief at ReadWrite

Brad is the editor overseeing contributed content at ReadWrite.com. He previously worked as an editor at PayPal and Crunchbase. You can reach him at brad at readwrite.com.

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What is Metaverse and How is it Changing AR/VR World?

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vr-augmented-reality


VR augmented reality has already been a mainstay of science fiction. The idea has been the subject of numerous works of fiction and popular media, but we are finally at the point where it can become a reality.

It’s safe to say that the Metaverse has been the subject of several discussions and arguments. While some see it as the future of technology, others dismiss it as nothing more than a fad. The reality is that the Metaverse is here to stay, and its effects on everything from our mental health to our ability to do our jobs will be profound.

The Metaverse: what is it?

The term “metaverse” refers to a network of socially-connected 3D virtual worlds. It’s defined as a simulated online setting that uses VR augmented reality, blockchain, and social media concepts to create environments that seem very much like the actual world but allow for more nuanced human participation.

Everything can be found there, from sports to conventions to retail therapy. Putting on a headset and logging into the virtual reality portal is the only way into Metaverse.

Moreover, Mark Zuckerberg, creator of Meta (formerly known as Facebook), estimates that it will take five to 10 years for the core features of the Facebook metaverse to become standard.

On the other hand, the Metaverse is growing at an astounding rate.

Even though not everyone has access to them, ultra-fast broadband connections, virtual reality headsets, and always-on online worlds are now a reality.

Now we will examine the two most distinguishing features of a Metaverse platform:

Interactivity

The Metaverse tech would combine elements of vr augmented reality. Space and time in a Metaverse app should feel roughly equivalent to real life.

Visual, aural, and kinetic interaction modalities are all possible in the real world. Similar digital collaborative opportunities are anticipated from a Metaverse platform.

Interoperable

One of the requirements for a successful Metaverse software is that it can function on multiple Metaverse systems (s).

Creating applications for the Metaverse hints at a wide range of untested technology possibilities.

The developers, whether newcomers to the Metaverse or established figures with deep roots, might create either restrictive or flexible features.

Furthermore, there is an abundance of resources that can be used to bring this envisioned future into being. Unreal Engine, Unity, Amazon Sumerian, Blender, and Maya are just a few examples of such development environments.

Learn more about the practical applications of the Metaverse and the benefits it provides by looking at examples from other industries.

According to Bloomberg Intelligence, the Metaverse technology market could be worth $2.5 trillion by 2030, up from a projected $800 billion in 2025.

The sector is getting the outside stimulation and attention it needs to change both vr augmented reality technology and the future. Let’s look at some pioneering initiatives that have led to the development of Metaverse tools.

For example, the Metaverse Rules contain the following:

Only one Metaverse exists. All people should have access to the Metaverse.

The Metaverse exists beyond everyone’s control. The Metaverse must be accessible most of the time.

Most importantly, the Metaverse doesn’t care about your hardware. Both the internet and networks are part of the Metaverse.

When you put on your VR headset, you enter a virtual reality (VR) environment called the Metaverse.

It has enormous potential in many areas, including retail, business, and the workplace. In the Metaverse, real and virtual worlds are fused using tools like VR augmented reality (AR), describing a vision of a linked 3D digital global (AR).

Virtual worlds like Decentraland and online gaming platforms, like The Sandbox, are only two examples of existing metaverses. Participation in the Metaverse is growing at an unprecedented rate in the game industry.

According to Participation in the Metaverse is growing at an unprecedented rate in the game industry according to 65 % of the global population has participated in media extravagance, such as viewing a television show, movie, or premiere within a video game or working together to create a live concert.

Who Uses the Metaverse the Most?

Sixty-nine percent of humans have engaged in social activity, meeting new people, attending a group gathering, or visiting a virtual world while playing a game.

Almost three-quarters (72%) of people on Earth have engaged in some form of financial activity within the Metaverse. This can include the purchase of virtual goods, the purchase of virtual money, the purchase of digital goods from digital markets, or the purchase or sale of other gamers.

Augmented Reality (AR) in the Virtual World

Market leaders like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg are betting big on the potential of the “embodied internet” that is the Metaverse. It’s either a virtual reality experience or something that can be brought into your life (via AR).

The popularity of virtual worlds is on the rise, but the actual Metaverse may be the future wave regarding augmented reality.

The most natural way to supply digital content to the human perceptual system is to incorporate it directly into our physical surroundings.

How Does Your Brain Make a Unified Representation to You?

Your brain creates a unified representation of the arena based on information gleaned from your senses of sight, hearing, touch, and movement.

As long as virtual factors are powerfully recognized in your environment in terms of space and time, this is possible with augmented reality, even with reasonably poor visual constancy.

Now that our ability to judge distance (or intensity perception) is refined, it is not hard to believe this.

Augmented reality will inevitably become the norm. It may replace smartphones and computers as the dominant interface to digital content, and it will undoubtedly eclipse virtual reality as the primary doorway to the Metaverse.

Augmented reality may give us superpowers, allowing us to change our surroundings with a finger or an eye.

VR Augmented Reality in the Metaverse

Customers can now bridge the gap between their digital and physical worlds by entering the Metaverse thanks to virtual reality.

We will be able to explore new locations and make reports more accessible to more people by using virtual versions of people, objects, and landscapes.

In a nutshell, it’s an alternate reality where you can do all sorts of things like go to class, work, a concert, or shop without ever leaving your house. Virtual reality allows users to experience events, shop, and learn about new opportunities. Augmented and mixed reality, on the other hand, will open hitherto unimaginable possibilities for enhancing the physical world around us.

There are already add-ons to the XR landscape, such as haptic commenting tools, that will allow us to feel the handshakes and embraces of our contacts no matter where we are physically located.

Featured Image Credit: Provided by the Author; Thank you!

Siva Subrahmanyam

SEO Analyst at PlugXR

A SEO Analyst at PlugXR, I manage the company’s search engine optimization strategy

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