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Working from home? Have you considered your ‘tech blind spots’?

Working from home in a small business can be thrilling - it's you proving yourself to the world, working your way.

Working from home? Have you considered your 'tech blind spots'?
Overlooking a few essential tech considerations can lead to a lot of trouble later on. Photo: Getty Images

It can be easy to let yourself get caught up in the excitement of making your own decisions.

However, when it comes to technology, we can often be sidelined by the essential considerations that hadn’t crossed our minds when going into business. 

Together with online telecommunications provider Zadarma, we identify some of the most common ‘tech blind spots’ that internationals encounter while working from home. 

Do you know how safe your online data is? Find out more

Securing your data

Staying safe online and securing your data is essential for anyone wanting to go into business. Fortunately, compared to even 10 years ago, keeping prying eyes away from confidential business data is much easier, even if you are in a place with a reputation for lax cybersecurity and hacking attacks. 

This is partly the fruit of bitter experience. Over the last two decades a number of data leaks, enabled by hackers, have resulted in the details of millions of customers being distributed online. This has included some of their most sensitive information, such as credit card details and medical records – exposing businesses to serious litigation. 

Consequently, the cybersecurity industry increasingly focuses on encryption, meaning that intercepted data is unreadable without the right credentials –hackers and other bad actors will just find a scrambled mess of letters and numbers. 

Therefore, encryption is built into most of the online products you use today, especially those used for business purposes. Email providers such as Gmail provide end-to-end encryption, as well as popular chat products such as WhatsApp, Signal, and Telegram. Even services that offer telephony over the internet, such as Zadarma, encrypt phone calls, so nobody can listen in. 

Ensure the online products that you use apply encryption and other security measures – such as two-factor authentication, where you must manually approve logins to services – and you can rest assured that your security needs are met, wherever you are in the world. 

Open access: VoIP technology makes business communication easier than ever. Photo: Getty Images

Keeping track of customers

As a small business operator, keeping track of your customers’ needs used to be quite tricky. Depending on your budget or size, this could depend on paper files, or a small database containing customer information. This wasn’t the most flexible or agile way of tracking customers and led to frustration on both sides. It was especially difficult for internationals, who didn’t have the space or resources to establish complex customer tracking systems. 

In the past decade, the business world has responded to this frustration and business need with the creation of Customer Relationship Management systems (CRMs) that allow constantly updated records of customer sales and queries to be used when communicating with clients. These database systems also allow outgoing communication to be targeted toward the right consumers, vastly reducing the amount of ‘spam’ customers receive from businesses – something that they are increasingly fed up with.

It’s safe to say that a CRM is now an essential tool for any small business, and one of the few that allow growth beyond a certain scale. There are now CRMs designed for businesses of any size, and there are also CRMs targeted at certain industries. Whatever your needs, there will be something that suits you. You may even like to consider an internet telephony package that comes with a custom CRM built-in, such as that provided by Zadarma

Discover Zadarma’s own custom-built CRM that includes functionality across multiple systems – making assisting and retaining your customers easier than ever

Weathering instability

Up until a few years ago, the measure of how successful a business was included its physical footprint – did it have a shopfront, and how complex were its communications or IT infrastructure?  Small businesses often found it hard to accurately visualize their own success in comparison. 

Recent events have rendered that idea moot. The coronavirus pandemic, overseas conflicts, and economic instability have meant that businesses have had to be flexible to survive. A recent Axios article mentioned earlier found that in some US cities, four out of five physical businesses had closed during the pandemic.

Where businesses have boomed is in the online space instead, as services have arrived to replace physical systems and products with digital equivalents. 

One revolutionary product taking businesses online is internet telephony, known widely as Voice over Internet Protocol, or ‘VoIP’. VoIP technology has meant that the types of phone exchange or ‘PBX’ found at the centre of physical businesses can now be replicated in an online manner – calls can be redirected across town, or across continents to team members. 

This is especially important for internationals, who may be part of remote teams. Also important for internationals is that VoIP  allows for the use of ‘virtual phone numbers’, making setting up phone numbers in different countries incredibly cheap. Internationals going into business can now ensure a global presence, without a massive cost, vastly increasing their customer base.

In 2022, there are a wide variety of VoIP and PBX providers, each offering a wide range of services that mean that those wanting to start a small business no longer need to outlay a significant cost to get started. 

One such provider is Zadarma, whose VoIP and online PBX solutions have worked seamlessly for millions of customers since 2006. They have ensured that businesses have secure, robust fully-featured telephony networks that bring customer data to their fingertips, effortlessly – removing one of the major obstacles for internationals wanting to go into business in 2022. 

Zadarma frees your business from physical networks and international borders, while keeping your data safe – explore solutions that fit your needs today

TECHNOLOGY

Malaga to trial Spain’s first self-driving bus

Spain’s first self-driving bus will begin to take public passengers from this Saturday, February 20th.

Malaga to trial Spain's first self-driving bus
Image: Largeroliker / WikiCommons

Created as part of the AutoMOST R + D + I project in participation with Avanza bus company and Malaga City Council, the 12-metre electric bus features autonomous driving technology and will be a revolutionary addition to the transport system.

The mayor of Malaga, Francisco de la Torre, companied by the president of the Port of Malaga Authority, Carlos Rubio, and the general director of Avanza, Valentin Alonso were the first to ride in this driverless bus.

Mayor de la Torre said “Malaga has been a pioneer in creating ways to improve life in the city”. “We were also the first city to implement contactless cards on buses,” he added.

The self-driving bus is the first of its kind to circulate in real traffic and will be in operation on line 90 from the Maritime Station in the port area to the Paseo del Parque in the front of the City Hall.

Malaga will become the first European city to implement this new autonomous driving technology in a bus, which is also environmentally friendly, run fully on electricity and which produces zero emissions.

The city council said in a statement that this move reinforces Malaga’s commitment to sustainable mobility and the use of new technologies adapted to transport.

In previous projects, self-driving tests have only been carried out using smaller vehicles, not the standard 12-metre buses that are in daily circulation around the city.

12-metre buses are the world standard, so in theory it will be possible to implement this same type of technology in other models of the same size around the world.

In order for the technology to work, Malaga City Council has invested 180,000 euros in smart traffic lights, which communicate with the bus telling it when to go and stop.

Initially the self-driving bus will run for three weeks, but the traffic lights will remain in place, allowing for the implementation of other self-driving systems in the future, such as driverless cars.

For the next three weeks, residents can ride the self-driving bus completely free of charge. It will operate from Saturday February 20th to March 13th, from Tuesdays to Saturdays 9:30am to 2:30pm.

You can book a ticket on the bus in advance by visiting www.emtmalaga.es

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