Author Archives: Almaz Technology

About Almaz Technology

Almaz Technology is a pioneer in the Offline & Online Software Solutions & Consultancy. Wael Al-Sharafi is a Yemeni Software Developer and as the founder and CEO of Almaz Technology Wael has been hooked on software development since he was 16, when he got his own Personal Computer (PC).He is comfortable coding many programming languages. And he has skills ranging from graphics and Windows Forms to many web development technologies. Since then he’s worked as software developer for Almaz Technology in yemen . for several years of computer experience Wael is a principal software development engineer for Almaz Technology and an information Systems Technology. He has worked on various software windows applications and mobile solutions and buildings advanced user experiences in microsoft visual studio. Wael became senior software developer.

The New Face of CRM: Customer Experience

The recent explosion in the popularity of handmade and customized goods is unsurprising. It’s the consumer’s somewhat predictable response to a market inundated with mass produced, generic items that fail to express individuality or make a buyer feel special in any way.

The desirability of unique goods has much to do with one of our most basic psychological needs, a sense of identity. If I make the decision to spend money at your company, at the very least, I expect to feel that you acknowledge me as an individual and that you are willing to communicate with me as a person and not as a number on your contact list.

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It’s this need that is driving a revolution in the way that savvy companies are thinking about CRM and the “customer experience”. Research recently published by Gartner suggests that CRM applications will be one of the primary drivers of the increase in software spend throughout 2013 and into 2014. It’s fast emerging as the top software investment priority.

Key to this growth is a revised definition of CRM. One that takes advantage of the myriad new media options available to develop more meaningful customer relationships. So what has CRM become and how can you stay ahead of the curve?

Don’t just talk, engage.

With the rise of social media, engagement with your customer base has become more accessible than ever, but this certainly doesn’t mean that more of us are doing it correctly. Successfully engaging with your customers hinges using the right channel to share relevant and valuable information and making it easy and worthwhile for customers to reply and interact with you. Whatever channel you use to talk to your customers, make sure it allows them to talk back.

A need for speed.

Immediacy is a luxury that we have become accustomed to, so much so that leaving customers waiting for information for even just a few minutes too long can be a deal breaker. Consider the time value of the messages you send and pick your channels accordingly. Use SMS, for example, to send time-sensitive alerts and service updates and use email when communicating longer messages or when sharing images.

Relationships, not transactions.

Key to building customer relationships that transcend simple trade is offering value, over and above your product or service. Maybe you have access to important information that you can share with your customers? Perhaps you could use existing resources to enrich or simplify their lives? Something as simple as a quick SMS warning of low stock levels or a delivery delay can circumvent frustration and go a long way to making customers feel appreciated and cared for.

CRM has become about so much more than answering phones and making deliveries on time. Now customers expect to feel acknowledged as individuals and communicated with on their own terms. They want personalised, relevant information, and they want it immediately.

You can meet these new demands by pairing the right messages with the right channels, by adapting and learning from relevant customer feedback and by equipping yourself with the tools needed to accurately monitor and report on the success or failure of your customer interactions.

 

 

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The Benefits of Automating Time & Attendance Management

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If you are still using time-cards or time-sheets to track the hours worked by your employees, then listen closely: the days of tallying time-cards and manually entering that data into your payroll system are long-gone. Automated time and attendance systems are inexpensive yet offer tremendous benefits to employers, employees, and payroll service providers.

Benefits of Time & Attendance Management

Actionable Business Intelligence

Data can flow seamlessly from your time-clock to your payroll system in real-time, which in turn yields actionable business intelligence. With clear insight into how many hours employees have worked, management can make smarter business decisions around overtime, scheduling and time off. In short, automating time and attendance management empowers businesses to improve efficiency and save costs (like overtime) simultaneously.

Streamlined Management

Managers and payroll administrators can easily review, approve and submit employee attendance information from centralized, online dashboards. It’s faster, easier, and creates an accessible, searchable data trail that can be used for strategic planning or called upon when questions or disputes arise. Meanwhile, employees can enter and submit information more flexibly, making it more likely that they’ll stay up-to-date.

Time and Cost Savings

What if employees could request time-off via the internet and managers could approve these requests and view their department’s work schedules on-line? An automated process collapses the time required versus manual options, and the savings accelerate quickly. Additionally, the costs of archiving and storing paper documents will vanish.

Simplifying Complexity

These systems can even handle complex accruals for granting paid time off (PTO), allowing employees to see how much PTO they have available at all times. Interestingly – and disturbingly – some studies indicate that companies without automated time and attendance management overpay their employees due to human error. Most automated systems are sophisticated enough to spot potential errors and alert users. Plus, automated time and attendance management can satisfy complicated regulatory concerns, because most offer built-in tracking to make sure your business stays within the boundaries of relevant legislation.

Conclusion

If you want to slash the time and difficulty it takes to process payroll while improving the tools available to your employees and managers, contact your payroll provider to see which automated time and attendance system they offer. Considering the improved productivity and flexibility, reduced error rate and elimination of many costs, you and your employees will be glad you did.

10 Online Marketing Predictions to Inform Your Strategy

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Business marketing last year was like a roller coaster ride. We saw new platforms, new channels, new roles and new tools pop up all over the place. It’s as though innovation and growth is speeding up all around us and we are surrounded by opportunities to reach new customers and delight them.

It’s been an exciting year for sure. But what’s next?

I thought it would be fun and informative to put together a top 10 list of marketing trends to keep an eye on. Combined, these trends should make for huge marketing advantages for our companies, and a chance to grow ourselves, as marketers.

1. Omni-channel advantage. This past year we saw huge developments in mobile analytics and mobile marketing, which combines in 2014, enabling us to take advantage of omni-channel marketing.

This year, entrepreneurs and marketers need to go beyond just responsive web design and creating supplementary mobile apps to ask ourselves: how are our companies meeting the mobile challenge?

We need to be cross-device compatible and raise the bar on mobile customer experience. Are you taking advantage of the capturing the data and leveraging it for personalization? This year it’s all about the omni-channel marketing advantage.

2. Smart objects take over. By now, you’ve likely heard about the Internet of Things but are you participating as a consumer or a marketer? As business managers, we should keep an eye on how these smart objects change the consumer’s expectations around user experience and engagement.

As new gadgets and technologies emerge this year, there will be new ways to leverage these smart objects in our marketing campaigns and more effectively reach our audiences.

3. Content marketing continues to explode. We spent the last year getting our company onboard with inbound marketing and content creation as the way to grow our businesses. From that we saw new tools built, new communities created and new resources emerge to help us make our case.

This next year will bring the solidification of this new arena through things like better content analytics and measurement, new job titles such as chief content officer, and new forms of content grow in popularity. I, for one, am most excited to see content marketing bring beautiful, original, inspiring stories to the masses.

4. Paid organic social amplification. This sounds like jargon, I know. But, finally, paid and organic marketing meet, fall in love, and have the most beautiful little baby: paid organic social amplification.

This year, marketers will turn their efforts and budgets toward paid marketing on social platforms. Twitter advertising, Facebook advertising, LinkedIn advertising are prime with readership and opportunity for us to meet our next customers. Newer platforms such as Pinterest. Google+ and Instagram will continue to open new ways for us to amplify our content in less intrusive ways to meet customer needs.

It’s like peanut butter and jelly. It just works. If you aren’t testing this out yet, jump on in there.

5. Influencer marketing is now part of your job. Rarely do I see a new channel sweep in, go mainstream, and become part of every marketer’s job. I would say these past few years we’ve seen the rise of social media, and then the mainstream adoption of it and now from that we are left with a huge opportunity to leverage influencer marketing. This year will bring teams dedicated to social outreach, outlandish influencer campaigns and — dare I say it — a turn toward offline. (Gasp!)

Marketers are now returning back to “thank you” gifts, hand written notes and tangibles to catch an influencers eye and build a relationship. We will see more of that in the coming year.

6. Visual web domination continues. I mentioned this in my prediction last year but beautiful design continues to flourish. Today’s consumer expects delightful and stunning experiences. Marketers need to raise the bar on their site experiences, product packaging, branding and user experience. No longer will functional design get a passing grade, now we must be functional, innovative and memorable.

How can you message your story visually? We must jump on to photo and video marketing and embrace the power it has to persuade and impress our communities. Design thinking is no longer optional — it’s a market advantage.

7. Loyalty marketing takes center stage. In one calendar year we’ve seen the biggest brands in the world announce their key focus is customer loyalty, we’ve seen loyalty teams pop up and marketers have scrambled to understand customer loyalty. We’ve seen a new type of loyalty arise, called reciprocal loyalty , in which not only are customers loyal to a brand through advocacy and brand support, but the brand is also investing back into the customer through rewards, personalized experiences and customer service.

In 2014 we will see this trend take center stage. A genuine investment in the customers that keep you in business? Sign me up.

8. Big data personalization. In three short years big data took over. Now that we understand its importance and have tools like Tableau available to us to democratize big data, marketers will begin leveraging these insights for hyper-targeting and personalization.

Things like cohort marketing (the ability to break your audience into like-minded segments), behavioral targeting (targeting based on customer actions) and sequencing (the ordering of campaigns to have the biggest impact) will be critical to your marketing campaign success. No more spray and pray marketing — big data has brought us the insights we needed to reach the right person at the right time with the right message. Marketing euphoria, unlocked.

9. Snippet storytelling. This year marketers will be challenged to take image and video marketing and tell beautiful stories in snippet form. Concise messaging, consistent branding and emotional content will be laced in everything we do. We will be expected to share a story faster and make that story digestible in emotion-provoking ways.

The copywriters, brand leads, and video ninja on your team will become your best friends. What will come of it? A flood of brilliant stories told in new mediums.

10. Rise of growth teams focused on innovation. This is the trend I’m looking forward to most. The biggest brands have growth teams and the rest of us are following suit. These teams are dedicated to innovation, rethinking protocol and growing new areas of the business. They are cross-departmental and given the resources to make a huge impact in a short amount of time. Marketers will be the nucleus of these teams, if not the leaders, given our performance-driven and creative experiences. Companies will continue to break the traditional marketing team structure and empower growth marketers to think big and, ultimately, win big.

GIS (geographic information system)

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A geographic information system (GIS) is a computer system for capturing, storing, checking, and displaying data related to positions on Earth’s surface. GIS can show many different kinds of data on one map. This enables people to more easily see, analyze, and understand patterns and relationships.

With GIS technology, people can compare the locations of different things in order to discover how they relate to each other. For example, using GIS, the same map could include sites that produce pollution, such as gas stations, and sites that are sensitive to pollution, such as wetlands. Such a map would help people determine which wetlands are most at risk.

GIS can use any information that includes location. The location can be expressed in many different ways, such as latitude and longitude, address, or ZIP code. Many different types of information can be compared and contrasted using GIS. The system can include data about people, such as population, income, or education level. It can include information about the land, such as the location of streams, different kinds of vegetation, and different kinds of soil. It can include information about the sites of factories, farms, and schools, or storm drains, roads, and electric power lines.

Data and GIS

Data in many different forms can be entered into GIS. Data that are already in map form can be included in GIS. This includes such information as the location of rivers and roads, hills and valleys. Digital, or computerized, data can also be entered into GIS. An example of this kind of information is data collected by satellites that show land use—the location of farms, towns, or forests. GIS can also include data in table form, such as population information. GIS technology allows all these different types of information, no matter their source or original format, to be overlaid on top of one another on a single map.

Putting information into GIS is called data capture. Data that are already in digital form, such as images taken by satellites and most tables, can simply be uploaded into GIS. Maps must be scanned, or converted into digital information.

GIS must make the information from all the various maps and sources align, so they fit together. One reason this is necessary is because maps have different scales. A scale is the relationship between the distance on a map and the actual distance on Earth. GIS combines the information from different sources in such a way that it all has the same scale.

Often, GIS must also manipulate the data because different maps have different projections. A projection is the method of transferring information from Earth’s curved surface to a flat piece of paper or computer screen. No projection can copy the reality of Earth’s curved surface perfectly. Different types of projections accomplish this task in different ways, but all result in some distortion. To transfer a curved, three-dimensional shape onto a flat surface inevitably requires stretching some parts and squeezing other parts. A world map can show either the correct sizes of countries or their correct shapes, but it can’t do both. GIS takes data from maps that were made using different projections and combines them so all the information can be displayed using one common projection.

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GIS Maps

Once all of the desired data have been entered into a GIS system, they can be combined to produce a wide variety of individual maps, depending on which data layers are included. For instance, using GIS technology, many kinds of information can be shown about a single city. Maps can be produced that relate such information as average income, book sales, and voting patterns. Any GIS data layer can be added or subtracted to the same map.

GIS maps can be used to show information about number and density. For example, GIS can be used to show how many doctors there are in different areas compared with the population. They can also show what is near what, such as which homes and businesses are in areas prone to flooding.

With GIS technology, researchers can also look at change over time. They can use satellite data to study topics such as how much of the polar regions is covered in ice. A police department can study changes in crime data to help determine where to assign officers.

GIS often contains a large variety of data that do not appear in an onscreen or printed map. GIS technology sometimes allows users to access this information. A person can point to a spot on a computerized map to find other information stored in the GIS about that location. For example, a user might click on a school to find how many students are enrolled, how many students there are per teacher, or what sports facilities the school has.

GIS systems are often used to produce three-dimensional images. This is useful, for example, to geologists studying faults.

GIS technology makes updating maps much easier. Updated data can simply be added to the existing GIS program. A new map can then be printed or displayed on screen. This skips the traditional process of drawing a map, which can be time-consuming and expensive.

People working in many different fields use GIS technology. Many businesses use GIS to help them determine where to locate a new store. Biologists use GIS to track animal migration patterns. City officials use GIS to help plan their response in the case of a natural disaster such as an earthquake or hurricane. GIS maps can show these officials what neighborhoods are most in danger, where to locate shelters, and what routes people should take to reach safety. Scientists use GIS to compare population growth to resources such as drinking water, or to try to determine a region’s future needs for public services like parking, roads, and electricity. There is no limit to the kind of information that can be analyzed using GIS technology.

Software – The thinking of people

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Complain about the software is a popular pastime, but a lot of software has improved over the last decade has improved exactly as in previous decades. Unfortunately, the improvements have come with a tremendous cost in human effort and computational resources. Basically, we learned to build reasonably reliable systems from unreliable parts adding endless layers of checks at run time and test mass.

The code structure itself has sometimes changed, but not always for the better. Often, these layers of intricate software dependencies and common design to prevent an individual, however competent, can fully understand a system. This bodes ill for the future: we can not understand and can not even measure the critical aspects of our systems.

There are, of course, that system builders have resisted pressures to build more swollen and covered systems. We thank them our planes do not crash computer, our phones work, and our emails arrive on time. They deserve praise for their efforts to make software development a mature and reliable set of principles, tools and techniques. Unfortunately they are a minority, and the bloatware (software swollen) dominates much of the printing and thinking of people.

GPS(Global Positioning System)

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What is GPS?

How it works

GPS satellites circle the earth twice a day in a very precise orbit and transmit signal information to earth. GPS receivers take this information and use triangulation to calculate the user’s exact location. Essentially, the GPS receiver compares the time a signal was transmitted by a satellite with the time it was received. The time difference tells the GPS receiver how far away the satellite is. Now, with distance measurements from a few more satellites, the receiver can determine the user’s position and display it on the unit’s electronic map.

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A GPS receiver must be locked on to the signal of at least three satellites to calculate a 2D position (latitude and longitude) and track movement. With four or more satellites in view, the receiver can determine the user’s 3D position (latitude, longitude and altitude). Once the user’s position has been determined, the GPS unit can calculate other information, such as speed, bearing, track, trip distance, distance to destination, sunrise and sunset time and more.

How accurate is GPS?

Today’s GPS receivers are extremely accurate, thanks to their parallel multi-channel design. Garmin’s 12 parallel channel receivers are quick to lock onto satellites when first turned on and they maintain strong locks, even in dense foliage or urban settings with tall buildings. Certain atmospheric factors and other sources of error can affect the accuracy of GPS receivers. Garmin® GPS receivers are accurate to within 15 meters on average.

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Newer Garmin GPS receivers with WAAS (Wide Area Augmentation System) capability can improve accuracy to less than three meters on average. No additional equipment or fees are required to take advantage of WAAS. Users can also get better accuracy with Differential GPS (DGPS), which corrects GPS signals to within an average of three to five meters. The U.S. Coast Guard operates the most common DGPS correction service. This system consists of a network of towers that receive GPS signals and transmit a corrected signal by beacon transmitters. In order to get the corrected signal, users must have a differential beacon receiver and beacon antenna in addition to their GPS.

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The GPS satellite system

The 24 satellites that make up the GPS space segment are orbiting the earth about 12,000 miles above us. They are constantly moving, making two complete orbits in less than 24 hours. These satellites are travelling at speeds of roughly 7,000 miles an hour.

GPS satellites are powered by solar energy. They have backup batteries onboard to keep them running in the event of a solar eclipse, when there’s no solar power. Small rocket boosters on each satellite keep them flying in the correct path.

Here are some other interesting facts about the GPS satellites (also called NAVSTAR, the official U.S. Department of Defense name for GPS):

  • The first GPS satellite was launched in 1978.
  • A full constellation of 24 satellites was achieved in 1994.
  • Each satellite is built to last about 10 years. Replacements are constantly being built and launched into orbit.
  • A GPS satellite weighs approximately 2,000 pounds and is about 17 feet across with the solar panels extended.
  • Transmitter power is only 50 watts or less.

What’s the signal?

GPS satellites transmit two low power radio signals, designated L1 and L2. Civilian GPS uses the L1 frequency of 1575.42 MHz in the UHF band. The signals travel by line of sight, meaning they will pass through clouds, glass and plastic but will not go through most solid objects such as buildings and mountains.

A GPS signal contains three different bits of information – a pseudorandom code, ephemeris data and almanac data. The pseudorandom code is simply an I.D. code that identifies which satellite is transmitting information. You can view this number on your Garmin GPS unit’s satellite page, as it identifies which satellites it’s receiving.

Ephemeris data, which is constantly transmitted by each satellite, contains important information about the status of the satellite (healthy or unhealthy), current date and time. This part of the signal is essential for determining a position.

The almanac data tells the GPS receiver where each GPS satellite should be at any time throughout the day. Each satellite transmits almanac data showing the orbital information for that satellite and for every other satellite in the system.

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Sources of GPS signal errors

Factors that can degrade the GPS signal and thus affect accuracy include the following:

  • Ionosphere and troposphere delays – The satellite signal slows as it passes through the atmosphere. The GPS system uses a built-in model that calculates an average amount of delay to partially correct for this type of error.
  • Signal multipath – This occurs when the GPS signal is reflected off objects such as tall buildings or large rock surfaces before it reaches the receiver. This increases the travel time of the signal, thereby causing errors.
  • Receiver clock errors – A receiver’s built-in clock is not as accurate as the atomic clocks onboard the GPS satellites. Therefore, it may have very slight timing errors.
  • Orbital errors – Also known as ephemeris errors, these are inaccuracies of the satellite’s reported location.
  • Number of satellites visible – The more satellites a GPS receiver can “see,” the better the accuracy. Buildings, terrain, electronic interference, or sometimes even dense foliage can block signal reception, causing position errors or possibly no position reading at all. GPS units typically will not work indoors, underwater or underground.
  • Satellite geometry/shading – This refers to the relative position of the satellites at any given time. Ideal satellite geometry exists when the satellites are located at wide angles relative to each other. Poor geometry results when the satellites are located in a line or in a tight grouping.
  • Intentional degradation of the satellite signal – Selective Availability (SA) is an intentional degradation of the signal once imposed by the U.S. Department of Defense. SA was intended to prevent military adversaries from using the highly accurate GPS signals. The government turned off SA in May 2000, which significantly improved the accuracy of civilian GPS receivers.

Time and Attendance

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Organizations of all sizes use time and attendance systems to record when employees start and stop work, and the department where the work is performed. However, it’s also common to track meals and breaks, the type of work performed, and the number of items produced. In addition to tracking when employees work, organizations also need to keep tabs on when employees are not working. Vacation time, compensation time, FMLA time, and jury duty must be recorded. Some organizations also keep detailed records of attendance issues such as who calls in sick and who comes in late.

A time and attendance system provides many benefits to organizations. It enables an employer to have full control of all employees working hours. It helps control labor costs by reducing over-payments, which are often caused by transcription error, interpretation error and intentional error. Manual processes are also eliminated as well as the staff needed to maintain them. It is often difficult to comply with labor regulation, but a time and attendance system is invaluable for ensuring compliance with labor regulations regarding proof of attendance.

Companies with large employee numbers might need to install several time clock stations in order to speed up the process of getting all employees to clock in or out quickly or to record activity in dispersed locations.

Depending on the supplier, identification method and number of clocking points required, prices vary widely. A time and attendance system protects a company from payroll fraud and provides both employer and employees with confidence in the accuracy of their wage payments all while improving productivity.

Many time and attendance software is now provided through cloud-based software as a service (SaaS) hosted solutions(Cloud-based Time and Attendance Software).Web-based solutions offer a number of advantages to organizations of all sizes, including reduced implementation costs, fewer maintenance and support concerns, as well as instant updates and upgrades(Web-based Time and Attendance Software).

Manual systems

Manual systems rely on highly skilled people laboriously adding up paper cards which have times stamped onto them using a time stamping machine such as the Bundy Clock. Time stamping machines have been in use for over a century and may still be bought new.

Automated systems

Automated time and attendance systems can use electronic tags, barcode badges, magnetic stripe cards, biometrics (hand, fingerprint, or facial), and touch screens(Touch screen terminals used to record staff attendance)

in place of paper cards which employees touch or swipe to identify themselves and record their working hours as they enter or leave the work area. The recorded information is then ideally automatically transferred to a computer for processing although some systems require an operator to physically transfer data from the clocking point to the computer using a portable memory device. The computer may then be employed to perform all the necessary calculations to generate employee timesheets which are used to calculate the employees’ wages. An automated system reduces the risk of errors that are common in a manual system, and allows the workforce to be more productive instead of wasting time on tedious administrative tasks.

History

Kronos Incorporated, based in US, delivered the world’s first microprocessor-based time clock in 1979. CipherLab Co Ltd, based in Taiwan, released in 1989 its first time clock data terminal.One of the first computerised workforce management systems was the Weeney Clocker .

produced by a company called Baur Automation in Johannesburg, South Africa, which was available from 1992 to about 2005.