3 1/2 Tips to Make The Most Out of Your IT Budget

It’s not unusual in a small business for the IT administrators to feel beat up over their budgets (or lack thereof), and it’s not without cause. Most small businesses struggle along, especially after the devastating effects of the great recession. In fact, after the 2007 financial crisis small businesses were hit the hardest. Between 2007 and 2012 roughly 60 percent of all the jobs lost were from businesses with fewer than 50 employees. When compared to larger organizations, the job loss was 71 percent worse; small companies lost 11 percent of their jobs compared to only 7 percent from larger companies.

To further compound the problem, executive leadership in these small companies often have unrealistic demands. A study by Bain & Company, about how to make IT spending more effective, found that 70 percent of senior managers believe that IT spending is highly correlated to future business growth. But of those surveyed, 80 percent believe that IT is out of step with their most strategic business objectives.

With limited budgets, soaring demands, and pressure to align closely with business objectives, IT administrators are in a tough spot: How do you deliver more services and better communicate expectations and delivery to senior managers with smaller than needed budgets?

Here are 3 1/2 tips to help you get the most out of your IT budget. In addition to aligning budgets, these tips will help senior managers better recognize your efforts and help you better understand their expectations.

1. Use company-wide task management software
At the risk of sounding cliche or overdone, using task management software such as Trello or Asana to manage IT projects can greatly increase transparency, reduce over expectations and save you budget. Here’s how:

Both of these are free tools, and there are a slew of other free tools out there that do the same thing.
These tools are easy to use and have all the buzz-word-based features your executives love to talk about–collaborative, cloud based, redundant, and secure.
These tools increase transparency by allowing others to see what you’re currently working on, what you have in your backlog, and what you plan on working on next.
Likewise, these tools also increase transparency into all that you’ve done. If you choose Trello, there is a nifty Chrome plugin that allows you to assign time estimates to tasks and easily report time measures and time budgets up to executives or down to those who are submitting requests.
These tools truly empower you to accurately set expectations. Instead of allowing users to email you, drop by your desk, or chat you an IT request, require that they instead put the request into a new task and submit via this software tool. That way they can see how much other work you are currently working on and will better understand why you can’t just drop everything to come help them reset a password.

2. Meet digitally
In small organizations travel can be expensive. If you have sales people who are flying around and meeting with prospective customers, then your executive team is well aware of the costs associated with travel. Instead of simply going with the flow and allowing these travel budgets to eat into the overall company budget you can be proactive and approach your management team with a solution: digital meetings. Be sure to couch the idea as one that will save money but also increase the likelihood of a sale. In our quick-paced world, making time in a schedule for an in-person meeting can delay meetings by days or weeks. Instead, jump on a Google Hangout or Zoom meeting.

3. Purchase nearly new equipment
Equipment purchasing is one of the largest expenses in an IT department. That will probably never change, but it can be throttled considerably, without giving up performance or increasing your hassle. With Moore’s law (computing power doubling every year) being accurate and relevant in today’s age, people are swapping up for new hardware all the time. This leaves lightly used equipment available on Craigslist for the picking. If your organization needs equipment that is even newer, it’s easy to find strong deals by shopping the outlet/refurbished sections of Dell or Apple where you’ll get 15 to 30 percent savings while still getting a new warranty and like-new equipment.

3 1/2. Give up some control
IT administrators are often weary about giving up control, and for good reason. Giving up control often means opening vectors for security breach, over-complicating the network, or increasing time burdens. This tip is an odd one, and one that all organizations may not be ready to adopt, and that’s why we’re making it just a 1/2 of a tip–though we honestly feel like it will bring you some of the greatest cost savings and highest returns in added productivity.

The tip is this: give new employees a budget and allow them to purchase their own equipment before starting at your company. Tech/software company Kuali, a creator of higher education enterprise software, uses this strategy and has seen fabulous results. Their employees hit the ground running, have the hardware they want, and save money over their own “corporate discount” purchase plans extended by Dell and Apple.

At most companies IT staff struggle to find time to purchase equipment for new employees, and often don’t get it set up in time for the new employee’s first day. On their first day in the office they often have considerable downtime due to not having the needed equipment. If your new employees are given a budget with their offer letter they will excitedly purchase their equipment well before they start and they’ll often set up the equipment themselves.

Additionally, these new employees know what their purchase price cap is and often want to impress their new employer so they’ll spend additional time hunting for a strong bargain, time that an IT administrator simply doesn’t have.

These tips and tools will empower you as small business IT administrator to do more with less, and help your executive leadership team recognize you for all that you’re doing.

Share your story and you might win a $200 gift card

 

Your data is important to you. Whether it’s a file of a journal entry or a critical tax document or a digital copy of a photo of a beloved ancestor, losing such a file might mean never getting it back again…unless you’ve backed it up.

Have you ever lost an important file and thought all was lost…and then Mozy came to the rescue? What were your feelings when you discovered the file was gone? (It’s OK if you shed a tear or two.) What was it like to recover your important file when you remembered that you were in good hands with Mozy? (It’s OK if you jumped up and down for joy and shed a tear or two because you realized how much you love Mozy.) We want to hear about it!

It’s simple: Tell us how Mozy has saved your bacon. Tell us why your data is important to you (whatever the reason, that’s why it’s important to us!). Plus, we would love to share your story in a future MozyHome or MozyPro newsletter. We’re going to make things interesting: We’ll be giving away a $200 gift card to one random entry! That’s awesome! That’s Mozy!

Send your story to stories@mozy.com.

How to Get a Small Business Grant without Borrowing Money

Getting access to capital is the biggest challenge facing small business owners, according to an OnDeck Capital survey. 55 percent of business owners surveyed sought financing, but of those who applied, 64 percent failed to get any sort of financing, and 82 percent were turned down by their bank. Fortunately, there are other ways to finance a small business than getting a loan. For certain types of businesses, applying for a government, nonprofit, or private grant may be an option. Here’s how to go about getting a grant without having to borrow money.

1. Know What Types of Grants Are Available

The first step is learning what types of grants are out there. Grants are available from three main sources: government agencies, nonprofit foundations, and private businesses and corporations.

Government grants include federal, state, and local government resources. As the Small Business Administration explains, federal government grants come from programs that have been authorized by Congress and the President, and they are geared towards specific federal government initiatives and agencies. For instance, the Small Business Innovation Research Program awards grants to small businesses engaged in scientific research and development. Some states award grants for purposes such as creating energy-efficient technology, providing child care centers, and developing marketing campaigns to support tourism.

Nonprofit foundations award grants that serve their organization’s mission. For example, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation awards grants that support its key areas of assistance for disadvantaged communities, early childhood education, journalism and the First Amendment, serving veterans, and youth civic engagement.

Private businesses and corporations award grants that serve their organizational missions and community outreach campaigns. For instance, each year the FedEx Small Business Grant Contest awards a total of $50,000 to six deserving U.S.-based entrepreneurs and small business owners.

2. Research Prospective Grant Resources

Your next step is to research online databases and library references to find prospective grant resources for your business. Grants.gov provides an online resource for searching federal government grants. State & Local Government on the Net provides a tool for searching state government grants. The Foundation Center provides one of the largest online databases of grants available from philanthropies and offers a subscription-based Foundation Grants to Individuals Online database of 10,000 programs. BusinessGrants.org lists grants available specifically for small businesses. The Open Education Database provides a list of more than 100 different grant resources. You can also research library reference resources such as The Foundation Directory, which now also has an online counterpart.

3. Match Your Goals to Your Grant Prospect’s Mission

The third step is finding a good match between your business goals and your grant prospect’s aims. To do this, you must thoroughly research your grant prospects and their grant application criteria and instructions. The best way to do this is to contact the organization via their website, email, or phone and request their basic application guidelines.

4. Follow Application Instructions

Finally, once you’ve found some good grant prospects, follow their application instructions carefully. If you need help, you may want to engage the services of a professional grant writer. Some organizations such as Resource Associates offer free grant writing services to certain qualifying organizations, or you can hire a grant writer from a source such as the American Grant Writers’ Association.

How to Back Up Your Computer

Today’s businesses are faced with many challenges, including regulation and compliance, customer service, and financial management. One major challenge is the growth of company data. Have you ever asked yourself what would happen if all the files on your computer disappeared? Have you thought about how much down time and lost sales an incident like this would cause? These are simple questions that both business owners and employees should be asking themselves on a regular basis. If you did lose data, does your company have a plan in place to restore lost data?

Hopefully the answer is yes. If not, there are steps you can take to make sure your business is backing up data in a proper manner. One method of backup is to use an external hard drive and perform a backup on a daily or weekly basis as you see fit. This method of backup is not recommended because there are too many variables. What happens if you misplace the external drive? What happens if you forget to back up your important files one night? The next best solution would be backing up to tape.

Tape is an inexpensive way to back up your data (though a little out dated). Tape’s biggest advantage is price. Tape backups have a very low price per gigabyte, making tape a viable option if you are trying to keep your IT costs at a minimum. That said, tape backups have been around for a while and have a few problems of their own. Tape drives consist of many moving parts both in the media and the drive, meaning parts will break in time. Also, tape access speeds are dismal when compared to drive-based backup. Tape drives can take several minutes to load and position before you can even begin to access their data. Last but not least, manual tape backup is associated with security risks. Losing a tape with important business information or worse, customer information, would not be good for a company’s reputation.

In order to properly and efficiently back up your data, jumping to the cloud is probably your best bet. The best word to sum up cloud-based backup is “simple.” That’s true in part because most cloud-based backup is now run as a service. The end user performs a one-time full system backup over the public Internet. After that the provider will run incremental backups, only capturing the changes since the last backup, making for a quicker backup. Cloud backup can also be automated for business requirements. With backup automation there is no need for employees to set aside time to back up their endpoints; instead, the backup software will run silently in the background.

Cloud backup addresses problems that both external drives and tape cannot. For example, with cloud backup businesses do not have to worry about employees forgetting to back up their data to an external hard drive, or worse, losing the external hard drive. Tape may sound like a viable option, but there are still too many variables. With cloud backup your data is much more secure because data is always encrypted—while it is being transferred to the data center and at rest in the data center, where it is monitored and protected 24/7. And getting your data out of the data center is much easier then performing a tape restoration. Many cloud providers offer a variety of data restore options, including but not limited to right-click restore, web restores, and media restores.

Cloud-based backup is the way forward and has tremendous upside for business owners. Backup technology is no longer a nice to have for business but rather a must have. Developments in technology as well as an increase in cloud backup vendors has helped to significantly decrease prices, making cloud backup much more accessible than you might think. What can cloud backup do for you?

Make Digital Backups of Your Precious Family Photos

One very vivid memory I had growing up was the amount of time I spent looking through my family photo albums. I remember the days when I would sit down with my mother and father looking at photos, asking them questions about the very first apartment that we lived in, or about the time when we got our first dog, and about the pictures of them before I was born. Even to just go back and reminisce on that one summer when we took a family trip to Disney World brought back so many great memories and conversations. I always loved these moments.

The thought of not having these pieces of memorabilia never even crossed my mind. What if my father never had those photos developed? What if my mother never collected those photos and put them into albums? Today, in the world of digital, in the world of the cloud, I wonder the same thing about my pictures, and the moments in time that I have the responsibility to capture for future generations. Every picture that I capture now is taken through my digital camera or my smartphone. With the over abundance of ways that we can capture pictures, the need for digitally backing up these photos to one safe place is more important than ever. While it’s easy to think that by simply keeping your pictures on your camera, your smartphone, or even on your computer is secure, in actuality, it is not. What would happen if that camera or phone gets lost, or if your desktop computer crashes? How many memories will be lost if your printed photos go missing or get misplaced during a move or home relocation?

Some of our best moments in our personal history are captured through photography. Pictures give us the ability to share stories that are most important to us. It’s important to safeguard our photos so that our memories are not lost forever. Luckily there are digital backup tools that have been created to make digital storage easy and automatic. These advanced tools leave out the unnecessary manual process and time that it used to take to back up files and photos. Digital storage options that are available today allow you to access your files from your home computer or from your smartphone and download at the simple click or tap of a button. In this day and age, I wouldn’t even think twice about not backing up my important pictures.

Digitally backing up your photos allows you to save, store, and preserve everything from old family photos to those amazing, in-the-moment photos taken from your smartphone. I couldn’t imagine having my kids miss out on the cherished memories that I had as a child, looking through old photos, and reminiscing on old times. Having a digital backup system assures me that my family photos will be passed on safely for future generations to keep and share for decades to come. What methods are you using to back up your most cherished family photos?

Social Media – The New Face of Disaster Response

A few weeks ago I received a notification from Facebook to let my friends know that I was safe from a bomb that apparently went off near me. I live in rural Utah and couldn’t find anything related to the bomb in the local news outlets. Unfortunately, a real bomb went off in Pakistan nearly 8,000 miles away. I later found out that Facebook had a glitch in their system, causing the same notification to be sent to many throughout the world. This made me realize that social media is a quick new way to communicate during a disaster.

As early as 2007, residents where a disaster hit started using hashtags in Twitter as an organized way of tracking what was happening in the aftermath of a disaster. You can easily find updates to a disaster when you know which hashtag is being used. Today we have a better understanding that social media is a quick way to communicate the effects of a disaster to a broader audience. The infographic below from our friends at the University of San Francisco demonstrates just how beneficial social media has been during different disasters. After perusing, let us know your thoughts in the comments section.


USF Online MPA Program

Fun and Professional Casual Friday Looks for Spring

Ah, springtime is here! Time for renewal, purge cleaning, and the welcomed freedom from winter’s bitter temperatures. With that sweet sunshine also comes the opportunity for some fun new style picks. And, for those working in the corporate world, you can use Casual Friday as your runway. Unfortunately, some can get carried away with their own interpretation of what is truly “casual” and make it look more like a Saturday morning at home. Here’s some do’s and don’ts for fresh sartorial picks that show off your personality at the office while still keeping it professional.

Shoes

DON’T: flip-flops

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sure, it’s nice to give your precious little piggies some air, but flip-flops are one flimsy strap away from basically being barefoot and therefore they have no place in the office—unless your office is a beach, in which case carry on, you lucky devil.

DO: flat strappy sandals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Opt for a low-key yet classy strappy sandal look instead. Your feet will feel less restricted while also ensuring they don’t flop out or make obnoxious noises walking past a co-worker’s desk. There’s nothing more obnoxious than the ol’ “flip-flop” sound. Equally important: maintained toenails!

DON’T: platform heels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Platform heels are all the rage right now, but there’s really no place for them in the office whatsoever. There’s no need to tower over everybody to make your presence known! Save these for the Friday night after Casual Friday!

DO: vintage-inspired T-straps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A go-to look this spring is to kick it old school with classic vintage styles. A cute ’40s-esque heel is just feminine, comfortable, and adds a sweet touch of playfulness.

DON’T: your gym shoes

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course your running shoes are no doubt the most comfortable pair of kicks you own, but unless you’re anticipating quitting your job and jetting out the door as you thumb your nose at the boss, these just don’t look good in a corporate setting.

DO: flats

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although flats doesn’t have the support of tennis shoes, some would argue their smooth and snugness to be just as comfortable. Plus, you can more easily slip them off under your desk without anyone noticing.

Pants

DON’T: ripped jeans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our modern times love to drop a pretty penny for a pre-shredded pair of denim, but as weed-whackers are typically not allowed in board meetings, neither should these babies.

DO: cuffed skinny jeans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But we’re not taking denim away from you! It is Casual Friday, after all. Choose a sleek pair of straight-legged jeans and roll them up to pair with a nice heel or flat for a relaxed but chic statement outfit.

DON’T: sweatpants

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This should go without saying, but for some reason sweatpants at work still persist. No matter how much certain brands try to dress them up and make them trendy, at the end of the day, they are still sweatpants and it will always say you gave as little effort as possible. You can and will put real pants on—the weather’s too nice to still be this lazy!

DO: vintage-inspired high-waisted slacks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pants with a high waist and a wide leg are the secret weapon for dressing incredibly comfortably while still appearing very composed and calculated. The perfect solution to having to part with your sweatpants for just one more work weekday.

Skirts

DON’T: bodycon mini

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While this can be toned down with some tights, body con skirts are simply too snug and short for the office—like a tube top for the bottom half.

DO: A-line

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A classic A-line skirt is always as romantic as proper and put-together. Pick out a floral one to perfectly ring in springtime!

 

DON’T: strappy tanks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sure they’re cute and comfortable, but letting too much of the guns out at the office still doesn’t cut it for workplace appropriate. Not to mention it’s always freezing! Aren’t you cold? We’re always cold!

DO: patterned blouse over a strappy tank

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A sophisticated way to still have a bit of a sleeveless look is to wear a camisole over a patterned sheer blouse. And yes, a camisole. Incorporating your bra into your outfit should not be a thing. Ever.

T-shirts: do or don’t?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dress up a T-shirt by tucking it into a pair of high-wasted pants or skirt and adding either a collared shirt underneath, or a cardigan or blazer overtop. When it doubt, you can never go wrong with adding a blazer and a clean pair of shoes. Simple and chic!

There you have it, my fashionable little professionals! Welcome springtime’s temperatures and pastel palettes in these tasteful choices and be sure to start the season off with a hopefully raise-inducing style!

How Cloud Backup Options Benefit a Small Business

Depending on the size of your business, the cost of lost data could total in the millions. A 2015 Ponemon Institute Cost of Data Breach Study: Global Analysis found among 350 companies in 11 countries, the average cost per lost or stolen record is $154. The average complete data breach cost is $3.79 million, while unexpected damage caused by natural disasters, physical hardware theft and lost hardware or employee error are other factors that make small business digital data so vulnerable to threats. Off-site backup options that use cloud storage technology and encryption security help ensure data protection and peace of mind when dealing with sensitive company material.

Besides the high cost of permanent loss of data, temporary data loss can be debilitating. The Data Center Journal reported in 2013, the average cost per minute of unplanned downtime was nearly $8,000, which was an increase of more than 40 percent compared to 2010. The average reported outage length was nearly an hour-and-a-half in 2013, which would cost a business nearly $700,000. For e-commerce sites, downtime not only results in loss of sales, but negative sentiment and loss of trust in a company, as breaches against companies like Target have shown. The company has agreed to reimburse financial institutions more than $100 million for a 2013 breach, according to The Wall Street Journal. Cloud backup is constantly monitored against breaches and provides uptime guarantees, while keeping data safe, secure and easily recoverable.

What is cloud backup?
Cloud backup is simply data storage located on an external server away from the business, with security functions in place to make sure the data stays safe, and with immediate backup that allows data to instantly be recovered should something negative happen to the physical servers. It also helps alleviate in-house IT needs, since data is backed up and accessible with user permissions from any device, from anywhere.

Research and advisory firm Gartner reported an increase of nearly 5 percent in worldwide spending on information security in 2015 over 2014, to reach more than $75.5 billion. As hackers become more sophisticated, and businesses need to protect customers’ personal information, data protection is of increasing importance to both large and small business enterprises. The Ponemon Institute report states a 23 percent increase in total cost of data breach since 2013, while the Breach Level Index reports more than 3.7 billion records lost since 2013 as of March 2016. As data protection becomes more affordable, and breaches do more damage, return on investment for off-site backup makes sense.

What to look for in off-site backup data protection
When considering backup options for your small business, consider the following qualities:

•     Automatic backup protections. With automatic cloud backup, you won’t have to worry about remembering to backup            your data — the off-site backup does the work for you. Services that offer the option to time backups throughout the day            give your small business continuous protection and safeguard your data.
•     Multi-device capabilities. In today’s mobile age where increasing numbers of employees conduct business activities on            mobile and tablet devices, and more employers allow a bring-your-own-device landscape, backup from devices beyond            desktops is essential. ZDNet reports 74 percent of organizations            currently use or plan to allow employees to bring their own            devices to work, so it’s vital to look for a data protection provider            that works on any device.
•     Instant restoration. To decrease the amount of downtime your            business might experience, cloud backup should offer one-click            data restoration to keep you moving.
•     Industry grade security. Besides guaranteeing 99 percent            uptime for data, a data protection service should offer the same            security standards that are used by institutions such as the            military and banks to give a business the highest quality security            available. Multi-encryption standards make sure data is protected            from breaches.

Security issues can happen at any time, which is why 24/7 customer support is also a critical consideration. There are backup options to fit any business budget, and when you weigh the costs of data loss, investing in off-site backup makes financial sense for your business and your customers.

How the Internet of Things will Change Your Business

Small businesses across many industries are using the Internet for more devices now than ever before. Beyond point of sale terminals, tablets, laptops and desktops, the Internet is now collecting and transferring data from:

Touchscreen self-serve kiosks
     •     Metering and monitoring devices on equipment and machinery
     •     Barcode readers
     •     Trucks and company vehicles
     •     Drones for cameras and transport
     •     Lighting
     •     Heating, ventilation and air conditioning
     •     Building security
     •     Wearable devices
     •     Product inventory

Though all of these devices, sensors, and items will cost your business money, there are tremendous savings opportunities to be discovered.

Here are six areas of your business where the Internet of Things (IoT) will drive down cost, create efficiency, and lighten your workload.

1. Operational Building Costs
Let’s say you are a Chartered Accountant, and you needed to work late at the office. You were the last out of the building, and forgot to do the rounds and turn off corridor lighting. Fortunately, you are equipped with a smartphone enabled device, so you can turn off the lights from your driveway, instead of driving back to the office.

Climate control, security systems and other environmental infrastructure can also be interfaced with a mobile application. You’ll benefit from the system’s convenience, and the cost savings of being able to regulate your office even when you’re not at the office.

2. Self-Serve Kiosks and Devices
Here are a few more scenarios. Let’s say you run a restaurant, or a retail store. Your employees work hard, yet there are often long line-ups, or your employees can’t be in every aisle. Self-serve touch screen devices can take food orders, help shoppers find what they are looking for, and even find out about promotional offers you have in your establishment.

If you your business is in an area where it is difficult to get qualified employees to serve your customers, or if your business is growing rapidly, IoT connected kiosks, tablets and other devices will increase the accuracy of customer orders, increase the productivity of your staff on the floor, and improve customer satisfaction.

Cashier-less check-out machines have helped to process express lane customers for several years. Since fewer customers are using cash, and turning to credit and/or debit cards, so it seems fairly certain retail transactions will continue to evolve to automated systems.

3. Connected Equipment Monitoring Devices
If your business is in the manufacturing or construction business, you will have machines and equipment which require regular maintenance. Connecting these company assets to the IoT ensures they are maintained either on a usage cycle, when they are due for some down time, or in case a sensor identifies some sort of performance or safety issue.

4. Telematics
Telematics sensors can be equipped on transport trucks or fleet vehicles, to monitor for maintenance, performance, or on-site/off-site location. Although telematics gear and related apps historically have been geared towards large enterprise and public sector, the technology cost is now affordable for small and medium businesses.

5. Wearable Devices
The use of fitness bands, smart watches and IoT enabled garments continues to evolve for personal and business use. For healthcare-related businesses, patients with diabetes, dementia or other mental/physical challenges can be outfitted with connected devices which will alert loved ones or medical professionals in case of an emergency.

6. Practical Uses for Drones
Internet-connected drones have been getting a bad rap lately for their privacy implications and safety. If you have a large warehouse, or operate farms with livestock, or plants, drones can be very useful.
     •     Want to find out where your horses went when the gate wasn’t            secured?
     •     Looking to find out if you have any forest green gas ranges left in inventory, but don’t want to walk back in the            warehouse?
     •     Interested in creating a video of your car dealership from a few hundred feet above, and stream it to the web?
           There are drones for that!

The Internet of Things offers small businesses many opportunities to save money. The role of employees and management will change as more tasks become automated, small businesses will find ways to benefit, and adapt to the evolution of smart things.

The Automation of Life

The other day I took my niece and nephew to a local McDonald’s for lunch. As we walked in we were greeted by a large touch screen that had an “Order Here” sign above it. Customers can order how they want their food right from the screen. But being a person who would rather talk to a human, I walked up to the counter to place my order. Whether this move to automating the ordering process is in response to demands for a minimum pay increase or if the new generation is more comfortable touching a screen than talking to a human is still up for debate. But it got me thinking about what other processes or jobs are being automated in our new world of touch screens, Internet of Things, and mobile devices.

Dangerous jobs
With the advancements of technology, humans are being removed from situations where they could be hurt or even killed. Sophisticated remote devices are used to check for bombs and life-threatening chemicals. Drones patrol the skies over battle zones and can even attack targets that have been identified by someone in a remote location.

Not long ago the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant was badly crippled by an earthquake and then a tsunami. The lingering radioactive fallout as well as the unstable structure of the plant made it nearly impossible for someone to investigate the area without dying. Scientists developed an autonomous drone to fly into the area and investigate. The drone self-guides with the use of lasers to avoid obstacles and can even replace its own batteries and work where GPS doesn’t.

Cashiers
Not only are we seeing the first steps to replacing minimum wage labor at fast food restaurants, the same is happening at grocery stores. One person can now supervise up to 10 registers where customers scan their food and other goods before paying. No longer do we need someone to provide change or scan our card card thanks to the automated payment.

Banks
A few years ago you were out of luck on getting cash if you weren’t fortunate enough to get to the bank during “bank hours.” That was until the Automated Teller Machine, otherwise known as the ATM, became a feature of banking. Along with online banking, you can now deposit and withdraw funds at all hours of the night as well as weekends and holidays without needing a human to handle the transaction.

Warehouses 
Warehouses that fulfill hundreds if not thousands of order per day are improving efficiency by automating the packing and shipping of goods. They have also automated the process of transporting goods from one point to another, saving the company money and improving efficiencies. If Amazon is correct, UPS and FedEx delivery drivers will one day be replaced by drones, which will leave our orders on our doorsteps.

Data protection
So much information has become digitalized! Our music is now files rather than tracks on CDs (or if you’re older, grooves on vinyl). Pictures are now viewed on a computer or mobile device rather than being printed. In the past, in order to protect your photos, you would store them away from moisture and heat. Now we worry about hard drive crashes. Backing up these new digital versions is necessary, especially for preserving family pictures, which can’t be replaced if they are lost or otherwise damaged. Rather than burning copies to DVDs or backing up to hard drives and then safeguarding those copies at mom’s house, we now rely on cloud backup. With a few clicks of a button you can back up your music, photos, and other precious data to an offsite location to ensure that they’re protected in case of an emergency. And to further simplify the process, you can schedule backups to run when your computer is idol.

We might not always like where automation is taking us, but there is no escaping the fact that automation is becoming more and more a part of everyday life.

Now where is my e-reader? I want to check if that bestseller has been automatically downloaded.