The idea of an industry-owned product-information data repository, run like a utility company for the benefit of the industry, was a topic of discussion at SEMA for many years. Then, as web searches increasingly became a driving factor behind sales growth, the need for high-quality product data to power wholesale, retail and web-based business systems became more obvious. And the benefits to specialty parts manufacturers—improving speed to market and providing information capable of driving consumer purchase decisions—became “must-have” capabilities linked to success in the marketplace.
With the job market the best it’s been for job seekers in 15 years, digital-recruiting toolmakers are serving up even better solutions to ensure that companies can capture the best of the talent. The new tools come at an opportune time, given that the economy appears poised for continued healthy growth.
Auto-parts businesses will be on the hook for credit card fraud if they don’t migrate to new chip card terminals by October 1, 2015, according to the major credit card companies.
As of June 2015, telecommunications and cable companies were knocked back on their heels when new government regulations took effect prohibiting those companies from allowing some company websites to download faster than others. The move restores what has commonly become known as net neutrality—or equal access to the Internet.
Microsoft’s Mea Culpa to PC Users
Businesses that reacted to Windows 8 with howls of incredulity can take heart: Microsoft is bending over backward with its next Windows release to win back the mouse-and-keyboard crowd. With Windows 10 (there will be no Windows 9), due for release in the summer of 2015, Microsoft will make it simple once again to navigate the operating system with a keyboard and a mouse. Moreover, the Redmond Goliath will be bringing back other features, such as the Start Menu that made Windows a hit in previous incarnations. “It’s a practical approach, which is ‘customer first,’” said Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft.
IT security experts warn that there’s been a spike in the scourge of ransomware—malicious software that freezes a computer, encrypts all of its data and demands a ransom for the system’s restoration. Since February 2013, more than 600,000 victims worldwide have reportedly been infected with just one variant of the malware, CryptoWall, according to an October 2014 report released by Dell.
“This is the next generation of ransomware, and you can expect this new version to spread like wildfire,” said Stu Sjouwerman, CEO of KnowBe4, a firm that specializes in IT security awareness training for small- and medium-size businesses.
Earlier this year, antivirus king Symantec sent shockwaves through the business community with the statement that antivirus software was “dead”—leaving businesses wondering, now what? Symantec dropped the bombshell to make a point: These days, a PC armed with a good firewall and some topflight antivirus software is simply no match against a sophisticated, determined hacker. The reason: The number of new viruses unleashed on the public every day can be as many as 200,000, according to Kapersky Lab, a computer security firm.
E-Mail Retains the Title
While digital marketing always seems to have its own version of the “It Girl” each year, one thing has remained constant for nearly 30 years: E-mail is still the new sexy. According to a barrage of studies released during the past year, e-mail marketing still surpasses all others in the digital realm when it comes to return on investment (ROI) and increasing sales. And companies still see e-mail marketing as a stalwart when they’re looking to hang on to customers, build loyalty and increase website traffic.
With the Right Demographic, a Potential Boon
Businesses with a significant demographic skewed toward “hipper,” generally younger tech users—people who like to stay on the edge of what’s happening digitally—should take a serious look at QR-code marketing. Most of us have come across a QR (quick reach) code in our travels. It’s that framed square of hieroglyphic-like symbols that we flip to in a magazine, which triggers our smartphones to reveal a company website when scanned. Or it’s on that advertisement we see at an airport or train station that, when scanned, conjures up an electronic coupon on our tablets that can be used at a coffee shop, often only steps away.
The Latest Tools for Getting the Most From Your Web and Social-Media Marketing
Businesses looking to evaluate the return on their efforts in web and social-media marketing can take heart: There are scores of analytical tools available that can precisely show them how well their campaigns are doing.
In social media, those just getting started in analytics would do well to check out Hootsuite. A powerful social-media dashboard that allows users to manage all of their postings and other activities on all the major social-media networks, Hootsuite is also packed with a wide variety of analytical tools that show how well you’re doing on social media.