Trending March 2024 # 15 Best Practices For Sustainable Msp Growth In 2023 # Suggested April 2024 # Top 7 Popular

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As the demand for MSPs continues to grow

MSPs, globally, face these 7 challenges

Acquiring more customers (95%)

Counteracting novel security threats (61%)

Hiring (58%)

COVID-induced IT budget shrinkage (32%)

Customer retention (22%)

Supporting remote work for staff and clients (19%)

Reduced service offerings to fit shrinking customers’ budget (11%)

Figure 1: The top seven challenges facing MSPs. Source: Statista

In this article, we will discuss the 15 best practices an MSP business should follow to ensure MSP growth to fuel their growth and adapt to new competitors in line with this rapidly-changing landscape.

1. See customers’ challenges as growth opportunities

According to Kaseya’s 2023 survey

Figure 1: Top 6 growth opportunities of MSPs based on customer needs. Source: Kaseya

MSPs should view their customers’ challenges as growth opportunities and gaps to fill. For example, when it comes to providing cybersecurity solutions, most MSPs have provided some sort of antivirus or anti-malware solution. Or for maintaining business continuity, “network monitoring and management” has been one of the popular provided services (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Specific offerings of MSPs. Source: Kaseya

No matter the niche that your MSP is catering to, some problems are common all across the board. Having the vision and clarity to address those is a growth potential.

A downside of an expanding MSP market, and too many MSPs, is your business being crowded out. Offering a mix of services, such as proactive maintenance, cybersecurity, cloud services, and consulting, in a specific sector helps differentiate you amongst other MSPs. The other benefit is upselling and cross-selling your products.

2. Expand your services to automation via strategic partnerships

Establishing strategic partnerships with leading technology vendors has two use cases for MSPs: 

Better management of rule-based IT tasks 

Efficient data warehouse management 

Streamlined customer service request handling 

Alternatively, MSPs can partner with an RPA vendor to offer their services to clients in a more tailored manner. 

Learn more about choosing an RPA technology partner by reading our whitepaper on the topic:

3. Develop a Scalable Business Model

A 2023 report

54% lacked enough time to finish tasks

53% couldn’t hire adequate personnel

32% were unable to handle new technologies

27% lacked a clear framework for information sharing

So MSPs should focus on enhancing their scalability as the digital transformation market grows. For example, MSPs could utilize an RMM (Remote Monitoring and Management) solution to monitor, manage, and maintain client systems remotely. The benefit would be less need for on-site visits, lowered operational costs, and helped scale business by managing more clients with less resources.

4. Attend Industry Events & Conferences

Some notable events include:

IT Nation Connect: Hosted by ConnectWise, IT Nation Connect annually brings together MSPs, technology vendors, and industry experts to discuss the latest innovations, share best practices, and participate in networking events.

DattoCon: Organized by Datto, this conference focuses on managed services, data protection, and business continuity. It offers keynotes, breakout sessions, and networking opportunities for MSPs to learn and grow their businesses.

MSPWorld: Hosted by the MSPAlliance, MSPWorld is a premier conference for cloud and managed service providers. The event features presentations from industry leaders, networking opportunities, and interactive sessions on topics such as cybersecurity, sales and marketing, and operational best practices.

ChannelPro SMB Forum: This one-day event is targeted at MSPs and IT service providers who serve SMEs. It offers a mix of education, networking, and collaboration opportunities, with a focus on business growth and technology trends.

ASCII IT Success Summits: These regional events, organized by the ASCII Group, offer educational content, peer networking, and access to new technologies and solutions.

5. Prioritize Customer Success and Retention

22%

Besides exceptional customer service, proactive support, and regular communications, MSPs should also cater to their customers’ evolving needs.

For instance:

73%

82%

The global disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) market is estimated to reach $23.5B

6. Focus on Security and Compliance

As cyber threats continue to grow in number

Develop a robust security strategy that includes regular risk assessments, penetration testing, and vulnerability management. Also, stay current with industry-specific compliance standards and regulations to ensure your clients and other providers’ data and systems are protected and compliant.

Explore compliance automation more.

7. Invest in Training and Certification

Since 2024

Invest in ongoing training and certification programs to ensure your teams are up-to-date with necessary skills and knowledge for providing cutting-edge solutions. Encourage your employees to pursue industry-recognized certifications, and stay informed about emerging market trends and technologies to stay ahead of the competition.

8. Guide Clients in Their Latest Challenges in AI/digital transformation

These factors are pushing businesses to think critically about their cost base and look for automation opportunities:

Rise of generative AI which the public realized with the launch of ChatGPT.

Rising interest rate environment and focus on efficiency

By establishing thought leadership in how generative AI can help your clients and guiding buyers in their AI transformation journey, your MSP can develop deeper relations with its clients.

Try: 

Bundling complementary services 

Offering tiered pricing 

Or implementing flexible payment options to cater to various client preferences and budgets

Learn more about pricing optimization.

9. Invest in Marketing and Sales

MSP growth is dependent on a comprehensive, omnichannel marketing strategy, including social media, email marketing, content marketing, and search engine optimization (SEO). 

A strong online presence, combined with an effective sales strategy, will help you in:

10. Embrace Industry Trends and Innovations

Staying informed about emerging tech and larger industry trends helps in maintaining a competitive edge. Integrate innovative solutions and services, like AI, IoT, conversational AI, RPA, and edge computing. This will help you attract new clients and enhance the value of your existing offerings. 

11. Optimize Pricing and Service Packages

To stay financially competitive, align your pricing strategy and service packages with your target market’s needs and expectations. You should regularly review your pricing models and service packages to ensure they’re competitive and offer the best value for your clients. 

Try: 

Bundling complementary services 

Offering tiered pricing 

Or implementing flexible payment options to cater to various client preferences and budgets

Learn more about pricing optimization

12. Utilize Client Testimonials & Case Studies

Showcase your MSP’s successes and capabilities by sharing client testimonials and case studies. These can serve as powerful social proof, helping to build trust and credibility with potential clients. Share these success stories on your website, social media, and marketing materials to demonstrate your expertise and the value of your managed services.

These factors are pushing businesses to think critically about their cost base and look for automation opportunities:

Rise of generative AI which the public realized with the launch of ChatGPT.

Rising interest rate environment and focus on efficiency

By establishing thought leadership in how generative AI can help your clients and guiding buyers in their AI transformation journey, your MSP can develop deeper relations with its clients.

13. Monitor & Measure Success

Growth should be measured with KPIs and other metrics to track performance. These measurements can help identify areas for improvement, set goals, and assess the effectiveness of your growth strategies and initiatives.

14. Implement a Referral Program

Word of mouth and referrals can boost your MSP business’s growth.

15. Cultivate a Strong Company Culture

A strong company culture can attract top talent and contribute to employee satisfaction and retention. Create a supportive and inclusive work environment that promotes collaboration, learning, and growth. Recognize and reward employee achievements, and encourage open communication and feedback to foster continuous improvement.

He primarily writes about RPA and process automation, MSPs, Ordinal Inscriptions, IoT, and to jazz it up a bit, sometimes FinTech.

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Top 7 Best Practices For Hybrid Cloud Automation In 2023

End-user spending on the shift to the public cloud was estimated to be $1.3 trillion in 2023, and it is expected to grow to $1.5 trillion by 2025

On the other hand, the limitations of on-premise systems do not allow companies to stay competitive and scale up when needed. This is where hybrid cloud automation comes into the picture. This article will delve into the best practices for hybrid cloud automation.

What is hybrid cloud automation?

Hybrid cloud is a practice that combines on-premise infrastructure with private and public cloud services for an efficient IT structure. Hybrid cloud automation refers to the orchestration or streamlining of workflows across these different environments. For example, hybrid cloud automation enhances the accessibility of data across the enterprise. Data saved in data centers can be shared with the software operating on the cloud, decreasing the manual labor and the time spent on data transfer. 

Why do companies choose hybrid cloud? 

Legacy tools: These are a significant part of operations for many businesses. Hybrid cloud enables companies to keep using their legacy tools while benefiting from the speed and flexibility of cloud technology. This also reduces the costs of replacing the legacy system and helps companies stay competitive in the face of change.

Expanding capacity: Hybrid cloud approach enables enterprises to enhance the capacity of their on-premise systems by adding a public cloud without making further investments in their infrastructure.

Reduced Costs: Companies can avoid significant initial investments in expanding on-premise servers. It is cost-efficient as cloud services charge per user or have a pay-as-you-go system. 

ActiveBatch delivers a comprehensive, easy-to-use WLA platform in the marketplace, empowering businesses to run critical processes with low effort and skills. With Active Batch, businesses can:

Automate processes across the entire enterprise

Roll out workflows faster by leveraging an extensive library of pre-built job steps and variables.

Simplify and standardize best practices with easily-customizable templates

Boost productivity with guided wizards and tooltips

Create optimized workflows effortlessly

What are leading hybrid cloud automation software?

Hybrid cloud automation tools need to be capable of:

Automating resource provisioning in different clouds and on-premise

Providing low-code UIs for broad accessibility. This is not a must but can help increase adoption.

Check out leading workload automation solutions which provide these functionality.

Best practices in hybrid cloud automation 1. Ensure visibility into data management 

Many of the automation tools on the market provide visibility into data management as data solutions or visibility as part of their software. However, these tools are designed to work in a single environment: on-premise or in the cloud. Using different automation tools for each system and manually combining the data would be too costly and lead to business intelligence delays.

Businesses must use cloud management platforms or workload automation software to provide their IT department and developers with enhanced visibility from a centralized control point. End-to-end automation would not only solve the problem of visibility but also would have higher ROI as the management can eliminate some of the other tools used in each environment for such purposes. 

Explore data management automation in more detail.

2. Enhance the capacity of on-premise legacy applications 

Businesses use cloudbursting deployment techniques to control a sudden increase in IT demand to prevent service interruptions. When an application hosted on-premises exceeds the local resources, configuration, or infrastructure as code (IaC) tools automatically trigger cloudbursting and expands to the public cloud.

For example, let us consider a web application for taxi ordering that operates on a private cloud. On busy days like holidays, web traffic increases significantly when people order taxis more often. The sudden increase in web traffic can cause disruptions or slow-downs in the service. However, as the web traffic of the application is not always so high, the return on investment for expanding capacity is very low. This is where companies can benefit from cloud bursting. The extra traffic can “burst out” to the public cloud, eliminating disruptions.

3. Simplify Complex IT infrastructure management and lengthy deployment cycle 

Hybrid cloud management requires managers to be experts in numerous fields because of its complex multi-environment characteristic. Alongside on-premise computing, they must have expertise in private and public clouds that operate different tools and solutions. 

Use end-to-end orchestration to allow developers to coordinate complicated software stacks across the enterprise. Orchestration provides centralized management over on-premise, private, and public cloud computing and facilitates integrations reducing product-release cycles.

An example of end-to-end orchestration technology could be workload automation solutions. Workload automation is the process of centralizing and automating the scheduling, initiation, and monitoring of business processes and transactions across physical, virtual, and cloud systems using the software. 

4. Align your operations with regulatory compliances

Regulatory compliances complicate the data storage process in the hybrid cloud as the regulations governing data storage differ based on the data type. Automation tools such as workload automation tools, RPA ensure the correct allocation of data storage to on-premise or cloud servers based on different regulations such as GLBA, HIPAA, COPPA, and so on. 

Another reason for the complication of regulatory issues is the difficulty of tracking the changes in different environments. Automation tools like workload automation enable tracing the changes made across the enterprise and ensure that every change made by the employees is according to the regulatory compliances. 

5.Define and implement an automation strategy

Hybrid cloud environments can be highly complex, spanning multiple services, platforms, and providers. Before automating processes, you should define a clear automation strategy that aligns with your business objectives, architectural principles, and desired outcomes. Your strategy should include understanding what to automate, when to automate, and how to measure the effectiveness of automation. Without a comprehensive strategy, you risk implementing automation in a piecemeal or haphazard way that could create more problems than it solves.

Redwood RunMyJob helps businesses orchestrate automation across their hybrid cloud infrastructure. Not only can it orchestrate solutions in different environments, but also it can coordinate legacy applications, OC activity, and web API interactions.

With Redwood’s services, businesses can centralize automation orchestration for SAP, Oracle, and other ERP systems. Businesses can automate processes efficiently with a low-code automation approach and a resilient cloud-native ecosystem.

6.Focus on configuration management

As hybrid cloud infrastructures continue to grow in complexity, so does the importance of maintaining a consistent configuration across your environments. Automation tools can be used to define your configurations as code, which can then be versioned, tested, and applied consistently across your environments. This reduces the risk of configuration drift and human error, improves your deployments’ repeatability, and helps ensure that your applications and services are always running in a known and expected state.

7. Maintain an iterative approach

Implementing automation is not a one-time effort but a continuous process of improvement. Start with automating simple, repetitive tasks and gradually move to more complex operations as your team becomes more comfortable with the tools and processes. Regularly review and update your automation strategy to ensure it aligns with your business objectives and technological landscape.

For more on Workload Orchestration:

To gain a more comprehensive overview of workload automation, download our whitepaper on the topic:

For guidance on choosing the right solution, get in touch with us:

Cem regularly speaks at international technology conferences. He graduated from Bogazici University as a computer engineer and holds an MBA from Columbia Business School.

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15 Best Podcast WordPress Themes In 2023

If we look purely at statistics, there are over 2 million active podcasts online, which produce up to 50 million shows per year. In the US alone, more than 25% of consumers listen to podcasts weekly. A number that has doubled in the last decade.

But these stats aren’t all that surprising. At one point, podcasting became a more efficient way of managing large communities. And, in many ways, it’s also a lucrative business opportunity for people with large followings. Podcast sponsorships can snag anywhere from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands per episode.

It would be much harder to achieve those returns with a traditional blog, especially in this fast-paced social media timeline. And thanks to improvements in smartphone audio capabilities, anyone can start their podcast from the comfort of their living room.

Using WordPress as a podcast platform

We’d be stuck here for days on end if we did a deep dive on all the podcasting platforms. If you have a podcast show, you will publish it with iTunes, Google Podcasts, and similar syndication platforms. But, that’s all they really are at the end of the day. A website for your podcast gives you more control over structuring and optimizing your brand. And WordPress is a solid choice for a platform.

Here is why:

And on top of all that, you also get to plug yourself into the WordPress plugin ecosystem.

And that ecosystem lets you use plugins to manage email lists, add new features, and optimize your podcast website for things like organic search. That said, let’s take a look at some of the best WordPress themes for podcasts. The following themes are custom-built specifically for hosting and managing your entire podcast.

Let’s get to it.

1. Livecast Livecast: Summary

The Livecast theme has a friendly, hip/trendy vibe to it. I first think it would be suitable for solo podcasters and multi-host teams. You can self-host all your episodes, but you have the option to embed your episodes from other platforms.

On the other hand, if you self-host – you can add the appropriate buttons to your episodes that go out to Spotify, iTunes, etc. In this theme, you will find five uniquely designed layouts. These layouts also have custom variations for displaying podcast episodes. You can choose from creating an entire series or listing out individual shows as you publish them. Each method has at least three different styles.

I feel like, more than anything – the Livecast theme stands out with its ability to provide multiple unique designs and have each of those designs be completely different from one another. So, if you ever felt the need to redesign your podcast site in the future, you might just be able to select any of the other designs already included in the theme itself. Just a thought, of course.

2. Resonator Resonator: Summary

One of the first things I noted from a design perspective is how spacious the episode pages are in the Resonator theme. There’s quite a lot of emphasis on going into detail about your episode, whether it’s through a transcript or other design elements. You can, for example, add a separate widget to let listeners jump to a specific part of the podcast. Super practical.

You can also choose to display the transcript as full-page text or embed it behind a scrollbar, so it doesn’t overwhelm the user experience. And finally, you can embed a custom profile widget of the podcast hosts/guests who were on the show. It’s also a nice way for your guests to have a bit of a spotlight on their work and social media profiles.

The last thing I’ll add is that this theme does have a blog design, also. And, on top of that, a separate design for an eCommerce store. So, this gives you the tools to do both content marketing but also to sell merchandise or sponsorships. All from within WordPress.

3. WpCast WpCast: Summary

I feel like the WpCast theme is going to be best suited for large-scale podcasting projects, so think education, courses, business series, and the like. This is largely in part due to how the theme is structured, wherein the main area of focus is put on publishing series.

Each series landing page has a custom layout populated with all the episodes within that series. And then, you have the option to further improve those pages by providing details, specific descriptions, and more.

4. Castora Castora: Summary

As someone who loves minimal design (take my blog as an example) – I really love the crystal clear layout in the Castora theme. With the addition of trendy design elements, the theme bridges the gap between professional and simplistic-like. My favorite design is probably the Homepage 2 variant. You get a nice hero introduction that covers your latest episode and has button links out to other listening platforms.

After that, it’s a nice minimalistic list of episodes in chronological order. Moving on, in this theme, you also get that blogging-like design structure. Each episode’s layout includes ways for you to describe the topic and what was discussed in detail. Additionally, you can set markers for the specific timeframe in the episode, and give a small description of the topic at hand – which your listeners can use to jump to a specific part quickly.

5. Megabyte Megabyte: Summary

I don’t know what it is about dark-mode designs, but they just happen to feel so easy to work with as far as the user experience goes. And the Megabyte theme really puts it all together.

I’d say this is a theme that would work best for single-host podcasts. This means, it’s well-rounded and has a strong personal feel to it. A few key features this theme provides are the ability to create podcast series and list them on the homepage. If you ou do video podcasting, you can upload videos to your WordPress site and host them directly.

You can create an RSS feed which you can use to auto-publish your new episodes on iTunes or on Google Podcasts. And there is a separate design for WooCommerce, also.

6. Soundbyte Soundbyte: Summary

So, this is actually a theme by the same creator as the previous one. In all fairness, both themes don’t have any differences in the set of features they provide. Rather, the fundamental difference between them both is the design style.

They’re still both oriented around a darker color scheme. But with Soundbyte, the color tones are a little darker in certain sections. It’s kind of like, if you don’t want to mess around with custom styling – you can just get a different color scheme with the same features.

7. Castilo Castilo: Summary

If you subscribe to a lot of podcasts, there’s a good chance you’ve run into the Castilo theme already since it’s definitely one of the more popular ones on this list. Liviu Cerchez has been publishing audio-based themes for over 6 years. So, during this time – he has had the ability to listen to real user feedback and optimize this theme to the best of his ability.

For me, this theme feels like it would be a great fit for a set podcast show or to be used for independent publishing in your own unique niche. The combination of a clean layout with added funk through button styles and parallax-scrolling is what makes this design a bit of eye candy.

You have the option to divide your series into seasons, but also amplify the discoverability through custom tags and categories.

8. Viseo Viseo: Summary

Audio podcasting is kind of the gold standard. But, I wouldn’t sleep on the potential of video podcasting, either. I mean, a prime example of that is someone like Joe Rogan – imagine what his podcast would be like without video. There’s clearly demand for it.

9. Vlog Vlog: Summary

Speaking of video, here’s a nice all-in-one video/audio theme: Vlog. How simple. Unlike the designs we’ve seen so far, this choice differs from all others by adding 4 unique style concepts in one unified theme. You can choose from the default (video blogging), personal, magazine, and finally, the Vlog Podcasts style. For this article, we’re interested in the last style only.

The first thing that will stand out is that Vlog structures the podcast very much like you would a traditional blog. So, each episode is listed out as you publish them. And the episode pages feel like blog posts but are optimized for displaying podcast episodes.

It does have support for RTL, and translation is also going to be a breeze since you’re already using WordPress, and the theme works well with plugins like WPML.

10. Voiceful Voiceful: Summary

The Voiceful theme, much like others, tries to combine both podcasting and blogging in the same theme. Which, in all fairness, is a pretty good deal if you plan to do both. The page design in particular, for blogs and podcasts, is quite modern-looking. And you can display the podcast player either on the top of the page or as a separate slide-out widget.

Furthermore, Voiceful is fully widgetized so you can actually promote your internal content and outgoing links to social media platforms. Above all, if you ever get tired of podcasting – you can just whip out blog posts without needing to change the style.

11. Episody Episody: Summary

The Episody theme is just so well put together and boasts an unbelievably stylish approach to designing a website. I love it. And what’s more, this theme actually has the exact opposite design, too – a super minimal black-on-white style perfect for practical podcasting.

I think one of the reasons why people look for different themes in the first place is because they understand a design does do quite a bit of the talking. So, my immediate description for this theme is that it’s ideal for established brands or individuals who wish to build a business around their podcast show.

You get all the familiar WordPress features, but with a little extra.

In particular, this theme has a custom-built media player which includes the ability to tag specific timeframes. Sure, listeners might skip sponsorship messages, but at least it’s easy to navigate the context of your show. Alternatively, it is possible to embed your episodes from other sources: Podbean, Soundcloud, and the like.

12. Artemiz Artemiz: Summary

I’m a huge fan of large typography and boxed elements. So, a theme like Artemiz hits home for me from a design perspective. In particular, I love the full-page layout for each individual post/episode. You get to add a clear and succinct description of what your episode is about, and then go all out with the transcript and other elements.

13. Rare Radio Rare Radio: Summary

This is quite an interesting theme in the sense that it’s the only podcast theme in this list that emphasizes charging money for content. Of course, you can still use it just for hosting your episodes and writing about them. But the idea that you can create a series around specific topics and then have people enroll in that series is quite enticing.

In terms of the ready-made layouts, it’s a mix of a full-on brand impression and an archives layout to list the latest shows simply. As the name implies, the authors of this theme were going for a kind of radio-like approach with their design. In other words, it might be an option if you wish to host not only podcasts but also real-time radio stations.

14. MaxCast MaxCast: Summary

MaxCast is a freshly released WordPress podcasting theme by Thapelo Molangeni. One of the cool things about this theme is that it functions both as a blog and also a podcast repository. There’s definitely the potential to use this theme for creating a podcast aggregator, where you fetch new podcast episodes from RSS feeds and then combine them in one place.

But, naturally, if you want to use it to host your own podcasts – it is just as good. The design implements features like rounded corners for many of the site elements, the ability to tag certain episodes as featured, but also video archives.

In-built features include a color scheme picker, WooCommerce support, custom layouts for homepage and blog posts, and a built-in media player so you can self-host podcast episodes yourself. Customizing is possible through Customizer, but should work just as well with modern page builders since the theme doesn’t depend on any frameworks.

15. Podover Podover: Summary

If you plan on doing nothing else but publishing podcast episodes – the Podover theme might suit your needs as it is focused on being a full-scale podcasting kit. The creative visuals combined with an easy-to-use transcript interface means you can quickly add new episodes, but also dash out transcripts for listeners who prefer to have a written reference point.

A nice touch in this theme is the podcast listings page. This one has multiple styles and an option to filter episodes based on a specific topic or host. Whether or not you plan to use this theme for your own personal show or together with your friends – the number of customization options available to you will make it easy to adapt this theme to your liking.

Getting your podcast website up and running

However, if you’re looking for a little more control over the initial design – you can also try working with a WordPress website builder. It might be a little bit more work on the design side, but at least you can do it 100% your way.

If you ever feel like redesigning your podcast website in the future – make sure to check back on this collection. I’ll do my best to keep it frequently updated, but also weed out any themes that perhaps are no longer being updated regularly.

Video Data Collection In 2023: Challenges & Best Practices

A common data type that is used to train computer vision (CV) is video data. As the demand for autonomous vehicles and other computer vision-enabled technologies rises, so does the need for video data since it is considered the fuel that makes these technologies work. 

However, studies show that in the entire development stage of a CV system, the data collection stage often gets neglected.

This article aims to remedy this issue by exploring what video data collection is, what the challenges are in gathering video data and what are some best practices to consider.

What is video data collection for AI/ML?

Video data collection for AI/ML training is the process of gathering video-object-detection systems, a specific type of video data, to train and deploy a CV system. 

A video dataset can include clips of people, animals, objects, environments, etc. For instance, a video dataset to train a self-driving car might include clips of: 

Different vehicles driving on the road,

People crossing the road or walking on the sidewalk,

Animals or pets crossing the road or on the sidewalk

Other objects  on the road or sidewalk (such as street signs, barriers, etc.)

What are the challenges in collecting video data?

Data collectors who collect video data might face the following challenges:

1. Cost of collection

Collecting video data can be expensive, especially when the dataset is supposed to be large. Even though smartphones are easily available now to record videos, the recordings can be low-resolution. So data collectors have to use expensive cameras to capture high-quality recordings.

In addition, recording videos on large scales requires extra labor, which can be an expensive process for diverse datasets. 

2. Time-consuming

Gathering video data can be time-consuming since they take longer to record as compared to image data. 

For instance, if a CV-enabled security surveillance system requires data to be collected at a specific time of the day (at dawn, for example), then such data will take significantly longer to collect as compared to data collected during the daytime. This is because the data collector will have a limited time window to record such videos. This issue might arise for image data collection as well; however, taking photos takes significantly less time than recording videos.

3. Unbiased/diverse data collection

A study by Georgia tech identified that computer vision systems are surprisingly good at detecting pedestrians with light skin color. With autonomous vehicles, this kind of discrimination can be fatal if the technology doesn’t detect people of different skin colors. For instance, Tesla’s system did not recognize horse carriages on the road since the system was never trained with horse carriage video data. 

Therefore, collecting diverse video data to avoid such biases and errors can become a challenge if done in-house, even for big companies such as Tesla. 

What are some best practices for video data collection?

While collecting video data, you can consider the following best practices:

1. Automate video data collection

Video data collection can be automated by using web scraping tools. The user can set parameters for the required data that each video should have, which allows the scraper bot to be specific about gathering the relevant data from the internet. 

2. Leverage crowdsourcing

Another effective method of gathering diverse and large datasets is through crowdsourcing. 

Through a crowdsourcing model, contributors around the world can be hired through a platform to complete mini video data collection tasks. There are third-party crowdsourcing data collection specialists for companies to reach out to avoid the hassle of developing a crowdsourcing platform in-house. 

To learn more about crowdsourcing data collection, check out this quick read.

3. Consider ethical and legal factors

Like every other type of data, gathering video data can also have some legal and ethical baggage. For instance, collecting videos of people for a face detection system can be subjected to some rules and policies that are important to consider in some countries such as the US.

To learn more about why data collection ethics is important and to achieve it check out this quick read. 

4. Ensure data quality

While collecting video data, maintaining the level of quality is very important for the overall performance of the CV system. 

The video data should be:

Recorded with consistency – i.e., with similar resolution, light variations, angles, etc.

Recorded with diversity in mind. The data should be all-inclusive and comprehensive vis-a-vis the subject for which the data is being collected for.

The video data should be authentic and should not have been physically or digitally modified.

To learn more about data collection quality and how to main it, check out this quick read.

For more in-depth knowledge on data collection, feel free to download our whitepaper:

You can also check our data-driven list of data collection/harvesting services to find the option that best suits your project needs.

Further reading

If you need help finding a vendor or have any questions, feel free to contact us:

Shehmir Javaid

Shehmir Javaid is an industry analyst at AIMultiple. He has a background in logistics and supply chain management research and loves learning about innovative technology and sustainability. He completed his MSc in logistics and operations management from Cardiff University UK and Bachelor’s in international business administration From Cardiff Metropolitan University UK.

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Ultimate Guide To Ransomware: Tools & Best Practices In 2023

In this article, we explore what ransomware is, how it works, which industries are affected by it, and how to protect yourself against it.

What is ransomware and how does it work?

Ransomware is a type of malware designed to target a user’s device or network, steal their data, and block their access to it until they pay a ransom to the attacker. There are mainly 2 types of ransomware:

Locker: Locker ransomware blocks user’s access to their device’s basic functions such as the desktop, mouse, or keyboard, enabling the user only to react to the ransomware message to make the payment. Typically, locker ransomware does not target specific files or folders in the device.

Crypto: Crypto ransomware targets documents or files on the device, encrypts them, denies user access to them, and typically threatens to destroy or publish the data if the ransom was not paid in a certain time. Crypto ransomware does not affect the way a user interacts with their device.

How is ransomware spread? What are some of the famous ransomware attacks?

There has been an increase in the number of organizations attacked by ransomware attacks in the past 5 years, and ~1500 businesses have been attacked in the US in 2023 alone. Some of the most famous attacks are:

What are the best practices to detect and mitigate ransomware attacks?

Ransomware attacks target devices with limited protection and threaten to destroy important data, therefore, to prevent ransomware attacks and avoid the worst consequences, individuals and businesses need to follow best practices, which include:

Backup the data using the 3-2-1 rule which states that you should have 3 copies of your data in 2 different places (e.g. cloud, device, USB) with 1 copy off-site for disasters.

Conduct regular software updates to ensure the installment of the latest patches for system vulnerabilities. To automate software updates, businesses can leverage:

RPA bots that handle repetitive GUI tasks, including system updates.

Workload automation tools that can trigger system updates at certain times or triggering events.

Employ email filtering to detect phishing and scam emails. Businesses can leverage anti-spam solutions to scan email messages and files attached to the email for potential threats.

Separate business networks according to department or tasks to avoid major data loss in case of a ransomware attack on a centralized point. Businesses can also use network security solutions that monitor network traffic and inform the IT team about any abnormal situations that require further investigation.

Do not log in to sensitive accounts from shared networks such as public WiFi

Employ cyberattack and ransomware detection and mitigation software such as:

Vulnerability management tools that identify, prioritize and manage system vulnerabilities, as well as suggest remediation tips to avoid system breaches.

Cybersecurity software that relies on AI and machine learning technology to prevent, detect and react to various forms of cyber threats.

Avast Antivirus

Kaspersky Anti-Ransomware Tool

Bitdefender Anti-Ransomware Tool

Cybersight RansomStopper

Trend Micro RansomBuster

Check Point ZoneAlarm

CryptoDrop

RPA

RPA bots can be used to increase cybersecurity by automating data enrichment and management, eliminate unauthorized access to privileged data, run cyber threat hunts and penetration tests, detect viruses and malware threats, and automate system updates.

Workload automation (WLA) tools integrate scheduling and triggering capabilities to schedule, execute and monitor backend processes on different business platforms from a centralized point. WLA tools can be used to automate several processes which can affect the overall security of the system because they reduce human intervention and access to privileged data, create event logs of file transfers and loadings to generate audit trails, and detect and alert system errors to ensure system security. See our prioritized list of WLA tools to identify the right ones for your organization.

How can AI help in mitigating ransomware attacks?

Different AI algorithms can be used to detect ransomware attacks depending on the attack type, for example:

Natural Language Processing algorithms (NLP): NLP can be leveraged for filtering phishing and spam emails because it can detect malicious or threatening language and classify messages and emails as spam or ham.

Deep learning: Ransomware has different variants and families. Deep learning can be used to generate and train predictive models, such as recurrent neural networks (RNN) with long short term memory (LSTM), that can learn the behavior of ransomware and use this knowledge to detect evolving variants and families which have not yet been seen.

Cybersecurity analytics: Cybersecurity analytics studies the digital trail left behind by cyber criminals to analyze system weaknesses, provide a holistic view of security considerations, and prevent losses in the future.

Further reading and security solutions

To explore different cybersecurity solutions, feel free to read our in-depth articles:

To learn about cybersecurity statistics, feel free to check our data-driven list of 45+ stats about cybersecurity, market, attacks, and COVID-19 impact.

If you believe your business will benefit from a cybersecurity solution, scroll down our data-driven lists of solution providers for:

And let us help you find the right solution for your business:

Cem regularly speaks at international technology conferences. He graduated from Bogazici University as a computer engineer and holds an MBA from Columbia Business School.

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5 Best Practices For Managed Pring Services In Healthcare

By adopting managed print services, healthcare organizations can not only improve their financial well-being; they can enhance security and gain operational efficiencies that boost productivity for improved patient outcomes.

Despite heavy investments in electronic health records (EHRs), the modern healthcare system remains awash in paper.

Between administrative paperwork, test results, patient notes, receipts, etc., printed documents continue to add up considerably. Across industries, printing accounts for 3 percent to 5 percent of an average organization’s annual financial outlay, IDC estimates. And within healthcare, inefficient print processes eat up clinicians’ time and money, put protected health information (PHI) at risk, and can compromise patient care.

Given the rollout of government regulations aimed at increasing efficiencies and reducing waste, healthcare providers may have thought printing worries would wane. Under the Health Information Technology for Economical and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, for example, healthcare providers are mandated to adopt EHRs. About 97 percent of hospitals and almost 63 percent of physicians now use those digital systems, according to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.

But HITECH and related requirements, such as the Affordable Care Act and the transition to ICD-10, actually increased hospitals’ printing by an average of 11 percent, according to Logicalis, an international solution provider and managed service provider (MSP) whose client base includes a diverse array of healthcare providers. Per employee, that adds up to almost $1,000 each year, the MSP said. One reason for more paper is patients’ reluctance to use online portals to access their healthcare data. As a result, many patients are provided with a printed clinical summary at the end of each visit to a healthcare facility, as well as reports on lab results, allergies, and medications.

Mobility is another trend that hasn’t quite lived up to its promise of delivering a paperless healthcare practice. Although smartphones and tablets, implemented broadly across healthcare organizations, have reduced printing to some extent, mobile workers can’t be removed from the print equation just yet. Only 21 percent of those surveyed by CompTIA in 2014 saw a “significant reduction” in printing by mobile users, so healthcare institutions must consider these employees’ needs when developing a cohesive print strategy.

To combat rising costs, healthcare executives want to address operational inefficiency; to accomplish this, they’re developing data-driven digital hospital strategies, according to IDC. Part of this strategy: Find the right solution provider partners to take over routine, mainstream IT tasks, such as print management.

Here are five best practices for solution providers looking to deliver value to healthcare organizations with managed print services (MPS).

Start with a printing assessment that examines the organization’s needs, spending, consumption, and physical footprint. Calculate the total cost of printing, including consumables and maintenance support, and compare it to the cost of optimized operations through managed print services.

Elevate customer awareness about the technical capabilities of printer hardware and software, demonstrating how healthcare providers can get more out of their investments by leveraging their printer fleets as document management centers. Customers also need to be made aware of the benefits of deferring maintenance and support to MPS providers.

Design printing infrastructures that match workflows to maximize efficiency and security. Because healthcare records are sensitive, hospitals and clinics should avoid having paperwork sit in a printer tray. By redesigning printer-fleet layouts around workflows, solution providers can increase efficiency and improve security and regulatory compliance.

Enable mobile workforces with applications that help users find the right printer from their devices by building a printer infrastructure that routes commands to the nearest, most appropriate printer.

Provide reporting on printer infrastructure and utilization. Reports should include insights on maintenance, utilization, supply consumption, and costs. The objective of an MPS provider is to demonstrate value through a more reliable printer infrastructure and reduced costs.

Through ongoing evaluation of and communication about the printing infrastructure, MPS providers forge strong bonds with their healthcare clients and deliver proven returns on investment through reduced printing expenditures and improved reliability.

Eliminate the paper chase and MPS providers could open up doors for the reams of service opportunities that healthcare organizations can use to maximize their efficiencies, secure their data, and provide top-notch care to patients.

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