“Data is the new oil,” an expression coined around a decade ago by British data science mathematician and entrepreneur, Clive Humby, seems to become more relevant as we usher in an era marked by rapid global digitization and digital services. How do we deal with this new currency of the modern digital economy? One essential part of this is data storage. Google Cloud is leading the way with cloud service offerings, data storage services and customer use cases to help you develop a sound data storage management strategy. This resource outlines the various Google Cloud storage services your organization can leverage.
 
Google Cloud Firestore1
 

Google Cloud Firestore is a serverless, real-time, highly scalable, NoSQL document-based database that is adept at syncing, storing and querying data and can be used for web-based, mobile or IoT apps. It provides built-in security, auto scaling and multi-region replication. In addition, it gives software development kits (SDKs) for mobile apps, and has server-side components with robust client libraries that directly connect your app to data, accompanied with built-in offline support.

Data is organized in collections and documents and can be accessed via performant queries and by using a particular database entry path. Every document needs to belong to a collection and can have sub-collections that belong to a document, along with a generous billing structure where you pay based on reads and writes.
 
Google Cloud Bigtable2
 
Google Cloud Bigtable is a fully managed NoSQL big data service that is highly scalable and best suited for analyzing huge workloads. Bigtable powers substantial services like Google Maps and Gmail behind the scenes and distributes data to drive performance on massive datasets. It is also designed as a sparsely populated database3 that can scale to thousands of columns and billions of rows, making it ideal to be used while dealing with terabytes or petabytes of data. As a big data database service, it also integrates well with existing big data tools like Google Cloud Hadoop. This data service can also easily accommodate an increase in requests and is best suited for containing structured or semi-structured data like financial, reporting, marketing data, or data needed to run machine learning models. Google Cloud Bigtable can be set up using Google Cloud, the web console, or the API.
 
Google Cloud Storage4
 
Google Cloud Storage (GCS) is the object storage service that can be used for large scale data processing and provides reliable, scalable and consistent data storage. Contrary to a traditional file storage system, this is an object storage service that stores data in the form of an arbitrary sequence of bytes addressed by a unique key for object-based storage services in the form of an URL and can easily be used with other web-based technologies. Object storage utilizes grouping data in unique namespaces, popularly called “buckets.” Enterprises can primarily use GCS to store large binary objects, data to be served to websites, content data, historical data for compliance and as a data archive.
 
Storage Classes in Google Cloud 
 
Google Cloud buckets have various storage classes:

 
Google Cloud SQL5
 
Google Cloud SQL is a fully managed, easy to use relational database management system (RDBMS) that offers MySQL, Postgres and SQL server as a service on the cloud. Suppose you are in the starting phase of building your company and don’t want to worry about the integrities of applying patches, configuring for replication, backup and updates. Google Cloud SQL can seamlessly integrate with other Google Cloud offerings like App Engine, Compute Engine or Kubernetes Engine. 
 
Cloud SQL provides vertical and horizontal scaling and can be configured either using the cloud console or the Google Cloud command-line interface. This is the ideal RDBMS if you are looking for frequent queries, and fast response time.
 
Google Cloud Spanner6
 
Google Cloud Spanner can be leveraged when you need a SQL database for massive scale, to the tune of 1000s of writes per second and 100,000s of reads per second, globally. This is a fully managed, unlimited scale, string consistency RDBMS system on the cloud that supports secondary indexes and provides vital data consistency by employing hardware-assisted time synchronization. It is a globally replicated database that encrypts data at rest and transit and has low maintenance, and a high availability of 99.999 percent offering import and export of data. This database can be set up by the cloud console or the Google Cloud command-line interface and is ideal for large scale projects in domains like healthcare, retail, finance, etc.
 
Google Cloud BigQuery7
 
BigQuery is a column comprehensive data warehousing service and an analytical database that indexes data by the column. It is a serverless data warehouse designed to ingest, store and query large amounts of data. BigQuery provides ways to aggregate data from discrete sources and make it available for business processing and can integrate with other third-party tools for data analysis and visualization with ease.  

It works with standard SQL and provides client libraries for interacting with it in multiple programming languages and can be set up using the web console, command-line tool, or API calls in corresponding client libraries. Fully managed by Google Cloud, it only charges you for storing, querying and streaming the data.
 
Choosing the right storage option

Requirements to considerService to consider
Do you need a robust and scalable NoSQL database for cloud-native applications?Do you prefer a database that seamlessly integrates with serverless architecture?Do you need a database where you pay as you go?Google Cloud Firestore
Are you dealing with data that is at least 1 TB in size?Do you need a key value pair NoSQL DB that needs to deal with mass storage of data rather than application state data?Google Cloud Bigtable
Do you require high performing, scalable data storage with simple administrative overhead?Do you require an effective solution for storing large volumes of data, but not limited to backup, content storage, archival, compliance, disaster recovery incidents?Do you require encryption for the data at rest as well as in transit?Google Cloud Storage
Do you need a fully managed generic SQL system that encrypts data automatically in rest as well as in transit?Are you looking for a DB that encrypts external connections as well?Do you need an RDBMS on the cloud that scales horizontally and vertically?8Google Cloud SQL
Do you need a highly available RDBMS for massive, large-scale data, which allows ACID updates?Do you need a system that is encrypted to not worry about data corruption?Do you need a database that auto replicates and facilitates online schema changes?Google Cloud Spanner
Do you need a fast, highly scalable and reliable data warehouse for data analytics?Do you need a secure environment, where data is encrypted and protected with IAM support?Are you looking for a disaster proof solution where you can easily revert to a previous state?Google Cloud BigQuery

 
Google Cloud’s dynamic, scalable storage services for various applications, database or business requirements can help your business ensure that your data is properly protected and retrievable for necessary performance.
 

References:

Cloud Billing 101
 
Whether you’re starting your business on the cloud or assessing to migrate from your current cloud strategy, taking full advantage of any cloud transition means choosing project-based services that not only offer rich functionality, but are secure, affordable, and easy-to-use. This guide to Cloud Billing is a step-by-step resource on how to make invoicing, payments, and budget tracking more efficient for your business.
 
Billing accounts
 
Google Cloud is a collection of cloud computing services including compute, storage, networking and specialized services such as machine learning (ML). All project cloud services are charged to a linked billing account using Google Cloud projects.

A Cloud Billing account is a cloud level resource that stores information on how to pay charges associated with each project. All projects require a billing account—unless they use only free services—and can be associated with one or more projects following a similar structure to the resource hierarchy. If every department in a company pays for their cloud services from the same part of the company’s budget, they can use one billing account, or have different billing accounts linked to each of the departments.1
 

Fig 1 . Resource Hierarchy2

 
Billing account types

Payments
 
Cloud billing accounts are connected to a Google Payments profile that requires a form of payment and permanent profile type. This setting can’t be changed and must be carefully chosen.

There are two types of payment profiles:

 
Charging cycle
 
The charging cycle on your Cloud Billing account determines how and when you pay for your Google Cloud services using either monthly billing or threshold billing (costs are charged when your account has accrued a specific amount). For self-serve Cloud Billing accounts, the charging cycle is automatically assigned when the account is created and can’t be changed. For invoiced Cloud Billing accounts, one invoice is received per month and payment terms are determined by your Google agreement.7
 
Important roles associated with billing

RoleDescriptionRecommended assignee
Billing account creatorEnables users to create new billing accounts.Users with a financial role in the organization.
Billing account administratorAllows users to manage billing accounts, but they cannot create them.Users more finance-minded, as the cloud admins.8
Billing account userAllows a user to associate projects to billing accounts.Project creators will need this role.
Billing account viewerEnables a user to view billing account costs and transactions.Users like the auditor, who needs to be able to read billing account information, but not change it.9

 
Billing budgets and alerts
 
Google Cloud also provides an option to define budgets and set alerts. A budget helps you to track your actual Google Cloud spend against your planned spend.10 Once the budget is defined, alarms can be set by defining the threshold values, which trigger an email notification helping users to take action to control costs and stay within their budget.
 
Setting up budgets and alerts
 

Fig 2. Budgets and alerts.11

 
How to set up budgets and alerts

  1. From the console, go to billing and then budgets and alerts
  2. The form as shown in figure 2 will be displayed
  3. In the form, first you give a name to the budget and then specify the budget billing account
  4. While linking the billing account, keep in mind that the budget and alerts you specify should be based on what you expect to spend for all projects linked to the billing account
  5. Set the budget account—you can either specify a particular amount—or specify that your budget is the amount spent in the previous month
  6. Once the budget is set, you can set three alert percentages
  7. By default, the percentages are set to 50 percent, 90 percent, and 100 percent and you can change the percentages according to your needs
  8. If you’d like more alerts, click on “Add Item” in the “Set Budget Alerts” section and specify the alert percentage
  9. Whenever the specified percentage of the budget is spent, all the recipients are notified by email
  10. Recipients of the mail can be specified in two ways:
    • Role-based, i.e., billing administrators and billing account users are notified by email, which is the default option
    • Use cloud monitoring and notify others in the organization to receive the notification
  11. Check the box “Connect a Pub/Sub-topic to this budget” in the “Manage Notifications” section, if you want to respond to the alerts programmatically; this will send notifications to the pub/sub-topic
  12. Click “Finish”

Creating a billing account and linking it to your project is the first step to using Google Cloud.Once the budgets and alerts are set, the billing administrators, billing account users and other recipients start receiving alerts as the cost increases. There is also an option to export billing data to either a BigQuery or Cloud Storage for further analysis.

To learn more about Deloitte’s alliance with Google Cloud, visit www.deloitte.com/googlecloud

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Virtual onboarding has become an integral part of the recruitment journey ever since the pandemic hit, and HashedIn by Deloitte is no exception. HashedIn’s onboarding team came up with a personalized, engaging, and simple 60-day program. It was indeed a challenge in the early stages, as the principal hurdle we faced was for the tasks that required physical presence, like onboarding gifts, setting up the laptops and bank accounts. But with efficient workforce and resources, the remote recruitment process was carried out seamlessly by us. To deliver a positive virtual onboarding experience, here are the steps that were undertaken by the recruitment team.  

 

A Pre-onboarding Plan

At HashedIn, onboarding begins as soon as a candidate accepts the offer. Hashers, as they’re fondly called, have to attend an orientation session conducted by our CEO, Himanshu Varshney. This gives them an idea about our organization, the ongoing projects, and culture. Further, two days before their joining date, a welcome email is shared to notify them about the detailed onboarding plan. 

 

Interactive Sessions 

Building a relationship with the new joinees might be a hurdle virtually, but we ensure scheduling various interactive sessions to bridge the gap between employee and employer. It begins with a welcome session conducted by the recruitment manager to introduce them to the recruitment process briefly. The HR Team also discusses the documentation process with a small induction program. This is essential to let the new employees get a glimpse of our organization’s policies and procedures. Likewise, similar sessions are conducted on the first day of onboarding with the new joinees and the IT Team, Finance Team, and more. 

 

Ice-breaker Activities 

Well-designed and well-facilitated ice breaker sessions constitute an essential part of our onboarding program. We conduct fun, cordial sessions over Google Hangouts or Zoom to help the new Hashers build a good rapport with their fellow teammates. Moreover, senior employees are assigned to the new ones as their buddies to make them acquainted with the ins and outs of the organization. 

 

Leadership Talks 

Since face-to-face interactions with the new Hashers is currently not possible, leadership talks and formal inductions between the leadership team and/or BU heads are organized. These help the employees to stay motivated, engaged, and proactive. Through these formal induction sessions, we encourage employees to share their feedback, with radical honesty, so that a channel of open communication is built

 

Training Program By Talent Development Group
A training program by the Talent Development Group (TDG) is conducted that involves various bootcamps and other training programs for the tech employees. This goes on for two weeks, and on the 15th day, a Recruitment Team member goes back to the employees to know about their experience on TDG. During virtual onboarding, a well-planned and executed training program like this improves the overall performance of the new joinees. 

 

Constant Feedback

Since we are virtually connected right now, taking feedback from the new joinees becomes a matter of paramount importance. At regular intervals of the onboarding program, we either call them directly, or forms are sent to get feedback related to their projects and their thoughts on HashedIn’s policies. Also, an Net Promoter Score tool is used to collect ratings for their onboarding experience. This is known as the ‘onboarding pulse check’ and ‘HR check-ins’. If they face any query or concern, it’s immediately escalated to the project managers or BU heads or to the Leadership Team. After this, the HR Team sends detailed reports to the Leadership Team about the entire onboarding process. 


We talked to a few employees to get some honest feedback about their virtual onboarding experience. Ashima Saxena, a Partnerships and Alliances Specialist, shares her experience, “Virtual onboarding at HashedIn was extremely smooth and hassle-free. I had joined right when the country-wide lockdown was announced and the HR team was constantly approachable for any issues faced. Such gestures make a difference. The online onboarding was very well streamlined and the hiring team made the process very seamless”. Talking about the warmth she received while joining remotely, Anushka N Sharma, a Software Engineer, who joined recently says, “The virtual onboarding was wonderful. We were sent a welcome kit and team members were introduced through a video call. I was assigned a buddy who helped me understand things. All the members were very helpful and the whole process was smooth.” 

 

A promising future
Our virtual onboarding has paved the way for proper time management, minimizing the stress of candidates appearing for interviews physically and allowing every individual to fulfil their career dreams from the comfort and safety of their homes. As we advance, our recruitment and HR teams are constantly looking for innovative measures to make this process more flawless in the future. 

 

Cloud-native architecture paves the way for the future of app development. This technology is characterized by its agile approach and helps companies to make the most out of cloud services that have emerged as a key driving factor behind digital transformation in modern industries. Apps developed with a cloud-native approach are playing a major role in transforming how diverse businesses operate, and deliver value to their customers.1

 

Cloud computing has witnessed exceptional growth and development over the last decade, owing to  many advantages offered by this system. It helps companies cut down on their expenses, provides superior flexibility, and helps boost their security and stability. More than 90% of enterprises already use a cloud service today, and the rate of cloud adoption is expected to consistently increase in the future.2

 

However, several companies that have already adopted the cloud platform are now finding it difficult to identify new ways to deliver more innovation and value from their existing cloud strategies. A major reason behind this being that these firms are largely focused on application migration, which is the process of  moving old apps and their functionality onto the cloud. While this system worked well in the initial stages, to meet the market requirements, businesses now need to unlock the optimal benefits of the cloud, to enjoy superior agility and lower IT expenses. The best way to do so would be to adopt a “cloud-native” approach, which involves developing applications and recognizing people and workflows, specifically as per the cloud.

 

What is meant by going cloud-native?3

 

Cloud-native basically implies an approach of building services and applications for the cloud environment. Unlike their legacy counterparts, these apps are designed for the cloud right from day one. They can additionally be fixed and deployed much faster, and tend to have quite a fluid architecture. As a result, these applications can be placed and moved through diverse environments with ease.

 

Key considerations for companies going cloud-native

 

 

While going cloud-native is certainly advantageous, it is not that easy. However, by maintaining proper practices and implementing systematic strategies, one can unlock      incredible scalability, reliability, and agility through this system. Ensuring proper management and monitoring of the environment, keeping up with the latest cloud-native developments, and building cloud-native delivery pipeline apps can be quite instrumental in this process.

 

Organizations can effectively improve their business processes with reduced costs, overheads, and manual efforts owing to the many advantageous features of cloud-native applications. These are portable, resilient, scalable and can be updated with ease, and hence can significantly aid companies to provide better experiences to their customers. 

 

References:

Bot: Hello! Welcome to Round the World Travels! How may I help you?

Customer: Hi, I am John, need to book a ticket from India to California

 

Does this conversation seem familiar these days? Well, that’s because it has become the norm. This cutting-edge technology is known as conversational artificial intelligence (AI). Conversational AI empowers varied industries to employ chatbots, or virtual assistants to engage in a healthy conversation with customers. This interactive technology is making life easier and plays an impactful role in our day-to-day lives. The advancement in artificial intelligence has become a cost-efficient move that has enhanced a smoother digital experience with various voice assistant tools. I wouldn’t be surprised if Alexa becomes man’s best friend. As we move forward in a competitive world, Gartner emphasizes that “30% of all web browsing will be done through screenless designs and interactions such as voice commands, gestures, and eye-tracking.”1

 

The growth from chatbots to conversational AI bots

 

The growth from traditional chatbots to interactive AI bots was a result of the evolution of technology and science. The reasons why conversational AI bots are more sought out are as follows:

  1. Chatbots were predefined, designed based on a rules system, and automate human interactions. Whereas, a conversational AI bot is built with the new UI, is omnipresent, voice assisted (Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant), multilingual, and constituents of sentimental analysis. 
  2. Long gone are the days where people were delighted with a rudimentary rule-based chatbot and are more satisfied with a cognitive AI bot that can help respond to complex scenarios. 

 

The evolution of bots showcases the capabilities of how technology has evolved and been tailored to delight customers in every possible way. As per Gartner, “Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be a mainstream customer experience investment in the next couple of years. 47% of organizations will use chatbots for customer care and 40% will deploy virtual assistants.”2 Organizations are gaining momentum by achieving customer satisfaction through conversational AI bots. They are present everywhere and are customized to decipher any situation and attend to customers’ needs.

 

Why do organizations invest in Conversational AI? 

 

With the advancement in personalized products and on-call delivery services, customers desire to be surprised and want products that are accurate, easy to use, and acknowledge their feelings too. Well, with a lot in demand and a lot to be met, organizations are adopting advanced conversational AI for the following reasons: 

 

 

How to kickstart your Conversational AI journey?

Objective of creating a conversational experience through AI4

 

Develop a strategy for building/deploying conversational AI: A well-built objective should be put in place in order to acquire target end-users. The strategy to be developed should be based on the need for a chatbot for the business and ensure that it enhances customer experience in all possible aspects. 

 

Primary research: Proper research should be done to generate substantial insights received from customers, employees, etc. These research documents should be able to define the customers’ experience in any situation.

 

Conduct a conversational experience workshop: On completion of primary research ensure to document the same and generate a list of target customers. Freeze the target customers and record their individual experiences with AI. These can be further used to identify/list down all features to be added to the bots, design high-level workflows/use cases, and prioritize tasks based on business impact or requirement.   

 

Outline the technology architecture: This crucial step constituent of finalizing and onboarding the tech partner, and platform assessment which help define milestones in a conversational AI journey. The first version/MVP is built in this stage and a pilot test is conducted with a limited number of end-users 

 

Define Success metrics: Success metrics help measure the progress of the product and generate customer insights. Based on the insights new features can be added to the product and the existing ones can be removed to make the product more customer-friendly.  

 

Scalability: Product scalability plays a vital role in serving customer needs and building a proper roadmap for the growth of the organization. It also helps define future opportunities in UX, and customer engagement. 

 

The era of voice recognition

 

According to the Capgemini study, “40% of consumers will use a voice assistant over a mobile app or website.”5 Organizations who are striving to survive in a competitive market are acquiring new customers by enhancing their products and services to conversational AI. It has become the go-to technology in all sectors to enhance efficiency, customer satisfaction, and growth. 

 

With most people living a fast-paced life a voice assistant like Alexa, Google, and Siri is indeed making life easier. These voice recognition technologies are evolving on a daily basis and enhancing a more interactive digital world, making it more challenging, yet  filled with opportunities. 

 

References:

 Data warehouse (DW) modernization has become extremely vital for modern businesses. It ensures timely access to the analytics and data needed for businesses to operate smoothly. To facilitate smart decision making for practitioners, especially in the manufacturing industry, data warehousing for OLAP (Online Analytical Processing) applications are used to provide a distinctive edge. 

 

The traditional DW systems are often unable to cope up with the requirements of contemporary industries, resulting in several pain points. DW modernization hence is needed to effectively and swiftly meet the ever-evolving business environments, and rapidly iterate cutting-edge solutions, to provide adequate support for new data sources. The manufacturing industry especially involves a host of complex processes and huge investments, and to ensure the best possible outcomes, it is necessary to modernize the data warehousing system. 

 

Modern DW featuring cloud-built data architecture helps companies support their current and future data analytics workloads, irrespective of the scale. The high flexibility offered by popular cloud platforms like AWS, empowers businesses to carry out various processes with their data in real-time, and comes as a boon for many modern sectors, including manufacturing.

 

Data warehousing and the manufacturing 1
 

Over the years, several companies belonging to the manufacturing industry have started to use DW to improve their operations and deliver enterprise-level quality. Data and analytics allow manufacturing firms to stay competitive and cater to the current market needs. Reports, dashboards, and analytics tools are used by manufacturing professionals to extract insights from data, monitor operations and performance, and facilitate business decisions. These reports and tools are powered by DWs that efficiently store data to reduce the input and output (I/O) of data and deliver query results in a swift manner. 

 

While transactional systems are used to gather and store detailed data in manufacturing firms, DWs caters to their analytics and decision-making requirements. Modern manufacturing companies ideally have systems in place to control individual machines and automate production. Online Transaction Processing (OLTP) is optimized in order to facilitate swift data collection with feedback required for direct machine control. 

 

For real-time feedback to be meaningful, it is imperative to have historical context. An advanced data warehouse would be required to provide this context. Real-time systems can use this historical data from the DW, along with current process measurements, to offer feedback that facilitates real-time decision support.

 
Pain points of legacy data
 
Data warehouse modernization is required to address a host of organizational pain points. Business agility tends to be among the prime goals of modern age organizations as they move towards digitizing their operations which is extremely hard to achieve with legacy tools. The key aim of modernizing the data warehouse environment of firms would be to improve their analytics functions, productivity, speed, scale, as well as, economics. Below are some of the challenges with legacy data warehouses2,3

 

How can data warehouse modernization and AWS help? 5
 
DW modernization enables companies to be limitless when it comes to storing or managing data. They can scale gigabytes, terabytes, petabytes or even exabytes of data through these technologies. Through it, companies can easily scale their SQL analytics solutions.

 

Advanced data warehouses would enable companies to leverage the best possible practices to develop competitive business intelligence projects. DW modernization is especially useful in manufacturing and hi-tech industries, where broad diversity of data types and processing tends to be needed for the full range of reporting and analytics. 

 

AWS and its APN Data and Analytics Competency Partners are renowned for offering a robust range of services for the implementation of the whole data warehousing workflow, including data warehousing analytics, data lake storage, and visualization of results.  The data warehouse modernization platform of AWS facilitates faster insights at low expenses, ease of use with automated administration, high flexibility in analyzing both open and in-place formats, as well as, compliance and security for mission critical workloads.
 

 AWS DW would help in: 6

Data comes from a host of sources in contemporary data infrastructures. It includes sensor and machine-generated data, CRM and ERP, web logs, and numerous other types of industry-specific data sources. The majority of companies, including the manufacturing industry, face a lot of difficulties in just storing and managing these increasing volumes and formats of data, let alone carrying out analytics to identify patterns and trends on it.  To solve this issue, data warehouse modernization has become a necessity. It allows businesses to swiftly meet the rapidly changing business requirements, provide the needed support for new data sources and promptly iterates new solutions. There are many platforms and tools available today that can help businesses to modernize their data warehouse, AWS solutions being among the most competent ones.
 

References:

Technological innovation has been a major driving force in transforming industries, and the agricultural industry is no exception. It has and continues to play a vital role in increasing agricultural productivity and promoting the development of agriculture. In the past, technology was met with skepticism in the industry, but over time it has become a strong factor in enhancing growth, productivity, and farming practices. The technologies that have had a major influence on agriculture are automation and robotics. These two technologies have revolutionized the art of farming and have helped increase revenue across the agricultural industry. 

 

The importance of automation and robotics in agriculture

 

The pandemic has forced the world to rapidly adapt to change and this new normal has had the agricultural industry on its toes too. According to Research and Markets, “The Coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the adoption of robotics and automation technologies in agriculture. Robotics company Root AI recently raised $7.2 million in seed funding bringing the company’s total funding up to $9.5 million.”1 The need of the hour is to sustain the agricultural industry and enhance food security. The most convenient way to sustain this growth and provide millions with food is through integrating automation and robotics in the farming operations. As stated by Linly Ku, Marketing Manager of Plug and Play, “With a global population projection of 9.7 billion people by 2050, agricultural production will need to increase by at least 70% from current levels to serve nutritional trends.”2

 

Modern technologies like harvest automation, autonomous tractors, seeding and weeding, drones, etc., have transformed modern farming and are satisfying the needs of millions of consumers across the globe. The implementation of automation and robotics have addressed major issues like labor shortage, consumer preferences, increase in crop production, etc. In the long run, the use of these technologies will provide a more efficient and sustainable path for cost-effective agricultural practices.

 

Smart farming a piece of good news for food security

 

Standing for long hours, planting crops, and harvesting them can be a tedious task. But thanks to technology, we reap the benefits of the crop while technology takes care of the remaining aspects. Despite having the best technology, the problems besetting farming systems grew with the increasing impact of the pandemic. The disruption in the supply chain and the lack of risk management posed a major threat to the agricultural industry. As a result, modern farming started getting adopted more vigorously. According to Arzum Akkas, a pro­fessor of operations and technology management at Boston University, “There was already a trend for automation and mechanization before the pandemic, and the extra labor shortage risks due to COVID-19 will accelerate automation adoption. Automation can assist the farming industry in three ways, the first is in reducing labor costs substantially. Second, you are faster and can generate more output for a given period of time, meaning a reduction in cost per unit. And the third component is mitigating risk. COVID-19 has created and will continue to be a risk problem with regards to the availability of labor. By switching to automa­tion, you are controlling that risk.” 3

 

The pressing issues that farmers are trying to solve are the shortage of food and labor, and technology stepped in to address these issues, thereby enhancing food security. Modern farming techniques and technologies like agribots (agricultural robots), artificial intelligence, field sensors, geo-positioning, data analytics, etc. have deeply influenced agriculture, increased the revenue and growth of the industry, and established the same for the long run. 

 

The new normal in the agricultural industry

 

The demand for agricultural robots will see an increase of 24.1% until 2024, according to a recent business and commerce study by Transparency Market Research.4
Automation and robotics are becoming more affordable and effective across the agricultural industry, the demand in the global agriculture robots will multiply at an impressive CAGR of 24.1% during the forecast period of 2016 to 2024. The need to increase yields and reduce costs are some of the major drivers for the agriculture industry to adopt these technologies. Several agricultural research studies have shown that crop productivity is the largest contributor to revenue and it is of utter importance to maintain the same irrespective of the varied disruptive factors. 

 

The agricultural industry is intrinsically connected to our daily lives. Despite the challenges it faces in terms of rapidly increasing population and limited availability of land, it is forced to continue. However, the implementation of such cutting-edge technologies solely depends on the number of funds and learning to master the art of using them. On the other hand, we are looking ahead to a whole new phase in farming and the two ways that it will not just survive but thrive is through robotics and automation. Automation and robotics are becoming more sophisticated, and what was cutting-edge just a few years ago will become commonplace and cost-effective soon. They have already embarked on a revolutionary journey and will continue to play a significant role in meeting 2050 agricultural production needs.5

 

References:

According to research by the United Nations, the global population is expected to be 9.5 million by 2050, approximately a 2.2 billion increase from now.1 This implies that the demand for food will increase, and thus, crop production will also  grow. This isn’t as simple as it sounds, because there are several hurdles that hamper agricultural supply, from food security to climate change. To overcome these challenges, we are seeing a shift towards technology and smart farming in the agricultural sector.  Farming using diverse information and communication technologies is a new concept and the sector has shown immense benefits. Lately, leading agricultural ventures have been mobilizing the potential of cloud technologies to solve an array of problems related to farming. For instance, John Deere, a renowned farm equipment manufacturer, came up with cloud-based software Operations Center. This software successfully keeps track of a farm vehicle’s performance for quick and effective troubleshooting.  In India, on the other hand, as reported by NASSCOM in 2019, there are more than 450 agri-tech start-ups, and they are growing at a rate of 25% annually. This sector’s potential is evident from the fact that it has received more than $248 million in funding.2

 

Countering the pressures faced by the agricultural sector has become comparatively more straightforward with modern technologies like artificial intelligence, remote sensing, data analytics, GIS, blockchain, various Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and much more.  These ensure more effective, productive, and prosperous farming practices. But among these, a data-enabled business model has been the most profitable as the collection of real-time data helps predict the prospects of farming practices. Reports suggest that the advocacy of data and analytics in agriculture has been growing consistently; the market size of global agriculture analytics is likely to increase from USD 585 million in 2018 to USD 1,236 million by 2023, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 16.2% during the forecast period.3 Large amounts of data are collected and integrated by experts to put forward alerts and solve complicated problems related to soil quality or other operational incompetencies. 

 

How is data derived in smart agriculture?
 

IoT
 
The Internet of Things has positively impacted many industries, and agriculture is undoubtedly one of them. IoT helps fight several farming challenges, be it weather conditions, climate change, or the quality of seeds and pesticides. Sensors were introduced a few decades ago, but they were handled conventionally. With the introduction of IoT in agriculture, technologically advanced sensors are used that derive live data. For example, remote sensing assists in tracking the condition of crops in a field regularly to recognize any possible risk and take necessary precaution accurately. Cloud-based data storage with IoT platforms plays a vital role in smart agriculture. Whether farmers want to know about crops’ live status or the weather, real-time data analysis is quite impactful. Few recent use-cases show how IoT and big data in farming have been successful, like Vodafone’s Precision Farming solution that lets farmers use only the amount of fertilizer needed or Digital Transmission Network (DTN). Using DTN, farmers can examine updated weather data to manage their farmlands better. 

 

Space monitoring
 

Turning to technology has been one of the most sought-after ways to maintain smooth global food supply, and space monitoring is an integral part of smart farming.  Be it frequent droughts or locust outbreaks, space monitoring through geospatial tools is a boon to agriculture. The remote sensing satellite imagery offers critical data for monitoring crops, soil development, and other climatic conditions. For example, climate, soil, and other assessments from satellites assist farmers in planning the required time and amount of irrigation needed for their crops. In this way, the adverse effects of food shortages and famines are tackled. 

 

Use of big data in farming 

 

While smart farming and big data are opening new gates for profitable agricultural yield, the collection of real-time data to forecast various situations is something that has improved farming practices. Here’s how big data is being used in recent times. 

 

 

The cloud-based ecosystem through IoT and big data is gearing up to revolutionize agriculture as space monitoring, or cloud-based apps are helping farmers adjust production in tune with market demand. Today, the scope of big data in agri-tech is exceptionally significant. Lloyd Marino of Avetta Global, an eminent big-data expert, has pointed out, “Big data in conjunction with the Internet of Things can revolutionize farming, reduce scarcity and increase our nation’s food supply dramatically; we just have to institute policies that support farming modernization.”6 Working together to enhance the use of smart farming and the application of data in agriculture would strengthen agri-tech solutions for a better future. This will not only increase the production efficiency of crops but also mitigate the problems of higher demand for food and supply shortage. 

 

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Since its inception, the human era has evolved through cognitive, scientific, and industrial revolutions, and experts around the globe have designated this era as the Information age. With these natural selections, we designed principles of life that are replaced by the digital world. In these physical and virtual environments, humans have started thinking smartly to increase experience, improve productivity, and reach out to the world as identity. This will help humanity to make better decisions and future actions for sustainable movement in human destiny.
 
These digital products enable food, communication, travel, health, and many global society things. Tangibly, human beings are adapting to these products; however, some problems need to be solved for the humans who are impaired permanently, temporarily, and situationally. Solving these accessibility problems discards social boundaries, improves natural ways of interactions, reduces errors, enables seamless transitions, and market reach out.
 
Designers design a product by empathizing with the target personas, who are represented by their mental model, and then being inspired for choices and decisions to add emotions, navigations, and solutions. But to diversify the product, it needs to embrace all the aesthetics to interact with the product. Below are the checklists and common mistakes committed while designing.
 
Quick checklists to consider
 
Textual Representation

  1. Avoid complex vocabulary and describe it with fewer words.
  2. Guide the content with visual hints like icons and images.
  3. Design with simple hierarchy and navigations.
  4. The information should render across all devices, different resolutions, and without overlapping the text.
  5. Develop the text and elements larger by default so that it renders across all types of devices.

Hierarchy

  1. Headings drive navigation of users from one section to another, which also helps the assisting technologies.
  2. Listing the order or groups to describe the collective information.
  3. Notifying warnings, errors, and success statuses for every corresponding input label.
  4. Helping with subtitles and voice over and taking voice commands from the users when engaging with audio, video and other media-related content.

Color Contrast

  1. Keeping interactive elements with better contrast ratios.
  2. Always combine colors with visual cues for better interactions.
  3. All the textures, patterns, and paradigms need to be described with actions and content.
  4. Ensure all the elements will receive and understand equal amounts of information.
  5. Use plugins to your design tools to simulate the color principles like stark etc.

Input Devices

  1. All the elements and content must be operable by keyword, pointing devices, much more.
  2. Make sure the focus of the element is applied on the screen for every navigation.
  3. Adding the visual layout to see the keyboard focus.
  4. All the images, icons, graphs, charts should have an alternative text to understand.

Access to assistive technologies

  1. Allow assistive technologies to read and take the inputs.
  2. Enable the product for various assistive technologies.
  3. Testing all the user journeys with real users for better user experience and usability.

Social Privacy

  1. Awareness of privacy and data access.
  2. Visibility in storing and deleting their data.
  3. Product availability in offline mode.

“ Addressing accessibility in the design system is the right place to start your inclusivity efforts because it’s the foundation of your product.”

Common mistakes committed while designing

Typography
 
Humans with visual impairments can find certain letters and styles confusing. Therefore, potentially confusing letter heights, weights, lengths, and sizes must be clearly defined.

 

2

 
Contrast
 
There are a lot of things to consider when making your content accessible from a color and contrast perspective, including:
 

3

 
Layouts
Remember that a designer and an artist are different professions. In design, we create a product for people, which means your creative impulses can be applied only to not interfere with the user experience.

 

4

 
Navigation
 
Without a doubt, the most stalling aspect of any user interface is usually the navigation. So, dedicating extra attention to this area will inclusively improve the experience for all types of users. Bear in mind the following tips to reduce confusion:
 

5

“Accessibility is solved at the design stage.”

Why designers should consider accessibility while making design decisions.

User actions have a vital role in the application. So, for every action that the user takes is preceded by a designer’s decision and plan. It helps users complete their tasks with a better experience and navigation.

  1. While making decisions, you’re likely to discover and correct usability problems that affect the users so that you are also solving users with the age-related accessibility needs that are rapidly growing customer segments.
  2. Businesses want to avoid claims of discrimination and legal action when they launch the product in the market. So, designers will help them by implementing accessibility standards.
  3. Before it goes to development, design decisions while building the prototype model and usability save development time and stakeholders investments.
  4. One more advantage for developers and designers that websites are created with accessibility in mind is a higher-quality code base. For example, accessibility testing tools such as the a11y® testing platform can also identify errors that make general usability problems.

 
Conclusion

The accessibility principles benefit humans with disabilities, including expanding your customer base, polishing your brand image, increasing your search engine rankings, and making general improvements to usability.

 

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The enormous growth in technology has revolutionized our shopping experience in every possible way. With varied e-commerce portals and mobile apps, we are just a click away from ordering and receiving our favourite products. Online shopping platforms have made it convenient for individuals to choose where they can shop, purchase, and return across all retail channels with ease. The evolution in technology has influenced the evolution in the world of commerce too. What it takes to make a retail enterprise successful has expanded far beyond the basics of the product, brand, or single touchpoint.
 
With the pandemic sending a wave of uncertainty, retailers are forced to meet customer expectations without any compromise. To make this expectation a reality, retailers are pushed to integrate their processes and systems as well as provide seamless customer experiences that allow shoppers to seamlessly move across the various touchpoints (online, in-store, mobile, web, etc.). This paved the way for Unified Retail Commerce.
 
Unified Retail Commerce is a platform that combines e-commerce, m-commerce, order fulfillment, inventory management, customer relationship management, Point of Sale (POS) capabilities, etc under a single roof. According to Brian Brunk, Principal at retail industry consulting firm Boston Retail Partners (BRP), “Unified commerce goes beyond omnichannel, putting the customer experience first, breaking down the walls between internal channel silos and leveraging a common commerce platform.”1

 

Unified Commerce2

 
Components of a Unified commerce strategy:
 

Components of Unified commerce strategy3

 
Unified commerce strategy constitutes of four major components, they are:
 

How a unified commerce platform can help a retail organization?
 
The unified commerce platform has become a boon to both retailers and customers. According to the National Retail Foundation,

According to the Boston Retail Partners 2018 POS/Customer Engagement Survey of 500 top North American retailers, 81% of retailers will have deployed unified commerce by the end of 2020.5 Here’s how unified commerce can enable an organization’s growth:

 

Unified retail commerce has managed to blend the concept of both offline and online shopping experience and make it more accessible to customers all over the world. With the current scenario of social distancing and the fear to venture outside, a unified platform is a one-stop solution that caters to customer’s needs and digitizes stores for a better experience. It has managed to differentiate factors and power in-store experience, develop a closer bond with the customer by connecting with them on varied channels, and improve massive operational efficiency. Unified retail commerce helps overcome today’s challenges and enables a roadmap to deliver a seamless retail experience that customers expect.
 

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