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Jan 11, 2018

3 Online Retail Technology Trends That Will Shape 2018

INAP

The Future of Online Shopping.

The future is looking bright for eCommerce.

It’s no secret that more shoppers are turning to the internet to make their purchases. Just look at the record sales numbers reported by online retailers on Thanksgiving and Black Friday in 2017. During the same period, less money was spent at traditional retailers compared to previous holiday shopping weekends.

But what is driving these massive gains in market share and revenue for online retailers?

Here are three technology trends that will help online shopping continue its growth in 2018.

1. Voice Purchases

The future of eCommerce may run through voice-directed purchasing.

In 2017, 40 percent of millennials used a voice assistant prior to making a purchase. The proliferation of voice assistants ­– such as Siri, Alexa and Google Home –­ will ensure that number will continue to rise.

[Tweet “In 2017, 40 percent of millennials used a voice assistant prior to making a purchase.”]

A few businesses are already capitalizing on voice purchasing technology. In 2016, Domino’s allowed customers to order a pizza by speaking to internet-connected smart home devices.

Johnnie Walker, a distributor of Scotch whiskey, has also used voice assistance to help customers learn about their product and receive cocktail recipes.

Voice-directed purchases benefit both retailers and customers by reducing barriers and increasing accessibility. As voice-directed devices and online retailers become further integrated, voice purchases will drive even more eCommerce behavior.

2. Augmented Reality

Augmented reality (AR) is expected to take another big step forward in the world of online shopping in the next year.

AR changes aspects of a viewer’s surrounding reality while keeping the user grounded within their actual physical environment.

For example, customers can use AR to see how products would look in their homes or virtually “try on” clothing before purchasing. Sephora uses AR within a virtual makeup app that allows customers to see how beauty products would look on them before purchasing. And Home Depot’s mobile app lets customers use their phones to place anything from faucets to doors in their homes so they can see how it fits in before buying.

Using AR can break down the single greatest barrier to an online purchase – the inability to see or feel a product in person. Through AR, customers will be able to visualize and test out products before making a financial investment. This will greatly reduce both abandoned shopping carts, as well as product returns.

3. Chatbots and Machine Learning

Finally, 2018 will see greater and more widespread use of chatbots within portals.

Chatbots, or automated applications that simulate human conversation, have already made significant forays into eCommerce. For instance, there are already chatbots on Facebook’s Messenger app that can be used to purchase items, get health tips or call for a cab.

2018 will bring a greater availability of chatbots as well as more natural and helpful interactions. The original chatbot was a relatively simple application. By handling queries and answering specific requests, the chatbot mimicked human behavior. The real epiphany though came with machine learning. As data became more readily available, chatbots became more responsive and adaptive to user needs.

As a result, chatbots will be more intelligent, and thus more helpful for customers looking to make any financial transaction, whether it’s purchasing a new pair of shoes or booking a flight.

Infrastructure Driven eCommerce

Consumers only see the end-user technology designed to make online shopping easier and more user friendly.

They probably aren’t thinking about the most important part of their experience – the robust technical infrastructure that supports whatever app, website or platform they are using.

Successful online retailers require a powerful hosting service that can handle high traffic at any time. Customers will flee portals that do not load properly and won’t trust environments with slow or error-prone transactions.

At INAP, our team provides high-performance colocation, hosting and network services to ensure your online retail environment is lightning fast, even during the busiest shopping periods. Contact us today to learn more about our flexible and scalable options to improve your IT infrastructure and drive revenue.

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Jan 8, 2018

3 eLearning and Online Education Tech Trends for 2018

INAP

Learning in the Online Classroom.

Online education has become a staple of modern learning.

Originally conceived as a supplemental tool to traditional classrooms, online education has emerged as a serious alternative to the physical classroom environment.

Rising costs for tuition and attendance, as well as greater exposure of online devices, has pushed the market for education away from brick and mortar schools to personalized curriculums online. And as data from online education becomes more available, you can expect education to become even more personalized and customizable to the individual student’s needs and expectations.

INAP has identified three tech trends that will shape online education and eLearning in 2018.

1. Gamification in Online Education

One of the first trends, gamification, has already been in use by several online educators.

For example, Khan Academy ­– a free online resource providing tutoring in subjects such as mathematics to art history – has used gamification since its inception. In Khan Academy, users are given experience points and badges as they complete courses and assessments. The in-game achievements simulate the progress-oriented narrative of popular video games.

This game-like behavior has been shown to increase student engagement and improve overall outcomes because learning models that incorporate game-like experiences provide an immediate sense of purpose and achievement.

Expect more eLearning organizations to utilize or improve their gamification techniques in 2018.

2. Augmented Reality in Online Education

Augmented reality (AR) is another emerging technology that can be applied to online education. This technology changes aspects of a viewer’s surroundings without removing the physical reality.

The potential for AR use in education is enormous. For instance, students learning about ancient history can use augmented reality to enter a Roman house or see themselves draped in the armor of a Roman centurion. The enhanced visual experience can help students better conceptualize and digest their educational material. This can be especially important for remote students, who can feel disconnected from their learning environments.

AR’s ability to foster interaction with learning materials gives the remote classroom a solution to help solve the physical disconnect between remote students. In addition, it can make the overall learning experience more fun and engaging.

3. Personalized Lessons in Online Education

Both AR and gamification play into our final trend, which is an increased personalization of the learning experience. After cost and accessibility, perhaps the single greatest advantage that online education has over traditional methodologies is the potential for personalization and customization.

In a traditional classroom, the instructor’s attention needs to be divided among several different students with different learning abilities; whereas, online education allows for students to each receive a tailored experience.

Much of this is possible because of the data-rich environment in which online learning lives. With rich data available, instructors can find trends and patterns that best fit their students’ needs. This is only going to increase as data becomes more available. Lesson plans and curriculums can be customized to fit student needs in both pace and depth of content. When students receive lessons that cater to their strengths and needs, their education benefits.

The Right Underlying Infrastructure

Proper online education providers need significant and reliable infrastructures to operate. You wouldn’t learn anything from an eLearning service with resources that are always unavailable or slow.

To prepare for the demands of online students, eLearning platforms and applications require solutions that are high performing with reliable uptime and low latency.

As an IT infrastructure provider, INAP helps some of the most successful education technology organizations with their performance needs. INAP has a variety of different solutions catered to the unique requirements of eLearning companies. Whether it’s colocation, managed hosting or cloud solutions, INAP provides data center services that will match your project needs and budget.

Contact us today to learn about our flexible and scalable solutions to keep your education technology at the head of the class.

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Jul 24, 2013

Is your IT team ready for the big data challenge?

Ansley Kilgore

Is your IT team ready for the big data challenge?Big data is increasingly important across all industries, and C-level executives are placing more demands on their IT departments to provide the necessary data and analytics. Collecting vast amounts of information and drawing meaningful conclusions creates opportunities for improved business agility, visibility and most importantly, profits. Having such valuable information allows business leaders to make more informed, real-time decisions and gain competitive advantage.

While big data may be part of an overall corporate strategy, businesses also need a technology strategy to meet the demands of this new challenge. Hint: it requires more than purchasing additional data storage.

In this webinar, guest speaker Brian Hopkins, Principal Analyst, Forrester Research, Inc. will present his latest research aimed at helping you get past the non-sense, understand what big data is all about and leverage the concepts to lower cost, increase agility and deliver more data and analytics to your business.

Attend this webinar to learn:

  • What is big data, really?
  • How does big data relate to an overall data management strategy?
  • What are the architectural components of solutions that exploit big data concepts?
  • What is a real-world example of addressing a big data challenge?
  • What should you do with this information right now?

Watch the webinar recording to learn more about preparing your business for the new challenges of big data.

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May 2, 2011

What IT IQ Means to Me

INAP

Hopefully you’ve noticed that we have rolled out a new look to the Internap brand with the core message of IT IQ: Intelligent IT Infrastructure solutions that take your business to a higher level™. I, of course, am very excited about our new messaging, but am clearly not a marketing person. So this week I’d like to give you a perspective on what IT IQ means to me.

The term “paradigm shift” gets used with wild abandon in technology circles, but its applicability to cloud services is very appropriate. As we and others have highlighted, we are only at the beginning of the shift to cloud. We’ve all had to get comfortable with the concepts, start migrating in-house services elsewhere, change from capex to opex ways of thinking, envision how applications will be re-architected, the list goes on. Not to over-simplify, but IT departments can be notoriously under-staffed and always under pressure to keep email, CRM, ERP and all the other myriad of applications up and running.

Visionary CIOs and CTOs have increasingly seen the benefits of outsourcing their IT services, including the ability to focus on core competencies, generate financial savings and, in some cases, leverage IT services as a competitive differentiator. As we progress to the cloud, discerning IT professionals are seeking service providers with the ability to consistently and reliably deliver these benefits. We describe this ability as IT IQ – a blend of intelligent solutions and industry expertise. The complexity of today’s IT environment requires platform flexibility, intelligent technologies and highly trained support staff that enable you to deliver the best performance to your end users.

At Internap, we’re helping companies – ranging from the Fortune 500 enterprise to the cutting-edge start-up – smartly deliver their online applications on a daily basis. We are unique in our ability to offer a spectrum of services that are all designed to be the starting point for shifting your IT Infrastructure to our infrastructure; whether colocation, https://www.inap.com/managed-hosting/, or cloud. And all of these are built on top of intelligent, high-performance connectivity services that deliver the best possible end-user experience through route-optimized IP, TCP acceleration and lightning-fast content delivery. Shifting your IT services to an external provider doesn’t make the problems of running and managing it go away, but it does allow us to use our collective intelligence for you.

So what does IT IQ mean to me? It represents an opportunity to be a complete IT Infrastructure service provider that has built up its value in developing technologies and services to solve core IT operational problems that you may not have even thought about yet. What does IT IQ mean to you?

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