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Five Very Short Stories about Very Big Data

Big Data and Small Business – Part 1 Big Data sounds like a mighty big buzzword for those who don’t understand what the buzzword means. Simply put, big data is all about our rapidly growing abilities to record, store, and compare increasingly vast amounts of information. Though the concept of big data is over fifty years old, the reality of being able to track and analyse the habits of individuals amongst extremely large groups of people with hyper-accuracy is closer to fifteen. For the last decade and a half we have been able to peer into each other’s lives in ways that have the power to significantly improve the tenor of human experience but have fundamentally changed our ideas and ideals around personal privacy. Globally popular tools such as Google and Facebook have spent a decade or m...

Bitcoin, Blockchain, and Your Business

On Halloween 2008, just over a month after global financial crisis began on September 29, a person, or group of persons published a research paper called “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System”, using the name Satoshi Nakamoto. The research paper demonstrated how a digital payment system without any form of central control could be mounted on an uncrackable publically distributed ledger system known as blockchain. Less than three months later, it was released as open source software and Nakamoto’s invention became a reality. Called a “cryptocurrency”, Bitcoin operates without administrators or a central repository of funds. It can be exchanged for goods and services or converted to other forms of money such as a national currency. It functions as real money in both legal and black...

The Numbers Game of Networking

Everyone’s world revolves on an axis of networks. In business, government, or academia, those networks scale much larger but in the end, most human endeavour centers around well established networks of trusted friends, colleagues, associates, and contacts. If you need a babysitter, chances are you call one the teenage child of a friend. When deciding on a restaurant to take our families to, we rely on the recommendations of friends and associates. When seeking essential service providers like a doctor, lawyer, or accountant, we tend to ask our contacts about their personal experiences. Beyond recommendation websites like Yelp or local search engines like Google, humans rely on the wisdom, experience, and assistance of others in many facets of our lives. Building one’s networks ...

Canadian Dollar Bouncing Higher

Caught between a rocking economy and continued global uncertainty over oil prices, the Canadian dollar has been fluctuating madly for the last several months. Hovering between $0.70 and $0.75 US, the disparities in the value of the dollar are starting to cause headaches and worry for Canada’s already beleaguered exporters. This is especially true in Ontario where a slowly rebuilding manufacturing sector was just starting to catch its footing. For Canadian exporters, a lower loonie is good for business as it makes the cost of Canadian goods less expensive than those produced south of the borders. At the same time, a high Canadian dollar is seen as beneficial to the oil sector which relies on importing equipment using Canadian dollars but sells its product on a market dictated by costs...

Advertising in the Context of Change

Advertising, as we know it, is about to change so radically it will be practically unrecognizable. If you have a favourite TV spot you might want to record it. Similarly, if there is an ad out there that annoys you to distraction you’ll be happy to know you’ll likely not have to see such awfulness again, at least not in the near future. Tomorrow’s ad delivery is already happening today but the scale is about to get so much bigger. We live in a midst of a digital revolution. At no other time in human history have so many ideas and institutions been altered, challenged, changed, created, and destroyed. As discomforting as it is, revolutionary change is a natural by-product of technological advancement. A decade and a half after its inception the innovation that made Google one of the wealthi...

The Business of a New World Order

The saying goes, “The only things in life you can rely on are death and taxes.” That might be true but between tax time and the time of any individual’s eventual demise, a lot of change is bound to take place. This is such a time. Social, political, and economic forces have merged in a perfect storm of a toxic soup to make a steady but still shaky recovery feel more volatile than any other period in many people’s living memories. Great change is upon us, but what does that mean for Canadian businesses? This might seem counter-intuitive but great change often creates great conditions for business to thrive in. Nature abhors a vacuum and when several things shift, the forces of nature move to fill in gaps and close all seams. Businesses ready to take advantage of chan...

How to Become a Non-Resident Importer

A Non-Resident Importer is a US or foreign based company that imports into Canada under their own name and business number without a permanent presence in Canada. A fact that is often overlooked by non-resident businesses providing goods and services into Canada is that they are subject to GST/HST taxes on sales into Canada. GST/HST management is responsible for longer delays at border crossings. Another bigger issue is that if GST/HST is not managed before entry into Canada the customer must pay the value added tax. GST/HST can be managed by becoming a Non-Resident Importer. A Non-Resident Importer could see the following benefits: Sell within Canada using a domestic pricing plan Manage landed costs without involvement of a Canadian intermediary Make border crossings seamless Increase mar...

Working from home has its challenges, but looking professional does not have to

As the writer of this blog, I primarily work from home and only go into the office a few times a week. Today was a great weather day (well until it got cloudy) and I took my laptop outside and did some work in front of my apartment building. While I was out there, one of my neighbors (who also works from home) came out to get some fresh air and take a break from his work. My neighbor Blake is a hair stylist who works on films, creates wigs for movies and live theatre as well as takes on cutting hair for private clients in his apartment (yes, he has a professional hair studio set up in his apartment).  Today Blake was stressed out, but by work.  His stress came from a friend who could not understand that because he was home, that he was still working and could not just leave his apartment a...

Why Move from the Burbs to Downtown Toronto Office Space?

Many companies are choosing to move their offices downtown and away from the suburbs. Lets discuss why this is happening and what are the advantages of the downtown location for customers, colleagues and employees. In the past several years, a handful of North America’s largest corporations like Microsoft, Google, Yahoo and even McDonalds have joined the exodus from their suburban headquarters and campuses to new office space that is located downtown, and millennials seem to be the driving force. Yes, many companies chose to accept the usually higher cost of downtown space opposed to what they are paying in the suburbs, because they help attract younger workers. These workers want the chance to walk to nearby amenities and areas with a sense of place, rather than a generic business p...

Team space: The flexible hours office-space solution

The office space buzz these days is for entrepreneurs and small business owners to look at coworking. But this is not the best solution for companies with more than 5 or 10 employees. The solution for some small businesses is to create their own private coworking office – called team space or open-office environments. This concept is not unique to small businesses. Even large companies like Google, Microsoft and Yahoo have embraced the concept of open-office team spaces. Business owners and senior managers want to feel connected to their companies’ day-to-day operations – and they find open layouts and team space helpful to that end. It doesn’t hurt that open layouts also maximize square footage efficiency. But the criticisms of open-concept team space claim a lack of efficiency when it co...