Wednesday, 28 November 2018

HIV Testing From Your SmartPhone

Columbia Engineering researchers have developed a smartphone accessory that can simultaneously detect HIV and syphilis within minutes.
A team led by professor Samuel K Sia, associate professor of biomedical engineering at Columbia University's engineering school, designed the low-cost smartphone add-on, which has already been tested by healthcare workers in Rwanda.
The device emulates an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, or ELISA – a blood test usually carried out in a lab – using the phone's audio jack as a power source.
An app prompts the user to enter a patient ID and then displays instructions to guide them through the process.
Users first disinfect a finger and obtain a finger-prick of blood for testing. This is placed into a plastic collector and then inserted into a special chip.

A disposable cassette containing the chip with the blood sample is then inserted into the dongle. Pressing a bulb activates the testing process, and in 15 minutes the results are displayed on the screen.

The disposable cassettes contain reagents, a substance which normally contains an antibody that will stick to a protein in a blood sample – in this case an HIV or syphillis viral protein.
When mixed with the blood, the reagent creates a chemical reaction that will make the substance change colour if the viral proteins are present. An enzyme is included to help speed up this process. Any change is then detected by shining light on the substance and measuring how much is absorbed. The results of this indicate the presence of the viral protein.
In standard equipment, this mixing is achieved by the use of an electrically-powered pump. In the dongle, this has been replaced with a "one-push vacuum" – a soft plastic button that can be compressed and released to create negative pressure in the testing chamber.
According to the team, the dongle, which can also be connected to a computer, matches the quality of a full laboratory test.
"It performs a triplexed immunoassay not currently available in a single test format: HIV antibody, treponemal-specific antibody for syphilis, and non-treponemal antibody for active syphilis infection," explained a statement from Columbia Engineering.
"The team developed the dongle to be small and light enough to fit into one hand, and to run assays on disposable plastic cassettes with pre-loaded reagents, where disease-specific zones provided an objective read-out."

According to Sia, the dongle could have a manufacturing cost of $34, compared to the $18,450 cost for equipment typically used for these tests.

Although many areas do not have reliable access to electricity, there are now more than 7 billion mobile devices in the world. This led the team to focus on designing a device that could be powered by just a smartphone.
The dongle plugs into the audiojack rather than the phone's power dock; connecting cables for audio equipment have been standardized around the world, so this enables the device to be virtually universal.

"Our dongle presents new capabilities for a broad range of users, from health care providers to consumers," explained professor Samuel K Sia. "By increasing detection of syphilis infections, we might be able to reduce deaths by 10-fold."

"And for large-scale screening where the dongle's high sensitivity with few false negatives is critical, we might be able to scale up HIV testing at the community level with immediate antiretroviral therapy that could nearly stop HIV transmissions and approach elimination of this devastating disease," he said.

During field testing in Rwanda, care workers were given just 30 minutes of training. According to the researchers, patients responded well and said they would recommend the device to others.

Sia collaborated with researchers from Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health; the Institute of HIV Disease Prevention and Control, Rwanda Biomedical Center; Department of Pathology and Cell Biology, Columbia University Medical Center; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—Laboratory Reference and Research Branch, Atlanta; and OPKO Diagnostics. Thanks for reading....

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

What Should You Hire for, Personality or Skill?

There are so many factors to consider when making hiring decisions for your business. One of the most elusive is whether an employee fits the culture and mission of the company. So much of it comes down to personality. But is that more important than the practical skills an employee brings to the table?

"When you've got somebody who has both the skills and the personality, you've got a real winner there," said Vic Holifield, the owner-operator of a $10 million Poolwerx franchise where he manages 46 full-time employees, most of whom he hired himself. "But that doesn't happen all the time."

Instead, Holifield says, business owners usually have to choose: pick the candidate with the best background or the best fit? On this note, Business News Daily talked to Holifield to learn the unexpected reasons your business will benefit from hiring for fit and worrying about training later
1. Skills can, and should, be taught: When you are faced with a job candidate whose personality is an ideal fit for his business but who lacks the technical background the work requires, Holifield doesn't write that person off. Being successful in a job, he says, isn't about having every skill in place before you start.

"It's not about electronic or internet skills, it's not about mechanics. It's all about interpersonal relationships," Holifield said. "You have to have likable people … good eye contact, firm handshake, [willingness] to help people … You can't teach someone to put a smile on."

Technical skills, on the other hand, can be taught. For some jobs, employees need an industry background. But, especially in entry-level jobs or growing companies, it's a mistake to only look for employees who know the job before they begin. And no matter what skill level your new employee has, everyone needs some level of training at a new company.

"A lot of times in business, people are sort of thrown to the wolves, brought into a business and left to learn on the job. I think that's the wrong approach," Holifield said. "[As an employer], it's important to teach and coach all the time."

2. With time come bad habits: Employees who need to be trained from the ground up have no bad habits to unlearn. If they have been doing a similar job for years, by contrast, they may think they don't have anything left to learn or be unwilling to try new strategies for achieving more efficient results.

"Once someone has been in a position for a significant period of time, they run the risk of complacency," said Holifield. "They go through the motions, they don't really have that energy and the drive … they get into a routine, and I try to prevent that."

Employees who come to the work fresh bring new ideas and willingness to experiment as they learn new skills.

"I like to have lots of fresh energy," said Holifield, adding that employees are often the ones who bring that level of energy and enthusiasm to their work. "You can really bring them in and train them to be successful."

3. A personality fit leads to customer satisfaction: Personality is an important factor in one of the key areas of business success: customer satisfaction. Holifield has found that his clients are happier with service when it is delivered in an upbeat, friendly and professional manner. These soft skills are much harder to learn than technical knowledge, but they can be the difference between an unhappy customer and a loyal one, especially when faced with a miscommunication or other difficulty.

"In our business, there's so much interpersonal contact with clients, you have to provide them excellent customer service," said Holifield. "Each and every time that you talk to them … you really have to impress them, and they will want to come back to you."

To help find customer-friendly personalities, Holifield's company administers two or three personality profiles in the hiring process, such as the DISC personality test. "We want to know how they look at themselves. That gives you clues to how they'll react in a difficult situation, and that's important to know."

4. Fit makes a strong team: Even for jobs that aren't heavily customer-facing, personality can be the difference between a successful working environment and one where employees are unhappy or hostile toward each other.

"In businesses that are not so client-relation based, the relationships that are formed within the office are important," said Holifield. "How they will interact with each other, how they will perform as a team, depends on fit ... You definitely have to have an idea of someone's personality even in a situation where they aren't interacting directly with a client."

Employees with the right personality will have an easier time integrating into the office and working with their colleagues. This makes a stronger team, which leads to better communication, more collaboration and a more productive working environment overall.

However, Holifield says most hiring managers make a critical mistake during the hiring process that prevents them from identifying these ideal personalities: They do too much of the talking.

"In a lot of cases, hiring managers do a lot of talking and a lot of telling but don't really listen to what the person is saying back to them," he explained. "I think it's really important to get the person talking so you can get an insight into their personality."

Once you have that insight, you will be able to identify candidates who are the right fit for your company. At that point, it's just a matter of finding the right place for them to go.

"I think it really boils down to identifying the person's personality, then finding the role they're suited for, then teaching and coaching and setting them up for success," Holifield said. "Someone may not fit the exact position that I'm hiring for, but if they're the right personality, I'll find a position where they can be an asset to our company and provide them the proper training to do that role."

Sunday, 18 November 2018

OnePlus 6T tips: The 5 features to check out first

As the case maybe, OnePlus doesn’t subscribe to the once-yearly update cycle we see from most smartphone makers. Instead, it updates its hardware quickly, and adds new features with each iteration. The OnePlus 6T just launched around the world with one of the first in-display fingerprint sensors, and it’s now being sold in the U.S. via T-Mobile—a first for OnePlus, which previously sold phones unlocked, direct-to-consumer.

So on that note, you’ve got a shiny new OnePlus 6T, but how can you make the most of it? By taking advantage of the 5 features we describe below. And if you don’t yet have a 6T, make sure to read Michael Simon’s OnePlus 6T review.

1.OnePlus Switch: The OnePlus 6T has a standard Android device restore feature as part of its setup process, but you might need to skip that and use the OnePlus Switch app instead. You can fire this up at any time from your app drawer, too. Install the app on your old phone if it’s not already there, and then go through the pairing process.

The OnePlus Switch app can transfer images, SMS, call history, and apps. It works over Wi-Fi Direct, so the process is incredibly fast. If you’re transferring from an older OnePlus phone, it can even bring over the app data so your apps will already be configured and working on the new phone.

2.Fingerprint unlock animation: One of the 6T’s newest tricks is the in-display fingerprint sensor. OnePlus has a flashy animation when you press the sensor that looks like a little ball of lightning. If you want something a bit more understated, there are some alternatives in the settings. Just go o to Settings > Security & lock screen > Fingerprints > Fingerprint animation effect. From there, you can change to “Wave” or “Stripe.”

3.Customize Alert Slider: So far, OnePlus is the only Android device maker with a three-position alert slider on the side. It toggles between ring, vibrate, and silent, and there are a few useful tweaks available under Settings > Buttons & gestures > Alert slider. In silent mode, you can also have the phone mute all media, which is handy when using your phone at night. In ring mode, you can also configure the 6T to vibrate for calls.

4.OnePlus gesture navigation: By default, your OnePlus 6T has navigation buttons. But if you still want to fill the screen with as much content as possible, there’s a fully gesture-based navigation option at your disposal. Go to Settings > Buttons & gestures > Navigation bar & gestures. Change to the Navigation Gestures option, which completely removes the navigation bar. Home is a swipe up from the bottom of the display; multitasking is swipe up and hold; and back is a swipe up on the bottom left or right.

5.Reading mode: Reading on a smartphone screen can sometimes be uncomfortable, but many of us do it anyway. The OnePlus 6T, however, can make it a bit easier on your eyes with its custom reading mode. You’ll find this feature under Settings > Display > Reading Mode. This feature applies a filter that makes your vibrant OLED screen look more like the monochrome display on an eReader by sampling the ambient light. You can turn this feature on manually, or add apps to a watch list that automatically enables reading mode. Thanks for reading...

Friday, 9 November 2018

What Is Team Building, and Ways to Achieve It

A fact here is that employees are a business's most valuable asset. As a business owner, you should recognize their importance and find ways to connect with your team — and help them connect with each other. Team building is a great way to achieve this. We interviewed experts on why team building is so important and ways you can achieve it.

What is team building?
According to Ashley Cox, PHR, SHRM-CP, and founder of and leadership development expert for SproutHR, team building includes "activities to help a group of people develop greater interpersonal skills and work together collaboratively." They are intended to strengthen bonds and improve communication and performance, she added.

"Effective team building needn’t cost loads of money and take place over a full weekend, although many companies do find this useful, especially if they have hundreds of employees," added Frances Geoghegan, managing director of Healing Holidays.

Such activities can range from challenges such as Escape Rooms to fundraisers like 5K runs — any effort to bring workers together without the stress of work and deadlines.

Why is it so important?
Without your team, you there's no way you can be able to accomplish nearly as many tasks or grow your client base. Don't view your employees as replaceable; rather, learn more about their personalities, quirks and interests. This will show them you care about them as people, not just workers, and will increase their loyalty to your brand.

Not only will it improve your employer-employee relationship it will also strengthen bonds between your colleagues, which is vital to positive collaboration and teamwork.

"Team building is important because it helps the people on a team learn more about one another, appreciate similarities and differences, understand each other's roles better and develop skills to work together more effectively," added Cox. "It makes working in a team more human, and less machine-like."

Just like on a sports team, you want each member to get along well and acknowledge each other's strengths and weakness, so they can work together accordingly. Collaboration will be more seamless if everyone is comfortable with each other.

Furthermore, the company culture will feel more welcoming and supportive. Imagine walking into a room filled with silent colleagues who keep to themselves and don't give you the time of day; now, imagine working with colleagues you also consider friends or acquaintances, who you can enjoy grabbing lunch or having a casual conversation with. it makes a major difference.

"It’s amazing how much of a positive impact a well-functioning team can have on the mood of an office," said Geoghegan. "If everything flows harmoniously, it helps to alleviate the stress and strain of everyone — from the employees carrying out the work to the managers who are responsible for them."

Arvind Raichur, CEO of MrOwl, added that team building has lasting positive effects on business.

"It can help build morale, accelerate growth and increase retention," he said. "Team work is important because it empowers team members to own their roles in working toward the same collective goals regardless of department or level. By continuing to improve this team ethic, employees can feel a sense of importance and pride in what is accomplished as a unit."

Ways to achieve it: If you're looking to improve your team building efforts, try these simple ways to do so.

Start on the first day

Don't wait for the perfect moment to gather your team. As soon as you recruit new talent, plan icebreaker activities so everyone can get to know each other right away, illuminating any discomfort that might lurk among team members.

Also, make time in your schedule to speak with the new worker one-on-one. Not only will it benefit you to understand your workers, but it will also help bridge the gap that often exists with new employees.

"Take the new team member out to lunch or coffee early on and connect with them on a personal level," said Raichur. "Take the time to find out about their interests and hobbies. Learning who employees are and what they care about is on one of the most important step some companies don’t take. It lets your employees know that you consider them a part of the team and that you’re invested in their success."

Personalize your efforts

You should cater your team building approach to each employee's personality type by using science-based personality assessments and playing to individual strengths. This will personalize your team building experience and increase your understanding of every worker, making you a better leader and helping your team grow in the right direction — one that benefits each person.

Build an open company culture

One major thing here, is that rust is crucial in team building. If your employees don't feel you're open and honest with them, they'll likely avoid asking questions or voicing concerns. Transparency works both ways; and as the leader, you need to be the one to establish it from the start.

Raichur said that he encourages his employees to speak up and share ideas at company retreats and meetings. He also is transparent with his team about company goals and the intended direction of his brand. Ensuring communication is open on both ends will reduce tension, misunderstandings and anxiety among workers, and increase respect and loyalty among your team. Thanks for reading.....

Samsung's folding Galaxy phone reveal was a huge disappointment

After more than an hour of tiring Bixby announcements, cursory Galaxy Home details, and long-winded IOT speeches during the opening keynote to its developers conference, Samsung at last showed us what we were all waiting for: its new folding phone.
Except it wasn’t really a phone at all. Samsung’s big innovation is the Infinity Flex display, and we still don’t know much about what Samsung is going to do with it. Senior vice president Justin Denison waxed poetic about an advanced composite polymer and reduced thickness that paves the way for rollable displays, foldable phones, and thinner handsets. Except he didn’t actually show us any of that.

If it happened that you blinked while Senior Vice President Justin Denison showed off Samsung’s new folding phone you would’ve missed it.
The brief glimpse we got of the phone revealed a super thick handset with giant bezels and an obvious hinge. Presumably we were looking at a dummy case that concealed the real product. At least I hope we were. Because if not, it’s going to be the phone that launched a thousand memes.
We don’t even really know how or if it works. The 10-second glimpse we got of it didn’t show off any functionality, and Denison made sure to keep the UI and design under wraps. Samsung even dimmed the lights on the stage so people couldn’t get a real clear look at it.

More questions than answers: So what do we know? Not so much. Samsung boasted that the Infinity Flex display represents “a new mobile platform,” but the only thing we know for sure is that you can run three apps on it thanks to a new feature called multi-active window. Based on the demo, the three windows are interchangeable, with one large box flanked by two stackable smaller boxes. We also officially know that Google is on board. In a rare appearance by the Android maker at a Samsung event, Google announced that it will be officially supporting foldable displays, allowing Android apps to run seamlessly as the device folds and bringing “screen continuity.” That’s developer speak for the API that lets apps dynamically adjust to the various Android display sizes, but it’s usually not seen in action on the fly. So it will definitely require a new set of tools.
But we don’t really know how that works either. Presumably, if you’re working in an app with the phone open, it will remember your place when you close it and vice versa. But Samsung didn’t demonstrate that either. Based on the peek we got of the phone, however, it looks like as though it will fold inward like a book. That means there’s a smaller display on the outside of the phone and a larger one on the inside, though Samsung says the Infinity Flex tech will allow for both inward and outward phones. For example, in the Messages app, your conversations will start in the middle of the screen so you don’t have to reach as high to respond to a new text. And pop-ups will also be pushed to the bottom of the screen for easier access with one hand.
OneUI will also include a system-wide dark mode as well as a new color scheme to match the color of the device. Samsung says it designed OneUI to keep your focus on the task at hand and minimize distractions on the screen. It’s not all that clear of how any of OneUI will relate to the new folding phone, but presumably the new interface was designed with the flexible display in mind.

Close to the vest
Back to what we don’t know. Among the questions we still have about Samsung’s folding phone:

When it is coming out: Samsung said it’s ready to begin manufacturing Infinity Flex displays “in the coming months,” but it didn’t say whether they would be attached to phones.

If it will run regular Android apps: Samsung talked in broad strokes about the foldable UI, but we don’t really know how it will work with the millions of existing apps in the Play Store.

If it will work in either orientation: Samsung showed a portrait-heavy UI, but it didn’t mention whether the phone has an accelerometer so it can be turned like a tablet.

How much it costs: There was no mention of price during the discussion of the phone.

What it will be called: Rumors suggested that the new phone would be called the Galaxy F, but Samsung declined to name the device it showed off.

The only real specs about the display were revealed at a developers session after the keynote. As reported by CNET, the front display is 4.58 inches—incredibly small for a 2018 phone—with a resolution of 1960x840 and a pixel density of 420. The inside display is a great deal bigger than any smartphone on the market today, measuring 7.3 inches with a 2152x1536 resolution and the same 420ppi. The closed display would have a funky 21:9 ratio, while the inside is a more standard 4.2:3.

But even with a clearer picture of the size, all Samsung really proved at its developers conference was that the thing it’s been working on for the past four years is actually a thing that’s going to come out next year. But whether that’s actually going to become a phone you’re going to want to buy it remains to be seen.

This story, was originally published by PCWorld.

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

How You Can Attract Good Minimum Wage Employees

First here, get it straight.... "employers are struggling to find and retain workers, including young and minimum wage employees".

Now having that in place, if you're looking to hire minimum wage workers, you need to cater to Generation Z, people born between the mid-1990s to mid-2000s. They're entering the workforce and can be choosy about where they work.

"The economy is doing so well, and unemployment rates are at all-time lows, so it's hard to find employees in general," said Deborah Sweeney, CEO of "There are so many available jobs that candidates are able to find multiple positions and better negotiate."

To attract workers, employers need to offer more than just pay. "As the economy remains hot, many businesses have boosted pay, added vacation days, and other bells and whistles to outdo the competition," said Scott Taylor, president and COO of Walk-On's Bistreaux & Bar. "It's a fierce hiring battle, but with the right strategies, businesses can better set themselves up for success." It takes the right approach and know-how to find, hire, and keep quality employees. Okay, if well noted, here are the four ways you can attract the right employees and stand out against competing employers in your industry.

1. Offer benefits and flexibility: Just like all employees, younger employees want, and are demanding, better benefits and flexibility. If your business can provide a competitive benefits package, you'll be a step ahead of the competition. "Great benefits, like 401(k), health and dental insurance, are always in demand," Sweeney said.

Flexibility is also important for minimum wage employees because many of them are still in high school or college. They have other responsibilities, such as school to work around.

"Flexibility is important because their schedules fluctuate so often," said Ryan Novak, owner of Chocolate Pizza Company. "Sports, school and social interactions create schedule stress points that an employer has to accommodate to a point. I try hard to balance their need for flexibility with my need for staffing dependability."

2. Create a positive work environment and show you care: Employees will stick with businesses if they enjoy coming into work, feel valued and are gaining solid experience.

"For jobs offering minimum wage, in particular, Marco's Pizza believes things, such as providing an engaging, fun, cohesive and purpose-driven environment that helps build an experience portfolio, particularly for young workers on their first job, are the true differentiators," said Rod Sanders, vice president, talent management at Marco's Pizza.

One way to help employees gain valuable experience is with training and leadership programs. "While such jobs are, for the vast majority of these employees, not going to be a career for them, the employee can take advantage of some differentiating skills-building programs," said Sanders.

3. Reputation matters: As a company, your reputation matters. But both consumers and potential employees are becoming increasingly conscious of corporate social responsibility.

"While everyone needs money to provide for themselves and their families, young workers seem to be conscious of and conscientious about who they're willing to attach their names to," Sanders said.

"If your employer brand is tagged with a bad reputation for how it treats people or the community, ... prospective applicants are going to see this and think long and hard before they consider you," he said.

Taylor suggests offering employees opportunities to get involved in the community and participate in volunteer work. "They will be more likely to pursue a job they feel good about – one that extends outside the walls of the business," Taylor said.

4. Prioritize mentorship opportunities: If in your own case you aren't doing so already, you just need to provide leadership and development programs to employees, including mentorship opportunities. Mentorship makes employees feel valued and that they are part of the team.

"If you are actively allowing established employees to mentor the newer ones, it can create a greater understanding of the company and how it operates," said Bill DiPaola, chief operating officer of Ballard Brands and PJ's Coffee. "You can give them the opportunity to gain a deeper perspective on what they are doing and to apply themselves. This leaves you with a more branded employee who will want to stay with you longer."
Last, think about what you wanted from your past employers and what made you leave a job.
"When in doubt about what you should do, think about companies you might have previously worked for and had poor experiences with," said Sweeney. "Whether it was a toxic environment, negative boss, or endless gossip, that experience likely taught you that you do not want to see this behavior recreated again and certainly not at your business."

How You Can Interpret and Learn from POS Sales Reports

As the case is...POS systems comes with dozens of sales reports that can give you a wealth of statistics about your business. Most systems have a dashboard that displays key metrics plus a variety of reports that you can customize with filters to get an in-depth look at your sales data.
The at-a-glance information on the dashboard is extremely useful – it's a barometer that shows you an overview of how your business is doing, with graphs and lists that show key metrics such as how many sales you've made for the day, whether your daily sales volume is trending up or down and which products your customers buy the most. You'll want to check this information at least once a day to get a feel for what's normal for your business. The reports give you a comprehensive look at your data, so you can dig into the numbers and find specific information about your sales, products mix and inventory levels, employee performance and customer preferences.

With so much data available, the challenge is figuring out how to sift through it to find insights that help you identify what's working well, which issues that you need to fix, areas where you can improve and opportunities that can help your business grow. Without going too far, here are the four steps that can help you interpret and learn from POS sales reports.

1. Start with a question: The first step is to decide what you want to learn from the POS sales report data. What specific questions do have about your sales, products, inventory, employees or customers? Do you want to know whether you should reorder a certain product? Do you want to know if the promotion you ran last week was successful? Do you want to know which employee routinely has the highest sales volume? Do you want to know who your best customers are and what product categories or brands keep them coming back to your business?
Asking the right question helps you narrow in and focus on the data that can answer it and help you gain a better understanding of what's happening with your business, so you can make informed decisions.

2. Gather and measure data: Once you are able to figure out the question, the next step is to decide which report can give you the data you need to answer it. You also need to decide if there are filters you need to apply to find the right data set, such as date ranges. There may be multiple reports or filters that allow you to look at the data from different angles, augment it with additional details or isolate it from other variables.

Next, examine your sales data over time – compare your current data to the previous day, week, month and year. This helps you figure out your sales averages and gives you a benchmark to measure current numbers against.
Jim Barksdale, the former president and CEO of Netscape said, "You cannot manage that which you cannot measure." If you don't know what your averages are – if you don't "measure" your data by comparing it against historical numbers, you won't be able identify abnormalities that alert you that something – either good or bad – is going on with your sales.

3. Look for patterns and identify trends: Now after the above is done, the next step is to look for patterns in the data. This can give you insights into your customers' buying habits, revealing information such as seasonal trends or showing you whether or not your latest promotion brought in more customers than normal or contributed to a higher volume of sales in an ordinarily flat time period. This information can help you plan ahead, and decide whether you should increase, decrease or hold steady on reorder quantities, promotional efforts or other activities.

In a Forbes article, CEO Vishal Agarwal says, "If we are too deeply ingrained in the details of deriving the numbers and do not take a step back to look at the larger picture, it can often lead to mistakes." For example, if you notice an item that was hot three months ago is now one of your worst-selling items, should you discontinue the product? What happened to cause the drop in popularity?
Perhaps if you look at the sales data for this product over a larger period of time, you'll discover that it's a seasonal item, and find that your low sales numbers are consistent for this time of year. Seeing how sales trend for this item helps you decide how to move forward. Maybe you decide to remove the product from your set this season, but order extra before it's in season next year so you have plenty on hand when your customers want it.
Data patterns can also help you identify opportunities for cross-selling. If you discover that customers tend to purchase certain items together, you can make it easier for customers to find related items, either by displaying them together, offering them as a bundle or asking the customer if they're interested in the related item when they place their order or at checkout. For example, if a customer orders a desk, perhaps they'll be interested in buying a chair to go with it, especially if they receive a discount if they purchase the items together.

4. Apply context: So here, in order to interpret the data trends that you find and learn from in your sales reports, you also need to apply context. Context is the information beyond the statistics that explains why customers are purchasing (or not purchasing) certain items. It can be external, such as seasonality, weather, road construction, competitor actions or supplier activities – such as tariffs, pricing increases, discounts or special deals. Or, it can be internal, such as gaining or losing employees, adding or removing products or services, running promotions or raising prices.

Bringing context to your POS sales reports helps you understand the story behind the numbers, so you can interpret what's really going on with your sales. In an article for Entrepreneur, CEO Karl Hougaard writes, "Understanding what lies behind the statistics – why the numbers matter – is more important than the raw numbers on their own." Context may be able to explain why you had a sudden uptick in sales for a certain item, an unusual drop in foot traffic, or other anomalies.

Having the story that explains the data helps you respond appropriately to it. For example, if an item is suddenly popular, contextual information can help you decide if you should rush to reorder a larger-than-usual quantity of an item, or if you should be cautious and reorder the same amount as usual.
Expanding on the above example, imagine you have a children's clothing store and suddenly sell out of the little white gloves that you usually sell just a few pairs of around Easter and Christmas. Finding out that a local dance class is using them as part of a costume for an upcoming performance explains the demand. This is important, because if you don't know the context – in this case, what caused the demand – you may assume it's a trend and reorder a much higher quantity. Then, because it was a one-time occurrence, you would be left with a large amount of overstock that you must sit on or deeply discount to move. Whereas with the context, you realize that it's a one-time occurrence and decide to restock at the same levels as before.
Interpreting and learning from POS sales reports so far, is an ongoing task that you'll perform on a regular basis as long as you run your business. As you get more familiar with your data and your POS system, the process will get easier. You'll be able to ask more in-depth questions about your sales numbers, product mix, employee performance and customer behavior. You'll figure out which reports and filters will lead you to the answers to your questions and what patterns you should look for in your data. You'll also put the data in context and consider how various factors have contributed to the story that your sales figures are telling you so that you can make smart decisions that help your business prosper well.