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April 2016

Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 apr 2016

As web technologies continue to evolve along with user expectations, businesses have to keep pace with them for successful digital marketing and search engine optimization (SEO). User experience optimization (UXO) and user experience design (UXD) are at the core of online marketing and SEO strategies. UXO keeps customers hooked to the website and UXD is the process that is used to create the website with customers in mind. Optimal UXD utilizes best usability principles to provide best user interface by keeping customer interactions at the core of design. Dan Makoski, VP of Design for CapitalOne and most currently Chief Design Officer at Garage Partners, says, 'Experiences are personal moments felt by people, something that can't be owned by designers; however, we can design for it. The experience of the people we design for is what determines the success of the products, services and relationships that we create.' Don Dodds, Managing Partner and Chief Strategist at M16 Marketing, suggests a list of 38 tips for website design, content creation and online marketing strategies for better user experience. Here are some selections from the list - (1) Top of the page is critical for user attention. (2) Make sure content is visible and readable for everyone including colorblind users. (3) Provide symmetry in object placement. (4) Place objects in logical order for better user flow. (5) Keep site navigation panel consistent. (6) Design for ease of use and easy comprehension. (7) For better loading use content before images. (8) Keep pages as short as possible for ease of content utilization by user. (9) For long pages use sticky menu that moves with the scrolling. (10) Make sure your pages load quickly, preferably in couple of seconds. (11) Make it easy for users to undo an action or back out of a navigation option. (12) For mobile content, do not require a double-click to activate an element. (13) Pay attention to contrast when designing your mobile content. (14) Link anchor text should tell the user exactly where the link will take them. (15) Use fonts that are easy to read. (16) Most website visitors scan your content first before reading it. Use elements like bold text, headlines etc to attract attention to the content that is most meaningful to users. (17) Avoid pop-ups, banners and slideshows as much as possible. (18) Always be truthful regarding what you can offer. Avoid false advertising and misleading information. (19) Use icons that are simply designed and easy to understand. (20) Establish a brand image and include it everywhere you've established a presence online. Read on...

Huffington Post: 38 Design Tips for Creating an Amazing User Experience
Author: Don Dodds


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 apr 2016

Financial services industry has vast amount of consumer data and firms can utilize analytics to gather purposeful insights for better customer relationships and business success. Consumers are now more digitally connected than before. But according to Boston Consulting Group, despite the huge availability of data and better analytics tools, banks are far from realizing big data's full potential. Some of the reasons are - Competing priorities like regulatory changes that happened during financial crisis; IT complexity due to multilayered systems and siloed data; Lack of coordinated vision. Jim Marous, Co-Publisher of The Financial Brand and Publisher of the Digital Banking Report, suggests steps that traditional banking and financial institutions can take to take advantage of consumer data and analytics - (1) The Partnership Between Banking and Fintech: A win-win is created by combining data and technology skills of many of the entrepreneurial financial technology firms with the data from the larger legacy firms. (2) Removing Friction from the Customer Journey: Focus on providing better digital experience at each step of customer interaction by leveraging advance customer insights that go far beyond simple demographics to include channel preferences, lifestage insights and even geolocational information. (3) Making Data Actionable: Beth Merle, VP of Enterprise Solutions at Epsilon, says, 'Banks need to stop talking about gathering big data and starting using big data to make a difference for the consumer. We need to see the integration and synchronization of data sources, enabling real-time determination of relevant data points for analysis, communication, and decision making, the 'trifecta' of big data. (4) Introduction of Optichannel Delivery: Financial organizations have to go beyond multichannel and omnichannel strategy and provide 'optichannel' experience by delivering solutions using the best (optimum) channel based on the customer's need and preferred channel. In the future, the integration of processes from the consumer's perspective is foundational to the optichannel theme. According to Nicole Sturgill, Principal Executive Advisor for CEB TowerGroup, 'Rather than looking at channels independently, banking needs to develop and provide financial tools that are integrated in daily life.' (5) Exploring Advanced Technology: Jim Eckenrode, Executive Director of the Deloitte Center for Financial Services, says, 'By enabling the collection and exchange of information from objects, the IoT (Internet of Things) has the potential to be as broadly transformational to the financial services industry as the Internet itself.' In the process of leveraging customer data legacy firms face multiple challenges that they need to overcome to reap financial benefits and establish data and analytics expertise that would be hard to replicate by competitors. Some of these challenges include - Lack of talent; Lack of resources; Lack of urgency. Despite advanced data analysis being one of the top challenges mentioned in the recently released State of Financial Services Marketing, only the largest regional and national banks (over US$ 10 billion) ranked improving data and analytics capabilities in their top three priorities (47%), compared to community banks and credit unions (only 8%). Read on...

The Financial Brand: Data Analytics Critical to Success in Banking
Author: Jim Marous


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 apr 2016

According to a recent study by Prof. Leanne Cutcher of the University of Sydney Business School, a leading expert on intergenerational employment, ageism in the workforce is built on a faulty premise and the most innovative companies are the ones where the age of employees does not matter. Prof. Cutcher says, 'When we say baby boomers are not good with technology and Generation Y don't have enough experience, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because people who have good ideas then don't share them because they have been told they are too old. But you are just going to replicate the same ideas where you start labelling people as either too old or too young for a role. Where that is happening, it is stifling knowledge exchange.' Michael Shaw, Executive Vice President Healthcare at Siemens Australia, comments, 'Siemens takes the best people for the job. Personally, for me it's not important if the person is in their 20s or in their 60s, I am simply looking for the best minds with the best attitude.' Another study by Australian Seniors Insurance Agency (ASIA), based on survey of 1200 people across Australia, found that age discrimination at workplace is rife. According to the study, close to half the Baby Boomer respondents claimed they have been turned down for a job since they turned 40, and 3 out of 5 people over 50 said that they faced substantial obstacles in attempts to find a job. The research also found that more than 3/4 of Baby Boomers adapt well to technological innovations, and 73% are actively seeking training opportunities. According to Simon Hovell, spokesman for ASIA, 'The findings point to what many organisations, academics and economists have known all along - Baby Boomers are a real asset to the workplace.' Read on...

The Sydney Morning Herald: Companies that use older workers are the most innovative - New research
Author: Anna Patty


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 apr 2016

To build human-like machines that can demonstrate ingenuity and creativity, the race is on to develop next generation of advanced AI (Artifical Intelligence). AI is already tackling complex tasks like stock market predictions, research synthesis etc, and 'smart manufacturing' is becoming a reality where deep learning is paired with new robotics and digital manufacturing tools. Prof. Hod Lipson, director of Creative Machines Lab at Columbia University, has embarked upon exploring a higher level of AI and develop biology-inspired machines that can evolve, self-model, and self-reflect - where machines will generate new ideas, and then build them. To build self-aware robots is the ultimate goal. Prof. Lipson explains, 'Biology-inspired engineering is about learning from nature, and then using it to try to solve the hardest problems. It happens at all scales. It's not just copying nature at the surface level. It could be copying the learning at a deeper level, such as learning how nature uses materials or learning about the adaptation processes that evolution uses...We are looking at what I think is the ultimate challenge in artificial intelligence and robotics-creating machines that are creative; machines that can invent new things; machines that can come up with new ideas and then make those very things. Creativity is one of these last frontiers of AI. People still think that humans are superior to machines in their ability to create things, and we are looking at that challenge.' He is working on a new AI termed as 'divergent AI', that is exploratory and involves creating many new ideas from original idea, and is different from 'convergent AI' that involves taking data and distilling it into a decision. ON SELF-AWARENESS IN AI: He says, 'Creativity is a big challenge, but even greater than that is self-awareness. For a long time, in robotics and AI, we sometimes called it the "C" word-consciousness.' ON AI IN MANUFACTURING: He comments, 'When it comes to manufacturing, there are two angles. One is the simple automation, where we're seeing robots that can work side-by-side with humans...The other side of manufacturing, which is disrupted by AI, is the side of design. Manufacturing and design always go hand-in-hand...When AI creeps into the design world through these new types of creative AI, you suddenly expand what you can manufacture because the AI on the design side can take advantage of your manufacturing tools in new ways.' ON TWO COMPETING SCHOOLS OF THOUGHTS IN AI: He explains, 'There's the school of thought that is top-down, logic, programming, and search approach, and then there is the machine learning approach. The machine learning approach says, "Forget about programming robots, forget about programming AI, you just make it learn, and it will figure out everything on its own from data"...I think the machine learning approach has played out perfectly, and we're just at the beginning. It's going to accelerate.' Read on...

Singularity Hub: The Last Frontiers of AI - Can Scientists Design Creativity and Self-Awareness?
Author: Alison E. Berman


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 13 apr 2016

Businesses apply different set of strategies and tactics when they market and sell to other businesses or directly to consumers. Daniel Scalco, CEO of Digitalux, provides 5 important B2B (Business to Business) marketing strategies that should be considered to increase leads, ROI (Return on Investments) and finally sales - (1) Dig deeper when targeting your demographic: Use 'hyper-targeting' to narrow down audience. (2) Get feedback: Strategy should be data driven; Use survey process into marketing methods. (3) Extend your funnel: B2B marketing strategy cycle to go from a prospect, to lead to consumer is much longer than B2C; Nurture leads by extending funnel through better content, webinars and social media to engage with target audience. (4) Invest in an explainer video: eMarketer study found that B2B buyers consider video as top 3 most useful content for marking purchases; Inform potential customers through a story-based video. (5) Create goals and milestones: Break down the journey to reach marketing goals into smaller steps or milestones for effective execution. Read on...

Huffington Post: 5 B2B Marketing Strategies You Need To Consider
Author: Daniel Scalco


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 07 apr 2016

This year's World Health Day, that falls today (07 April 2016), has the theme 'Beat Diabetes!'. The World Health Organization has singled out tackling diabetes as one of the most critical healthcare challenge but at the same time tried to give a strong message that it is not too hard to manage if people can put their thoughts and actions in the right direction. Alex Jones, health economist at the social enterprise Oxford Policy Management and researcher at University of the West Indies, provides historial perspective on how international health organizations and governments over time have developed and implemented different types of policies in tackling global health issues. Sometimes they have utilized a single disease approach and at others they have been more holistic and tried to improve health systems around the world. He further explores two approaches and provides opinion on their long-term benefits. According to him, 'A quick look back through history reveals a disturbingly cyclical pattern: As an international community we've been flip-flopping between the two approaches - vertical and horizontal - for at least the last century.' He explains, 'As far back as the 1920s, the sector saw the growth of what was known as the 'Social Medicine Movement' - based on the consideration that ill health could actually be a consequence of poor social conditions...Throughout the first half of the 20th century the Rockefeller Foundation became one of the most influential organisations in global health, implementing programmes in over 80 countries...it always kept the aim of combating specific diseases through targeted campaigns. Post-war politics saw the creation of a number of international agencies that pursued similar vertical programmes...The failure of the GMEP (WHO's Global Malaria Eradication Project) and the relative success of Mao Zedong's community-led 'Barefoot Doctors' programme in China both helped to swing the global health pendulum towards a more horizontal 'systems' approach. In 1975, the WHO launched its Primary Health Care strategy and in 1978 (after sustained advocacy from the Soviet Union) the famous Alma-Ata conference was held...this was a pledge to build up basic health systems around the world...and heralded the birth of the 'Health for All'...The beginning of the 80's, however, saw the pendulum swing firmly back towards vertical interventions...the last ten years have seen a swing back to the ideals of Alma-Ata and the mantra of putting people - rather than pathogens - front and centre of health initiatives...In 2012, the United Nations General Assembly formally recognised and unanimously endorsed the idea of Universal Health Coverage (UHC).' While explaining the current state of health policy focus and interventions, he comments, 'Given the benefit of hindsight, there's a strong risk that today's current focus on UHC might not survive the constant push towards seemingly more feasible, targeted interventions. This apparently inevitable swing to the vertical, however, misses the point on two key fronts: First, history shows us that morbidities are integrated, both with each other and with our ways of life. Second, when something new comes along, a health sector built around a few target pathogens simply cannot deal with it.' Finally, he suggests, 'Let's continue to focus resources where significant advances in disease eradication are possible, partnering with those who can make this happen - but let's take care not to do this at the expense of overall systems strengthening.' Read on...

The Financial Times: Healthcare for all: A zero-sum game?
Author: Alex Jones



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