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Human Resources

Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 may 2024

Artificial intelligence (AI) is making inroads into many fields and so it is in architecture and related areas like interior design, urban planning, landscape etc. As it is in early stages of adoption there is excetement, experimentation, uncertainty and concerns. A recent survey of 1200 architectural profesionals throws light on what the industry really thinks about AI and asked how it impacts design processes and workflows, and human resources in the industry. HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SURVEY - (1) The Use of AI Is Being Propelled by Experimentation and Self-Driven Learning: 60% of the respondents are using AI without formal training; Integration issues, lack of testing time, and insufficient training resources are challenges faced in adopting AI tools for architectural projects; More than 2/3rd of respondents already use AI or intend to do so soon. (2) The Highest Satisfaction With AI Is When It's Used During the Early Design Stages: More than 67% of respondents feel so; Only about 30% deemed AI renderings suitable for design development and beyond due to concerns regarding precision and control. (3) AI Technology Will Soon Become Standard in Architectural Design but Needs to Evolve: 52% expressed concerns about AI's potential to disrupt job security within the architectural visualization field; 74% agreed that there should be ethical guidelines governing AI's use. Read on...

ArchDaily: What 1,200+ Architects and Designers Really Think About AI in Architecture
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 apr 2024

In the technology-enhanced world, information and news consumption has become more fluid and dynamic. The audience and consumers are no more captive. Opinions and views are established and shared at lightening speed on multiple devices and platforms. Reaching out to the world has barriers removed. Everyone has the power to speak out and get heard. The generation that grew up in this environment knows how to handle the fast paced world of information and communication. Public relations as an industry has been hugely impacted. Deepa Nagraj, Global Head of Communications & Sparkle Innovation Ecosystem at Mphasis, explains how the PR industry has changed in the digital era and how it can adapt to stay effective. According to Statista research analysis, 'Reading news on social is fast becoming the norm for younger generations, and this form of news consumption will likely increase further regardless of whether consumers fully trust their chosen network or not.' Ms. Nagraj provides the following changes that are happening around the PR industry - Workers Are Dispersed And Remote; News Is Digested In New Ways; Attention Spans Are Minimal; Anybody Can Be A Spokesperson; Everyone Is Watching; Noise Is A Constant. She has following suggestions for the PR professionals - Listen to what is happening around on various platforms and channels; Cut through the chase and formulate an appropriate, meaningful and engaging response; Be clear and direct in your communication and share it quickly; Communication should be directed towards a human being and should include all the elements so that it can reach the heart and mind of the consumer and should be open-ended and interactive. Read on...

Forbes: Future Proofing Public Relations In The Age Of Digital Media
Author: Deepa Nagraj


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 mar 2024

A team of researchers that include Prof. Seoyoun Kim of Department of Sociology at Texas State University, Prof. Cal Halvorsen of School of Social Work at Boston College and Prof. Koichiro Shiba of School of Public Health at Boston University, are working on a National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded project 'Volunteering, polygenic risk, and cardiovascular biomarkers in multiple ancestry' to examine whether frequent and sustained volunteering affects changes in cardiovascular biomarkers, while also accounting for genetic risk factors. As more than 50% of adults over the age of 50 in the U.S. report at least one cardiovascular risk, such as hypertension, high cholesterol, obesity and chronic inflammation, the study would potentially provide new ways to manage risk in vulnerable populations. Even though there has been evidence of benficial impact of volunteering on the cardiovascular health of volunteers but it is not evident that frequent and sustained volunteering has a comparable effect across various population subgroups. Moreover, genetic susceptibility to cardiovascular disease biomarkers has never been studied in the context of volunteering. This study will provide understanding of the pathways by which genetic, social and behavioral factors affect cardiovascular health in older adults. Read on...

Texas State University Newsroom: NIH-funded study investigates cardiovascular benefits of volunteering
Author: Jayme Blaschke


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 14 jan 2024

According to Wikipedia, 'Generative artificial intelligence (generative AI, GAI, or GenAI) is artificial intelligence capable of generating text, images, or other media, using generative models. Generative AI models learn the patterns and structure of their input training data and then generate new data that has similar characteristics.' Positive aspects of generative AI systems include accelerative creativity, egalitarian tech for general public etc, while negative aspects include political propaganda through biased data, human resource displacement challenges etc. Commenting on transformative power of generative AI, Rich Palmer of Launchpad Venture Group, says, 'It's the new electricity.' Jonathan Griffiths, director of Babson College's Weissman Foundry, says, 'Much like a cell phone, AI is going to change how we interact with our computers and with each other in meaningful ways - and, if you don't have an understanding of what generative AI can do and what its limitations are, you're going to be left in the dust.' Joshua Herzig-Marx, a coach for early stage founders, says, 'At this point, if you have a startup and you don’t have a generative AI strategy, your board will be really unhappy with you, because that’s what everybody expects—in the same way that, if you didn't have a social strategy 15 years ago, it was a bad thing.' Prof. Ruth Gilleran and Prof. Clare Gillan of Babson College have designed a compulsory course for all undergraduates, 'Digital Technologies for Entrepreneurs'. Prof. Gillan says, 'We live in a time of tremendous disruption, and the pace of change has only accelerated. I want (students) to land on the right side of that continuous change.' Experts from Babson College provide insights and guidance on generative AI to entrepreneurs - (1) It will enable non-engineers to innovate in new ways: Prof. Gillaran says, 'It further democratizes the entrepreneurial process.' Prof. Thomas Davenport says, 'From an entrepreneurship standpoint, it lowers the barriers for tech expertise to design new products. It's a good thing for entrepreneurs.' (2) It should only be used in certain instances: Mr. Herzig-Marx says, 'Judgment is the big challenge (with generative AI), which is always one of the hardest things for any businessperson. There's no reason to think that whatever pops out of ChatGPT or a text-to-image service is going to be something you would actually want to use.' (3) Knowledge and content management will be transformed: Prof. Davenport says, 'Generative AI will rejuvenate the job of a knowledge manager...I think there are a lot of advantages to doing it for educating your frontline people and customer service applications.' (4) It will generate instant feedback, allowing entrepreneurs to assess viability quickly: Mr. Griffiths says, 'I could see (entrepreneurs) working with generative AI to solve the problems that they may not necessarily have the skills to solve right now.' Prof. Erik Noyes, who teaches Entrepreneurial Opportunities in AI, says, 'Generative AI enables the rapid prototyping of entrepreneurial ideas: literally a visualization and expression of an entrepreneurial idea that you can show to a target customer. You can get feedback on whether you're on a compelling path and creating value, or whether your idea is a dud.' (5) Beware of bias: Prof. Davit Khachatryan, who specializes in machine learning and data science, says, 'Generative AI is merely a means to an end, not an end in itself...Taking the results of generative AI at face value is like the blind following the blind. Today's entrepreneur, or any user of generative AI, needs to have an above-average understanding of how these tools work—and I think that’s where we analytics and data-science educators have a crucial role to play.' Prof. Noyes says, 'If the existing data is biased, there’s a strong likelihood that what’s generated can also be biased. You have to look at anything you’re doing in generative AI through the critical lens of 'How could this just be re-expressing bias?'' (6) Regulatory concerns could constrain creativity: Sam Altman, CEO of ChatGPT creator OpenAI, has urged international regulation of generative AI. Mr. Palmer says, 'When the front-runner (OpenAI) pushes for regulation, it opens up a question of whether anyone else can swim in the wake or not, and if anybody else can catch up again.' (7) Humans still matter: Prof. Khachatryan says, 'Overly relying on the seeming 'magic' that is provided by generative AI is not going to work. To have your leg up, you still need to put your creative hat on and keep it on at all times...it currently has no mechanism in place to evaluate the quality, meaningfulness, or effectiveness of these responses. I don’t think that one should get overexcited about how human-like the responses are because human-like, at the end of the day, doesn’t translate necessarily into meaningful.' Read on...

Babson Magazine: The Age of AI: Seven Things Entrepreneurs Need to Know
Author: Kara Baskin


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 31 dec 2023

Entrepreneurship is an important component of thriving economy and entrepreneurial spirit is needed for growth and success of individuals, companies, organizations and nations. It assists to overcome challenges and helps to stay competitive in a tough environment. Entrepreneurial spirit brings in ability to seek innovation, bring positive change, develop new ideas, enhance creativity, enable intelligent and efficient problem solving, overcome status quo, and achieve success to not only individuals but also brings transformation to the organizations they work for and communities they live in. Entrepreneurial spirit is essential for all - entrepreneurs, professionals, workers, students and anyone who is willing to work hard and achieve their goals. Entrepreneurial spirit enables individuals to seek out new ideas and solutions, get things done proactively, makes them fearless in their approach, helps them continuously strive for growth and make things better. Those with entrepreneurial spirit are curious, ask questions and have conviction to proceed towards their goals. They look to achieve the extraordinary. Entrepreneurial spirit provides ability to find opportunities scattered all around, being positive and ignore obstacles and negativity. What one chooses to do is the key as doing makes all the difference and entrepreneurship is all about planning, partnering and persisting until what one seeks out is achieved. Individual entrepreneur often acts as a pioneer in initially sparking the entrepreneurial spirit. Entrepreneurial spirit links entrepreneurs, businesses, innovation, network, regional development. Read on...

ilmeps/read: The Entrepreneurial Spirit - A Brief Introduction
Author: Mohammad Anas Wahaj


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 21 nov 2023

In the post-pandemic world, workers in many industries often felt the desire and need to get out of their homes and work from office. But according to the Figma's latest 'State of the Designer' report, 95% of designers are fully or partially working from home and 69% of digital product designers have greater job satisfaction now than they did pre-pandemic. Figma surveyed 470 designers in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region over a three-year period for the report. The report points out, 'Despite many businesses laying off designers in 2022, particularly in high-growth sectors like tech, designers in 2023 are still positive about the job market...Product designers are no longer confined to the sidelines. Instead, they have stepped into pivotal roles within businesses.' Even though there are concerns regarding remote work might lead to isolation effect, but according to the report, 82% of individual design contributors are the most positive about their current roles. Moreover, only 38% felt more distant from their co-workers. The report also finds out thet 53% are using group meetings to design together more often. Read on...

It's Nice That: Remote working seems to be making product designers more job-satisfied, says Figma report
Author: Liz Gorny


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 11 nov 2023

There is a continuous debate regarding AI (Artifical Intelligence) and its impact on jobs that humans perform. Neil Patel, author and co-founder of Neil Patel Digital, provides insights on how AI will influence marketing human resources and what marketers should do to make themselves irreplaceable. According to a survey of 1000 digital marketers conducted by NeilPatel.com in the US, 56.7% of 229 freelancers think that AI will replace human marketers in the near future while 56.1% of 394 in-house digital marketers and 54.1% of 377 running a digital marketing agency think the same. This significantly shows that AI is perceived as a threat to marketing jobs. Other findings from the survey show - 44% feel that AI will have a positive impact on their career; 30% feel there will be a negative impact; almost 30% predict no impact on their career; 20% felt AI's biggest advantage is that it saves money on staffing and tool costs. Overall survey shows that digital marketers have mixed feelings of concern and optimism regarding AI. Mr. Patel suggests to make AI as an assistant and not consider it as a threat, and to do that marketers have to learn AI tools and master them for workflow efficiency. He recommends the use of AI to become a better marketer - analyze vast data quickly and accurately and provide valuable insights into consumer behavior and market trends; develop more effective marketing strategies and campaigns tailored to the needs and interests of specific audiences; create content that resonates with consumers; speed up content creation; workflow automation. AI has the potenetial to replace repetitive tasks, enhance and speed up decision making and routine customer service. But what will make human marketers irreplaceable is their ability to make judgement, be creative and power of empathy. Mr. Patel says, 'Skilled marketers have the ability to create compelling, human-centric content, analyze data to identify trends and insights, and develop effective strategies for promoting brands and products across various digital channels...AI can't develop customized solutions that meet their unique needs. AI may have the insights, but human expertise can materialize actionable steps to achieve them.' Read on...

NeilPatel.com: Will AI Replace Marketing Jobs?
Author: Neil Patel


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 24 sep 2023

Landscape architecture can be a fruitful career option for those that have interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) and have design and creative abiities. Kona Gray, the president of the American Society of Landscape Architects and a principal at EDSA Incorporated, says, 'A lot of people take our work for granted. But everything around the buildings and between the buildings is designed by landscape architects. There's a landscape you occupy every day. Landscape architects are responsible for the stewardship and design of those spaces. A building occupies a certain space. But the landscape occupies far more.' Roxi Thoren, department head and professor of landscape architecture at Penn State College of Arts and Architecture, says, 'At The Pennsylvania State University, nearly 60 first-year students joined the major this fall...undergraduate programs are generally four to five years...at Penn State, internships aren't required but a study abroad program is. One popular destination to study cutting-edge sustainability work is Bonn, Germany. It's really amazing work with urban renewal, renovation of industrial sites, urban flooding resilience and green roofs...Landscape architecture students might tackle real-world environmental challenges such as designing for fire- or drought-prone areas, or for extreme heat. They also consider design with psychology in mind, such as creating a park where women feel safe after dark or where parents feel comfortable bringing their children.' Haley Blakeman, the associate director at The Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture at Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge), says, 'The program has about 130 undergraduate and 20 graduate students. BLA students are either direct admit or can transfer from another program. Travel has been a cornerstone of the LSU program since the 1960's. Upperclassmen are expected to attend a weeklong field trip...Coursework includes classes on design and history of design, and a technology series that focuses in part on materials and landforms. The undergraduate program takes five years and students take a semester-long paid internship during their fourth year. We find it incredibly helpful when they come back to school because they have a new skill set once they return. They understand the context of their academic work...another benefit of internships is job offers they get...I do a lot of work in coastal adaptation...Well-designed spaces bring people together. For students, the major is all about problem solving, learning how to talk to community members, and using the design skills they're trained with to come up with solutions.' U.S. Department of Homeland Security recently designated landscape architecture a STEM degree program and international students with F-1 visas whose degrees are on the STEM-designated list may be able to extend their stays in the U.S. According to the Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board, there are 100 landscape architecture programs offered at 74 universities around the U.S., including 47 undergraduate and 53 graduate programs. According to 2022 data by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for landscape architects is about US$ 73000 per year. Read on...

US News & World Report: Consider a Major in Landscape Architecture
Author: Jennifer Seter Wagner


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 aug 2023

The survey of more than 1000 nonprofit CEOs and 100+ funders on the state of US volunteer engagement by Do Good Institute (School of Public Policy, University of Maryland) and partially funded by the Initiative for Strategic Volunteer Engagement, found that even though volunteers are the lifeline for nonprofits and more so during and after the pandemic as they struggle with increased demand, limited resources and reduced staffing, but those volunteers are now harder to engage. HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SURVEY - 64.4% of nonprofits reported an increase in demand for their organizational services in 2022; 51.1% expanded their delivery of services, and 48.5% boosted staff workloads to help meet demand; 28.7% of nonprofits are operating with less funding and paid staff than they had before the pandemic; 46.8% of CEOs say that recruiting sufficient volunteers is a big problem for their organizations; Many nonprofits reported they were retaining very few volunteers, and their volunteers were doing less; Nonprofits seem more convinced of the benefits of volunteer engagement (Volunteers allow the organization to provide more detailed attention to the people served ballooned from 37% in 2019 to 65.6% in 2022. Volunteers increase the organization’s return on resource investments increased from 43%to 68.4% over the same time); There is a gap between funders and nonprofits on both the value and challenges surrounding strategic volunteerism (72.2% of nonprofit leaders and only 25.2% of funders felt that volunteers improve the quality of services or programs. 65.6% of nonprofit leaders and ony 29.3% of funders report volunteers provide more detailed attention to people served). Nathan Dietz, researcher at the Do Good Institute and School of Public Policy at UMD, says, 'This gap in funding and staffing makes volunteers even more important for many mission-driven organizations. Nonprofits will likely face staff burnout or service delivery issues if this continues...' Prof. Robert Grimm, director of Do Good Institute, says, 'While nonprofits are putting more effort behind engaging volunteers today, they are experiencing the triple whammy of greater demand for their services, fewer volunteers and few funders with a track record of supporting volunteering, These troubling trends must be reversed.' Jeffrey Glebocki and Betsy McFarland, co-directors of the Initiative for Strategic Volunteer Engagement, say, 'This research will be used to spark a national conversation for greater philanthropic investment in strategic volunteer engagement - and to equip more nonprofits to embrace strategic volunteer engagement for greater impact.' Read on...

Maryland Today (UMD): New Research Reveals Nonprofit Volunteers More Valued Than Ever, But Scarce
Author: Kaitlin Ahmad


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 jul 2023

Self-care or wellness is an important topic for years and to have self-care policies in organizations for their employees is becoming a necessary consideration. COVID-19 also exacerbated the issue for businesses and organizations. Joseph F. Duffy, author of the book 'Being a Supervisor 1.0.', SVP of Recruitment at the nonprofit leadership search firm of Dennis C. Miller (DCM) and former president of Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Paterson (New Jersey, USA), says that in the post-pandemic scenario the organizational leaders face the challenge of 'great resignation' phenomenon that includes increased instances of employee stress and burnout, and self-care is an important thing needed. According to Mr. Duffy, 'Too often this topic has been referred to Human Resource Departments with the intent of addressing employee self-care needs by modifying employee benefits packages, offering programs/activities such as diet, smoking cessation, exercise classes, stress management etc.' Mr. Duffy suggests a more systematic approach to promoting emplyees' self-care needs and having a proper mechanism to create, maintain, manage and measure it - (1) Include self-care in every employee's job description, up to, and including the CEO. (2) Include it in every employee's annual performance review. (3) Have it as a standing agenda item for supervision meetings. (4) Have it as a standing agenda item for team meetings. (5) Develop a formal written policy and procedure on self-care, definition, statement of importance, expectations, and resources. (6) Consider having this policy and procedure require every employee to have a written self-care plan. (7) Include this self-care policy and self-care education in the new employee orientation program. (8) Include self-care in ongoing employee training offerings. (9) Include self-care opportunities in your employee benefits offerings e.g. exercise, yoga, meditation, mind-fulness classes, nutrition couseliing, smoking cessation, EAP (Employee Assistance Program) etc. Read on...

The NonProfit Times: 9 Steps Toward Staff 'Self-Care' Policies
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 jul 2023

Nonprofit sector's human resources departments had been facing challenges, specifically in recrruiting and retaining talent, in the COVID'19 years and after. Nonprofit HR's Annual Talent Management Priorities Survey 2023 provides insights into the concerns of social sector organizations related to human resource management. HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SURVEY FOR 2023 - 80% organizations are prioritizing talent acquisition; Top 3 recruitment priorities (66% are attracting/hiring diverse talent; 44% are strengthening employer brand to attract better talent; 50% increasing recruiting budgets); 93% are prioritizing culture and employee engagement; 73% are prioritizing performance management; 79% are prioritizing learning and development; Top 3 learning and revelopment or training efforts (Leadership - 67%; Supervisory Skills - 66%; Diversity, Equity and Inclusion - 73%); 66% are prioritizing total rewards (compensation and benefits); 61% are not prioritizing talent analytics/metrics; 70% are not prioritizing talent-focused technology; 65% have a formal talent management strategy/plan that will guide its work in 2023; Top 3 elements included in formal talent management strategy/plan (Talent acquisition like branding, recruitment, hiring, onboarding - 84%; Retention planning like culture management, employee engagement, feedback management - 84%; Learning and development like staff development, leadership development, mentoring, shadowing - 82%). Read on...

Nonprofit HR: 2023 NONPROFIT TALENT MANAGEMENT PRIORITIES SURVEY RESULTS
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 apr 2023

ChatGPT and Generative AI has already started making inroads in media and advertising industry. At present Generative AI has taken over low-risk functions like mockups and copyrighting but doubts still remain regarding strategically important channels like search ad spending etc. According to Morning Consult, just 30% of US adults have heard or read anything about ChatGPT, and only 10% regard its output as 'very trustworthy.' Moreover, 52% of consumers believe that generative AI will stick around. As Generative AI becomes more trustworthy it is capable to disrupt media and advertising, like for example, the need for intermediate agencies would diminish as platforms could use Generative AI technology to create business ads themselves. Moreover, as the technology can summarize reporting and synthesize press releases, the relatshionship between publishers and search engines has the potential to end. Generative AI could also reshape the economics of search advertising with its definitive responses to search queries. Generative AI could provide raw material, eliminate the need for advertiser A/B tests, help new brands increase output, and keep those in the industry abreast of all the notable developments. But a lot is needed for full scale adoption of Generative AI and its reaching a disruptive stage in the media and advertising industry. Read on...

Business Insider: ChatGPT and Generative AI in Media and Advertising: With Use Cases Set, the Battle for Hearts and Minds Begins
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 14 mar 2023

In the B2B sales management, leadership has to ensure that the team works efficiently and effectively. B2B sales is different from B2C as the deal size is larger and sales cycles are longer. B2B sales teams have engagement dynamics with their stakeholders at multiple levels and need to manage internal and external teams for deal success. Oscar Chavez, founder of Growthly Group, provides four B2B sales management strategies to be implemented to help improve B2B sales team's performance - (1) Set Clear, Measurable Goals: The goals should be specific, time-bound, challenging and achievable. This provides sense of direction and purpose and helps to focus efforts and stay motivated throughout the sales process. (2) Provide Training and Development Opportunities: To enhance team's performance provide formal training programs like workshops and classes, and also informal training opportunities like coaching and mentoring. (3) Use Data to Measure and Track Performance: This includes tools like sales metrics, customer feedback and surveys. Helps identify team's areas of excellence and shortcomings. Metrics include the number of deals closed, the average deal size, the close rate, the number of meetings attended within a month and the follow-up rate. Customer feedback is also essential. (4) Remain Flexible and Foster a Strong Company Culture: Create a positive and supportive work environment and foster a culture of teamwork, collaboration and open communication. Have a system of incentives and bonuses for reaching targets and achieving goals. This helps sales team to stay motivated and improve performance. Regularly monitor, evaluate and adjust these strategies to ensure team's best performance. Read on...

Forbes: 4 Strategies To Improve Your B2B Sales Team's Performance
Author: Oscar Chavez


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 24 feb 2023

The COVID-19 crisis brought many challenges to the organizations in the nonprofit sector. Lisa Brown Alexander, president and CEO of Nonprofit HR, says, 'Since 2020, nonprofits have seen decreases in revenue, decreases in funding, decreases in opportunities to host fundraisers, which for many organizations is a revenue lifeline.' The crisis lead to financial challenges to nonprofits on one side while on the other there was increase in demand for their services and hiring requirements. According to the Nonprofit HR's 2023 Talent Management Priorities Survey of leaders in social impact organizations, HR leaders identified talent acquisition, performance management and talent-focused technology as their top three priorities this coming year. In 2022 the focus was on culture, learning and development, and performance management. Rebecca Dixon, executive director of the National Employment Law Project (NELP), says, 'The priority shift to a focus on finding and keeping employees makes sense.' Ms. Alexander and Ms. Dixon suggest 5 tactics for social impact organizations for talent management in coming months - (1) Focus on strategies to keep great talent. (2) Keep pace with your competitors. (3) Invest in technology, particularly tech that supports your staff. (4) Be competitive in pay and benefits. (5) Integrate diversity, equity and inclusion into your organization's talent management. Read on...

WTOP News: 5 ways nonprofits can win at talent management in 2023
Author: Vanessa Roberts


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 feb 2023

According to the research commissioned by Trades Union Congress (TUC, UK) and conducted by academics (Dr. Minjie Cai, Prof. Sian Moore, Dr. Alex Stroleny, Dr. Safak Tartanoglu-Bennett, Dr. Scott Tindal) at the Centre for Research on Employment and Work (CREW) at the University of Greenwich, the pandemic 'intensified existing trends' in online shopping, which meant a renewed shift from traditional shop-floor jobs towards work in warehouses, away from direct contact with customers. The analysis suggests that even though warehouse roles often provide more regular hours, and that competition for staff has pushed up wage rates, but warehouse work was considered by research participants as particularly gruelling ('the job is not human'), explaining labour shortages and high turnover, with a suggestion that automation and robotisation might be necessary to save the physical cost to human physical and mental health. Kate Bell, deputy general secretary of TUC, says, 'It was easy for consumers to forget that what feels like the miracle of rapid home delivery relies on real human labour, and real human labour which is increasingly tough - monitored, repetitive, gruelling.' Adrian Jones, the national organiser at Unite, says, 'Employers seem to be relying more and more on automated performance management tools in warehouses to set standards - and it doesn't take into consideration the massive issues that workers face on a day in, day out basis.' The researchers suggest surveillance of staff is used differently in workplaces where unions have a seat around the table. The report says, 'Where trade unions are recognised, workplace representatives play a key role in mediating technology and constraining its use in disciplinary measures against workers.' Tom Ironside, the director of business and regulation at the British Retail Consortium, says, 'The need for warehouse staff has been rising in recent years, so retailers have worked hard to provide the necessary financial and non-financial total reward to attract the necessary talent. As with all parts of retail, good working conditions are a key way of attracting and retaining staff, and warehouses are no exception.' Read on...

The Guardian: 'The job is not human': UK retail warehouse staff describe gruelling work
Author: Heather Stewart


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 21 feb 2023

Industrial designers are involved in the creation and development of many products and services that humans see and use in their life. They influence and contribute in shaping the physical and virtual experiences. Dr. Liam Fennessy, associate dean for industrial design at RMIT (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Melbourne, Australia), says, 'It's not just tangible products or buildings, it's programs, experiences and digital products and digital interfaces too. Some industrial designers specialize for products in a particular industry while others get involved in projects in multiple and diverse areas. Those involved in consultancy services often work in diverse projects and interdisciplinary teams. Tim Phillips, an industrial designer and owner of Tilt Industrial design, utilizes multidisciplinary approach and focuses on built environment. His team of industrial designers design large-scale, site-specific design features for architects, landscape architects or artists. Explaining the approach in designing the operable façade at UTS (University of Technology Sydney) building where industrial design process is used to achieve architectural goals, Mr. Phillips says, 'The façade delivers a specific environmental function and a unique aesthetic. This combination of impacts is at the heart of what Tilt is trying to achieve in the built environment.' Even though an undergraduate degree in industrial design is generally a basic requirement to pursue a career as industrial designer but experts explain that having diverse and broad skills and excellent communication capabilities are necessary to achieve success. Mr. Phillips says, 'A great industrial designer must be able to deliver an amazing end-user experience and an equally successful commercial project outcome.' Read on...

The Sydney Morning Herald: The people who make everything around us
Author: Sue White


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 oct 2022

Choice of field to pursue education and career is not an easy task for a student who is just out of school. The decision involves many aspects like personal interests, subject skills, level of commitment, qualifying exam performance, financial aspects and so on. Students need to prepare themselves with all requirements that would assist them in pursuing their educational dreams in their field of interest. Architecture is one field of study that requires students to understand as much as possible regarding what they are getting into and what is expected of them to successfully complete the courses to get architecture degree. Nuzhat Shama, a Research Assistant at the Center for Inclusive Architecture and Urbanism, BRAC University (Bangladesh), says, 'Drawing, colours, paint, and art fascinated me from a young age. I studied science during my O and A-levels hoping to pursue a medical degree. However, I have been intrigued by architecture since the sixth grade. Being the perfect amalgamation of art and science, this choice came very naturally to me...The architecture curriculum often consists of courses covering topics like history, art, music, environment and ecosystem, etc. For someone with little to no idea about the curriculum, this may come as a surprise...When you are an architect, you are responsible for creating the environment which shapes human beings including their habits, mindsets, cultures, lives, leisure, memories, and so on...Tunnel vision leads to projects which are bound to fail eventually. Objectivity and critical thinking are of utmost importance. An architect needs to be a well-rounded professional, which is why such courses are so important and contribute so much to the making of an architect...' In addition to classroom learning and courses, architectural students also have to take part in experiential learning, hands-on projects and thesis projects. These require high level of commitment and work hours. Pantha Shahriar, an Associate Architect at Triangle Consultants (Bangladesh), says, 'Building and structure design is the art and science of architecture. The understanding of physics, engineering, and mathematics is needed to produce designs that are both aesthetically beautiful and structurally sound. For developing comprehensive plans for entire cities and regions, many architects also collaborate with landscape architects, interior designers, and urban planners. So, we also need to learn the basics of landscaping, interior designing and urban planning. Thus comes the need for so many courses and therefore, so many credit hours...Project management is also something we must learn about...We also have to learn the basics of electrical connections and plumbing that run inside the structures we design, making the curriculum more extensive...Besides the tuition fees, there are some hidden costs in studying architecture that many are unaware of...Majority of the cost is generated from the materials for the models, but there are other significant investments an architecture student may need to make...' Read on...

The Daily Star: What students can expect from a major in Architecture
Author: Faisal Bin Iqbal


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 21 sep 2022

Technology startups have different sets of thought and work processes that differentiate them from the ways of traditional corporations. They often work with tight budgets and keep a high focus on fulfilling customer needs. They work with an out-of-the-box solution approach. Many times nonprofits work in the same environment and face similar challenges. 15 Forbes Nonprofit Council members suggest ways through which nonprofits can adopt 'tech startup mentality' to better serve their communities - (1) Dominic Kalms, B Generous: Have an agile mindset. (2) Kimberly Lewis, Goodwill Industries of East Texas, Inc.: Do your due diligence. (3) Gloria Horsley, Open to Hope: Assess the user experience. (4) Jennifer Hill, Refugee Protection International: Be ready to wear multiple hats. (5) Christopher Dipnarine, 4MyCiTy Inc: Create a flexible work environment. (6) Deidre Lind, Mayor's Fund for Los Angeles: Prioritize your staff's needs. (7) Sepideh Nasiri, Women Of MENA In Technology: Pay your staff well. (8) Jono Anzalone, The Climate Initiative: Embrace failure. (9) Pablo Listingart, ComIT: Understand how society is being impacted. (10) Jennifer Thompson, National Association of Social Workers New Jersey/Delaware: Take risks. (11) Albert L. Reyes, Buckner International: Lean on your team's rookiness. (12) Victoria Burkhart, The More Than Giving Company: Make technological investments after careful thought. (13) Jesse Bethke Gomez, Metropolitan Center for Independent Living: Commit to lifelong learning. (14) Betsy Chapin Taylor, FAHP, Accordant: Let go of past traditions. (15) Jose Luis Castro, Vital Strategies: Be adaptable. Read on...

Forbes: 15 Simple Ways To Adopt A 'Tech Startup Mentality' In Your Nonprofit Organization
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 12 sep 2022

The U.S. National Science Foundation's (NSF) Innovation Corps (I-Corps™) program established in 2011 is an experiential education and training program designed to facilitate entrepreneurial innovations in universities towards commercialization and expand their economic and social benefits and impact. The program has three aims - (1) Train an entreprenneurial workforce (2) Bring cutting-edge technologies to market (3) Nurturing an innovation ecosystem. According to the NSF website (nsf.gov) article 'NSF expands the National Innovation Network (NIN) with 5 new I-Corps Hubs' dated 08 sep 2022, NSF now has 10 hubs in total spread all across US with each hub funded for up to US$ 3 million per year for five years and comprises a regional alliance of at least eight universities. The I-Corps™ Hubs work collaboratively to build and sustain a diverse and inclusive innovation ecosystem. Erwin Gianchandani, NSF Assistant Director for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships, says, 'I am delighted the I-Corps™ Hubs that we are awarding today will expand the footprint of the National Innovation Network, harnessing the innovation potential that exists all across the country by establishing clear pathways for researchers to engage with NSF's Lab-to-Market Platform. Each regional I-Corps™ Hub provides training essential in entrepreneurship and customer discovery, leading to new products, startups and jobs. In this way, the I-Corps™ program will open up new economic opportunities throughout the United States.' Vanderbilt University is the lead institution for the new Mid-South Region Hub and will coordinate the program through the Wond'ry Innovation Center. Daniel Diermeier, Chancellor of Vanderbilt, says, 'This role aligns perfectly with our position as a leading center of research and innovation, and with our efforts to help cultivate a thriving ecosystem supporting invention and entrepreneurship in our region...' Wond'ry's Charleson Bell, director of entrepreneurship, biomedical innovation and I-Corps™, and Deanna Meador, deputy director, in a joint statement say, 'The Mid-South I-Corps™ Hub is for everyone. Led by Vanderbilt with an intentional emphasis on inclusive innovation, this hub will accelerate the translation of groundbreaking university research outcomes into commercialized ventures that seed emergent, prosperous innovation ecosystems across the Midsouth. We are thrilled to extend our local successes with I-Corps™ to the greater Midsouth and help underrepresented innovators bring their ideas to life.' David A. Owens, Evans Family Executive Director, and Mandy Lalrindiki, program manager of innovation and design research, are other members of I-Corps™ team. The effort received broad bipartisan support from politicians including Tennessee's U.S. Sens. Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty, and U.S. Reps. Jim Cooper, Tim Burchett and Chuck Fleischmann. C. Cybele Raver, provost of Vanderbilt, says, '...In keeping with NSF's aims, Vanderbilt drives discovery, harnessing big ideas in ways that dramatically increase their economic and social impact...' Padma Raghavan, vice provost for research and innovation at Vanderbilt, says, 'The spirit of collaborative innovation that defines our Vanderbilt community is key to our success...advance the development of an inclusive innovation corridor.' Read on...

Vanderbilst University Research News: The Wond'ry, Vanderbilt's Innovation Center, named National Science Foundation Innovation Corps Hub lead institution
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 aug 2022

Market research analysis is the methodology to understand the target market, customers and competitors. It provides businesses the insights that they can apply to build products and continuously improve them depending on what customers and market needs. This also assist companies to devise effective marketing and selling strategies. Market research analyst is the key human resource in the field of business and their demand is high. According to US Bureau of Labor Statistics the job outlook for the industry is 22%, and the median annual wage is around US$ 64000. There are certain set of qualifications and skills that make a good market research analyst - (1) Getting a business or marketing degree builds the foundation for a successful career. (2) As data is one of the most essential component of market research, it is important to be skilled in sorting, storing and analyzing data. Knowledge of software tools like Excel, Sheets, Tableau etc is needed. (3) Other necessary skills include both technical and soft skills. Analytical skills like critical thinking, problem-solving, data analysis, and logical reasoning are required. Verbal and written communication skills are a must when explaining data in the form of presentations and writing reports. (4) Getting relevant experience while pursuing education in the form of internships help in getting initial placement. Moreover, obtaining specialized market research related degree can pave the way for better placement. (5) Building relevant industry contacts and networking will assist in getting guidance and mentoring and to stay on course for successful career. (6) There are many specialized online courses that can help in honing existing skills and getting new ones. As the field continues to grow and progress taking online courses will assure skill development while staying in the job. Read on...

MakeUseOf: How to Become a Market Research Analyst: The Ultimate Guide
Author: Raji Oluwaniyi


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 jul 2022

Nonprofit governance is a challenging issue and typical measures like reducing boards size, identifying best practices etc arent' able to assure better quality governance. According to 2021 'Leading with Intent: BoardSource Index of Nonprofit Board Practices' survey, board performance receives average marks for key responsibilities. Researchers from UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business, Prof. Paul Jansen and MBA student Helen Hatch, conducted a research for Center for Social Sector Leadership and explored the new idea of having a dedicated Chief Governance Officer (CGO) who is a board memeber. They interviewed 30 experienced nonprofit directors representing over 100 nonprofit boards and found that CGO could catalyze improved board performance. Researchers summarize here the common sources of inconsistent governance quality and outlines the expected benefits of appointing one director as a CGO. EIGHT SOURCES OF INCONSISTENT GOVERNANCE: (1) Nonprofit directors often lack a shared understanding of what good governance means. (2) Nonprofit boards do not always have the right voices in the boardroom. (3) Pressure to help organizations meet annual fundraising targets shifts attention away from governance. (4) Boards fail to regularly assess governance performance and develop improvement plans. (5) Poor governance processes push boards to underinvest in critical issues and governance activities. (6) A low-accountability board culture leads to inconsistent effort by individual directors. (7) Confusion between the board’s role and that of management. (8) Governance has gotten tougher (Challenges - Financial complexity; Technology; Sociocultural shifts; Increased public scrutiny; Evolving legal duties). DEFINING THE CGO ROLE: (1) Ensure compliance with legal and social expectations. (2) Champion the adoption of proven governance practices that enable the board to help the organization fulfill its mission effectively and efficiently. Anne Wallestad, CEO of BoardSource, in her 2021 SSIR article 'The Four Principles of Purpose-Driven Board Leadership', defines 'Purpose-Driven Board Leadership', a mindset characterized by four fundamental principles, mutually reinforcing and interdependent, that define the way that the board sees itself and its work: (1) Purpose before organization. (2) Respect for ecosystem. (3) Equity mindset. (4) Authorized voice and power. The CGO should play a hands-on role in four activities: (1) Leading a bi-annual review of governance effectiveness and monitoring initiatives to improve board performance. (2) Driving new director governance training and shaping supplemental training and education over time. (3) Monitoring external governance-related developments pertaining to the law, regulations, and social expectations on behalf of the board. (4) Engaging with the CEO on how staff can best support high quality governance. The best suited candidate for CGO role should have a certain set of skills that should include - an independent, objective, organization-first mindset and willingness to ask hard, sometimes uncomfortable questions is essential to this role; legal skills; communication and persuasion skills; trained in board governance. Organizations should find their own way of implementing the CGO role. Some suggestions are - Recruit the skill set; Make CGO an officer of the board; Have the CGO report to the board; Sponsor the CGO to receive governance training and certification; Support the CGO's membership in good governance forums; Arrange for access to outside counsel; Consider adopting the role on a temporary basis. Read on...

Stanford Social Innovation Review: Does Your Nonprofit Board Need a CGO?
Authors: Paul Jansen, Helen Hatch


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 jun 2022

Selling is an evolving art and it has become more challenging to connect, convince, engage and build relationships with the tech-savvy and freedom prefering consumers when they embark on their buying journey. 11 members of the Forbes Coaches Council have experienced advice for salespeople for success in 2022 - (1) Merge The Old With The New (Divya Parekh, DP Group): 'It is critical to know current market trends and become familiar with how people think and act...The goal is to help your customers find a solution to their problems. This allows customers to see the value you offer and create trust...' (2) Become A Trusted Advisor (John Lowe, Ty Boyd Inc.): 'To become a trusted advisor, a rep needs to leave their sales baggage at the door...People don't want to be sold; they want you to help them make a decision to buy.' (3) Utilize In-Person And Social Selling Platforms (Antonio Garrido, Absolute Sales Development): 'Follow a successful "hybrid" sales and prospecting process which includes remote/virtual as well as in-person selling...Follow a behavioral plan, and hold yourself accountable for it. Ask for feedback and critique. Become a lifelong learner.' (4) Ask Good Questions And Actively Listen (José Luís González Rodriguez, ActionCOACH): 'The most revolutionary selling technique is the Socratic method...The most professional sale is the one made by the client...' (5) Connect With Your Customers' Values (Natasha Charles, Intuitive Coaching w/ Natasha Charles): 'Your customers desire a personalized, customized experience...' (6) Understand How People Think (Chuen Chuen Yeo, ACESENCE Agile Leadership Coaching and Training Pte. Ltd.): 'Don't rely on tactics that manipulate clients...Think about winning ambassadors, not customers. Connect with curiosity and have the real intention to serve.' (7) Build Honest Relationships With Customers (Michael Thiemann, Strategy-Lab™): '...Remember that customers are less interested in the product than in the result. Your product may only help solve part of their problem; help them solve the other parts too.' (8) Build Relationships The Old-Fashioned Way (John M. O'Connor, Career Pro Inc.): 'Take someone out to eat. Invite them to a talk. Send them a thoughtful, handwritten note with an article in it that you cut out of the newspaper or a magazine...Try to focus on building a more personal relationship and not so much on making transactional sales.' (9) Be A Presence Of Honesty And Integrity (Natasha Ganem, Lion Leadership): '...The only thing they need to sell is a good relationship. Get good at being in a community and in relationships with people in meaningful ways, and then sales will follow.' (10) Help Customers Avoid Pain And Gain Pleasure (Csaba Toth, ICQ Global): 'The highest level of influence is when somebody can connect their message to the other person's highest values and vision in a language they understand. Otherwise, the message gets lost, and even if the client needs a service or product, they would not want it...' (11) Seek To Understand Before Offering Solutions (Bryan Powell, Executive Coaching Space): 'Meet your clients where they are. In today’s environment, it is imperative for the "modern salesperson" to develop a curious mindset and seek to understand before offering a solution...' Read on...

Forbes: 11 Essential Tips For The Modern Salesperson In 2022
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 jun 2022

Social entrepreneurship provides opportunity to do business along with social good. There are some qualities that are inherent to being a social entrepreneur - (1) Think Outside Of The Box: Creativity and teamwork to find solutions to complex social problem. (2) Build A Leadership Tribe: Nurturing leadership and continuously learning, growing and adapting to evolving social issues. (3) Use Your Personality: Good temperament and relatable personality is essential for success as social entrepreneur. (4) Fight Through The Tough Times: Persistence and winning temperament will help overcome hurdles and pushbacks. Diplomatic approach with excellent communication can help lead and convince both those support and oppose. (5) Keep That Passion: Internal spark and continuous passion is necessary to reach the goals. Prioritize passion for selective tasks can help channelize energy in the right direction for sustained success. Read on...

Entrepreneur: Social Entrepreneurship Qualities to Harness
Author: Baptiste Monnet


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 apr 2022

Nonprofits, with their limited budgets, have to implement human resource management strategies with great care, more effectively and efficiently. Nonprofits generally hire only essential full-time employees and are more dependent on short-term temporary workers and volunteers. To seamlessly manage diverse set of human resources for maximum output would require HR technology tools. Moreover, nonprofits on a growth trajectory would need a well thought out long-term planning and ulilization of HR technology. This would require analyzing what technologies are used currently and what new technologies are needed. Engaging staff is necessary to evaluate benefits of implementing a new HR system. There are six ways nonprofit can utilize HR technologies for a long-term - (1) Reduce manual workload: Integrated HR software would reduce time spend in compiling and aggregating separate spreadsheets for various purposes. It helps to easily import and export data for reporting. (2) Prevent manual errors: Managing different set of employees (full-time, contract, short-term, volunteers etc) may lead to manual errors in onboarding, payroll, benefits and compensation. HR systems prevent manual errors as they automate calculations. (3) Track your budget in real-time: This helps in anticipating and managing funds for nonprofit's growth and explansion. Guarantor requests, compliance and audit needs are also managed well with budget tracking. (4) Provide important data for grantors' reporting: Well managed payroll reporting helps to provide grantors essential data to release grants that fund employee salaries in a nonprofit. (5) Reduce audit errors: HR technology can identify payroll budget variances or duplicate employee records and helps in preventing fraud, and also ensures cleaner audits in long-term. (6) Improve employee access to benefits, payroll and information: Nonprofits, just like other organizations, need to attract and retain talent for growth and success. HR technology can assist in providing information regarding benefits, compensation and W2 tax form, whenever and wherever they need it. Read on...

Employee Benefit News: How nonprofits can leverage the benefits of HR technology
Author: Neil Taurins


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 nov 2021

Diversity and inclusion (D&I) is an important human resources issue in public relations field and needs consideration from various stakeholders. Recent research by Prof. Caitlin Wills of the University of North Georgia, published in The Public Relations Journal titled, 'Diversity in Public Relations: The Implications of a Broad Definition for PR Practice?', examines how the top 50 PR firms (Holmes Report) communicate about diversity on their websites. Their specific definitions are important as it showcases their understanding, policies and implementations regarding diversity. According to the research, 'Over half of the websites sampled contained definitions; the majority included expanded conceptualizations of differences, and most did not mention demographic characteristics specifically. Of the nine firms that outlined distinct activities, such as employee networks, all of the activities addressed demographic characteristics of diversity.' Prof. Caitlin says, 'The field has been slow to change and reflect the diversity of society, and fundamentally does not reflect the diversity of its audiences...The PR field is not yet diverse in traditional terms. The field needs to diversify in that way before they can move to broader definitions that ignore race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.' In the research article Prof. Caitlin made following recommendations for PR firms - (1) Develop a definition of diversity based on specific criteria that includes both traditional and broad characteristics of diversity. (2) Show organizational commitment to diversity initiatives by communicating the definition and activities across organizational communication to all stakeholders. (3) Align diversity-related activities to the criteria identified in the definition to allow assessment and ensure effectiveness. She further says, 'A definition of diversity that reflects the PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) guidance might help focus policies and programs on many types of diversity and inclusion, thus, moving the field of public relations toward fuller diversification. Once a definition is identified, it should be communicated clearly to employees and the public on the website. All employees, especially CEOs, should know how their organization defines diversity and defines inclusion. In addition, initiatives should be expanded to address other diversity factors and linked to the criteria identified in the definition.' Read on...

University of North Georgia Newsroom: Wills points out diversity disparities
Author: J. K. Devine


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 sep 2021

According to Investopedia, Augmented reality (AR) is an enhanced version of the real physical world that is achieved through the use of digital visual elements, sound, or other sensory stimuli delivered via technology. It is now a pervasive digital technology trend and has become particularly ubiquitous in consumer products like smarphones, with advancements in camera technologies, computer vision techniques, AR software development kits, digital content availability etc. But, its utilization in industrial and manufacturing setting is a bit restricted even though early adopters there have demonstrated its importance. Boeing has tested AR in factory setting. Brian Laughlin, IT Tech Fellow at Boeing, says, 'By using augmented reality technology, technicians can easily see where the electrical wiring goes in the aircraft fuselage. They can roam around the airplane and see the wiring renderings in full depth within their surroundings and access instructions hands-free.' Paul Davies, Boeing Research & Technology Associate Technical Fellow, says, 'Our theory studies have shown a 90% improvement in first-time quality when compared to using two-dimensional information on the airplane, along with a 30% reduction in time spent doing a job.' Volvo Group has also found AR valuable in attracting and retaining employees. Bertrand Felix from Volvo Group says, 'Using visuals and AR is definitely attractive in a manufacturing industry universe. It certainly helps to recruit younger generations, as well as creating new jobs along the value chain who can generate the new digital visual instructions. Many can be created by experienced employees and, in that way, their knowledge is passed on carefully to the younger generation.' Volvo also employs AR to make training more efficient for its operatives. There are many examples like these where AR is finding value. IDC projects a 78.5% global spending increase on AR/VR in 2021. But, what is holding the proliferation of Industrial AR to the depths of manufacturing supply chains, including small-sized contractors is the issue of 'Interoperability'. For many years there have been interoperability challenges between engineering design and manufacturing. Standards Development Organisations (SDOs) have continued to focus on holistic and persistent descriptions of design and fabrication requirements to bridge the gap. Engineering software tools have also made progress in addressing interoperability issues but as manufacturing is moving more towards distributed operations new interoperability challenges crop up for developers. Moreover, for industrial AR the interoperability challenge is further compounded as AR authoring suites often force developers into a silo, which can lock the customer into a particular platform and framework. The lack of suitable interoperability for AR in Industry 4.0, and manufacturing in particular, is costly. Although one-off AR installations have demonstrated value but they are fragile and if the reference data and models change and the use of AR is to continue, the assets of the AR experience must also be modified. In industrial AR installations, automated and persistent data linking, oftern termed as 'digital thread', has not yet been realized. Efforts are being made to bring engineering practice, manufacturing and AR together. Workshop held at IEEE ISMAR 2020 with participants from diverse expertise, including geospatial information scientists, AR software architects, and manufacturing engineers suggests that much of what's needed to realise an AR-capable digital thread is already underway across a number of SDOs. To move forward, manufacturing industry stakeholders and standards working groups must plan for adoption of emerging technologies, such as Industrial AR and address the issues of interoperability between domain-specific models. Without interoperability, manufacturers will continue to struggle with improving the maintainability, reproducibility, and scalability of Industrial AR installations. Read on...

The Manufacturer: Closing the gap between engineering practice and augmented reality
Author: William Bernstein, Christine Perey


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 aug 2021

Diversity is an important issue in industrial design industry. Research finds that women account for 85% of consumer purchases but most products are not designed by women. Another research suggests that 85% designers are males in industrial design industry. So industrial firms that are women-led are rare and need a special mention. Women can provide different perspectives and approaches to products. Here is the list of 20 design and innovation firms with women in leadership positions - (1) Rinat Aruh, founder and CEO of Aruliden (2) Jo Barnard, founder of Morrama (3) Cheresse Thornhil, design director at S.E.E.D. at Adidas, the School for Experiential Education in design (4) Merle Hall, CEO of Kinneir Dufort (5) Jeanette Numbers, co-founder of Loft (6) Alyssa Coletti, founder of NonFiction Creative (7) Angela Medlin, founder and director of FAAS (pronounced 'faze', stands for Functional Apparel & Accessories Studio) Design Collab (8) Natalie Nixon, PhD, founder of Figure 8 Thinking (9) Nichole Rouillac, founder of Level (10) Maaike Evers, co-founder of Mike&Maaike (11) Liz Daily, founder of Liz Daily (12) Jessica Nebel, managing partner at Neongrey (13) Antionette Carroll, founder, president, and CEO of Creative Reaction Lab (14) Ayse Birsel, co-founder and creative director of Birsel + Seck (15) Stephanie Howard, founder of HOW AND WHY (16) Phnam Bagley, co-founder of Nonfiction (17) Kelly Custer, design director of Knack (18) Isis Shiffer, founder of Spitfire Industry (19) Wonhee Arndt, co-founder of Studio Gorm (20) Betsy Goodrich, co-founder of Manta. Read on...

Core77: 20 Woman-led Industrial Design & Innovation Firms
Authors: Kristi Bartlett, Ti Chang


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 aug 2021

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is becoming an essential tool for businesses to not only participate in a greater good but also differentiate themselves in a highly competitive business environment. Businesses can utilize CSR as a source of competitive advantage by strategically applying CSR in the communities they work. Companies with serious CSR planning and implementation signify that they operate in ethical and sustainable way and care for the environment and are sincere about their social impacts. Particularly for companies that work in developing world with poverty related challenges, CSR is a great tool to demonstrate that they care and contribute for a better world. Here are few points that represent the value of CSR for businesses in today's world - (1) Creates Greater Job Satisfaction: As per the study published in HBR in 2018, 9 out of 10 workers are willing to earn less income to do more meaningful work. Companies with strong CSR culture can increase employee satisfaction and can attract better employees. (2) Encourages Customer Loyalty: Customers are now more interested in how the companies operate with respect to society and environment. When customers find out about CSR aspects of a company they trust it more and would buy products from them. Millenials as customers are more inclined towards such aspects of companies before they buy products from them. (3) Makes Businesses More Sustainable: When companies apply more sustainable practices then their models become more sustainable too and they will reap the benefits in the long run. Read on...

South Coast Herald: Why Corporate Social Responsibility is Essential for Businesses
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 31 jul 2021

According to the report, 'Volunteering as a Pathway to Employment: Does Volunteering Increase Odds of Finding a Job for the Out of Work?' (Authors: Christopher Spera, Robin Ghertner, Anthony Nerino, Adrienne DiTommaso) by Corporation for National and Community Service (CSNA, USA), there is a statistically significant and stable association between volunteering and employment and irrespective of economic conditions volunteering may add an advantage to the out of work seeking employment. The study found that volunteering is associated with a 27% higher odds of employment. Moreover, more than 77 million Americans volunteer a total of 6.9 billion hours a year doing everything from fighting fires to raising funds for cancer research. These efforts help others and support communities, and also benefit the volunteers themselves. Prof. Jennifer Amanda Jones, scholar of Nonprofit Management and Leadership at University of Florida, suggests four ways in which volunteering benefits volunteers - (1) Boosting your health, especially if you assist others: According to a long-term study, researchers at the University of Wisconsin found that volunteering was linked to psychological well-being, and the volunteers themselves said it was good for their own health. Researchers have suggested public health officials educate the public to consider volunteering as part of a healthy lifestyle. A team of social scientists combed through data collected in Texas and they found that people who volunteered in ways that benefited others tended to get a bigger physical health boost than volunteers who were pitching in for their own sake. (2) Making more connections: Volunteering done on a regular basis provides volunteers to develop strong networks and relationship as compared to those who do episodic volunteering. In making connections through volunteering consistency is important. (3) Preparing for career moves: Volunteering helps to gain and strengthen variety of skills and develop professional networks. This actually can provide opportunites to get paid jobs and advance careers. Volunteering adds to resume and when done in the field related to volunteer's professional qualification and prior experience will help build careers. (4) Reducing some risks associated with aging: According to various studies, older people who engage in mentally stimulating leisure activities on a regular basis may have better memory and executive function than those who don't. Volunteering can be considered as a highly stimulating leisure activity. Read on...

The Conversation: 4 ways that volunteering can be good for you
Author: Jennifer A. Jones


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 jul 2021

Sales teams are mostly a people game, but there are always some additional components that need focus depending on the industry's nuances. Chris Thrasher, Director of North American Sales at ABM, provides three characterists of a biological sales team - (1) Have A Strong Understanding Of Agronomy: Biological sales people work like consultants. Understanding of agronomy is important. Need to build upon the previous generations of agricultural knowledge and ability to understand the positives and negatives of the past in the industry can help in the sales process. (2) Have Integrity and Relate To The Customer: Sales team should be able to related to the farmers in addition to distributors and dealers. As farmers/producers are the end customer, it is essential to know what they really want and to build trust through sincerity and integrity. (3) The Ability To Hear The Word 'No': As biologicals are an add-on sales, they can become a difficult sell during adverse situations like global pandemic, abnormal weather conditions or bad commodity prices. They are not essential goods and sales persons have to be patient with the clients and have the ability to hear negative responses from customers. Lot of uncertainty is ingrained in farming regarding the future and farmers are looking for mainly basic buying of seeds, fertilizers and chemicals, biologicals are not their priority. The challenge for sales team to understand this and act accordingly. Read on...

Seed World: 3 Characteristics to Look For in a Biological Sales Team
Author: Chris Thrasher


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 jun 2021

In today's world, social media is capable to make or break a brand. Every organization needs a well thought out social media strategy and requires a skilled human resource to deliver it successfully to enhance the value and reach of the brand. Tracey Wallace, Director of Marketing at MarketerHire, analyzes the critical role of social media managers and explain the skills they need to lead the social media strategy of the organizations they serve. She says, 'Social-media marketing has become a much more critical role within the internal marketing teams at startups as well as at Fortune 500s...modern social-media management requires a deep generalist, with charisma and negotiating capabilities, fantastic copywriting and community-building skills, and the availability and drive to be nearly always on.' Many experts believe that that social-media managers are the CMOs of tomorrow. Matthew Kobach, Director of Content Marketing at Fast, says, 'Social media professionals understand the following about your company: Marketing, Comms (especially crisis), Branding, Industry trends, Customer service, Creative (graphics, imagery, photos, video), How to create and nurture brand advocates. They are the future CMO/CCOs.' Amanda Goetz, founder and CEO at House of Wise, says, 'I can't believe people still think of social as a 'channel' or 'side hustle.' SMMs are the future CMOs. They understand user insights, positioning and brand marketing like no one else.' Ms. Wallace provide the skills to look for in a social media manager - (1) Creative strategy and channel-assessment capabilities (2) Short-form writing and storytelling (3) Community management (4) Internal communication. Read on...

Entrepreneur: Social-Media Managers Are the Next Generation of CMOs
Author: Tracey Wallace


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 jan 2021

COVID-19 pandemic has brought the focus on online learning and educational technologies. Even though the initiatives have been around for quite some time, but they have not been implemented at such a large scale. It is also observed that there is an imbalance in terms of preparation and implementation of online education in various countries and institutions. Some were able to execute online strategies better as they have been experimenting and utilizing such learning technologies and educational methodologies for many years. Prof. Ray Schroeder, Associate Vice Chancellor of Online Learning at University of Illinois at Springfield (US), explains how online education has rescued education during adverse circumstances and what the future holds for higher education after the pandemic has subsided and traditional education gets back on its feet. He cites an example of innovative strategy of UK unversities during SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) epidemic in Asia 2002-2003 when they offered online delivery of class materials to students at Hong Kong universities. He says, 'I was studying the implications of online learning interventions during SARS when Katrina devastated nearly two dozen college and university campuses along the US Gulf Coast. With my colleague Burks Oakley, then associate vice president for academic affairs for the University of Illinois, we brought the opportunity for online learning intervention to the attention of Frank Mayadas, program director at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. This quickly expanded to engage a host of other higher education leaders...The remarkable effort was chronicled by George Lorenzo. Ultimately, the effort dubbed "The Sloan Semester" engaged more than 100 colleges and universities in offering online classes at no charge to students displaced by the hurricane. The intent was to provide transfer credit for those students to continue their degrees from wherever they took refuge while their campuses were closed and under repair.' He explains the current state of higher education with falling enrollments in US institutions and students opting for alternative and economical modes of learning through MOOCs and other at-scale online programs. There has been many fold increase in enrollment in such programs during the pandemic. Moreover, with decreasing US population growth and oversupply of colleges and universities the disruption of the education sector is expected. He further explains, 'The shakeout has begun with faculty layoffs, program cuts and deep deficits. The trends I have been following show this to be undeniable and pervasive. That brings us back to online learning to the rescue. As the U.S. Department of Labor reports the average tenure at an employer is just 4.2 years, we are seeing an ever-increasing number of adults returning to universities for continuing and professional education to retool and upskill for new and changing careers. And, by and large, they are doing this online.' He suggests that it will be an opportunity for education providers and they should focus on 'the "60-year learner" who returns again and again to prepare for work in an ever-changing economy fueled by artificial intelligence.' Read on...

Inside Higher Ed: Online Learning to the Rescue: Again
Author: Ray Schroeder


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 dec 2020

Corporate volunteering is an important part of employee development with a reason to facilitate their engagement with local communities and to demonstrate corporation's social commitments. Currently there is special focus on corporate social responsibility and many organizations are pursuing it as an essential component of their strategy. According to the 2020 Deloitte Global Millennial Survey, employees have been re-examining the companies they work for with an eye toward purpose and impact on society. Research suggests that businesses benefit when they integrate employee volunteering programs with corporate giving, and these programs improve employee satisfaction, foster employee engagement, and boost retention. Macquarie University Graduate School of Management (Australia) research study undertaken as part of the MGSM Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Partnership Network, led by Dr. Debbie Haski-Leventhal, found that 93% of employees who volunteer through their company report being happy with their employer, and 54% of those who are proud of their company's contributions to society are engaged at work. In August 2019, the Business Roundtable (US) redefined their statement on the purpose of a corporation from a shareholder only focus to a larger commitment to stakeholders - customers, employees, suppliers, communities, and shareholders. Beth Bengtson, CEO and Founder of Working for Women, provides an approach to establish corporate volunteering programs with a long-term focus and avoid short-term 'once-and-done' experiences. She explains, 'This new approach requires having your team help a nonprofit solve organizational or operational challenges and/or deliver specialized resources to the population served by the nonprofit. This involves identifying a nonprofit where your employees can lend their skills and expertise over a designated period of time or on a series of connected events...In this strategic model, a tangible and sustained relationship is created between the corporate and nonprofit partners...The result in this model is that mutually beneficial skill-based volunteering adds up to a quadruple win when done right. Purposeful partnerships allow for impact to be measurable for all parties involved.' She developed following guidelines at her organization, Working for Women, - Identify and match the needs and the skills on both sides; Once there's a well-defined project and two willing partners, develop a detailed brief for each engagement; Do the work to understand what your nonprofit partner does and who they serve; Measure impact after each engagement, and before planning next steps; Replicate and scale as needed. Read on...

Harvard Business Review: Reimagine Your Corporate Volunteer Program
Author: Beth Bengtson


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 15 dec 2020

Motivation is an engine or fuel that is associated with human nature and is free to achieve success and reach a better stage in life. Motivation is a catalyst for better change. It brings a transformation in human beings from the state of lethargy, procrastination and avoidance to the state of thinking, action, creation, and success. Humans have many aspects of life where they need motivation - personal life, student life, work/professional life, social life etc. Every moment of life requires optimal amount of motivation to enjoy the moment. Lack of it makes the moment dull and useless, and eventually lead to disappointments and finally to the more disastrous state of depression. From childhood to youth to old age - motivation is one thing that can keep one together psychologically and survive crises of life and come out of them without regrets and live a life of fulfilment, happiness and success. In present time, depressive environment created by COVID-19 pandemic is demotivating in many ways. Stay at home, work from home, study at home etc have become the new normal. Restrictions have become part of life which people have not been used to before at such a massive scale. This has put people in a totally different psychological state. People have to self motivate to get on with the current situation and to remain efficient and productive, and above all happy and satisfied. Motivation has become the topic that is on everyone's mind. Experts consider motivation as an internal state or condition (sometimes described as a need, desire or want) that serves to activate or energize behavior and give it direction. There are various theories of motivation categorized as - Behavioral; Cognitive: Psychoanalytic; Humanistic: Social Learning; Social Cognition; Transpersonal or Spiritual; Achievement Motivation and others. Keeping oneself motivated with an internal drive and goal setting is the best recipe to accomplishment and well-being. In a learning environment motivation of student is an important component that determines learning outcomes. Motivation in education can have varied impact on how students pursue learning and how they behave towards subjects, courses, classes and online lectures. In a work/business environment motivation of employees is key to the success of the organization. Leadership and management have to keep teams motivated to give results and enhance value of the organization and keep shareholders and customers satisfied. Employees need motivation to increase productivity at workplace. To solve real world problems, it becomes essential to engage people in the process and motivation can be key to align them towards the achievable goals. Empowering people by applying principles of motivation and providing them genuine purpose can help them attain value and meaning not only to their own lives but can also bring positive change to their environment and world. Read on...

ilmeps/read: Motivation - It Keeps People Going To A Better State In Life And Overcome Adverse Situations
Author: Mohammad Anas Wahaj


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 nov 2020

Nonprofits are facing challenging times during COVID-19 pandemic and they need any kind of help to pursue their mission. Laura Plato, chief solutions officer at VolunteerMatch, says, 'Traditional in-person volunteering has dropped off precipitously since the pandemic began, while need has only grown. Our nation's nonprofits are having to really get creative and reinvent what volunteering looks like.' Research on teens and adults finds that volunteering has many benefits like for example reduced rates of depression and anxiety, and meaningful improvements in life expectancy. Akua Boateng, a psychotherapist, says, 'But for children volunteering can also be a positive component of their developmental process - helping them understand their place in the social fabric - and is associated with a higher sense of self-esteem.' Prof. Peter Levine of Tufts University's Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life cautions that how parents frame volunteering is important and suggests, 'It's crucial to talk about social inequity in the right way with children to avoid communicating a sense of superiority.' Karen Daniel, VP of programs at Youth Service America, says, 'We have a project ideas database on our website...We really believe in helping kids start with something they love so that the project is fun for them, too.' Pandemic has lead to the mainstreaming of work from home culture and kids can volunteer along with their parents. There are also programs to help kids reach out to military personnel and first responders, or to write letters and cards to older people separated from their loved ones. Moreover, kids can also help by informally volunteering within their local community. Virtual volunteering can also be a good volunteering aveneue for kids. According to Katie Stagliano of Katie's Krops, a nonprofit that helps children start gardens across the United States, community gardening can continue in the colder months with winter crops such as cabbage, carrots, kale, turnips and collard greens, which can then be distributed to families struggling with food insecurity. Lydia Elle, a writer in Los Angeles, and her 10-year-old daughter, London, have started partnering with organizations in 2019 to donate books to children in need. Ms. Elle says, 'During the summer, because we couldn't get out and distribute books in person like we normally would have, we made a huge donation of books to our local food bank instead.' Read on...

The Washington Post: Volunteering can give kids purpose in uncertain times - and there are still ways to do it
Author: Connie Chang


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 oct 2020

Sales people often learn their skills on the field by continuous improvement and by tweaking their sales processes for effectiveness every time they interact with their prospective customers. But organizations have to create and nurture their sales teams through structured and proactive approach to sales training to sharpen and further refine their skills. Sales training need to be a frequent event to keep the team in right mindset and updated skillset, and clear focus on accomplishing the organizational sales goals. Sales training helps to improve skills and it is a source of motivation and inspiration. Interactions with peers and mentors during training also involves learning through sharing of experiences. Research by Sales Readiness Group shows that companies who had excellent sales training programs that exceeded expectations had higher win rates at 52.6% compared to companies that either met expectations 48% or needed improvement 40.5%. Organizations can consider three types of sales training based on their requirement - (1) Sales Skill Training (2) Sales Methodology Training (3) Product Training. Following are 20 best sales training activities, ideas, and games to enhance sales team effectiveness - Embrace Field Training; Craft a Great Incentive Strategy; Hold 1:1 Meetings; Improve Your Processes; Ramp Up Your New Employee Onboarding; Shift to Assessment-Based Learning; Institute Daily Micro-Training; Assign Mentors to New or Struggling Sales Team Members; Do Group Training the Right Way; Offer Feedback Often; Listen to and Analyze Sales Call Recordings; Conduct a Competitive Analysis; Encourage Certifications; Have Your Team Do Objection Handling Exercises; Provide Subscriptions to Industry Newsletters, Podcasts, and Publications; Display or Present Your Buyer's Journey; Play Sales Training Games; Focus on Each of Your Sales Rep's Strengths; Bring in Outsiders; Identify the Red Flags of Bad Customers. Read on...

Business2Community: 20 Sales Training Ideas to Empower Your Team to Close More Deals
Author: Erika Giles


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 aug 2020

COVID-19 pandemic has affected art and culture sector, and significantly impacted talent associated with it. Audrey Azoulay, Director General of UNESCO in her message on World Art Day (15 April 2020), celebrated on the birthday of Leonardo da Vinci, said, 'Bringing people together, inspiring, soothing and sharing: these are the powers of art, the importance of which has been made emphatically obvious during the COVID-19 pandemic.' The art community is adapting to the new challenges and finding innovative solutions to keep the spirit alive. The program, 'Arts and Culture Education Change-Up', a collaboration between South Korea's Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the Korea Culture and Arts Education Service and the Seokyeong University Arts Education Center, has come up with something positive during the pandemic. The program teaches and supports creative people who are interested in social entrepreneurial projects in the field of arts and culture education. Han Jeong-seop, professor and dean of the Seokyeong University Arts Education Center, says, 'If it were not for COVID-19, we might not have brought those international guest speakers or have participants from Jeju Island due to geographical factors...We wanted to showcase how overseas cultural social enterprises play a role in resolving social problems between the public and private sector.' The participants in the online interaction included representatives from STEPS (Canada-based charitable public art organization that develops one-of-a-kind public art plans, installations and engagement strategies that foster vibrant communities), and Starcatchers (Scotland-based art organization specializing in creating performances and exploring creative activities for babies, toddlers and young children up to the age of five and the adults who care for them). Anjuli Solanki, program director of the STEPS Initiative, says, 'Applying our multidisciplinary expertise, we strive to develop a strong contextual understanding of the neighborhoods and sites we are working in for all our projects. Our goal is to create iconic public works that attract widespread attention by transforming underutilized public spaces.' Bebhinn Jennings, program manager at STEPS, says, 'The pandemic has highlighted our need to connect, to be inspired and to contribute to our communities. As such, art and public art in particular are increasingly important as they offer numerous entry points for engagement. Public art can both beautify a space, and ignite dialogues around important issues such has climate change, public health and systemic inequalities - all conversations that have been active throughout the pandemic.' Rhona Matheson, chief executive of Starcatchers, says, 'We know we are not going to be able to tour any of our productions until at least spring 2021 so our focus is on providing a range of activities that parents or childcare settings can share with very young children. Retaining a connection with audiences has been very important and making the offers through our online activities has been essential. Similarly, being able to retain connection with the families who participate in our community engagement programs has been very important - this has been a means to offer support to young families who experience social and rural isolation and have been negatively impacted by COVID-19.' Lee In-kyung, an art instructor at an alternative school on Jeju Island, says, 'If it were not operated online, it would be very difficult and time-consuming for me to participate in a training program held in Seoul. Now I can communicate with other social entrepreneurs while on Jeju...We made environmental picture books and tried junk art, campaigning for environment. I realized that students could learn better through empirical art education.' She developed such experiences into an idea for a social enterprise, aiming to support teenagers to cultivate creativity, problem-solving skills and empathic abilities. Kim Soo-jung, CEO of Open Your Arts and in the second year of Change-Up program, says, 'I wanted to provide sustainable art education for socially disadvantaged children, but it was impossible to solve the problem as a volunteer. So I came up with this art educational kit developed in collaboration with artists...Their (Starcatchers and STEPS) business model is not based nor suitable for online, but it was interesting to see the possibility of online platforms, transcending physical or regional limitations.' Read on...

The Korea Times: Social enterprise bridges art, community amid pandemic
Author: Kwon Mee-yoo


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 aug 2020

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been around in its various forms for many years. But now it is reaching a level of disruption in many industries and has potential to influence many more. There are major investments in AI with tech giants leading the pack. Businesses are seeing value in AI to make process improvements, enhance efficiencies etc to improve bottom line and at the same time there are concerns related to job losses. Even creative industries like graphic design, that require exceptional human skills to thrive are being significantly influenced by AI. Graphic design softwares are now AI-powered and can mimic human designers by understanding client requirements effectively. These may not not be emotion-powered like humans, but can provide outputs that are fast, affordable and customizable. Moreover, these softwares have their own limitations at this time and the role of designers is not becoming obsolete. In fact, on one side these tools are designed and developed by incorporating inputs from designers and on the other they are complementing and enhancing the capabilities of designers and assisting them to achieve even better outcomes. Following are some limitations of AI in graphic design - Understanding nuances that come naturally to humans; Originality of humans that is derived from being highly imaginative; Human touch that is needed as part of a personalized interactive experience. Read on...

ClickZ: The rise of AI in graphics design
Author: Carl Dean


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 20 aug 2020

Collaborative and coordinated efforts by multiple agencies and institutions are needed to manage, control and overcome a crisis like COVID-19 pandemic. Team from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is partnering with Commonwealth of Pennsylvania agencies and stakeholders in the areas of public health, economics, and emergency management, to create data-based tools for informed decision-making and strengthen planning efforts of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf to re-open the state's economy. Some of the main criteria to determine when a region is ready to re-open and return to work will include - The incidence rate of COVID-19 cases per capita will be evaluated and several public health requirements must be met; A region need to have an average of less than 50 cases per 100000 individuals over the course of 14 days to return to work; Enough testing available for individuals with symptoms and target populations; Robust case investigation and contact tracing infrastructure need to place; Identification of an area's high-risk settings must be made and would include adequate healthcare facilities with sufficient safeguards and equipments. The model dashboard developed through the collaboration will take a regional and sector-based approach to re-openings, the easing of restrictions and response. This data-driven decision support tool will help to better understand the current health and economic status, as well as the inherent risks and benefits to re-opening certain businesses and industry areas. Using data that considers worker exposure and spread risks, health care capacity, economic impact and supply chain impact, the administration will prioritize re-openings where it has the potential for the most positive impact on the economy for workers and businesses, while mitigating risk to public health and safety. Ramayya Krishnan, dean of CMU's Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy and director of CMU's Block Center for Technology and Society, says, 'The purpose is to provide important information to the governor's team to make data informed decision. For example, all indicators could point to opening a specific county, but other factors, such as population density around a hotspot, availability of supplies to ensure workers are protected, or Department of Health criteria could make the county unfit to open.' The multidisciplinary team from CMU involved in the project include - Laurence Ales; Kasun Amarasinghe; Scott Andes; Gary Franko; Rayid Ghani; Jared Kohler; Tim McNulty; Illah Nourbakhsh; Roni Rosenfeld; Randy Sargent; Richard A. Stafford; Chris Telmer; Anne Wright; Ariel Zetlin-Jones; Xuege Zhang. Other contrubutors to the project include - Beibei Li; Lee Branstetter; Jon Caulkins; Karen Clay; Baruch Fischhoff; Marty Gaynor; Joel Greenhouse; Po-Shen Loh; Dan Nagin; Rema Padman; Wes Pegden; Lowell Taylor; Hai Wang; Peter Zhang. Read on...

Carnegie Mellon University News: CMU Dashboard Will Help Inform State Decision-Makers During Pandemic
Author: Jason Maderer


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 jul 2020

Downtime for workforce is a reality that needs to be managed well. Experts provide suggestions to web designers to effectively utilize downtime, whether it is normal as in between projects or unusual circumstances like COVID-19 pandemic - (1) Support Your Juniors: Priscilla Coates, managing director at Magma Digital, says, 'Our developers focus on continuous learning as a principle...they engage in targeted supervision opportunities to support more junior developers more closely...we embrace the notion of working on the business as well as in the business.' (2) Test Your Skills With A Side Project: Melin Edomwonyi, director of product for Illustrate Digital, says, 'Downtime is a great opportunity to work on something you've been needing or wanting to do for a while...If the downtime is short, i.e. less than a day, then we'll use this time to explore new UX trends or tidy up our code library to make future projects more efficient.' (3) Read A Good Book: Bryony Sutton, UX and UI designer at Banc, says, 'When a project ends, I take the opportunity to meditate my mind and desktop...To help draw a line under a project, I like to read. I find that completing a book separates one project from the next and puts my mind in a different space.' (4) Host A Hackathon: Paul Ferry, director and co-founder of ShopTalk, says, 'At ShopTalk, we have an internal initiative...a quarterly design-hackathon where the team get to apply their creative skills to their own ideas, and ShopTalk invest in helping to make these happen.' (5) Learn A New Skill: Benoit Soucaret, creative director of experience design at LiveArea, says, 'Downtime can present an opportunity to upskill...So while disruption can see many projects shorten, downtime can still be used productively. There are more opportunities to learn than ever before, designers and developers simply have to open to them.' (6) Improve Your Processes: Arrann Diamond, digital director at Greenwich Design, says, 'I use downtime to improve our processes...I also like learning about new ways to make projects run more smoothly...As digital director, really understanding a developer’s point of view and having a good knowledge of technologies and build processes is essential...Understanding information, rather than just relaying it, is very different, but it’s the key to conveying trust with both clients and developers.' Read on...

Creative Bloq: The web designer's guide to dealing with downtime
Author: Tom May


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 11 jul 2020

According to the survey conducted to find out impact of COVID-19 pandemic on 567 small businesses and nonprofit organizations in US by the research team of Prof. Samantha Paustian-Underdahl of Florida State University, 15.2% of its participants closed permanently, and 14.5% of participants closed temporarily. Another 31% of participants are operating below 40% capacity, while close to 40% of participants are operating at 40% or higher during COVID-19. The survey also found that 46.7% laid off their employees during COVID-19, while 51% reported that they did not. The average number of employees laid off was 10.5. Prof. Paustian-Underdahl says, 'Small businesses and nonprofits have taken a huge hit during this time, with nearly 30 percent of our sample needing to close temporarily or permanently as of early May. The good news is that most organizations are getting some help.' The survey revealed that 92% received some type of financial assistance from the government's Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and/or Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). 75.5% applied for one or both types of government aid. Of participants who applied, 28.9% received PPP funding only, 26.8% received EIDL only, 11.3% received both PPP and EIDL, and 8.3% did not receive anything. Moreover, researchers also found that business owners and nonprofit leaders are experiencing different effects of COVID-19 on their overall well-being and performance, depending on their gender. Prof. Paustian-Underdahl says, 'Consistent with recent research by Gallup , we found that women who own small businesses are experiencing higher levels of stress and burnout during COVID-19 compared to men. While some may assume this could be due to higher work-family-conflict, we found the men surveyed are reporting higher work-family-conflict than women.' Some of the strategies and solutions that respondents have implemented to meet the challenges faced during COVID-19 include - increased communication with employees; an increased focus on implementing technology and creating online content; creating unique ways to contact and keep existing clients instead of seeking new one; increased focus on healthy living, exercise and mental health for their employees and customers. Read on...

Florida State University News: Survey reveals COVID-19's impact on small business, nonprofits
Author: Calvin Burrows


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 jun 2020

User-Generated Content (UGC) is getting more prominence for charity marketing and communications in the COVID-19 pandemic turbulence. Charities are struggling with funds and resources and have substantially reduced marketing and advertising spends. UGC helps charities in creating content to promote their brand, do fundraising, and advertise their accomplishments. Content created by those who were directly supported by charities is more authentic and relatable. When users share their stories they connect better with potential supporters. Following are the ways UGC benefits charities - (1) Marketing budgets are shrinking and UGC can provide a practical, cost-effective solution amid cuts, through users becoming charities' ambassadors online through videos, blogs, podcasts and social media posts. Hiring marketing agency is costly and current social distancing norms are restricting professionals to do location filming. The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NVCO) has estimated that UK charities lost around £4 billion in the first three months of the COVID-19 crisis. According to COVID-19 Marketing Report by Influencer MarketingHub, more than 2/3 (69%) of brands expect they will reduce their advertising spend in 2020 due to COVID-19. 3/4 say they are posting less on their social media accounts as budgets shrink. (2) Charity's frontline staff, beneficiaries and volunteers are able to enhance their digital skills during lockdown. Charities are certainly keen to empower their workforce to support users in creating content. The 2020 Charity Digital Skills Report found that half of charities would welcome guidance on helping their staff adjust to change and stay motivated and productive amid the pandemic. (3) UGC is more authentic and relatable. Last year's Stackla survey found that the public believes UGC is 2.4 times more authentic compared to brand created content. However, too often the power of UGC is not being realised by marketers. The survey showed that marketers are 2.1 times more likely to believe that brand created content is more authentic compared to UGC. Read on...

Charity Digital: How and why User-Generated Content is changing charity marketing
Author: Joe Lepper


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 jun 2020

COVID-19 impacted the retail sector and brought about unforeseen challenges. Recent study by Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) at University of Warwick (UK) and Blue Yonder examined how retailers have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure their survival. The study is based on the survey responses from 105 different retailers from Europe, Asia and the Americas and identified the human vulnerabilities across the supply chain and the need for future investment in flexibility, visibility and automation to improve future resilience. Some of the challenges that retailers faced are - unprecedented demand for some products while no demand for others; many stores were forced to close, or adapt their operations to accommodate social distancing; shift to online shopping wherever possible but it had its own operational challenges. REPORT HIGHLIGHTS - (1) The majority (61%) of retailers used inventory to buffer against the disruption of COVID-19. Supply chain processes and systems were effective, but more than half (58%) of retailers said a high degree of manual intervention was required to respond to the fluctuation in demand and supply. (2) Workforce issues were dominant issues for retailers with 59% of warehouse and 48% store operatives being affected by quarantine or illness. This often resulted in the closure of online operations and the need to recruit temporary staff. (3) Retailers were polarised in their treatment of supplier payments, with 37% delaying payments and 30% making early payments. Prof. Jan Godsell of University of Warwick says, '...only just over a quarter (29%) of retailers relied on suppliers with more agile manufacturing and distribution networks, which is a potentially more resource efficient and resilient response. With 75 to 80% of products seeing a demand fluctuation, retailers were slightly better at responding to decreases rather than increases in demand...' Wayne Snyder of Blue Yonder says, 'A critical learning for retailers is the need to invest in creating supply chains with greater flexibility, visibility and automation. Here technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning will play a key role in helping retailers navigate future disruption, whilst still meeting customers’ expectations.' Read on...

University of Warwick News: New study provides insights into how retailers have responded to COVID-19
Author: Alice Scott


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 apr 2020

In the digital era, it is imperative for nonprofit leaders to embrace technology and adapt to change effectively. Practicing concepts of 'change management' helps in the technological transformation. Aparna Kothary, director of technology operations at Global Citizen Year, had to implement new technology to help her nonprofit, which organizes gap year study-abroad programs for high school seniors, measure the impact of their work. She says, 'When you put a lot of work into building something, you think it's great and you want everybody else to think it's great, but approaching it with humility is so important...If our end goal is user adoption, it's our responsibility to train people in a way that that works for them.' Setting expectations for new technology adopters is also important. She adds, 'Instead of saying - Here's this shiny new tool we are going to use forever - maybe say - This is phase one of a three-year project, and every year w're going to improve a little bit more...' According to the second annual Nonprofit Trends Report produced by Salesforce, leadership must not only lead the adoption of new technologies but also help nurture a culture that is open to embracing new technology in the first place. But 45% of nonprofits state that they lack the flexibility and adaptiveness that the adoption of new technology demands. Prof. Alva H. Taylor of Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College says, 'Leadership has to understand it and know the importance of it, and also communicate (that importance) to everybody in their organization...might involve showing how the new tool is compatible with how they've done their work in the past, while 'really trumpeting the benefits' of adoption.' The Nonprofit Trends Report also shows that, on average, different departments have different rates of adoption of new technologies, and suggests that without full adoption of technology nonprofits may not get the maximum return on investment. Planning is essential along with leadership. 85% of the nonprofits surveyed in the report say that technology is key to the success of an organization like the one they work for, but only 23% say they have a long-term vision for the technology they plan on implementing. Sarah Angel-Johnson, CIO at the education nonprofit Year Up, says that it leads to 'rocks and pebbles' problem. She comments, 'Let's not talk about the technology or the architecture first. Let's talk about the human on the other side (experiencing a digital innovation). If you have a jar and you fill it with sand first, then pebbles and rocks, it won't all fit. But if you fill the jar first with rocks and the pebbles and then finally sand, it will all fit.' This means that leadership needs to establish priority projects and execute on them before pivoting to anything else. Developing nonprofit-wide strategy requires leadership buy-in and is necessary for long-term success. Jarrod Bell, CTO at Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, says, 'Painting what the vision was for technology at our organization, tying that to the mission, having that message come from our president and CEO, having that message resonated by our board...reverberate those messages as well, and then repeating it over, and over, and over again.' Rebeca Johnson, VP of constituent experience and digital transformation at the American Heart Association, says, 'Transformation is difficult, because transformation is change, and change is hard. But the world has changed and we have to change with it.' Read on...

Stanford Social Innovation Review: Being a Digital-First Leader
Author: Adrienne Day


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 24 apr 2020

Diversity and inclusion at workplace brings creativity and enhances culture of innovation. There is inclination towards bridging the gender gap and promoting gender parity in organizations. According to McKinsey's 'Women in the Workplace 2019' report, since 2015 the number of women in senior leadership has grown and in the C-suite the representation of women has increased from 17% to 21%. Moreover, in 2019 44% of companies have three or more women in their C-suite, up from 29% of companies in 2015. The 2017 study 'What Women Want - And Why You Want Women - In the Workplace' by Center for Creative Leadership (ccl.org) found that having more women in the workplace actually makes an organization a better place to work. Moreover, having a higher percentage of female talent in an organization predicted - More job satisfaction; More organizational dedication; More meaningful work; Less burnout. The study also found that having more women in the workplace was also positively related to employee engagement and retention. Top architectural and design schools in US are setting the examples in academia by bringing women at leadership positions. The following five thought leaders are now molding the next generation of talent and reshaping the design field for the 21st century - (1) J. Meejin Yoon (Cornell University College of Architecture, Art, and Planning): 'I'm optimistic about architectural education going forward and the role of the academy as a leader around critical social and environmental issues, as well as emerging technologies and their impact on the built environment. It feels significant to be a part of this group of women academic leaders, all of whom are deeply committed to both education and practice...Diversity means better research, better education, better design.' (2) Sarah Whiting (Harvard University Graduate School of Design): 'Our mandate is to identify questions that are relevant and urgent, questions like ethics, climate change, and housing. It's important to make sure the world knows that design is not a frivolous add-on to our lives but rather at the root of how we live.' (3) Mónica Ponce de León (Princeton University School of Architecture): 'Architecture materializes culture. We have the capacity to put on the table alternatives to the status quo. But if architecture is going to impact culture, it has to represent and argue for a broad cohort of communities. Diversity is key.' (4) Deborah Berke (Yale School of Architecture): 'One of the ways that we can make the profession more inclusive is to reduce the enormous burden of student debt...I am a strong believer in what I call built environment social justice. Those most vulnerable are those being most hurt...Everyone is entitled to beauty in their everyday life. The built environment can, at its very finest, bring joy.' (5) Amale Andraos (Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation): 'Architecture got cut up into all these different disciplines, leaving us with a very small, cosmetic part, limiting what the field can mean and what practice can do. Unless we integrate and collaborate, we cannot engage with the scale of issues such as climate change...Academia can change the profession.' Read on...

Architectural Digest: These Trailblazing Women are the New Deans of American Design
Author: Sam Cochran


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 feb 2020

Volunteer time off (VTO) is the new concept in employee benefits in which a company offers paid time off for its employees to volunteer with nonprofit organizations. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) around 21% of American companies offer VTO, while Chief Executives for Corporate Purpose (CECP) says that more than 60% of enterprise-level companies are going all-in on VTO. Organizations implementing VTO can benefit in many ways - (1) Recruitment: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of employees who are voluntarily quitting their jobs is higher than ever. VTO can help attract the attention of young, fresh talent. A report from Fortune showed that Millennials were more likely to work for a company that has a proven history of social activism and corporate volunteerism. (2) Retention: The 2019 Global Talent Trends Study showed that 51% of employees wish their company offered more flexible work options. VTO is the most desired option that companies can give to philanthropic employees. According to NP Source Charitable Giving Statistics For 2018, employees who engaged in corporate giving programs tended to have 75% longer tenures with the company. (3) Corporate Visibility: According to NP Source stats, 90% of companies indicated that partnering with reputable nonprofit organizations enhances their brand and 89% believe partnering leverages their ability to improve the community. Turning employees into employee brand ambassadors empowers them to represent your company in a positive light. (4) Company Culture: Companies are highlighting their workplace culture as a way to retain current employees and recruit top talent. A 2017 study from Project ROI showed that companies investing in corporate responsibility are seeing the fruits of their labor - Turnover reduced by 50%; Employee productivity increase by up to 13%; Employee engagement increased by up to 7.5%. A 2017 Glassdoor survey showed that 75% of employees expect their employer to get involved in charity work either through donations or volunteer efforts, and nearly half of all employees surveyed expect their employers to allow them to company time to advocate for social change through volunteering. (5) Employee Growth: Employees seek growth opportunities. Volunteering has become popular to build resume and sharpen skills, thus making VTO attractive to employees. NP Source showed that 92% of surveyed HR executives agree that contributing business skills and expertise to a nonprofit can be an effective way to improve employees' leadership and broader professional skill sets. Following are some tips to effectively implement VTO - (i) Organize your time-off request process. (ii) Communicate with employees. (iii) Use software to optimize (corporate volunteering platform). Read on...

G2.com: Here's Why VTO Is the Next Big Thing in Employee Benefits
Author: Lauren Pope


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 feb 2020

Australia's retail industry is in turmoil with some of the big ones entering into voluntary administration. Tom Youl of Ibis World says, 'Weakness in the Australian economy, in particular, deteriorating conditions for households, has been placing pressure on the retail sector...Weak wage growth has been a contributing factor to decreasing discretionary incomes, but rising household costs have also played a part. The bad news for store-based retailers is online players are going to continue to grab a larger share of the pie.' Eloise Zoppos of Monash Business School says, 'Customers are seizing control of the retail landscape and those retailers not up to the changes proposed by their loyal shoppers will be left behind. Friendly and knowledgeable staff, and eye-catching and easy-to-navigate store designs, can help create memorable experiences that customers can share with their friends and family after their purchase.' Even though online shopping is on the rise but Monash's 2019 consumer survey reveals that more than 70% respondents prefer to shop in bricks-and-mortar stores. A positive story coming out of the retail churn is that of an electronics store JB HI-FI. Retail expert Amanda Stevens explains, 'If you've been into JB Hi-Fi lately, it's a fast-moving big box retailer, but they really have knowledgeable staff, which is always a sigh of relief for consumers versus other retailers you go into, and you could spend up to 15 minutes finding someone to give your money to.' Regarding the future of Australian retail Mr. Youl suggest, 'Many retailers have been thriving in recent years. A sound brand strategy and market position are always vital to success, but these factors become of paramount importance over periods of weak growth, as we have been experiencing.' Read on...

Yahoo Finance: Why Australia's retail industry is drowning
Author: Anastasia Santoreneos


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 jan 2020

Earlier web development was in silos with front-end and back-end design, development and management requiring different set of skills. But now full stack application development approach is more integrated and involves end-to-end development. This requires front-end developers to have broader set of skills and working knowledge of multiple technologies. Tarun Nagar, founder and CEO of Dev Technosys, suggests must-have skills for front-end developers in 2020 - (1) HTML, a language that communicates with the browser, and CSS, which is responsible for the styling of the page and the betterment of the user interface. Together they are essential component of front-end development. (2) Javascript, a client-side programming language, makes the webpage elements functional. For audio, video, animation and hat features, Javascript library and jQuery extensions are used for faster functions widely used by full-stack web development services. (3) JavaScript frameworks like Angular Js, ReactJS and Vue.js, make the JS code easier to use and make development faster. (4) CSS preprocessing is the advanced CSS version. It is a better version of the primary CSS classes, which enhances the website features. (5) Version Control Software or Git is the most popular software used for the large team of developers. The version control system helps in collaborating with the changes and making a better software development process. (6) Testing and debugging is an integral part of the development process. (7) Automated building software makes the front-end development easier. The performance is usually measured at the loading time. Functional User Interface, collective term for HTML, CSS and Javascript, is used wisely as best web development company practices. (8) Browser tools are the browser component, which helps in developing the browser-friendly pages. This helps the developers in increasing the UI quality give optimum website development services. (9) Responsive design ensures that web page UI is compatible with every screen size. (10) Command-Line Interface (CLI) is used to give functionality, unlike Graphical User Interface (GUI) which is used to build the page and perform the tasks in the front-end. (11) Good problem solving skills make the developer work effectively in a team and efficiently handle large projects. Read on...

Customer Think: 11 skills to become a Front-End developer in 2020
Author: Tarun Nagar


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 10 dec 2019

Customers are at the core of any business. No one can think of products and services without thinking of their buyers. Profits are made with happy customers because they continue to buy products and services from those companies and organizations that keep them satisfied. They also recommend to others what they themselves like. For organizations to become truly customer-centric it is essential to create a customer oriented mindset and at the same time develop procedures and actionable tools to provide best possible customer service. This would also involve continuous training and learning on the part of customer service executives and workers. As the customer behavior changes over time with technologies so should the interactive behavior of customer service personnel to adapt to changing scenarios. But above all, the personnel who deal directly with customers should keep the care of customers in their mind and behavior at all times. Organizations should develop a proper framework for customer service excellence. Read on...

ilmeps/read: From Customer-Centric Mindset To Doing What Customers Want - Finding Ways To Do Customer Service Right And Avoiding What Not To Be Done
Author: Mohammad Anas Wahaj


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 oct 2019

Nonprofit organizations and employees operate in a challenging environment and the human resources issues can be different from the for-profit sector. According to the 2017 Nonprofit Employment Practices Survey of 420 nonprofits by nonprofitHR, 28% of nonprofits said the top challenge they faced was hiring qualified staff, and 81% of nonprofits said they can't get the staff they do hire to stay. Moreover, nonprofits are unable to do much to address the human resources problems. According to 2019 Talent Management Priorities for Nonprofits survey of 488 nonprofit leaders and HR professionals by nonprofitHR, three reasons employees give for leaving nonprofits are - dissatisfaction with their career opportunities, compensation and benefits, and workplace culture. Prof. Kim Brimhall of Binghampton University, The State University of New York, explains her research on nonprofit human resources and finds out that when employees feel valued and that their colleagues and bosses appreciate them, talented staff members become more likely to stick around. Lower salaries and compensation in nonprofits are not the only factor that makes it difficult to retain talent. Prof. Brimhall says, 'I recently completed a study regarding how managers at hospitals can improve employee performance through greater inclusivity. Inclusion...is also about helping employees feel appreciated as unique individuals and helping them feel valued as key members of their team.' According to 2018 State of the Nonprofit Sector Survey of about 3400 nonprofit leaders by Nonprofit Finance Fund, more than half of all nonprofit jobs are in the health care field and even though nonprofit hospitals generally pay their workers better than other nonprofits, they also have trouble hiring and retaining qualified staff. Prof. Brimhall recommends nonprofits to make their workplace more inclusive and to adopt the following best practices - Engage and involve employees in important work-related decision-making; Appreciate feedback of all employees irrespective of their position; Consider and treat each employee as a unique individual and provide regular training and opportunities to enhance their career; Communicate a shared sense of purpose and inspire a collective vision of the future. Read on...

The Conversation: Making employees feel welcome and valued can pay off - especially for nonprofits
Author: Kim Brimhall


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 oct 2019

For CPAs (Certified Public Accountant) to successfully transition from the for-profit sector to the nonprofit sector requires a specific mindset and skill sets. Even though their for-profit experience will highly benefit and enhance the value of nonprofit finance department, but they would need add-on soft skills - (1) Adaptability: Understand and adapt to the new organizational culture. (2) Flexibility: Ability to multitask. With resource challenges nonprofits lack support staff and CPAs would need to handle administrative tasks. (3) Leadership and the ability to drive change: Emphasize the value of accurate financial reporting and use of latest processes and technologies for effective and efficient finance department. Explain that doing so will enhance chances of funding. Implement change through collaborative approach. Nonprofit organizations can benefit from for-profit CPA's in many ways - (1) Technology implementation: Many nonprofits are not fully equipped with latest financial and accounting technolgoies. For-profit CPAs bring the experience to do so. Implementation of online technology maximizes productivity, increases transparency, facilitates document flow and approvals, and improves accuracy and timeliness. (2) Documented policies and procedures: The implementation and maintenance of a documented accounting policies and procedures manual ensures continuing operational efficiency and governance, accuracy, and reliability of financial statements, as well as well-defined roles and responsibilities. (3) Effective and efficient internal controls: The system of internal controls is necessary to mitigate risk, increase transparency, and safeguard the organization's assets. For-profit CPAs are familiar with identifying and evaluating internal controls and aware that the process requires understanding and documenting the step-by-step processes that staff members follow to perform their jobs. (4) Audit management and oversight: CPAs with auditing background are familiar with the types of schedules and documents the auditors will request. The books and records of the finance department should be maintained throughout the year so that when the books are closed, only year-end adjustments are needed. Although CPAs spend most of their time with numbers, processing transactions, generating financial reports, and racing to meet numerous internal and external deadlines, but in nonprofits it is more than that - a mission to improve the lives of those in need and to make the world a better place. The transition to nonprofit career can be highly rewarding both professionally and personally. Read on...

The CPA Journal: Making the Transition to the Nonprofit Sector
Author: Roberta Katz


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 oct 2019

Even though AI (artificial intelligence) and big data are enabling automation in marketing and customer interactions, enhancing consumer experience, saving cost and improving ROI, but customers still seem to prefer the great old human touch. According to the report by Calabrio titled 'Are You Listening? The Truth About What Customers Want in a Digital World', three out of four consumers in the US and UK are more loyal to businesses that give them the option to interact to human as opposed to only chatbots or digital channels. Morever, 37% even question the legitimacy of the company itself, if not given the option. Michael Brenner, CEO of Marketing Insider Group and author of 'Mean People Suck', explains how organizational empathy is the key to benefit from marketing automation along with becoming more human at the same time. He mentions limitations of AI, automation and martech - Complexity of implementation; Robotic customer service; Uncertainties in decision-making. He explains, 'When businesses use technology such as AI and automation to boost efficiencies, the outcomes will scale quickly. Managing the consequences calls for not just empathy, but alignment of "purpose" between the brand and its consumers. But while humans survive on meaning and a sense of fulfillment, machines thrive on clear instructions...By clarifying their strategic purpose, organizations can not only provide better customer experiences, but also increase brand loyalty, build a community, as well as foster a meaningful and productive work culture.' Kate O'Neill, author of 'Tech Humanist', says, 'Businesses that transform themselves digitally need to do so in a human-centric way and communicate their purpose to their customers.' Mentioning empathy as the missing link between AI and humans, Mr. Brenner says, 'Empathetic Marketing connects companies, brands, employees and customers in a harmonious, productive and win-win way. You might be forgiven for thinking that ROI and the bottom line is all that matters to companies. While authoring my first book 'The Content Formula', I stumbled on the counter-intuitive secret to selling: Don't talk about the stuff you sell. Then what should we talk about? I hear you asking. Show, don't talk. Show empathy towards your customers. Help, don't sell. Help them solve a problem.' Empathy is the only antidote for the phenomenon termed by Google's Noah Fenn as 'collective amnesia of marketers', where marketers begin to see 'people' as users, leads, personas, prospects, audience, cohorts or whatever label is the flavor of the day. Mr. Brenner suggests 'be human, do human' and in order to fix the brand-customer empathy gap, you need to ask (and honestly answer) yourself - Do you understand the core emotional motivators of your customers? Does your messaging resonate with these motivators?; Do you build a connection before you attempt a conversion?; Do you test your assumptions and biases for every marketing campaign?; Does your AI-driven revenue model incorporate the nuances of empathetic marketing? Read on...

Chief Marketer: The AI Paradox: Why More Automation Means We Need More Humanity
Author: Michael Brenner


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 20 oct 2019

Personalization and customization of education is becoming a possibility with use of latest technologies. Traditional education systems with 'one-size-fits-all' approach are facing challenges and their ineffectiveness is becoming visible. Every learner has individual capabilities and traits, and educational delivery that caters to his specific needs would work best. Lasse Rouhiainen, author of 'Artificial Intelligence: 101 Things You Must Know Today About Our Future' and an international expert on artificial intelligence (AI) and disruptive technologies, explains that personalization is future of higher education and how correct implementation of AI and big data analytics will help in creating personalized learning experiences that can overcome some of the challenges that educational institutions face like disengaged students, high dropout rates, skills mismatch etc. He says, 'With a personalized learning experience, every student would enjoy a completely unique educational approach that's fully tailored to his or her individual abilities and needs. This could directly increase students' motivation and reduce their likelihood of dropping out. It could also offer professors a better understanding of each student's learning process, which could enable them to teach more effectively. Here's what this might look like: AI-based learning systems would be able to give professors useful information about their students' learning styles, abilities, and progress, and provide suggestions for how to customize their teaching methods to students' individual needs.' One of the key ingredient of this learning approach is the access to large amount of student data. Privacy is the challenge in this regard. But if student data could be collected and processed in a way that is ethical, secure, and transparent, it would allow AI to be used to effectively improve various areas of study. Use of chatbots and virtual assistants can assist in handling routine questions and tasks and will also provide data that represents students' concerns and requirements. This will benefit in designing education that responds to their needs. Moreover, as AI-enabled systems takeover routine tasks, teachers will have more quality time for students and engage them to pursue higher learning. Their role would be to guide, support, and mentor students, assist them to understand their learning, it's value, and it's application in the real world. To some extent chatbots can also be used to assist sudents to manage their mental well-being - to reduce stress and improve motivation to study. This will be beneficial, atleast for immediate relief, as many university health systems are struggling to handle large population of students in their on-campus mental health counseling programs. The outcome of education and learning is to finally prepare students for the world of work and be productive in whatever career they pursue. As the work environment is becoming more technology intensive and routine tasks are automated with AI-enabled systems and robots, it is essential for education systems to provide skills and train students to effectively adapt to such work environment and become successful. There is no substitute for humans. Technology is an enabler. Right mix of AI technology and human abilities can help evolve the education and learning systems for better outcomes. Read on...

Harvard Business Review: How AI and Data Could Personalize Higher Education
Author: Lasse Rouhiainen


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 17 sep 2019

According to Learning Enterprise Institute (lean.org), the book, 'Designing the Future' by James M. Morgan and Jeffrey K. Liker, describes the robust new Lean Product and Process Development (LPPD) framework and shares real-world examples from a diverse set of industries. The book explains how the leading companies are using LPPD to create better futures for themselves and all their stakeholders. Authors go beyond broad generalizations on how to 'be innovative' and dig deeper into the theoretical bedrock and concrete development practices that are generating exceptional results at pioneering LPPD companies. Examples in the book show specifically how companies are redesigning product development systems to consistently design and deliver a progression of market-leading products and services. The book explains how LPPD is different from traditional ways of thinking and doing product development. The book helps in learning how to - (1) Avoid the 'extremes' that turn milestones into a 'coercive bureaucracy' and instead turn them into the foundation of a lean development process. (2) Drive out fear, but not accountability. (3) Develop high-performance teams and team members. (4) Cultivate chief architects with complete product and business responsibility. (5) Create flow and reduce rework in the development process. (6) Apply leadership lessons from Alan Mulally and other senior development leaders, as well as the critical elements of a powerful management system. (7) Use the Obeya (big room, war room) system to increase transparency, collaboration, focus, and speed while engaging the entire enterprise. (8) Improve the scientific thinking skills of engineers and developers. (9) Apply the seemingly contradictory concept of 'fixed and flexible' - Yin and Yang - of lean product development as an opportunity, not a conflict. (10) Hire the right people using different approaches, including extreme interviewing events. (11) Use a Commodity Development Plan to develop components in parallel that are on time, functional, and fit together. (12) Improve development problem solving through effective use of A3s and employ a simple but effective 'trick' to check the quality of an A3 report. EXCERPTS FROM INTERVIEW WITH AUTHORS - James M. Morgan: 'The book is for all serious practitioners who are working to find a better way to develop products, processes and services. Especially for those who are in leadership positions who want to improve organizational development capabilities in order to create great products and a great place to work.'; 'Deep immersion at the gemba (the actual place) during the study period to truly understand your customer and their context. To truly study and listen deeply to your customer in a very intentional way. To look broadly across your industry to understand the current state and conduct detailed product or service dissections where called for. Creating an active learning plan and experimentation to test ideas and close knowledge gaps. To create a concept paper to clarify your thinking and engage and enroll others.'; 'Milestones are the key to orchestrating development across functions. They are the primary mechanism for integrating work and for understanding normal from abnormal conditions so that the development team may act accordingly.'; 'The obeya space needs to become the center and the heartbeat of the project. Whether the team is collocated or not, it is the place where they come together to share and collaborate. It is the primary source of project information.'; 'I believe that it (to build aligned and focused teams) is impacted by hiring/selection of people, development of people, manager selection and promotion and of course leadership behaviors. One key is to develop an effective management system. In my view a management system is comprised of two key elements: leadership behaviors and an operating system.'; 'The best leaders have the grit to keep going - and to keep their team moving forward. One key is to look at problems as gems, as opportunities to improve your product, your process, your team - yourself.'; 'Make it okay to experiment, make mistakes, question things and raise issues. Create time and resources for learning - both capturing and applying learning. Design reviews are an excellent mechanism for learning. Then make knowledge available in user-friendly way.'; 'Apply the LPPD principles and practices in your transformation. Start by deeply understanding your current state, develop a compelling vision, learn through pilot experimentation, create an aligned plan, and focus on relentless executing leveraging tools like obeya, milestones, reflection events and design reviews.' Jeffrey K. Liker: 'We also talk about the role of the chief engineer - an overall architect for the product who assimilates all the data and spends time with customers and integrates many perspectives into a vision. These are specially developed people who become the chief architects.'; 'The main failure mode of milestones is viewing them as checkpoints. In LPPD there is feedback and adjustment happening all of the time. The checkpoint is a major opportunity to reflect and learn. It should not feel like passing a test.'; 'The obeya paces the work of many functional specialists so they are checking the status of their work products in short intervals, seeing how they can help each other, seeing gaps between plan versus actual and taking corrective action. It should focus on deviation management.'; 'A big part of the management system is the target setting process. The chief engineer sets the product targets and each function develops appropriate targets to support the chief engineer.'; 'It is also critical to have knowledge gatekeepers for each function who are the keepers of the know-how database for their specialty to avoid lots of information that never gets used.'; 'An exciting culture leads to an exciting product. We also talk about the importance of strong functional groups that are teaching the deep knowledge of their engineering discipline.' Read on...

InfoQ: Q&A on the Book 'Designing the Future'
Authors: Ben Linders, James Morgan, Jeffrey Liker


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 aug 2019

Technology innovations are often associated with taking up jobs from humans. Consider some experts predicting that Artificial Intelligence (AI) could take over 40% of jobs by 2035. But, there is a brighter side to it. The tasks that are taken away by AI are generally those that are repetitive and monotonous, requiring less human creativity. This would infact provide more opportunities for people to be innovative and creative, making their jobs more fulfilling. Charities too have to take advantage of AI to improve efficiencies and let their workforce focus on doing good better and impact lives. Rhodri Davies of Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), the author of Public Good by Private Means' and an expert on philanthropy and technology for giving, says, 'There are plenty of new jobs that will be actually created in the wake of the AI revolution.' Here are some of the charity jobs that artificial intelligence and machine learning can enhance - (1) Fundraiser: Chatbots can support in fundraising tasks. Organizations are already making use of online platforms to do so effectively and reach out to far-flung donors. (2) Support Services Assistant: Charity chatbots can help in guiding people towards the general information they require. This will help human staff to focus on more complex and sensitive queries. (3) Translator: AI-driven language translation can assist charity workers to communicate effectively with populations they serve and have language barrier with. (4) Conservation Scientist: Data science and machine learning is used in sustainability studies. AI can be used by wildlife and conservation charities to understand patterns such as habitat loss, climate change, water use, poaching etc. This will help better understand human impact on natural world and plan ahead. (5) Medical Researcher: AI and robotics are used in diagnostics and patient care. AI-driven data analysis helps spot patterns in behvior, symptoms and treatment effects. Thus providing effective treatment. Read on...

Charity Digital News: The charity jobs that could soon be enhanced by AI
Author: Chloe Green


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 13 aug 2019

Social enterprises tackle societal and environmental issues utilizing business concepts for the larger interest of the society and reinvest profits back to sustain themselves. They support in building inclusive economy. According to the most recent statistics, there are around 5600 social enterprises in Scotland with an economic contribution of around £2 billion, ranging from community co-operatives to housing associations, enterprising charities and more. Duncan Thorp, policy and communications manager at Social Enterprise Scotland, explains how social enterprises are contributing to Scotland's economy and advocates collaborations between them and private sector for greater economic and social benefits. He explains why engaging social enterprises with private sector is win-win - 'Firstly, social failure is bad for business. Unemployment, homelessness, drug addiction and other issues negatively impact on businesses. People without work and opportunity don't have money to spend on goods and services. Social enterprises work at the frontline to solve these social problems. Private sector businesses should also engage with social enterprises because they bring real benefit in terms of opening up new markets and new business opportunities. Joint bids for public contracts and similar partnership working are options too. Businesses can contract social enterprises into their supply chains. This could be a catering contract, graphic design, meeting space hire or something else. It's also about private sector employees volunteering in social enterprises, in a skills exchange, for learning and personal development.' He advocates three key areas of partnership work - consumer demand, supply chains and contracting and procurement. He suggests that building mutually beneficial relationships between social enterprises and private sector businesses paves the way for knowledge exchange, positively influencing business culture and build an economy that benefits all. Read on...

The Scotsman: Social enterprise is good for business - Duncan Thorp
Author: Duncan Thorp


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 jun 2019

Collecting the right customer data and then understanding it to create usable insights is the key to e-commerce analytics success. But, implementing an effective and efficient analytics strategy and selecting the best tools and solutions from among many that are available in the market is no easy task. Ateeq Ahmad, consultant and founder of Albany Analytics, provides a set of ideas and road map to build an e-commerce analytics solution that would finally be used for predictive analysis. Mr. Ahmad outlines the process flow as - (1) Setting up data collection within current data sources. (2) Merging all data sources into one platform and automate such a collection. (3) Analyzing patterns in these datasets to build reports and dashboards based on KPIs. (4) Based on past behavior of customers, create prescriptive and predictive analytics around key metrics and goals. Data that is collected should include transactional data, social interactions and offline customer data. At the stage of merging all data sources into one central repository there are two possible methodologies - build own data warehouse or buy it from market. Of course, there are trade-offs involved in this selection. The best option seems to be to go initially for an available data merging tool, as it is cost effective, and then once sufficient experience and ROI is obtained graduate to build it in-house. Analyzing data and translating it into valuable business speak that paves the way for data-driven decision making is an essential part of successful analytics implementation. To provide right and timely predictive analyses it is critical to have an analytics team with strong data science expertise. Read on...

Albany Analytics Blog: A Paradigm for Business Intelligence Evolution
Author: Ateeq Ahmad


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 17 apr 2019

Gen Z is one of the most connected and socially aware generations to enter the workforce. But for the progress of businesses and society in the right direction, experienced leaders need to encourage young people to pursue social entrepreneurship. Seven members of Forbes Nonprofit Council provide following suggestions - (1) Rupert Scofield, FINCA International: Educate Youth About Market-Based Solutions. (2) Geetha Murali, Room to Read: Celebrate Social Impact Companies. (3) Tom Van Winkle, Hinsdale Humane Society: Befriend Socially Responsible Organizations. (4) Kimberly Lewis, Goodwill Industries of East Texas, Inc: Show Impact In Real Ways. (5) Gloria Horsley, Open to Hope: Describe The Value On Their Terms. (6) Steven Moore, M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust: Invest In Communities That Bring Entrepreneurs Together. (7) Kila Englebrook, Social Enterprise Alliance: Leverage Media And Entertainment. Read on...

Forbes: Seven Ways To Encourage Gen Z Professionals To Pursue Social Entrepreneurship
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 15 jan 2019

According to the recent report published by the British Council and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), 'Developing an Inclusive and Creative Economy: The state of social enterprise in Indonesia', millenials are leading a surge in the creation of business that are working to create positive social and environmental impact. More than 70% of a surveyed sample group mentions that the social enterprises started in the last two years and about 50% of the social entrepreneurs are aged between 25 and 34 years. The reports estimates that there are more than 342000 social enterprises in the region. In Indonesia more than 1/5th of social enterprises work in the creative industries, contrary to other countries in Aisa-Pacific region, such as the Philippines, Sri Lanka and India, where agriculture, education and health dominate. Ari Susanti, a senior program manager for the British Council in Indonesia, says, 'Many young people want to work in an area where they can make change, not just earn a salary.' According to the World Bank, Indonesia is an emerging middle-income country that, over the last 20 years, has seen growth in GDP at the same time as poverty has been cut in half. These conditions are enabling the growth of social enterprises. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, executive secretary of UNESCAP, says, 'UN body would support the development of social enterprise as a key means of building an inclusive and creative economy. Social enterprise is an opportunity for Indonesia...This report provides a solid evidence base to inform future policies and strategies.' These social enterprises mainly support and benefit local communities, women and young people. Moreover, they have also become a substantial source of employment - the number of full-time workers employed by social enterprises increased by 42% from 2016 to 2017. The rise in social enterprises is also proving good for gender equality - the social enterprise workforce is estimated to be made up of 69% women and is responsible for a 99% increase of full-time female employees in 2016-17. Government, corporations and universities have all come together to offer their support to social enterprises. Bambang P. S. Brodjonegoro, economist and the Minister of National Development Planning of Indonesia, wrote in the introduction of the report, 'The government aims to be an active partner of social entrepreneurs and is committed to continue building and nurturing the social entrepreneurship ecosystem.' Read on...

Pioneers Post: Millennials lead social enterprise surge in Indonesia
Author: Lee Mannion

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