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Science & Technology

Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 sep 2022

E. Jerome McCarthy's 1960 book 'Basic Marketing: A Managerial Approach' first proposed the four P's of merketing - price, product, promotion and place. The concept continues to be relevant, but over the years the business environment has evolved and major component of this change is technology and most recently COVID-19 exacerbated the digital push. All this brought about an additional P to the marketing mix - the payments. The fifth P brings about a new element to the customer journey as they demand seamless experience till the end. B2C companies have adopted efficient payment systems but B2B companies are trying to refine them. According to DigitalCommerce360's '2022 U.S. B2B Ecommerce Market Report', 51% of business buyers are attracted to B2B sites with an excellent B2C-like user experience. In present times B2B companies can't ignore the fifth P - payments - and risk losing B2B customers expectations of seamless transactions. B2B companies can learn a lot from B2C as they have mastered the understanding of customer preferences and have designed their systems to offer fast convenient ways to pay their way during a seamless, omnichannel experience. Even though most B2B buyers pay online through credit cards but that is not their most favored method. According to the statistics from TreviPay's 'Why More Payment Options Mean More Purchases' report, 'Although more than half of B2B buyers use credit cards to make online purchases, but they don't want to and 50% actually prefer to pay with methods other than credit cards when given the option...90% of B2B buyers research payment options before purchasing from a new supplier...15% of B2B buyers spend more when offered trade credit,..82% would choose one vendor over others if that vendor offered invoicing at checkout with 30-, 60- or 90-day terms.' According to Forrester Tech Tide 2022, 'B2B payment augmentation is increasingly critical to companies' ability to win, serve and retain business customers. Offering trade credit and net terms invoicing, automatic onboarding, instant decisioning and digitizing A/R are all needed...' To stay ahead B2B organizations must provide B2C-like payment methods; digital and mobile purchasing options; payments, invoicing and billing in one centralized location; invoicing, account reconciliation and overdue reminders; risk management and sophisticated fraud detection; more working capital for buyers; and integrations with a myriad of technology vendors. Including the 5th P in the marketing mix offers customer-centric benefits the entire organization should champion. This benefits would include offering buyers consistent, quality service and support throughout their entire customer journey, creating a virtuous cycle of repeat purchases. Read on...

Entrepreneur: Why B2B Companies Can't Ignore the 5th P of Marketing - Payments
Author: Brandon Spear


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 | 26 aug 2022

3D printing is a computer-aided design enabled additive manufacturing process that makes products through extruded materials layer-by-layer. 3D printing types that have developed recently include fused deposition modeling, stereolithography, selective laser sintering, selective laser melting, digital light processing, fused filament fabrication etc. Benefits of 3D printing include cost-effectiveness; time, resource, and energy savings; significantly less material waste; enhanced design freedom etc. In addition to various industries like manufacturing, aerospace, transportation etc where 3D printing has found extensive use, it is now finding application in textile industry. 3D printing can bring more efficiencies in the fabric production and make it more sustainable. It has potential to reduce consumption of resources like water and materials, and substantially eliminate the waste produced that would reduct textile industry's large carbon footprint. Moreover, 3D printing provides ability to manufacture 'smart' fabrics with embedded functionalities and, complex and unique structures. Even though there is potential for 3D printing in textile industry, it also has many challenges that need to be overcome to its widespread use. 3D printed fabrics are more stiff, less flexible giving rise to impediments in their wearibility and comfort level. Scientists have proposed many solutions to 3D printed textiles to impart properties like stretchability, softness, and flexibility. Three approaches towards this goal are printing flexible structural units, printing fibers, and printing on textiles. Read on...

AZoM: How is 3D Printing Changing the Textile Industry?
Author: Reginald Davey


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 19 may 2022

As mentioned on the sciencedirect.com website, 'Tribology is the study of the science and engineering of interacting surfaces in relative motion and includes the study and application of the principles of friction, lubrication and wear.' The word was coined by Prof. Peter Jost in 1966 and is derived from the Greek word 'tribos' which means 'rubbing'. Vern Wedeven, founder and president of Wedeven Associates Inc., explains how the challenge of friction and wear in mechanical and electromechanical systems, specifically in the fields of nanotechnology, aerospace and biotechnology, can be overcome by incorporating 'Tribology-by-Design (T/D)' as it will facilitate building of enduring products by including friction, wear and lubrication in the design process. Tribology is often not applied in design process due to its complexity. There are many mechanisms at play that would include variety of small contact points, enormous loads, variable motion and speed, high stresses, heat generation, unfamiliar interface materials and so on. The challenge is enormous to design for life and durability under these complex situations. The new approach, 'Tribology-by-Design (T/D)', reduces the risk and help engineers better understand tribology challenges and more competently design for them. T/D combines a theory, a set of test and analysis tools, and a methodology. It was developed to get powerful tribology mechanisms into engineering design. Mr. Wedeven suggests, 'Using T/D theory, test and analysis tools, and methods to discover and apply new technologies will open the door to a much more rapid response to tribology challenges, faster innovation, reduced costs and mitigating risk.' MIT's (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Professional Education course, 'Tribology: Friction, Wear and Lubrication', teaches T/D to engineers around the globe. In one of the session Mr. Wedeven is an instructor and explores how T/D connects and differs from axiomatic design (AxD), a widely adopted design methodology developed by the course's lead instructor, Dr. Nam Pyo Suh, Cross Professor Emeritus at MIT. Read on...

Machine Design: Tribology by Design: A Revolution in Tribology
Author: Vern Wedeven


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 apr 2022

Collaboration at University of Minnesota Twin Cities between Dr. Amr El-Bokl and Dr. Gurumurthy Hiremath of Department of Pediatrics at the Medical School, and Prof. Carlye Lauff and undergraduate student Levi Skelton of Product Design Program at the College of Design, is leading to create a knowledge product to teach children and their families about congenital heart disease (CHD). CHD is a birth defect in the heart of children. CHD leads to varied abnormalities in the heart as the child grows, making it difficult for children and their families to understand and manage it. Dr. El-Bokl says, 'There is a tendency to try and protect children from information...Slow and early introduction is one of the best ways to become familiar with the medical information, but we don’t have many child-friendly tools.' Design process was initiated with a collaborative effort. Skelton says, 'I started by researching what CHD is, how it can manifest, be managed, and sometimes corrected. Dr. El-Bokl was both my client and mentor. While he was teaching me about CHD, he was also telling me what he wanted out of the product.' Learning and understanding about CHD involved interactions with childrens that have the condition. After research, a companion toy product was decided to be designed. Skelton adds, 'Having children simulate a doctor/patient interaction with themselves and a toy has been proven to help children feel more comfortable as a patient during a visit to the doctor. Once I decided on creating a toy, I researched animals with unique hearts and chose the octopus because it has three of them.' The prototype is termed as 'Octo'. It is designed with a removable 3D-printed heart and has an accompanying digital app for kids to administer checkups and learn about cardiovascular functions.' Read on...

University of Minnesota News: Demystifying congenital heart disease through product design
Author: NA


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 mar 2022

Diversity and inclusion is one of the most important social issues for organizations, communities and countries. In the scholarly and research publishing industry, efforts are underway to analyze researcher diversity. Global publishers, amounting to more than 50 and representing 15000 journals, have come together to build a secure demographic database of researchers by asking them questions about race, ethnicity, gender etc when they send their research papers for publishing, and also when they edit and review manuscripts. This is intended to analyze demographic representation and detect biases in editing and review in what gets accepted and published. Many researchers support the idea and achnowledge issues of racism and under-representation in scholarly publishing. Holly Falk-Krzesinski, VP of research intelligence at Elsevier, says, 'If you don’t have the data, it is very difficult to understand where you are at, to make changes, set goals and measure progress.' Joel Babdor, an immunologist at the University of California and cofounder of the group Black in Immuno that supports Black researchers in immunology and other sciences, says, 'It is never too late for progress. Now we want to see these efforts being implemented, normalized and generalized throughout the publishing system. Without this information, it is impossible to evaluate the state of the current system in terms of equity and diversity.' Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) led 11 publishers in signing a joint commitment to track and reduce bias in scholarly publishing. This group has grown to 52 publishers now. The process to build a standard international database has challenges as cultural understanding of race and ethnicity differs from country to country. Nicola Nugent, publishing manager at the RSC, shares her experience of using computational algorithms to measure gender diversity. Analyzing 700000 manuscripts submitted to RSC journals between 2014 and 2018, identified biases against women at each stage of the publishing process. But Ms. Nugent says, 'Collecting those data was crucial - without the baseline numbers, it was hard to see where to make changes.' Prof.Casey Greene, computational biologist at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, says, 'Publishers could glean insights from these methods, if they apply them to large numbers of names and limit analysis to broad ethnicity classes - especially when examining past papers, for which it might not be possible to ask authors directly.' A team led by computer scientist Steven Skiena at Stony Brook University in New York used millions of e-mail contact lists and data on social-media activity to train a classifier called NamePrism. It clusters names into similar-seeming groups, and uses curated lists of names with known nationalities to assign nationalities to those groups. Ariel Hippen, a graduate student in Prof. Greene's lab, scraped biographical pages from Wikipedia to train a classifier that assigns names to ten geographical regions. A team including Prof. Greene, Hippen and data scientist Trang Le at the University of Pennsylvania, used the tool to document under-representation of people from East Asia in honours and invited talks awarded by the International Society for Computational Biology. Natalie Davidson, a postdoc in the Greene lab, used the same tool to quantify representation in Nature’s news coverage, finding fewer East Asian names among quoted sources, compared with their representation in papers. A team led by physicist Danielle Bassett at the University of Pennsylvania found that authors of colour in five neuroscience journals are undercited relative to their representation; the team's analysis suggests that this is because white authors preferentially cite other white authors. Cassidy Sugimoto, an information scientist at the Georgia Institute of Technology, says, 'Computational methods are largely incapable of addressing the most pressing questions about racial diversity and inclusion in science...Race and ethnicity classification is infinitely more complicated than gender disambiguation.' Jory Lerback, a geochemist at the University of California at Los Angeles, says, 'Given those complex dimensions, the best option for collecting data is simply to invite scientists to self-identify.' Raymond Givens, a cardiologist at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, also started privately tallying editors' ethnicities. The efforts got reported on website STAT. He says, 'A lot of journals have all of a sudden been shocked by being confronted in this way. But it's important to ask why it has taken them so long to start thinking about how to collect this kind of information.' American Chemical Society (ACS) pledged in June 2020 to collect demographic data to make its journals more representative of the communities it serves. Sarah Tegen, SVP at ACS journals publishing group, says, 'Designing the categories required some market research, with a goal of being inclusive and crafting questions that are clear and easy to answer...the data are a useful baseline for understanding the demographics of ACS journals.' Ann Morning, demographer at New York University, was hired by publishers as consultant to design a framework for asking about race and ethnicity. The draft questionnaire was pilot tested with 1000 anonymous repondents. Greater than 90% reported their race and ethnicity, and more than two-thirds said they felt well represented in the schema. About half said they would be comfortable providing this information when submitting a paper. Also some respondents were not willing to provide information. Keletso Makofane, a public-health researcher and activist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, says,'The efforts of publishers are a fantastic start. But it's not just about authors and reviewers, it's important to look at the people who make the higher-level decisions about policies of the journals.' Ms. Lerback says, 'To engage the historically marginalized populations they hope to reach, publishers (and researchers studying how ethnicity affects scholarly publishing) must commit to engaging with these groups beyond simply asking for data. They should build trust by following up findings with action...Data is the currency of which policy gets implemented.' Read on...

Nature: The giant plan to track diversity in research journals
Authors: Holly Else, Jeffrey M. Perkel


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 mar 2022

Just like in most businesses, digital in business-to-business (B2B) is transforming customer relationships. Digital transformation is the way forward to succeed in B2B space. According to Michiel Schipperus, CEO of Sana Commerce, mentioned in ITProPortal article 'Why should e-commerce sit at the heart of a business’ digital transformation?' (25 may 2018), 'In a recent survey that we conducted with 300 global B2B organisations, 75% of respondents said that their customers had demanded to buy online, and three quarters of those gave 'ease of online purchasing' as the reason...Our survey found that over half of companies believe that web stores are the most important route to market...our survey found that 63% of organisations have a digital transformation strategy in place...According to our research nearly 70% of companies will use the Internet of Things (IoT) or machine to machine technology to enable automated and/or predictive ordering for customers. While 67% believe that virtual reality will help personalise the B2B buying experience.' Chris Shalchi, President and CEO of Mavecca Group, explains the benefits of digital transformation for B2B businesses and what is required to provide value and meet customer expectations in the highly competitive B2B ecosystem. He provides 4 benefits of transforming to digital-native ecosystem - (1) Managing buyer expectations is easier through digital as more and more customers prefer purchasing online and find it comfortable for subsequent buying. (2) Through right B2B e-commerce software businesses can provide enhanced buyer experience with improved processes and automation. With data and analytics, the knowledge about consumers can help organizations customize buyer experience for better relationships. (3) With digital B2B businesses can develop an automatic cross-sell and up-sell suggestion program to reach existing customers and expand customer base, thus increasing sales. (4) Using data and analytics to enhance decision making is one of the key benefits of digital. With the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) that would provide predictive analytics, organizations have better control and enhanced decision-making, resulting in improved processes. As substantial decision-making in B2B purchases happens before a sales person is contacted, B2B businesses can create and deliver engaging content and have an elaborate communications strategy through digital channels for initiating purchase. B2B organizations have to fully understand what their customers want. Aligning of marketing and sales functions, and efficiently using data is important for overall customer-focused digital strategy. Read on...

Forbes: Make Your B2B Business A Digital Business
Author: Chris Shalchi


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 jan 2022

Internet and technology has been consistently driving the shift in the retail sector processes. COVID-19 pandemic accelerated it and also significantly changed the consumer shopping behavior. According to McKinsey article titled 'The great consumer shift: Ten charts that show how US shopping behavior is changing' (Authors: Tamara Charm, Becca Coggins, Kelsey Robinson, Jamie Wilkie), 75% of US consumers are trying a new shopping behavior during pandemic in response to economic pressures, store closings, and changing priorities. This general change in behavior has also been reflected in a shattering of brand loyalties, with 36% of consumers trying a new product brand and 25% incorporating a new private-label brand. Moreover, most consumers intend to continue this behavior beyond the pandemic-induced crisis. The McKinsey research find 10 key consumer behavior shifts: FLIGHT TO ONLINE (1) Digital shopping is here to stay. (2) Millennials and high-income earners are in the lead when it comes to shopping online; SHOCK TO LOYALTY (3) Consumers are switching brands at unprecedented rates. (4) Brands need to ensure strong availability and also convey value; NEED FOR HYGIENCE TRANSPARENCY (5) US consumers are changing how they shop in response to health and safety concerns; BACK TO BASICS AND VALUE (6) Consumer shopping intent is focused on essentials. (7) Consumers want value for their money - especially in essential categories; RISE OF THE HOMEBODY ECONOMY (8) Americans are changing how they spend their time at home. (9) Americans are concerned about going back to regular activities outside the home; BEHAVIORS VARY BY CONSUMER SEGMENT (10) 'Great consumer shift' trends vary by consumer segment. With high levels of uncertainty and competitiveness in the market, retailers have to apply innovative strategies to retain and gain consumers. Ravi Pratap Maddimsetty, Chief Technology Officer of MobStac (a physical-to-digital experience management solution), suggests use of 'phygital' marketing, a hybrid marketing channel that captures customer data to deliver a personalized experience, and provides three aspects of phygital marketing that retailers must know before integrating it into their marketing strategy - (1) Retailers Can Enhance In-Store Convenience Through Phygital Marketing: 46% of consumers still prefer to shop in person, although 63% of shopping journeys start online; Retailers needs digital infrastructure to integrate online and in-store experience; 87% of shoppers say they would prefer to shop in stores with touchless or robust self-checkout options like QR code technology. (2) Not All Phygital Solutions Maintain the Same Security Standards: Prioritize data security while choosing a phygital solution; Consumers trust retail experience that secures their data; Evaluate the security of your phygital solution through the integration of safe QR code use. (3) Phygital Marketing Drives Customer Engagement With Proximity-Based Tactics: Utilize geofencing to create digital campaigns within a defined physical radius; Geofencing strategy should capture the frequency of customer foot traffic and push out relevant notifications for past customers and potential customers. Phygital delivers enhanced retail experiences and the opportunity to better customer engagement and retention by correctly implementing phygital marketing is growing. Read on...

Total Retail: Phygital Marketing: 3 Things Retailers Should Know About the Newest Marketing Channel
Author: Ravi Pratap Maddimsetty


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 20 dec 2021

Marketing focuses on fulfilling customer needs and the process initiates leads and attracts customers. Marketing involves making a connect with prospective customers wherever they are available. According to Chartered Institute of Marketing, 'Marketing is the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably.' Traditional marketing with outbound methodology involves various channels like newspapers, magazines, television, radio, billboards etc to reach out to prospective customers. It is static and is mainly a one-sided push communication, where these media show to the public what the brands want them to see, without any direct engagement with them. The rise of internet and consumer technologies, with large section of the public connected through computing devices, led marketing processes to evolve. Digital marketing is an evolution of traditional marketing and many foundational concepts are same. Digital marketing with inbound methodology creates brand awareness and promotes business through utilizing digital channels and internet that would include blogs, podcasts, videos, enewsletters, ebooks etc. Digital marketing process is dynamic with two-way communication and reaches out to customers where ever they are available in the digital media and serve them at different stages of their interaction and purchasing journey. Connecting and engaging with customers is not difficult in digital. What is important is how to achieve and maximize value through this engagement to better serve the customer requirements. Success of digital in marketing depends on how well marketers can understand the consumer behavior through technology-enabled interactions and analytics tools and how well they manage those interactions to fulfil consumer needs. Digital marketing channels, powered by internet, create, accelerate, and transmit product and services information and value to consumers, through digital networks. These channels include Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Search Engine Marketing (SEM), Social Media Marketing (SMM), E-mail Marketing, Content Marketing, Affiliate Marketing, Online Public Relations, Display Advertising, In-game Advertisng, Native Advertising, Video Advertising, SMS Marketing etc. Marketers of today and future have to keep pace with technological advancements, stay informed and skilled, and be innovative and creative, to connect, understand, engage, and serve the digitalized modern customer. Digital marketing will continue to evolve, but a balanced and mix approach to traditional and digital marketing would provide better results. Mobile Marketing, Internet of Things (IoT), Analytics, Big Data, 3D Printing, Cloud Computing, Artificial Intelligence, Consumer Neuroscience/Neuro Marketing are some of the most interesting and challenging domains where the future marketers are expected to deliver. Read on...

ilmeps/read: Digital Marketing To Connect, Engage And Serve Customers - Part I
Author: Mohammad Anas Wahaj


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 oct 2021

Continuous innovation and improvement in strategies is the key for success with rapidly changing market dynamics. Business-to-business (B2B) marketing is no different. Even though basics of B2B marketing are same as for B2C (Business-to-consumer) but it requires some special considerations as business customers are bulk buyers and B2B is the largest market transaction-wise. Marketing strategies in this case need to be fine-tuned for effectiveness. Here are few time-tested and latest B2B focused marketing strategies that should be part of companies dealing with B2B customers - (1) Account-Based Marketing: It has one of the highest conversion rates. It is a targeted marketing strategy with customized and curated campaign specifically designed for select clients. (2) Live Chat Strategy: Live chat is capable of converting a prospective lead into a client through answering queries effectively. Webchat platform reports that it has seen 2.8% more conversions than the business that doesn't use live chat support. It has also reported a 60% increment in B2B sales due to provision of live support to customer during entire purchase journey. (3) Word-of-Mouth: McKinsey reports that 20-50% of all purchasing decisions are based solely on word-of-mouth. (4) Long Content Pieces: Long-form content strategy generates more leads and requires engaging and highly curated content to target the specific business profile. (5) Podcast Marketing: COVID-19 pandemic has increased the listener base for podcasts. According to a survey, 155 million people listen to Podcasts in the US. Considering this curated podcast content is an opportunity to be tapped for reaching out to broader prospective clients. (6) AI Marketing Strategy: AI-based strategy would require product recommendations to prospective customers based on prior purchase data and behavior. (7) E-mail Marketing Strategy: It has over 122% lead generation. Targeted emails with specific content suited to prospective clients is key to the effectiveness. (8) Influencer Marketing: With rise of video-sharing platforms, influencer marketing has become an effective tool to reach clients. (9) Virtual Events: COVID-19 has exacerbated the use of virtual events for targeted marketing. It has expanded the audience reach with less efforts as compared to physical events. (10) Omnichannel Marketing: This strategy helps in reaching out to target audience through multiple channels with a unified marketing approach and helps reduce buyer friction and generate more leads. Read on...

UNB: B2B Marketing: Effective Strategies in 2021
Author: Shahriar Rabab


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 | 26 sep 2021

Consumer packaged goods (CPG) marketers are looking to boost above-average growth in the COVID-19 pandemic era. The challenges are real and according to McKinsey's latest research 78% of CEOs are now banking on marketing leaders to drive growth. The research study looked at how 860 global executives are prioritizing investments and capabilities that help accelerate growth. The study finds that three elements - creativity, analytics, and purpose - that constitute a 'growth triple play' that provides at least two times the growth of peers who don't invest in all three in tandem. Another McKinsey research based on interviews of CPG marketing and growth executives seeking answers about the new reality found that - to attain extraordinary growth requires more sophisticated, predictive, and customized marketing strategies. New approaches and tools are the need of the times. Even though some basics like broad reach, powerful, resonant storytelling, and creativity are critical, but marketers have to utilize data and analytics at scale to crack the code that enables more targeted and engaging interactions to shape consumer behavior. 2/3rd of CPG companies say they have put data-driven marketing at the top of their agenda [Consumer Analyst Group of New York (CAGNY) 2021 Virtual Conference]. Large number of CPG companies are still not able to fulfil the promise for delivering impact at scale from data-driven marketing. Accoring to another McKinsey research, truly sustainable, marketing-led growth has to be granular, focused, and scaled across the entire marketing organization, delivering the right message to the right consumer, at the right moment, at the right place - all the time. To thrive in this new ara of CPG marketing, companies have to - build a continuously updating, AI-powered consumer-intelligence engine that ingests enough signals and data points to not only identify demand but to predict it; use advanced analytics and marketing technology to recommend high-value actions; learnings from hundreds of tests per week need to feed back into this engine, helping drive rapid decision making and informing adjustments to brand plans, spend allocation, tent-pole campaigns, and always-on activation. This new marketing model will require new kind of talent, new organizational capabilities and midsets and adoption of new technologies. CPGs that would succeed and utilize next-level AI (Artifical Intelligence) consumer-intelligence need to have five essential ingredients to unlock data-driven marketing impact at scale - (1) Opportunity/Demand Identification: A 360-degree view of consumers and pockets of growth, supported by predictive and prescriptive insights. (2) Rapid Activation: Delivering the right message at the right time in moments that matter - and measuring the impact. (3) Martech/Data Enablement: Activating a fit-for-purpose data and tech-enabling customer-centric strategy. (4) Agile Operating Model: The new ways of working needed for an agile, modern, marketing organization. (5) Capacity-building: The talent, culture, and infrastructure required to scale impact. Read on...

McKinsey: The new marketing model for growth: How CPGs can crack the code
Authors: Tiffany Chen, Michele Choi, Jeff Jacobs, Brian Henstorf, Ed See


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 17 apr 2021

COVID-19 pandemic has brought numerous changes in how businesses go about their processes to create and deliver products and services to their customers. New trends are emerging in digital marketing too. While experts suggest to better what already exists in terms of digital marketing but they also hint at technology enabled shifts particularly with advancements in artificial intelligence. Having elaborate content strategy combined with data will remain a major trend along with focus on omni-channel marketing. Digital customer strategy will continue to be a must in the post-pandemic scenario. Here is what digital marketing experts recommend - (1) Martin Luenendonk (Co-Founder of FounderJar): Companies need to be everywhere. More businesses are focusing on omnichannel marketing and becoming less dependent on one single traffic and revenue driver. (2) Denise Langenegger (Outreach Strategist at Instasize): Focus on stories. Make use of all features of stories options on various social media platforms. The stories format allows brands and marketers to be more candid and post as much as they want. (3) Sandra Chung (Sr. Content Marketing and Partnerships Manager at PlayPlay): Repurpose existing video content for social media. Empower internal teams to create video content. Customer case studies and product tutorials can be transformed into engaging video stories. (4) Olena Zherebetska (Content Manager at Pics.io): Invest in digital asset management software. This will help you access, organize, and distribute assets easily. Some features include meta-tagging, AI-powered technology, advanced search capabilities, shareable public websites etc. (5) Lukas Mehnert (CMO at Smartlook): Focus on your own unique data for content marketing. Choose the unique content produced by the company or hire specialists who will help master this process. Make it properly distributed in the appropriate channels. Utilize industry influencers to spread the content through win-win relationships. (6) David Cacik (Head of Marketing at CloudTalk): High quality content enriched with structure data will rule search engines. Follow Google's guidelines for creating a website structure and creating content. Google assesses content according to the E-A-T methodology (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness). (7) Kristina Ziauke (Content Manager at sixads): Voice search, AI and personalization will be key. Optimize written content for voice searches, implement more and more AI features on the websites like chatbots, product and content recommendations, e-commerce transactions etc. (8) George Mathews (Founder at Kamayobloggers): Artificial Intelligence will change digital marketing forever in 2021. Communication, product recommendations and personalization are all going to be more targeted thanks to AI. (9) Raul Galera (Partner Manager at CandyBar): Focus on retention. Three main risks that online merchants will have to face in 2021 are - (i) the continued growth of online marketplaces (ii) the rise of ad costs (iii) the massive competition in the ecommerce space. Explore areas like subscription options and loyalty points to keep your clients engaged with your brand. Create an omnichannel approach to connect with customers who have found about brand in marketplace. (10) Andrzej Bieda (CMO at Landingi): Continue to nurture and educate your customers. Develop well-functioning marketing funnels, lead magnets, webinars, and sales processes. (11) Maciej Biegajewski (Digital Marketing Specialist at LiveWebinar): Predefined personalization in all digital engagement. Create various patterns (they can be service patterns, advertisements, messages, or even the appearance of the entire online store) that seem to suit this one customer, but have been defined earlier, and now only substitute the collected data and present the recipient. (12) Olga Petrik (CMO at NetHunt CRM): Trust and credibility are more important than ever. Pay more attention to loyalty and retention by developing customer success program. Utilize influencers. Create offers and run campaigns for micro-segments. Address highly-targeted pain points to trigger more responses. Neal Schaffer, founder of the digital marketing consultancy PDCA Social and teaches executives digital marketing at Rutgers Business School and the Irish Management Institute, says, 'Use social media for customer and influencer collaboration, not promotion...reimagine your digital relationships with your customers and celebrate them in social media...over time companies should try their best to source the type of user-generated content from their fans and nano influencers that generates trust and credibility with the public.' Read on...

ClickZ: 2021 digital marketing trends you need to know from 13 marketing experts
Author: Neal Schaffer


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 18 feb 2021

Charities often work under limited resources and specific set of pressures. Moreover, COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated their operational challenges. Use of performance metrics and marketization, lack of resources, increased visibility due to social media etc further add to the pressure. It is reported that at present one-in-ten charities remain at immediate risk of closure in UK. Considering the state of financial management in charity sector, studies of impact reporting have found that a concerning number of nonprofits are producing insufficient reporting. A Charity Finance Directors' Group study found that whilst more than half of charities reported on output and outcome, broader impact reporting was a far less common practice. A recent report published as part of the Organizational Financial Literacy Project - a collaboration between Charity Digital and Sage Foundation, in consultation with Solid Base Non-Profit Support, examines the current state of organisational financial literacy and impact reporting in the UK charity sector. The report delves into the root causes and proposes solutions. During the pandemic public trust in charities have increased and to maintain this trust nonprofits need to work responsibly and transparently, and with more accountability. Organizations that have better financial management and impact reporting will attract more funds. In charities, particularly smaller ones, the financial reporting tasks are handled on a part-time basis and often deprioritized. There is huge reliance on the use of Excel and paper-based accounting methods, resulting in infrequent and insufficient records. Impact in nonprofit sector is measured in terms of engagement with service users and meeting targets set by trustees and this information is needed by stakeholders to assess whether operations are succeeding or not. This information is critical for governance and to secure funding. The main reason for charities not able to have better financial management and reporting is due to limited resources available to accomplish such tasks. Moreover, well trained finance professional are generally not hired and the tasks are undertaken by non-finance professionals that find accounting and finance software tools complex and difficult to operate. The report identifies a four-part framework for overcoming or mitigating these obstacles - (1) Practical: Software and Processes (2) Educational: Training and Resources (3) Supportive: Extended Support Service (4) Social: Networking and Best Practices. Automation is at the core of this digitization strategy. Read on...

Charity Digital: The state of finance management in the charity sector
Author: Aidan Paterson


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 | 28 dec 2020

Logos are a brief visual representaion of the organizational identity and help differentiate them from each other. They assist to instantly recognize brands and over a period of time can become one of the most important component of their identity. Traditionally, organizations utilize the services of graphic designers to get their logos and the process has artistic and creative orientation. But now powered with technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), there are online logo design software tools that can design logos instantly once some specifications are submitted. These tools also provide editing and customization features. Technology is transforming the creative field of logo design into a more scientific one. Research paper, 'Letting Logos Speak: Leveraging Multiview Representation Learning for Data-Driven Logo Design' (SSRN, 25 nov 2019) (Authors: Ryan Dew of Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Asim M. Ansari of Columbia Business School at the Columbia University, Olivier Toubia of Columbia Business School at the Columbia University), proposes a more data-driven approach to logo design in which the authors developed a 'logo feature extraction algorithm' that uses modern image processing tools to break a company's logo into many visual constituent parts like font, color scheme, and many other meaningful features, and a multiview representation learning framework that links the visual components to text that describes the company like industry, value propositions etc. Researchers then applied this framework to a large amount of data available on companies to predict their logo features. Prof. Ryan Dew explains, 'There are things that data and models can say about the design process that can help firms develop brand identities - visual brand identities that are doing the right things for them...we looked at hundreds of different logos, and we also looked at a bunch of textual data describing these firms - taken mostly from the firms' websites. And we also got consumers to react to these logos and the textual descriptions by rating these firms according to what's called a 'brand personality scale'...we developed an algorithm that lets us work with logos as a source of data. We call this our 'logo feature extraction algorithm'...and then we also have all this text, which can be anything...It conveys what the firm does and what their brand is...The idea is, we want to link these two domains to try to get the words to describe what the logo is trying to say. Let the logo speak. Conversely, this is actually how the design process works. You start with a textual blurb describing - 'This is what my brand is. This is what my firm does'. And then you go from that to a logo — to a logo template. This is where the concept of data-driven design comes in. We both, in the first sense, are able to use text to understand logos, but in the second sense, we're able to go from text to new logo templates that will let firms develop logos that are consistent with their brand identities...a more fundamental thing that the current paper can address is this idea of coming up with the 'right template' to convey what you want to convey visually. That is, in some sense, firms should be a little cautious when they're designing logos...understanding these templates and having this model of data-driven design can help with the creative process, to come up with new redesigns or new logos that will excel.' Read on...

Knowledge@Wharton: Why a Data-driven Approach Can Enhance the Art of Logo Design
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 20 dec 2020

Organizations now have large amount of data available to them, but the challenge is to obtain actionable insights by using right data analytics tools and processes that help in making right organizational decisions. Data-driven decision-making has become a common practice with organizations trying to find purpose for the data. But it is not necessary that all analytics processes answer the right questions and it's also not a safeguard against the influence of preexisting beliefs and incentives. Prof. Bart de Langhe of Esade - Ramon Llull University (Spain) and Prof. Stefano Puntoni of Rotterdam School of Management at Erasmus University (Netherlands) propose a new approach termed as 'decision-driven data analytics' - 'Find data for a purpose, instead of finding a purpose for data.' They explain, 'Data-driven decision-making anchors on available data. This often leads decision makers to focus on the wrong question. Decision-driven data analytics starts from a proper definition of the decision that needs to be made and the data that is needed to make that decision...Data-driven decision-making empowers data providers and data scientists. The risk is that decision makers take data that is consistent with their preexisting beliefs at face value.' Elaborating their approach, they say, 'To move to a decision-driven data analytics approach, a company must start by identifying the business’s key decisions and the people who make them, and finding data for a purpose rather than finding a purpose for the data at hand.' Data-driven Data Analytics (Anchor on data that is available; Find a purpose for data; Start from what is known; Empower data scientists). Decision-driven Data Analytics (Anchor on a decision to be made; Find data for a purpose; Start from what is unknown; Empower decision makers). To allay fears of executives who might confuse decision-driven approach with preference-driven data analytics (where decision makers use data to support a decision that has already been made and fall prey to confirmation bias), authors suggest leaders to take three important steps - Step I: Responsibility of decision makers to form a narrow consideration set of alternative courses of action. Step II: Joint responsibility of decision makers and data scientists to identify the data needed to figure out which course of action is best. Step III: Choose the best course of action. Read on...

MIT Sloan Management Review: Leading With Decision-Driven Data Analytics
Authors: Bart de Langhe, Stefano Puntoni


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 nov 2020

Industrial designers earlier carved foam, machined wood, and molded clay to test ideas, refine designs, and get product concepts to clients. This process was slow and labor-intensive. Now 3D printing is preferred for this as it is simpler and faster. Nathan Pollock, founder of Katapult Design (Byron Bay, Australia), says, 'In my career, I've seen 3D printers go from being a bit of a novelty, to an expensive tool, to more of an essential part of design services. Greater reliability, better UX, and much better quality have all had a big impact on acceptance.' David Block, principal of Studio Redeye (New York, US), says, 'At this time, in product design, 3D printing has become a tool of the trade.' Jonathan Thai, co-founder and partner of HatchDuo (San Francisco, US), says, 'If you do not have a 3D printer, and you are in the product development space, you are behind.' 3D printing accelerates the product design process. Mr. Pollock says, 'The top advantage is primarily the speed. We can get quick, concept-level evaluations and adjust or refine our thinking immediately. Not just proofs of concepts, 3D printers can deliver functional mechanical parts and intricate multi-component prototypes. Oscar Daws, director of Tone Product Design (London, UK), says, 'We print everything from quick block models to test the form and proportions of a design, through to high-fidelity working prototypes that allow us to perfect a detail or a mechanism. 3D printing allows us to rapidly iterate complex shapes and accurate details, which means we don’t have to compromise on the design of a prototype in order to physically test it.' Lucas Lappe, partner at Doris Dev (New York, US), says, 'In-house 3D printers enable us to show clients physical representations of their future products and the design engineering work we have completed to date. 3D printers have kept us ahead of the competition, and without 3D printed prototypes, clients often do not understand where their products are in development.' Sanandan 'Sandy' Sudhir, CEO of Inventindia Innovations (India), 'We use 3D printed parts very early in our design process to make some quick proof of concept models, and, at a later stage, for more refined parts to assemble the first-level functional prototypes.' Industrial design firms don't have to own 3D printers and can outsource 3D printing services. Ian Peterman, CEO of Peterman Design (Los Angeles, US), says, 'In the longer term, in-house printing should save you some in print costs, and really save you shipping costs for all those parts, and lead times.' Designers may still outsource 3D printing due to complexity, but some experts believe it is no longer an issue. Mr. Lappe says, 'Every engineer at the company is trained to manage the 3D printers. This gives everyone who designs and is working with 3D printed prototypes and understanding of the process.' There are various 3D printing technologies and printer brands that offer different advantages and disadvantages in terms of available materials, the quality of the final printed parts, ease of use, printing speed, and cost. Mr. Daws says, 'Carefully consider what you will be using it for, as this will have a big impact on the technology you choose. For industrial designers, I'd suggest starting with a high quality FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) printer, which will allow you to do most things quickly and relatively cheaply.' Mr. Sudhir says, 'We prefer to use normal FDM printers for preliminary proof of concept models so that we can do quick and dirty prints and test our ideas.' Mr. Lappe says, 'Buy something that everyone on your team can use. Something that is easy and does not require a dedicated technician. That allows more people to use the printer and makes it a part of everyone's workflow.' SLA (Stereolithography), a raisin printer, is another type of printer popular with industrial designers. These produce finer details and smoother surfaces than FDM. Mr. Sudhir says, 'SLA printers are good for using transparent materials to understand fit and finish related issues as well as mechanical interference with the internal parts. But generally SLA parts are brittle, so they are not appropriate for simulating the exact material properties of plastic parts.' Experts expect further improvements in 3D printing technologies to suit the needs of industrial designers. Read on...

All3DP: How Industrial Designers Embrace 3D Printing
Author: Carolyn Schwaar


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 oct 2020

According to the new research by doctoral student Sweta Iyer at University of Borås (Sweden), luminescent textiles can be created by using a bioluminescent reaction system. The study was conducted using enzyme immobilization and eco-technology methods such as plasma treatment. The luminescent materials have wide range of applications in areas like biomedicine, biosensors, and safety to architecture and aesthetics. These materials have multifunctional properties such as UV protection and antibacterial properties. Ms. Iyer's doctoral thesis is titled 'Luminescent Textiles Using Biobased Products - A Bioinspired Approach'. Ms. Iyer says, 'Bioluminescence phenomena in nature and their reaction mechanisms have been extensively studied in biology and biochemistry, but previously not applied to textiles. The important research question was to understand the bioluminescent reaction mechanism that exists in different living organisms and the selection of the reaction system. This was important in order to make it possible to use the luminescent effects in textile.' Read on...

University of Borås News: Biobased products can create luminescent textiles
Author: Lena Carlsson


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 sep 2020

COVID-19 brought about changes in buyer behavior and retailers responded with tech-driven solutions to help them adapt to pandemic-driven restrictions. These solutions are not totally new, but current situation brought them to the fore. Three retail technology trends that became part of the 'new normal' are - (1) Online Grocery Delivery: Shutdowns, social distancing norms, fear of infections etc combined with essentiality of grocery requirements help exacerbate this trend. Even non-traditional retailers jumped on this trend. (2) Contactless Payment: According to the 2020 State of Retail Payments study released by the NRF in August, 58% of retailers accept contactless cards and 56% take digital wallet payments on mobile phones. Since January 2020, no-touch payments have increased for 69% of retailers surveyed, of whom 94% expect the increase to continue over the next 18 months. (3) Virtual SMB Product Pitches: Number of retail platforms invited small-to-mid-sized businesses (SMBs) to virtual competitions. COVID-19 brought about homogenization and consolidation of retail and only two types of retailers will survive in this scenario and beyond - the mass and the niche. Mass retailers can enhance their product offerings through SMBs and differentiate themselves from competitors. Read on...

Chain Store Age: Three hot retail tech trends from the summer of 'new normal'
Author: Dan Berthiaume


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 20 sep 2020

Senior citizens often find themselves struggling with latest consumer technologies that are evolving at a rapid pace. These technologies on the other hand, are a normal part of the daily life of the new generation. If senior citizens can be made to learn these technologies in an effective senior-friendly way, they can benefit from them immensely and improve their quality of life. COVID-19 pandemic has also brought the issue to the fore with social distancing norms and extra vulnerability of senior citizens to viral infections. A nonprofit, AnewVista, founded by Shalini Gupta and Eric Gee, has been working for the last couple of years with senior citizens to help them overcome the barrier to using latest technologies. Before the pandemic the nonprofit hosted in person workshops at senior centers, retirement communities and centers of trust locally. But now most of the learning classes are happening virtually through video conferencing apps. AnewVista offers 40-50 topics, such as cleaning out email folders, navigating social media and finding reliable news and podcasts, as well as some higher-level concepts. Ms. Gupta says, 'When it comes to these simple devices, which are made for younger people, they struggle. Intellectually, they are very smart, but it's just the hands-on part that gets very hard sometimes - and once you open the wall for them, it's all there for them to enjoy. Basically, we cover all bases, like how they can be safe, how they can be creative, how they can be social and how they can enjoy more things for fun, communication wise.' Mr. Gee says, 'The trick is to really find what's the obstacle for older adults to engage with technology or engage with the digital economy. We invite everybody to enjoy and just learn a little bit more, especially in these times of sheltering in place, which isn't going to end anytime soon.' Read on...

Los Altos Town Crier: Nonprofit helps seniors stay connected with evolving technologies
Author: Marie Godderis


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 | 26 jun 2020

COVID-19 has brought to the fore the issue of medical textiles as masks, gowns and other personal protective equipment (PPE) are necessary for safeguarding healthcare workers against virus infections. The use of mask specifically became more widespread among general public and the debate centered around the type of material of the fabric that can minimize spread of the virus from person to person and also be affordable. As the demand for PPEs rose the challenge for the scientific and manufacturing community has been to find a way to provide better protection while allowing for the safe reuse of these items. Team of researchers from University of Pittsburgh - Anthony J. Galante, Sajad Haghanifar, Eric G. Romanowski, Robert M. Q. Shanks, Paul W. Leu - has created a textile coating that can not only repel liquids like blood and saliva but can also prevent viruses from adhering to the surface. Their research titled, 'Superhemophobic and Antivirofouling Coating for Mechanically Durable and Wash-Stable Medical Textiles', was recently published in the journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces. Lead author of the paper, Mr. Galante, who is the Ph.D. student in industrial engineering at Pitt, says, 'Recently there's been focus on blood-repellent surfaces, and we were interested in achieving this with mechanical durability.' The coating is unique as it is able to withstand ultrasonic washing, scrubbing and scraping. Prof. Leu, co-author and associate professor of industrial engineering, says, 'The durability is very important because there are other surface treatments out there, but they’re limited to disposable textiles. You can only use a gown or mask once before disposing of it. Given the PPE shortage, there is a need for coatings that can be applied to reusable medical textiles that can be properly washed and sanitized.' Prof. Romanowski, Research Director at Charles T. Campbell Microbiology Laboratory, says, 'As this fabric was already shown to repel blood, protein and bacteria, the logical next step was to determine whether it repels viruses. We chose human adenovirus types 4 and 7, as these are causes of acute respiratory disease as well as conjunctivitis (pink eye)...As it turned out, the adenoviruses were repelled in a similar way as proteins.' Prof. Shanks, Director of Basic Research in the Department of Ophthalmology at Pitt, says, 'Adenovirus can be inadvertently picked up in hospital waiting rooms and from contaminated surfaces in general. It is rapidly spread in schools and homes and has an enormous impact on quality of life - keeping kids out of school and parents out of work. This coating on waiting room furniture, for example, could be a major step towards reducing this problem.' The next step for the researchers will be to test the effectiveness against betacoronaviruses, like the one that causes COVID-19. Read on...

University of Pittsburgh News: Pitt Researchers Create Durable, Washable Textile Coating That Can Repel Viruses
Author: Maggie Pavlick


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 may 2020

A group of researchers led by Prof. Raul Gonzalez Lima and Prof. Marcelo Knorich Zuffo at the University of São Paulo's Engineering School (POLI-USP) in Brazil have developed a mechanical ventilator that costs only approximately 7% as much as a conventional ventilator. Prof. Lima says, 'Our ventilator is designed to be used in emergencies where there's a shortage of ICU (Intensive Care Unit) ventilators, which are more monitored, but it has all the functionality required by a severe patient. It also has the advantage of not depending on a compressed air line, as conventional ventilators do. It only needs an electric power outlet and piped oxygen from the hospital or even bottled O2.' In developing the ventilator, the researchers needed to analyze the range of oxygen flow rates and levels it could offer patients. For this purpose, they simulated the various breathing frequencies of human lungs using a gas analyzer and gas flow meter in a lab headed by Prof. Guenther Carlos Krieger Filho, also a professor at POLI-USP. Animal tests were conducted under the coordination of Denise Tabacchi Fantoni and Aline Ambrósio, both of whom are professors at School of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science (FMVZ-USP). The tests were performed at Medical School's (FM-USP) anesthesiology laboratory (LIM08) under the supervision of Professor José Otávio Costa Auler Junior, in collaboration with Denise Aya Otsuki, a researcher in the lab. The first human trials involved four patients undergoing treatment at FM-USP's Heart Institute (INCOR). They were led by Auler Junior, with the collaboration of Filomena Regina Barbosa Gomes Galas, the supervisor at INCOR's surgical ICU, nurse Suely Pereira Zeferino, and physical therapist Alcino Costa Leme. The researchers are now preparing a clinical trial with a larger number of patients. This will be one of the last steps before production of the ventilator is approved by ANVISA, Brazil's national health surveillance authority. Read on...

News-Medical.Net: Brazilian researchers design low-cost mechanical ventilators
Author: Emily Henderson


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 may 2020

According to Wikipedia, 'Experiential marketing or engagement marketing is a marketing strategy that directly engages consumers and invites and encourages them to participate in the evolution of a brand or a brand experience...Consumer engagement is when a brand and a consumer connect. Brad Nierenberg says that experiential marketing is the live, one-on-one interactions that allow consumers to create connections with brands.' With experiential marketing brands can develop more interest among consumers about their products and services. Covid-19 has brought new challenges to experiential marketing. 13 experts from Forbes Agency Council explain the current and future impact that experiential marketing is likely to have on the industry and how leaders can adapt to its effects - (1) Continuing To Build Relationships And Leadership (Serenity Thompson, A23 Advisors): 'To play well as experiential marketing, virtual events will include moderated group breakouts, gamified agendas and in-app click-to-share social content at a minimum.' (2) Emphasizing The Power of Shared Experience (Steve Wilson, Wilson Dow): 'When delivering a virtual experience, keep a people-first approach.' (3) Reinventing Experiences And Platforms (Lili Gil Valletta, CIEN+): 'Experiences matter; we just need to innovate in where and how they come to life.' (4) Connecting With Audiences During Social Distancing (Jon Waterman, Ad.net): 'Whether it be through VR, playing an interactive game, attending a virtual concert or a live streaming demo, experiential marketing will move towards brand engaging audiences for experiences online.' (5) Offering Consumer-Level Multisensory Experiences (Hamutal Schieber): 'Experiential marketing can benefit from emerging technologies to create personalized, multisensory experiences.' (6) Delivering Personalized Experiences To Wider Audiences (Nicolas Van Erum, Sid Lee): 'Brands will quickly pivot to digital efforts...with greater avenues to track, measure and attribute consumer behavior.' (7) Leveraging New Technologies With Social Spacing (Jackie Reau, Game Day Communications): 'Experiential marketers will need to consider how to use new technologies with social spacing to connect with consumers in an engaging manner.' (8) Growing The Number Of Virtual Conferences, Activations (Scott Harkey, OH Partners): 'As we navigate through this pandemic, brands are challenged to pivot to provide a utility, adopt new technologies and continue to provide value and insight to consumers.' (9) Helping Brands Stand Out From The Crowd (Anna Crowe, Crowe PR): It will be an important part of an integrated marketing strategy to communicate brand stories and grow awareness and loyalty.' (10) Creating A Community (Dmitrii Kustov): 'They (brands) now have the opportunity to find real connections with their audience.' (11) Providing Immersive Experiences Via Influencers (Danielle Wiley, Sway Group): 'Influencers who provide enjoyable, immersive experiences boost brand visibility, build audience connections and drive action.' (12) Leveraging Augmented And Virtual Reality (Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS): 'Every company is ready for it. Apple and Android support it.' (13) Bridging The Gap With Video Demos (Francine Carb, Markitects, Inc.): 'By promoting technical experts as the heroes, customers can gain valuable insights, and companies can more intimately represent their brand.' Read on...

Forbes: How Will Experiential Marketing Evolve? 13 Experts Share Their Views
Author: NA


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 | 27 jan 2020

According to recent ad industry reports large traditional advertising agencies are facing challenging times. Larry Light, CEO of Arcature (a brand consultancy), explains how the existing model of advertising that built the industry is undergoing transformation and how digital technology, changing human behavior, mobile phones etc is changing how brands communicate with customers. He says that if TV is watched in a mute then except for logos the ads of some big name restaurants are indistinguishable. 'This commonality in creativity is illustrated by the use of generic thinking,' he adds. He further explains the use of common phrases in various ad campaigns. He says, 'This kind of brand thinking is a reflection of the overuse of research testing over creativity. Asking consumers to be creative is a certain road to genericization of communication.' He quotes Ryan Reynolds, 'Ads are generally disposable pieces of content,' and comments, 'These advertising greats (David Ogilvy, Bill Bernbach, Mary Wells Lawrence and Phil Dusenberry) would be horrified to learn that advertising has been demoted to disposable, fleeting bits and bytes of single use creations. With the digital advances making short-term marketing spend easier to measure, the marketing focus has shifted away from long-term brand ideas...Advertising messages are now short-lived, disposable throw-aways, meant to capture someone's attention for a moment and then disappear in the ether.' He advocates, 'The primary role of marketing in general, and advertising in particular, is to create, reinforce and increase brand loyalty...Regardless of the small screen digitization of our world, a great advertising campaign can be a key driver for establishing and maintaining brand loyalty. Response to advertising is selective: experience with a brand strongly affects one's response to an ad and advertising can affect one's response to a brand experience. The most important effect of meaningful brand advertising is to build and reinforce brand reputation. Advertising helps to reinforce a customer's personal perceptions of the total brand experience...Brand loyalty is something that grows, slowly and incrementally. A brand can generate clicks and views but not necessarily build brand use or brand loyalty. However, if you are predisposed to a brand, you are more likely to be influenced by the brand messages.' Read on...

Forbes: Advertising As We Know It Is Dead
Author: Larry Light


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 | 11 jan 2020

Food security problem is a global concern. Everyone should become a part of the solution. Technologies like drones, data analytics, blockchain etc can assist in solving some of the issues related to farming and agriculture. This is what Agriculture 4.0 is all about. It is a new age of food production that leverages digital technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) to cater more precisely to the needs of crops, farmers and consumers. The coming together of - farming communities, researchers and policy makers; farm equipment and machinery, biotechnology, computer and telecommunication companies - can bring agriculture to a new state of success. Multinational agriculture and biotech companies are competing in the race to achieve the technological breakthroughs and expand their businesses and profits. Advocates of Agriculture 4.0 believe that it will solve the food security problems of the future. While critics on the other hand caution that without proper regulation few big companies will attain huge monopolistic power in global agricultural decision-making that will adversely affect small producers. According to the 2018 report Agriculture 4.0 by World Government Summit, approximately 800 million people currently suffer from hunger and by 2050 we will have to produce 70% more food to feed the world. Juanita Rodríguez, Vice-Chancellor of Innovation at Ean University (Colombia), says, 'Even though it's still not widely known, this fourth revolution in agriculture has been agile and its benefits are beginning to show, helping farmers maximise crop yields and developing ways to stop the epidemic of waste that destroys 45% of our supply.' In Mexico, Mexican engineer Julio López and German economist Manuel Richter, have created a platform helping producers to manage their crops using drone and satellite technology. Mr. Richter says, 'There is a huge potential to make the work more efficient, reduce agro-inputs, improve water use, lower environmental impact and create more economic sustainability for the farmer.' Big data use and privacy are other areas that are part of Agriculture 4.0. In 2018, North American companies spent almost US$ 20 billion on third-party data, 17.5% more than in 2017. Silvia Ribeiro, Latin America director of the Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration (ETC), says, 'Companies have a huge amount of data at their disposal. They can convert it into another business. What lies behind this is the generation of new profits.' Gabriel Cuéllar, an AI researcher, says, 'Data is the new oil. Companies today need data to make their systems more powerful.' Big data and analytics has positive side in agriculture and can assist farmers in effectively detecting pests, spotting failures in agricultural processes, or understanding market demands. The question with data is not only who is collecting it, but who can analyse it, and who wins or loses as a result. In the report 'The Unsustainable Agriculture 4.0 - Digitization and Corporate Power in the Food Chain', Pat Mooney of ETC explains his concerns on big data in agriculture. He believes that the concentration of power in agricultural data collection could result in a few companies controlling seed patenting data, pesticides, fertilisers and machinery, leaving little or no option for farmers and workers to choose what they buy. In recent times many multinationals have been drawn into controversy regarding Agriculture 4.0. According to Ms. Rodríguez, there is also a significant hacking risk associated with Internet of Things devices. Dennis Escudero from UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says, 'The profile of the farmer is changing. It is more digital. You have to understand the new tools. They don't threaten farmers, they empower them.' Read on...

Diálogo Chino: Agriculture 4.0 promises to transform food production
Authors: Emilio Godoy, Alejandra Cuéllar


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 09 jan 2020

Tackling climate change and protecting environment is critical for the better future of our planet. Current agricultural practices and economic policies that surround it have substantial impact on the natural environment. Prof. Benjamin Houlton, director of the John Muir Institute of the Environment at the University of Califoria at Davis and champion of the One Climate Initiative, says, 'Agriculture might just be the single most important industry on the planet for creating negative carbon emissions under current economic policy. Carbon farming is the key to help solve climate change. Farmers and ranchers can capture carbon and store it in the soil. They can create negative emissions, which means the amount of greenhouse gases that are going into the air from their industry is lower than the amount that they're drawing out of the air.' Prof. Houlton plans to further develop the carbon farm project through One Climate. He explains, 'The One Climate vision is about transforming society in a way that is sustainable, produces the jobs we need, trains the next generation of leaders and creates a climate-smart workforce. And one of the centerpieces of One Climate is creating the world's most innovative carbon farm.' Carbon farming involves using resources such as compost, biochar and pulverized rock, and using enhanced weathering - basically, accelerating Earth's natural processes - to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Explaining about biochar, Prof. Houlton says, 'We've teamed up with industry partners to use biochar, which is taking organic carbon like trees, vegetation and manure, and burning it slightly at a high temperature. It becomes more resistant to breakdown and helps with water and nutrient use, while also storing carbon for longer periods of time.' In California, biochar can reduce wildfires by removing trees that could be a fire risk and putting it into the soil. Similarly, compost deposits green waste or food waste into the soil to create a carbon sink. Read on...

UC Davis Magazine: How Can Agriculture Be a Part of the Climate Solution?
Author: Ashley Han


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 nov 2019

Team of researchers from Poland's Łódź University of Technology (ŁUT) led by Prof. Katarzyna Grabowska, the dean of the Faculty of Material Technologies and Textile Design, have developed a textile charger, which allows to charge phones, tablets, and other portable electronic devices using the power generated by their users' physical activity. Monika Malinowska-Olszowy, the vice dean of the faculty and member of the research team, says, 'The textile charger for mobile electronic devices is an inseparable part of the fabric or knitwear from which it is made, such as clothing...This invention replaces heavy, large batteries and power banks that often contain toxic substances. It is shock resistant and weatherproof. The main purpose of this technology is to ensure its users with uninterrupted access to electricity to sustain the operations of their mobile devices. As a result, this will exclude various problematic processes related to frequent charging of mobile phones or tablets.' ŁUT research has focused on the development of innovative textile inventions. Some of the latest examples include textile clothing for premature infants that is to protect them against dehydration and ensure thermal stability through special layered textile systems, and a prototype textronics solution that allows the integration of muscle-stimulating electrodes within various types of clothing, such as underwear, wristbands and socks, and use it to treat patients with various diseases that require such stimulation, among others. Read on...

Innovation In Textiles: Polish researchers develop textile mobile device charger
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 nov 2019

Philanthropy is a huge industry and technology is enabling it's transformation. It's contribution to the U.S. economy is significant. According to The 2019 Nonprofit Employment Report (2019), authored by Lester M. Salamon and Chelsea L. Newhouse of the Center for Civil Society Studies at Johns Hopkins University, nonprofits account for roughly one in 10 jobs in the U.S. private workforce, with total employees numbering 12.3 million in 2016. Over the decade since 2007, nonprofit jobs grew almost four times faster than the for-profit ones. Madeline Duva, CEO of Fluxx, provides insights into technological transformation of philanthropy and the positive impact it has on overall growth of nonprofit sector. She says, ' The philanthropic space has begun to adopt new technologies in earnest in order to increase capacity, improve employee job satisfaction and accelerate long-lasting impact. This transformation is further helped by the tech industry entering the space both as a funder of nonprofits and provider of improved tool sets. The innovations that made Amazon a world leader in supply chain optimization are now being repurposed to help nonprofit organizations work more efficiently and collaboratively with their own data, ultimately driving more dollars and hours toward solving long-entrenched societal and systemic issues in the U.S. and beyond.' Philanthropy is on rise and tech industry and their employees are major contributors. According to 'Giving USA 2019: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2018', researched and written by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI, in 2018 Americans gave nearly US$ 428 billion to charity, with US$ 76 billion of that coming from foundations and another US$ 20 billion coming from corporations. Tech industry's interest in philanthropy and nonprofit sector is seeing increase in specifically designed tech solutions. Ms. Duva explains, 'I've seen a steady increase (but slower industry adoption) in solutions that help foundations leverage data and efficiency and manage teams, all while scaling their work. Grantmakers (both public and private) and grantseekers (nonprofits and charities) have begun to streamline their operations through SaaS solutions, using data and workflow best practices to create more efficient processes and free up time and resources.' For tech companies seeking to work and design solutions for the philanthropic sector, she suggests - Prioritize flexibility and usability in your solutions; Understand that most nonprofits operate on extremely thin financial margins; Recognize the huge variance in the philanthropic space. One-size-fits-all approach doesn't work this space that covers and touches so many industries. Read on...

Forbes: Technology Improves Nonprofit Sector Growth
Author: Madeline Duva


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 | 24 oct 2019

Concrete is a preferred material, second-most used (about 22 billion ton annually), in the building and construction industry. But, it is also second-largest emitter of Carbon dioxide, as cement manufacturing accounts for 5-7% of annual emissions. According to Lucy Rodgers of BBC News, 'If the cement industry were a country, it would be the third-largest emitter in the world - behind China and the US.' In order to meet the requirements of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, annual cement emissions must fall by 16% by 2030. This situation brings concrete at the cusp of innovation, encouraging architects and scientists to experiment with concrete and help evolve its greener variants. Most innovations in this regard focus on reduction of cement in the concrete mix. MIT researchers developed an experimental method of manufacturing cement while eliminating CO2 emissions. Researchers at Lancaster University in the UK unveiled a novel approach of using nanoplatelets extracted from carrots and root vegetables to enhance concrete mixes. Dr. Sandra Manso-Blanco's approach of 'bioreceptive concrete' has structural concrete layered with materials to encourage the growth of CO2-absorbing moss and lichen. Another alternative mixture becoming mainstream in construction is GFRC (Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete). The material consists of a mortar made of concrete, sand, alkali-resistant glass fiber and water. Plasticity is one of the main qualities of GFRC, enabling the molding of thinner and thus lighter façade pieces. Another novel approach to concrete used by Zaha Hadid Architects is 3D-knitted shell. Termed as KnitCandela, it is inspired by Spanish-Mexican architect and engineer Felix Candela's inventive concrete shell structures. The knitted fabric for KnitCandela was developed at ETH Zurich. ETH Zurich has been at the forefront of a number of innovations concerning concrete. With the intention of maximizing available space and avoiding steep construction costs, researchers from ETH Zurich's Department of Architecture have devised a concrete floor slab that with a thickness of a mere 2 cm, remains load-bearing and simultaneously sustainable. The institute also showcased the potential of robotically 3D printed concrete. Read on...

ArchDaily: What is the Future of Concrete in Architecture?
Author: Niall Patrick Walsh


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 | 26 sep 2019

Utilizing technology to connect with audience & customers is effective and efficient. But, bringing the human element with personalization & customization, and engaging with them to build long-term relationships is even better. Best organizations often try to do that. Gabe Cooper, tech entrepreneur and nonprofit consultant, have suggestions for nonprofit organizations to build personalized communication strategies and making full use of automation technologies available. He says, 'When it comes to marketing software, in particular, nonprofits have long tried to make square pegs fit in round holes, getting locked into software and marketing practices that are fundamentally designed for for-profit marketing or that are based on legacy fundraising practices. This has resulted in mass marketing efforts that make your donors feel like 'sales opportunities' rather than crucial stakeholders in your cause.' Fundraising is an important activity for nonprofits and considering that they lack resources, it becomes even more crucial to be done right. He says, 'In our modern world, impersonal fundraising is a wet blanket on generosity, and that's a problem when you consider that nearly three-quarters of people who give a single gift never give again. They simply don't feel appreciated. That's where personalization through marketing automation comes in. Personalization allows each and every donor feel as though you're talking directly to them...Great personalization provides every donor with the right message at the right time based on their individual passions, capacity and relationship to your organization. Personalization, in this way, creates extreme loyalty.' He advocates a 3 point approach to apply personalization in nonprofit fundraising efforts - Know; Automate; Amplify. (1) KNOW: Gather as much information about your donors as is possible. (2) AUTOMATE: Use marketing automation software to send tailored messages - at the right time - based on what you know about each donor. (3) AMPLIFY: Use data analytics to understand what the right 'ask' should be. He also provides other ways to personalize marketing efforts: Keep the new donor campaigns running to engage them, and make them repeat donors; Use persona segmentation and apply the personalized content to connect with them; Utilize personalization technology/marketing automation that is designed specifically fo nonprofits. Mr. Cooper concludes, 'Taking a more personalized approach to your nonprofit fundraising efforts can result in more donor engagement, higher average gifts, big increases in donor loyalty, and most importantly, you donors will feel that they're part of your cause.' Read on...

Business.com: Personalization Is the Engine That Drives Today's Givers
Author: Gabe Cooper


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 | 26 aug 2019

Research study, 'Onboard Evolution of Understandable Swarm Behaviors', published in Advanced Intelligent Systems by researchers from University of Bristol (Simon Jones, Sabine Hauert) and University of the West of England (Alan F. Winfield, Matthew Studley), brings development of a new generation of swarming robots which can independently learn and evolve new behaviours in the wild a step closer. Researchers used artificial evolution to enable the robots to automatically learn swarm behaviours which are understandable to humans. This could create new robotic possibilities for environmental monitoring, disaster recovery, infrastructure maintenance, logistics and agriculture. This new approach uses a custom-made swarm of robots with high-processing power embedded within the swarm. In most recent approaches, artificial evolution has typically been run on a computer which is external to the swarm, with the best strategy then copied to the robots. Prof. Jones says, 'Human-understandable controllers allow us to analyse and verify automatic designs, to ensure safety for deployment in real-world applications.' Researchers took advantage of the recent advances in high-performance mobile computing, to build a swarm of robots inspired by those in nature. Their 'Teraflop Swarm' has the ability to run the computationally intensive automatic design process entirely within the swarm, freeing it from the constraint of off-line resources. Prof. Hauert says, 'This is the first step towards robot swarms that automatically discover suitable swarm strategies in the wild. The next step will be to get these robot swarms out of the lab and demonstrate our proposed approach in real-world applications.' Prof. Winfield says, 'In many modern AI systems, especially those that employ Deep Learning, it is almost impossible to understand why the system made a particular decision...An important advantage of the system described in this paper is that it is transparent: its decision making process is understandable by humans.' Read on...

Engineering.com: Robots Learn Swarm Behaviors, Aim to Escape the Lab
Author: NA


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 | 27 jun 2019

Technology is enabling charitable and philanthropic organizations to perform better in many ways - (1) Donations have just become a click away with expanded reach through online financial payment systems. Moreover, online transactions provide anonymity to donors who prefer it. (2) Crowdfunding has become a great tool to gather funds from all kind of donors, big or small, for the causes that one suppports. Crowdfunding websites are convenient to use and make it easy to reach out to prospective donors. (3) Technology has brought transparency and accountability. Donors are now more aware about how their contributions are utilized. Moreover, financial management tools provide charity organizations ways to efficiently and effectively track their funds. (4) Social media has proven to be effective to spread a charitable cause and seek support. Read on...

CIO Applications: Technology Revamping Philanthropy
Author: NA

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