The Stevie Awards Blog

Artificial Intelligence Advances Digital Marketing

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Sun, May 10, 2020 @ 08:37 PM

Using AI in a variety of ways, Stevie-winner ThatWare LLP is optimizing digital marketing and improving customer experience.

Digital marketing is part of today’s landscape, and it's getting smarter by the minute. Smart devices abound. Consumers can ask chatbots all their questions, and artificial intelligence (AI) seems to permeate every corner of people’s lives. AI allows machines to learn from input over time and adjust their output accordingly, and that’s why it’s so valuable to businesses. By understanding consumers’ preferences and delivering personalized content, AI provides an improved customer experience, which is invaluable in digital marketing efforts.

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With its ever-advancing tactics to cut out the human middleman when identifying marketing trends, AI is changing the digital landscape. Brands can leverage AI to automate their digital marketing and to save both time and money. The substantial advantages of AI technology are providing brands with the edge that gets them noticed in a competitive space.

Understanding Your Audience

AI can work to analyze data and to build a comprehensive picture of your target customers’ preferences. Once you have defined your customer personas, you can use AI to map their buying behaviors and to track their eventual purchasing decisions. As a marketer, you can use this intelligence to put products in front of your audience that they need, which makes purchasing decisions easy for them. A marketing strategy can evolve quickly and effectively with AI-driven analytics. 

ThatWare_logoTuhin Banik, the founder of digital marketing company ThatWare LLP, aims to “positively disrupt the system” and to improve customer experience by using AI in a range of ways, including semantic engineering, natural language processing (NLP), and predictive analysis.

Productivity

The use of smart technology can help increase your productivity by allowing you to automate processes. You can outsource repetitive, time-consuming tasks and instead concentrate on strategizing and creating effective content. AI enables you to optimize the way you interact with your audience, and as AI continues to improve, the way your brand attracts new customers and keeps existing customers engaged to increase sales will continuously transform. 

Optimized Advertising

Your product or service has to reach the right audience to be successful, and with the increasing intelligence of AI, it’s simpler than ever to pinpoint your ideal customer. You can use AI to collect user information, to analyze that data, and then to predict what the customer will do or need in the future. This means digital marketers can target ads to match user data. 

You can be creative with AI too. For example, Topshop, a British high-street clothing brand, created an immersive AI experience in Moscow, Russia. Customers could download a catalog app and then use the in-store smart screens to virtually try on outfits. This innovation not only created buzz around a product, but it also allowed the brand to gather data that fed back into their AI marketing systems. Using that data, they could create even more focused campaigns in the future.

Customer Experience

AI technology allows brands to deliver an enhanced customer experience and to make their digital marketing strategies even more successful. You can use AI to track customer preferences and buying behaviors and then leverage these insights to make further suggestions. 

Digital marketing specialists are focusing on using developing technologies to advance their field in the future. In recognition of this commitment to driving faster results in digital marketing using AI, THATWARE LLP, of West Bengal, India, was presented with a Bronze Stevie® Award in the Startup of the Year - Business Services Industries category at The 2019 International Business Awards®.

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Topics: The International Business Awards, Startup of the Year, 2019 International Business Awards, business services awards

Learning and Development Methods to Improve Employee Engagement

Posted by Daniel Ferguson on Mon, May 04, 2020 @ 04:15 PM

Stevie-winner The LMC Group is a consulting firm that assists small to medium-sized businesses in updating their approach to training and engagement.

Having a process of learning and development in place for your employees is vital; it is the first step to improving employee engagement. With the right training and development program, you can positively impact efficiency and productivity and retain great employees. Remember to consider your end goals when putting a training program in place. A well-thought-out program needs to work for both the company and the employees. It must also deliver what you need when you need it.

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Training Goals 

Look at your training program holistically. Ask yourself why you’re doing it and how the program is going to help you. Consider the problem you are trying to solve, and evaluate how the training you have in place is going to fix it. First you need to understand how to achieve your business goals with the training program, and then you must put measures in place that ensure you reach those objectives. 

Due to funding constraints, it can be difficult for smaller businesses to implement targeted employee training initiatives. If your small to midsized company needs guidance bringing an updated approach to your training and engagement systems, consider outsourcing. A niche of companies provide this service, including the LMC Group.

LMC Group_logo-1“It’s exciting to bring cutting-edge approaches to organizations lacking the funding, revenue, and resources that larger firms enjoy and often take for granted,” says an LMC Group representative.

By engaging your employees and showing them the benefits of learning systems, everyone involved is more likely to have a positive experience. The most impactful way to accomplish this is by designing trainings that meet defined needs. If you can't demonstrate to your staff members that their efforts in learning and development will be useful and effective, it will be difficult to persuade them to engage and to improve their skills. 

Evolution and Evaluation

You can't expect your years-old training and development program to keep pace with your business needs, technology, and workplace advances. You need to keep your training sessions fresh if you want to keep your employees enthusiastic about their learning. Don’t put out stale content if you wish to keep moving forward. Remember, the best learning and development programs are continually evolving and improving. Evaluate your training by seeing how employees interact with the program. Don’t forget to seek their input about how to make it tailored to their needs. 

Feedback

Ask your employees and service users about their pain points. If you have defined questions or problems to solve, you can better focus your efforts on these critical areas. If you use e-learning, for example, review the end-of-unit tests to ensure no questions are consistently being answered incorrectly. If such problems do exist, this is a sign to reevaluate how certain information is presented or to expand on that point in the training. You can also review customer satisfaction responses to ensure the training you have implemented has had the desired effect.  

Even if you are a small business, you can put some measures in place. You can either do this in house or through an external consultancy that can support you with various technologies and innovations. These days you can’t rely on a tired PowerPoint presentation or some dated online learning to help your employees develop. You need goal-specific training that fits the needs of your company and your clients and makes everyone’s experience more positive. 

The LMC Group, of Manchester, New Hampshire, United States, won a Bronze Stevie® Award in the Company of the Year - Business or Professional Services - Small category at The 2019 International Business Awards®

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Topics: International business awards, The International Business Awards, 2019 International Business Awards, business services awards

Meet the Next Outsourcing Hot Spot: Vietnam

Posted by Daniel Ferguson on Tue, Apr 28, 2020 @ 12:15 PM

Vietnam has become a popular location for business outsourcing, and Stevie-winner Swiss Post Solutions thrives on solving customer challenges in the most effective manner.

For decades, India ruled the roost as an outsourced software development destination. While it continues to attract businesses looking to build IT teams overseas, it’s not the only major country doing so. Most prominent among these emerging destinations is Vietnam. Its lower costs, favorable business policies, robust economy, and increasingly skilled workforce are driving investments from businesses like Intel, Samsung, IBM, and Microsoft.

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Vietnam’s Rise Through the Rankings

In 2010, Gartner released a list of the top 30 countries for offshore IT services, and Vietnam made its first appearance in that year. Five years later, in a similar report by Gartner, Vietnam rose to one of the top five countries, and it has maintained its ranking ever since.

Vietnam’s outsourcing industry has grown between 20 and 35 percent every year over the past decade. In 2015, it surpassed $2 billion in revenue.

Spotlight on Vietnam, a PwC report released in 2017, highlighted business process outsourcing (BPO) as one of the key opportunities for foreign investors.

“The growth so far has been encouraging,” said Dinh Thi Quynh Van, general director of PwC Vietnam. “Vietnam is already the second-largest outsourcing partner for Japanese IT firms, just behind India. We hope to see many more industries in the future.”

The Vietnam Advantage

Almost two-thirds of Vietnam’s population is under 35 years of age. This young generation is highly skilled and motivated. According to a 2015 report by the World Economic Forum, Vietnam is one of the top 10 countries in terms of most engineering graduates.

Also, with the government’s push to teach English as a second language rather than a foreign language, this young workforce is actively scaling the language barrier that was once a cause for concern.

Workplace loyalty is strong in Vietnam, which is why they have low attrition rates (between 6 and 8 percent). This is another strong point in the country’s favor, as businesses grapple with high employee turnover in most Asia-Pacific (APAC) countries.

Besides an improving infrastructure and access to inexpensive, highly skilled talent, the government’s proactive efforts to attract foreign investment are also critical to Vietnam’s continued growth. The Doing Business 2020 report, by World Bank, ranked Vietnam 70th among 190 economies in ease of doing business. As of October 2019, foreign direct investment (FDI) into Vietnam has risen by 7.4 percent year over year.

Challenges in Outsourcing to Vietnam

As with outsourcing to just about any country in the APAC region, cultural, logistical, and legal challenges present themselves when working with Vietnamese providers. One way to anticipate these challenges and to learn how to tackle them is to send an on-ground team to Vietnam that can build relationships and get familiar with the Vietnamese culture. This will help organizations understand the business and political landscape, including taxation, paperwork, and procedures. It will also allow a business to get a head start on recruitment.

There are also productivity challenges that come with working with remote teams. This can be addressed by following best practices, instituting training, and ensuring extensive documentation.

Finally, Vietnam currently does not have the infrastructure to support large teams with thousands of employees. At the moment, the country is best suited for small to midsize operations.

One of Many

Swiss_Post_Solutions_logoOne of the companies that bagged a Silver Stevie® Award in the Company of the Year - Business or Professional Services - Large category at The 2019 International Business Awards® was Swiss Post Solutions Vietnam, which is based in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

“We are a young, competitive, and innovative organization that thrives on solving customer challenges in the most effective manner,” says Ha Doi, corporate marketing executive at Swiss Post Solutions.

Swiss Post Solutions, which focuses on providing high-quality document management, BPO, and IT operational services, is one of many Vietnamese companies backed by a young team with an innovative culture. Any of these could be your next outsourcing match as you scale your business.

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Topics: International business awards, company of the year, The International Business Awards, 2019 International Business Awards, business services awards

Businesses Recruit AI in Fight Against Mobile Ad Fraud

Posted by Daniel Ferguson on Mon, Apr 27, 2020 @ 05:29 PM

As mobile ad fraud becomes more sophisticated, it becomes more difficult to catch using traditional methods. Stevie-winner Scalarr, Inc. is a mobile fraud detection company that uses machine learning to identify and prevent fraud.

Online fraud is almost as old as the internet itself, and as this technology progressed, fraud evolved and kept pace. In mobile ad fraud, fraudsters abuse mobile advertising technology to swindle online publishers, advertisers, and supply partners.

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According to The Economic Cost of Bad Actors on the Internet, Ad Fraud 2019, by Cheq, a cybersecurity company based in New York, United States, direct and indirect economic and social costs of global ad fraud could amount up to $30 billion in 2019. 

“I have studied the economic costs of fraud in many sectors for decades, and I was left stunned by the scale of fraud in online advertising,” economist Roberto Cavazos said in the report.

Cavazos is a professor at the University of Baltimore in Baltimore, Maryland, United States, and he worked on the report with Cheq.

AppFlyer, a mobile app analytics firm headquartered in San Francisco, California, United States, monitored 2.5 billion installs across 9,500 mobile apps in the first six months of 2019 and extrapolated their results to a global scale. They revealed a whopping 22.6 percent of nonorganic app installs globally could be classified as fraudulent. They published this and other findings in a report titled State of Mobile Fraud, 2019.

The Different Faces of Mobile Ad Fraud

Fraudsters attempting to steal advertising budgets are an ingenious lot. According to Stevie-winner Scalarr, a mobile ad fraud detection company based in Wilmington, Delaware, United States, new and increasingly sophisticated frauds emerge every day. These include smart bots, intelligent device farms, and mixed fraud. 

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“Fraudsters have become so smart that you can’t catch them by traditional methods anymore,” says Olga Bazarova, marketing lead at Scalarr.

The AppFlyer report reiterates this sentiment. It reveals that fraudsters are reacting to protection measures at an unprecedented pace. In 2018, it took them a month or two to react; now they do so in a couple of days. 

The upshot of many of these reports is that mobile fraud is ubiquitous, and no platform or publisher is safe.

“Mobile marketers tend to believe that ‘trusted’ traffic sources, such as Facebook, Google, and ad video networks, are a panacea against fraud, and they redistribute marketing budgets there. In 2019, though, we saw a lot of examples of fraud on trusted sources, confirming that fraudsters always follow the money,” said Bazarova.

Mobile ad fraud targets all stages of online advertising, from impressions to clicks to app installs. It even targets in-app purchases. The Financial Times, a daily newspaper headquartered in London, England, United Kingdom, was shocked by the scale of domain spoofing against its site. In domain spoofing, fraudsters eat into advertising budgets by masquerading as a popular domain that can display ads.

“The scale of the fraud we found is jaw-dropping,” says Anthony Hitchings, the digital advertising operations director at the Financial Times. “The industry continues to waste marketing budgets on what is essentially organized crime.”

AI to the Rescue

The speed and scale at which mobile ad fraud has evolved indicates it’s not something mobile developers or marketers can tackle alone. Detecting fraudulent installs is a mammoth task requiring analysis of numerous parameters and correlations.

Mobile ad fraud intelligence and protection solutions are increasingly and successfully relying on machine learning (ML) and big data to identify and to prevent fraud. Scalarr, AppFlyer, Cheq, and several other companies offering fraud detection and protection use ML algorithms to counter the attacks and to ensure marketers acquire only real users.

While the assumption is that fraudsters can’t work around these AI-backed countermeasures, only time will tell how this plays out. 

Scalarr Inc. recently won a Silver Stevie® Award in the Tech Startup of the Year - Services category and a Bronze Stevie® in the Startup of the Year - Business Services Industries category at The 2019 International Business Awards®.

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Topics: International business awards, The International Business Awards, Startup of the Year, 2019 International Business Awards, business services awards

Affordable Benefits for Small Businesses? RewardJet Makes it Possible.

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Tue, Jul 30, 2019 @ 11:18 AM

Generous employee benefits can be very attractive to sought-after talent, and these benefits can also keep employees happy and satisfied at work. For smaller businesses, though, providing them is easier said than done.

This challenge often forces entrepreneurs, freelancers, and gig workers to avoid businesses that aren’t able to take on those responsibilities. However, there’s something many of those companies don’t know: They can afford benefits that rival those offered by Fortune 500 companies; they can become RewardJet members.

RewardJet was the dream of two partners who wanted to help hardworking entrepreneurs. As entrepreneurs themselves, they saw a huge, underserved market and an opportunity to truly make a difference in the lives of millions.

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Look and You Shall Find

The future looks quite bright for RewardJet as new partnerships will see them expanding globally over the next two years. From two men with a dream to a multinational platform, RewardJet is poised to change the world of company benefits.

“One founder’s wife works for a Fortune 500 company,” says cofounder Kevin Dory, “and the perks she gets through her company are often not nearly as good as the ones we offer through RewardJet.”

The founder and his wife realized how good these offers were when they planned a weekend getaway to Miami and were able to save hundreds of dollars on their hotel room, which wasn’t bad for a short trip.

RewardJet is not, however, just another perks site offering discounts. They want small businesses and independent workers to feel as if they have the power of thousands of people in their corners, even if they’re only a team of two.

“RewardJet advocates for the millions of people who drive our economy yet still don't have health care, retirement plans, or any of the other perks and benefits large companies offer.”

Trying to Fulfill All Kinds of Needs

Employees and employers are increasingly searching for personalized perks and benefits, but millennials and Gen X customers don’t always look for the same thing. These kinds of changes in workforce demographics require employees to adapt and to adjust their benefit offerings constantly.

“What we are really passionate about is the ability to provide access to health care for a huge number of people who otherwise would not have health insurance,” says Dory. “This is life changing, and this is why we exist.”

The company offers a wide range of health services, which start at $10 per month for a single person and go to less than $90 per month for fully ACA-compliant health insurance. Depending on the plan selected, the individual will have access to over 900,000 providers and will get a real prescription drug plan (not a discount card), with only a $10 co-pay for generics and huge discounts on brand-name drugs.

RewardJet also recently teamed up with Goldman Sachs to make it easy for members to save for retirement.

Small businesses across the United States can now make the decision to offer benefits and, most importantly, can choose the offerings that are desirable for potential new hires.

Sara Wolkwitz, Vice President of Partnerships at RewardJet, recently won the Bronze Stevie® Award for Female Executive of the Year in the Business Services category of the Stevie Awards for Women in Business.

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Topics: stevie awards for women in business, health care awards, business services awards