The Stevie Awards Blog

Winners Announced in 2019 People's Choice Stevie® Awards for Favorite New Products

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Wed, Jun 05, 2019 @ 10:07 AM

MONAT PET’s Gentle Cleansing Dog Wash received the most votes of any nominee in the 2019 People's Choice Stevie® Awards for Favorite New Products, a feature of The American Business Awards®, the U.S.A.’s top business awards program, which are now in their 17th year.

The worldwide public vote was conducted last month, with the highest number of votes deciding the winners in a variety of product categories. More than 43,000 votes were cast.  To win, a category’s leading vote-getter had to have received at least 100 votes. MONAT PET’s Gentle Cleansing Dog Wash collected almost 8,000 votes.

ABA 2-2

The crystal People’s Choice Stevie Awards will be presented to winners at The American Business Awards banquet on Tuesday, June 11 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City. There, the winners of peer-adjudicated Gold, Silver and Bronze Stevie Awards will also be presented their awards. More than 650 executives from across the USA will attend. Watch the ceremony live on June 11 at 7pm ET on LiveStream.

All new products and services nominated in the new product awards categories of this year’s American Business Awards were eligible to be included in voting for the people’s choice awards.

The winners of the 2019 People’s Choice Stevie Awards for Favorite New Products are:

Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning Solution: Applause for Amazon Alexa
Business-to-Business Product: Fannie Mae - CAS REMIC
Business-to-Business Service: Stay In The Game BPO Services
Big Data Solution: Workiva Wdata
Business Technology – Other: TEKLYNX' 2018 Barcode & RFID Labeling Solutions
Cloud Application/Service: Information Builders Cloud
Cloud Storage / Backup: Quest Software's QoreStor
Collaboration/Social Networking Solution: Passageways' OnSemble Employee Intranet
Consumer Electronics (tie): Carnival Corporation's OceanMedallion and Relay by Republic Wireless
Consumer Product/Service: MONAT PET’s Gentle Cleansing Dog Wash
Content Management Solution: John Hancock Business Communications' Omni
Content Solution: Thomson Reuters Checkpoint Catalyst:  US GAAP Accounting for Income Taxes
Corporate Learning/Workforce Development Solution: Skillsoft Aspire
Digital Process Automation Solution: Datamatics Global Services's TruBot
Education Solution: Pearson K-12 Learning - Project Imagine: U.S. History
Endpoint Security Management Solution: SaltStack SecOps
Financial Service: Bank of America Digital Mortgage Experience
FinTech Solution: Fiserv's Card Risk Office Fraud Warning
Governance/Risk/Compliance Solution: Mentor by eDriving
Healthcare Technology Solution: Lumeon's CPM 4.0
Healthcare or Pharmaceutical Product or Service: Virtrial's Patient Management Program
Human Capital Management Solution: Apex Informatics' Sendtral
Identity & Access Security Solution: EZShield Mobile Defense Suite
Insurance Solution: BenefitMall Client Ready Quote System
Integration Solution: Squelch
Marketing/Public Relations Solution: TapClicks Marketing Operations Platform
Payments Solution: Wisely Pay by ADP
Platform as a Service: Urjanet Utility Interval Data Platform
Software Development Solution: Wind River's Helix Virtualization Platform
Supply Chain Management Solution: UltraShipTMS Spot Quote Solution
Vendor Management Solution: goLance online workforce platform

Tags: company awards, new product awards

See What’s Behind the Latin American Tech Boom

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Fri, May 24, 2019 @ 04:21 PM

As little as 20 years ago, there was hardly any discussion of technological advancements coming out of Latin America. Rather, people were laser focused on Silicon Valley and the waves of talent and innovation flocking to San Francisco, California, United States. However, with the help of government initiatives, large private investments, and significant economic growth in the early 2010s, as well as the sheer will and drive of local citizens, many Latin American countries entered into the technological arena. They were soon producing products and talent on a scale comparable to anything seen in the First World. The countries most often associated with this boom are Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Colombia, and Mexico.

Fully understanding this phenomenon is not possible by simply identifying individual contributing factors. The movement is a response to many complicated and interconnected social, political, economic, and geographic influences. Here are just a few of those constituent reasons Latin America has enjoyed this development.

belatrix

The Transformative Influence of the Internet

In this instance, the transformative effect of the internet cannot be understated. While many industries rely on physical infrastructure or advanced equipment, IT companies can thrive with little more than internet connectivity, a laptop, a proclivity for the material, and hard work. Coming from a place with limited physical infrastructure or resources does not preclude you from succeeding in the digital sphere, and the opportunities that affords people throughout Latin America have been statistically significant.

One 2015 report by the World Trade Organization identified Argentina as the world’s eighth-largest exporter of computer services. This can be seen in companies like Belatrix Software, which was founded in Mendoza, Argentina, and currently innovates and thrives in the digital arena.

Belatrix Software helps companies turn ideas into great software products,” says Alex Robbio, the company’s president and cofounder. “We currently have over 700 employees, as well as offices in the United States, Argentina, Peru, Colombia, and Spain. We’re growing rapidly, but our vision remains the same: to be the best Latin American software product development and innovation firm.”

The work being done in these Argentina-based computer companies isn’t isolated to Latin America, either. Many of the companies are earning international acclaim and recognition. Belatrix Software, for example, was recently recognized with a Silver Stevie® Award for Company of the Year in the category of Computer Services in The 2019 American Business Awards®. Robbio also earned an individual Bronze Stevie Award for Executive of the Year in Computer Services.

The 2020 edition of The American Business Awards will open in October. If you are interested in winning a Stevie Awards in 2019 request the entry kit for The International Business Awards.

Request your entry kit here

English as the Unofficial Language of Business

Despite not being the world’s most widely spoken language, English is, for all intents and purposes, the de facto language of international business. While China used to top the charts for English proficiency, Latin American countries have started to surpass the Asian power in this metric. According to the 2018 EF English Proficiency Index, Argentina was the highest-rated South American country on the list (coming in at #27), while China fell to the 47th spot.

Many speculate that its increasing proficiency in English has helped launch Argentina to the forefront of international business, including those projects within the technological realm.

Time Differences Make a Difference

Especially when technology and innovation are involved, it’s more conducive when people work collaboratively. Although it might seem like a throwaway factor, the time difference between the United States and any given Latin American country is significant. For example, the time difference between San Francisco, California, United States—a major U.S.-based technological hub—and Beijing, China, is 15 hours. That makes coordinating workdays and efforts extremely difficult. The time difference between California and Buenos Aires, Argentina, however, is only four hours—a much more surmountable obstacle.

Government Initiatives Provide Financial and Logistical Help

Arguably one of the most significant factors that pushed technology throughout Latin America is the support and efforts of the nations’ governments. Argentina, for example, offers all adults free higher education. Plus, its government invested significantly in Program.AR, an initiative to help teachers integrate computer programming into the national public-school curriculum.

Similarly, in Colombia, 80 percent of the costs associated with studying in the information technology field are covered. In Mexico, thanks in part to governmental initiatives, the country produced the eighth-highest number of engineer graduates in 2015.

With the financial backing and logistical support of national-level governments, results in this sector have been quick and effective.

The Future of Tech

While no one can say definitively what the future of technology holds, Latin America seems poised to continue ascending in the industry. If more national-level and regional policies throw money and support behind engineering and computer science education, it’s conceivable the next seat of tech insight will be a lot farther south than Silicon Valley.

Tags: company awards, tech awards, tech award

Call for Entries Issued for Sixteenth Annual International Business Awards®

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Thu, Mar 21, 2019 @ 10:45 AM

The Stevie® Awards has opened entries for The 16th Annual International Business Awards, the world's premier business awards competition, which attracts nominations from organizations in more than 70 nations and territories each year.

All individuals and organizations worldwide—public and private, for-profit and non-profit, large and small—may submit nominations to The International Business Awards. The early-bird entry deadline, with reduced entry fees, is 10 April. The final entry deadline is 8 May, but late entries will be accepted through 12 June with payment of a late fee. Entry details are available at www.StevieAwards.com/IBA.

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Juries featuring more than 150 executives will determine the Stevie Award winners. The Gold, Silver, and Bronze Stevie Award winners will be announced pm 13 August. Stevie Award winners will be presented their awards at a gala banquet in Vienna, Austria on 19 October.

The International Business Awards recognize achievement in every facet of the workplace. Categories include:

There are many new and revised features of the IBAs for 2019:

  • A variety of new categories, including the IT categories Best Technical Support Strategy and Implementation and Best Technical Support Solution. In categories for business-related media, there are many new Live Event, Publication, and Video categories.
  • Entry fees have been eliminated for nominations to the Company of the Year categories. Gold, Silver, and Bronze Stevie winners in these these 35 by-industry categories will again be included in the worldwide public vote called the People’s Choice Stevie Awards for Favorite Companies.
  • In the Marketing, New Product & Service, and Public Relations categories, nominees may now submit a video of up to five minutes in length, instead of the traditional written Stevie Awards essay or case study.

Stevie Award winners in the 2018 IBAs included DHL Express (worldwide), Dubai Health Authority (United Arab Emirates), GXEVER (China), iFinance Canada, Kia Motors Corporation (South Korea), LLORENTE & CUENCA (Spain), Megaworld Foundation (Philippines), NBCUniversal (USA), Net World Sports (Wales), Shinhan Bank (South Korea), Telkom Indonesia, and many more.

Tags: marketing awards, PR awards, company awards, International Awards

How to Improve Labor Market Equality by Establishing Childcare Standards

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Tue, Mar 12, 2019 @ 11:18 AM

With day-to-day economic demands rapidly increasing, many households can simply no longer afford to have a stay-at-home parent. Many people, however, find childcare options either of uncertain quality or prohibitively expensive. To compound the problem, women today consistently find their earning potential exceeds that of their partners, but they are forced to choose between securing childcare they do not trust 100 percent or attempting to get by on a single salary—and foregoing their careers.

This problem is widely recognized in countries across the developed world, and many nations have state-run daycare or centers or subsidize private childcare. However, these measures continue to fall short. Even the most generous analysis of gender employment and income gaps must concede that while there is no outright discrimination, there is a persistent, discernible, and significant structural difference in employment rates and remuneration. This is almost entirely attributable to time women spend out of work because of the exclusive prioritization of childcare.

Amslee

With that said, it’s evident that improving access to top-level quality childcare would have significant, indirect economic effects. As things stand, the slow but steady march toward income and employment equality will likely result in more men becoming stay-at-home parents, and the number of women almost exclusively dedicated to their careers will rise as well.

While the push toward equity is desirable, having one stay-at-home parent—of either gender—is far from the optimal outcome. It’s not ideal for the household itself or for the economy as one parent continues to all but give up a career, while the other misses out on a considerable part of family life.

The professionalization of childcare necessitates moving away from the existing model, where families secure childcare primarily based on personal, informal relationships. With no current standardized means of formalizing these relationships with service providers, such as nannies and au pairs, it’s clear that a certified, standardized, widely available service provider model would be a significant step toward optimizing the childcare situation.

Qualifications and a college-level education have traditionally only been required for high-level childcare positions. Elizabeth Malson is a single mother, entrepreneur, and founder of the Amslee Institute, which specializes in the certification of childcare professionals. She helps explain this model.

“Traditionally, nannies in the United States have been trained by other nannies and nanny agency owners through workshops because there are no government regulations or standards,” she says. “To qualify for top jobs, a nanny had to invest in an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. These options require a significant commitment to and investment in a two- or four-year college program, and because of the time and expense involved, college-level training for future childcare professionals, in many cases, is simply inaccessible.”

Through her company, based out of Sarasota, Florida, United States, Malson proposed to do something about this. A 2018 Gold Stevie® Award winner in the category of Best New Consumer Service, the Amslee Institute provides affordable online college-level classes. Despite adhering to high standards, the classes require a lower financial investment than traditional college courses, and they take no more than 12 weeks to complete. Malson acknowledges the economic necessity of two working parents in many households and adds that childcare can be made more affordable in several ways, such as by families sharing the expense of a childcare professional.

Professionalizing childcare and introducing certifications and standards can help boost workforce participation, create a thriving new market, and give parents peace of mind. Malson also points to a broader effect. Childcare professionals from all over the world aspire to come to the United States (Some even go into childcare merely for the opportunity to come to the country.) This means U.S. childcare standards will eventually be exported across the globe by the childcare professionals who return home, says Malson. Raising childcare standards in the United States, therefore, will mean raising childcare standards across the world.

Tags: company awards

The Glue for Popular Consumer Products is the Users

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Wed, Jan 16, 2019 @ 04:04 PM

Even early in the development process, Irish inventor Jane Ni Dhulchaointigh believed she was onto something special: a moldable glue that sticks to virtually any surface and forms a strong, rubber-like material overnight.

With the help of entrepreneur Roger Ashby, she launched FormFormForm Ltd. (based in London, England) and started marketing her flexible new product, dubbed “Sugru,” to retailers in 2009. The challenge was convincing big-box stores they needed yet another glue product on their crowded shelves.

Ni Dhulchaointigh, though, had a compelling way to show just how versatile her product was: thousands of user-generated YouTube videos and pictures on the company’s website. The company even devised a Twitter hashtag (#MySugruFix) for customers to share their creative solutions.

sugru

There’s the homeowner who resealed his torn swimming pool liner, the guy who fixed his tattered laptop charger, and even an adventurer who used the silicone-based glue on his ski poles during a trek in the Arctic Circle. In one case, a motorcycle enthusiast used Sugru to stick a camera on his helmet, which he used to film his journey on the open road. To stimulate participation, the company provides discounts to the most impressive social media submissions.

The uniqueness of the product—a pliable glue that can withstand moisture and extreme temperatures and cling to any number of surfaces—was a powerful selling point, but the social media strategy helped showcase Sugru’s usefulness in tackling a broad range of everyday projects. What’s more, it created much-needed buzz around the adhesive during its start-up phase.

Over the past few years, the company’s customer base has swelled. To date, the company has sold more than 14 million single-use packs of Sugru to people in over 175 countries and territories worldwide. Time magazine went so far as to include it on their “50 Best Inventions of 2010” list (12 spots ahead of the iPad.)

“Start Small, and Make It Good”

The idea for Sugru dates back to 2003, when Ni Dhulchaointigh was working toward a master’s degree in product design at the Royal College of Art in London, England. Rather than attempting to develop a whole new product, she decided to work on something that could extend the lives of things people already owned.

Her first prototype for a moldable glue—a substance she describes as foul smelling and slimy—was well short of the mark. She was convinced, however, the idea itself was valuable.

“I knew that by tapping into people’s innate creativity, all kinds of products could be fixed and reimagined,” she writes.

In addition to hiring Ashby, she enlisted two former Dow Corning scientists who served as consultants on her project. Ni Dhulchaointigh set up a small lab to help refine the formula, and she relied on family and friends to provide real-world feedback.

“The company motto has always been to start small and to make it good,” she says.

In 2009, she offered samples to several journalists. When one of them gave the product a glowing review on a popular U.K. news site, it turned the company’s fortunes around immediately. The first product run sold out in a mere six hours. More importantly, she and her business partner, Ashby, started to gain interest from investors who could help them ramp up the operation.

Eventually, the company won over product buyers from national chains, such as Target and the Container Store, moving the entrepreneur closer to her lofty goal of getting Sugru into every kitchen drawer.

The company’s tinkering didn’t stop with its original product, though. FormFormForm Ltd., which now employs a team of 70 people, later introduced a family-safe formula that’s gentle enough for even younger users to try. This latest iteration also proved a winner, earning the 2018 Bronze Stevie® Award for New Consumer Product.

Ni Dhulchaointigh hopes the ability to get kids involved will lead to even more creative ideas for users to share on platforms like YouTube and Twitter.

“Repair inspires creativity," she says. "People are more creative than they think, especially when it comes to saving things they love—and potentially some money at the same time.”

Tags: company awards, new products

Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality Apps Are Changing the Fashion World

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Fri, Jan 04, 2019 @ 05:07 PM

There is a tech side to just about every industry, including fashion. It goes beyond purchasing a new favorite sweater on Amazon. Today, you can scroll through Instagram, click on a photo, zoom in to see a product, and buy it with one click.

AI technology is even finding its way into traditional store shopping. You can go to a store and take a picture of a shirt, pants, or a jacket—and using one of several apps, such as Kim Kardashian’s Screenshop app, you can upload the picture and find similar styles and products all over the world. There are even avatar-based apps, such as Dressing Room, that allow individuals to try on clothing virtually. When ready, you can pay for the item with Apple Pay, which is located in your smartphone’s digital wallet.

joorLike any industry, the bottom line drives fashion-related businesses, and technological advances are constantly challenging that bottom line. However, the data points collected from searches and purchases are narrowing the gap between product supply and demand, meaning product numbers are more accurate, and fewer materials are wasted. Data are also helping companies predict trends and provide products their customers actually like and want.

As with most business verticals, the fashion industry maintains wholesale production intermediaries. JOOR is one of those companies leading the digital wholesale charge, using analytics within the fashion vertical. Their digital platform connects buyers and sellers online, helping buyers save time and cut costs and leading sellers to better analyze the performance of their inventory.

The company’s model embraces the global shift to mobile-first access and capitalizes on the ease and convenience of streaming handheld devices. Digitizing streamlines the fashion buyer’s process, and as is typically the case when digital technology is implemented, this reduces errors and saves time. The success of JOOR was recognized with a Stevie® Award in Best New Software Product or Service Category.

JOOR was founded in 2010 and is based in New York City, New York, United States. CEO Kristin Savilia is at the helm. She came on board in March 2017 and brought with her 18 years of retail experience and over five years in e-commerce with XO Group (the parent company of popular websites The Bump, The Nest, and The Knot). Even in the hustle and bustle of a technology-driven fashion industry, Savilia—a proactive mother of four—strives for a positive work-life balance.

While she helped lead JOOR to the head of the fashion AI and VR app curve, more technological changes are on the horizon. NextWeb reports the world is ready for the Internet of Things (IoT).

“Apparel items will have digital capabilities that open communication between retailer and customer, such as NADI X, yoga pants with built-in sensors that guide users into alignment by vibrating as they move through the various yoga poses. This example and other IoT apparel items interact with the user to collect data that help retailers understand the needs and concerns of buyers, and then companies can implement solutions to create a more personalized experience.”

In this landscape, individuals will be able to interact with businesses through their yoga pants, informing the companies that made them what they liked best and least. This will allow the companies to make more of those kinds of pants or to offer improved versions, depending on feedback.

That is technology and fashion coming full circle. Try clothes on a virtual reality avatar, search AI apps for any and all styles you like, and then communicate with the product and company directly using the IoT. Companies analyze the data, and the technological personalization and product customization cycle evolves.

In the long run, this seems cost effective and efficient while reducing waste—but it remains to be seen if consumers want to wear yoga pants and other products with AI sensors. Many consumers, however, already talk to Siri (Apple) and Alexa (Amazon), so it might not be too long before this is the product norm.

Tags: company awards, female entrepreneurs

Using Creative Talent to Battle Cancer

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Thu, Dec 20, 2018 @ 10:55 AM

Oncology is the study and treatment of tumors. Although three major fields exist within oncology -- medicine, surgery, and radiation, it’s generally understood as a branch of medicine that treats cancer. What do creativity, brands, design, and advertising have to do with any of that? A lot, as it turns out.

Navicor is an integrated marketing communications agency with oncology at their core. In an effort to make a difference in the world, employees use their creative talents to make compelling brand stories that are inspired by real patients. The Navicor team is comprised of oncology experts, clinicians, and award-winning creative professionals dedicated to launching successful platforms that support life-saving therapies.

Inavicor for blogt’s the perfect example of a meaningful marriage between the arts and health care.

“We expertly use the data to tell the most compelling brand story, but we also see the people behind the data points on that K-M (Kaplan-Meier) curve,” says Marvin Bowe, managing director at Navicor. “Each one of us is inspired by the patients whose lives we help touch. They’re the reason we get up for work in the morning. Or stay up late at night.”

Bowe profoundly believes in using personal talents to make a difference in the world, which the general public doesn’t regularly connect with creativity and marketing to patients with serious ailments.

Universal Truths

Oncology is the most progressive therapeutic area at the moment. With hundreds of new treatments in development, this field is seeing some of its biggest breakthroughs to date.

Bowe lists his organization’s core values. Although oncology demands specific attention—both surgical and managerial—the list contains items any organization can identify with. To that end, Navicor operates on the following principles:

1. We can do well by doing good.
2. Everyone is an idea person.
3. Good work is the enemy of great work.
4. Feedback is essential in business.
5. Befriending our clients leads to long-term business relationships.
6. Optimism is a force multiplier.
7. We should operate with integrity.
8. Working hard requires playing hard with your colleagues

Most of these tenets are tailored to ensure staff members are getting the support they need. The company also clearly understands the value of having fun while at work.

“Happy employees truly do produce the most creative ideas,” says Bowe.

The company’s history proves that having fun at work can yield huge gains. They participate in walks and 5K runs as a team to help raise awareness and money for cancer advocacy groups. Last year, Navicor raised over $20,000, ranked as the eighth-largest corporate supporter of Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in Philadelphia, and received an award for the most creative idea to raise money.

Doing Great Work

Most people can relate to that feeling of not doing enough for those in need. Cultivating a genuine concern for the lives of strangers and putting that concern into action is an amazing feat.

Garnett Dezember, the CEO and founder of Navicor, expresses the foundation on which he built the organization.

"Cancer is our cause. Cancer has affected each of us, and we use that experience to motivate us daily."

Empathy and the will to use one's talents to help others resulted in Navicor winning the Silver Stevie Awards for Employer of the Year in the 2018 Stevie® Award for Great Employers.

“While oncology is highly scientific, that doesn’t mean your brand communications should be clinical white papers,” says Dezember. “We use some of the best creative strategies to ensure your brand’s message is received, and our industry recognizes our efforts by honoring us with trophies from some of the most prestigious award shows.”

It’s easy to measure success by prescription data and usage trends, but Navicor exemplifies what can happen when you add award-winning creatives to your team, help clients achieve their goals, and capture the attention of a global audience.

Tags: company awards, public relations awards, Marketing

Bringing Stories to Life is the Core Message

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Wed, Dec 12, 2018 @ 01:50 PM

Whether it’s an entrepreneur starting out in an office or garage or if it’s a Fortune 500 company, any business must be visible to potential customers before a sale can be made. In most cases, awareness of a company is created through great stories, which elicit engagement and relationships with those potential customers.

Whether dealing with website traffic, email subscriber data growth, social media accounts, or hundreds of other engagement metrics, they’re all interconnected by one thing: an attempt to create a continuous relationship between the customer and the business.

With so many companies marketing that way, though, how do you stand out in a sea of legitimately competent competitors?

PAN Communications is an integrated marketing and public relations agency based in Boston, Massachusetts, United States. They focus on B2B technology and health care industries that want a customer-first business model. They deliver this through PR and social, content, and influencer marketing. They also use data analytics and creative services.

pan communications“To bring great stories to life, that’s the core message,” says President & CEO, Philip A. Nardone Jr.. “Those great stories are about the companies—their technologies and innovations—that are changing lives.”

The company’s ability to bring resonant, engaging stories to life contributed to them winning the 2018 Gold Stevie® for Public Relations Agency of the Year at The American Business Awards.

PAN Communications is one of the industry’s most trusted communications partners., It demonstrates that it takes an entire team of dedicated marketing and PR specialists to help clients exceed expectations.

Move Ideas and Build Relationships

Success in any venture doesn’t happen overnight. No matter how good you are at something or how certain you are about how to improve a problem, it takes time to develop and to hone sustainable relationships with your audience or paying customers.

The success of PAN Communications is due to the firm’s unique ability to offer the agility and personalized service of a midsized agency while also leveraging national and international relationships. This allows them to manage large-scale communications programs for brands such as SAP, AppDirect, Radial, and MediaMath. PAN Communications provides services, moves ideas, and builds relationships with customers at a level which competitors find difficult to match.

The PAN Communications business model demonstrates one thing clearly: Successful businesses must make their services and messaging available to potential customers over a variety of platforms.

Give Back and Put People First

The belief that great people can do great things is an underlying tenet of the PAN Communications mind-set. That’s why they focus on putting people and culture first.

“By fostering an environment free of office politics and rich in support and diversity, we believe we can rise above the industry noise and win the race,” says Nardone. “The CEO of PAN believes his agency’s greatest assets go down the elevator every night: the people. Phil [CEO of PAN Communications] and the rest of the leadership team devote time and energy to cultivating the award-winning culture that currently exists at PAN. The agency takes a people-first approach and prioritizes a strong work-life balance for its employees.”

PAN Communications also believes in giving back to the communities that built the foundation of their agency. To that end, the firm launched a philanthropic program, PANcares, in November 2017. This allowed the agency to become involved in its local markets more consistently. As part of the program, PAN Communications partners with four nonprofit organizations dedicated to fighting against youth homelessness. Representing a cross-country collaborative, the partners are based in Boston, Massachusetts, United States; San Francisco, California, United States; New York City, New York, United States; and Orlando, Florida, United States.

As PAN Communications demonstrates, today’s PR agencies must distinguish themselves by delivering exceptional services and innovations to their clients. As a result, the industry is thriving. Brands demand more from agencies than ever before, asking these companies to prepare them for every stage of growth and to act as trusted partners along the way. PAN Communications is just one agency that shows the exceptional results that are possible when that happens.

Tags: PR awards, company awards, public relations awards

Making Sure Online Sellers Experience Benefits, Not Hassles

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Wed, Dec 05, 2018 @ 12:58 PM

Merchants offer a variety of ways to pay for their products and services these days, including everything from old favorites like credit cards and checks to newer modes, such as NFC (Near Field Communications)-ready phones and smart watches.

That affords retail customers greater convenience, of course, but it also means more chances for technical issues to arise. This can potentially cause lots of extra headaches for the seller.

However, if retailers work with U.S. payment software firms like PayJunction, they greatly minimize the chance of encountering those stumbling blocks. PayJunction is based in Santa Barbara, California, United States. Working in an industry that doesn’t always enjoy a great reputation for customer service, the company has gone all in on its efforts to satisfy users.

PayjunctionBy just about any measure, it’s succeeding in that goal. Their customer service team upped its satisfaction score to 95.3% last year, from 94.2% in 2016. It did so after handling 13,500 more support tickets and 2,475 more calls than in 2016. What’s more, the service team, which operates out of the firm’s California headquarters, was also able to maintain an average wait time of just one minute.

“We've definitely developed a culture of respect,” says Christina Lavingia of PayJunction. “We work hard to value long-term relationships over short-term profits.”

This approach has led to a number of significant achievements, such as going three consecutive years without a single complaint file submitted to the Better Business Bureau and achieving the highest rating for a payment processor on Capterra.

A customer-first approach has also proven to have a positive impact on workplace morale. In 2017, PayJunction was selected as a Best Place to Work on Glassdoor.com.

“We treat our employees and customers like family and have prioritized doing the right thing in every facet of the business,” says Lavingia.

The company’s impressive call center team is one of the reasons PayJunction had a big night at the 16th Annual American Business Awards this summer. The firm captured the Gold Stevie® for Customer Service Department of the Year among financial services firms, as well as a Bronze Stevie for New Product or Service of the Year.

The team adds these accolades to its trophy shelf, which already included a Bronze Stevie for its customer service team from the 2017 awards ceremony.

Leveraging Its Awards

Founded in 2000, PayJunction succeeds, in part, by adeptly navigating the fast-changing world of payment processing. When it started, services like Apple Pay and Google Pay weren’t even around. Now, accepting those methods is increasingly viewed as imperative.

It has also been at the leading edge of efforts to combat fraud, which has long been one of the industry’s biggest challenges. Changes in signature requirements and the introduction of chip-and-PIN cards are having a major positive impact on retailers and businesses that process those cards.

“Equipping them with the technology they need for the future is truly exciting,” says Lavingia.

Today, the company processes $4 billion in sales each year, and thousands of businesses across the United States use its payment terminals and software. To meet this demand, the organization now employs more than 60 employees.

Perhaps, though, it’s the company’s laser focus on customer service that makes it stand out the most. For Lavingia, bringing home two Stevie Awards, including one for its customer care team, is a huge notch in its belt.

She notes the company was already bringing up its prior bronze prize during sales calls and in emails in order to help woo new customers, and she’s confident earning a gold this year will give them even greater prestige.

“We're able to leverage these awards to close deals with new merchants and to accurately showcase in a meaningful way how our software and support will positively impact their businesses,” Lavingia says.

Tags: company awards, tech awards

Artificial Intelligence Goes Where Hardware Can’t

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Wed, Nov 28, 2018 @ 09:47 AM

Most information humans take in is visual and depth based. Although we do not emit lasers or lights to perceive our environments (as much as we might wish to), we still see everything very accurately with our comparatively low-quality eyes.

This means the brain is the driving factor behind the impressive results of our vision. Now, imagine a world where every device and machine has those capabilities. How well could that serve humanity?

The AI-based software solution from Lucid empowers dual-camera devices, such as mobile phones, robots, and others, to see in three dimensions, providing the depth perception of human eyes.

Lucid wants to be the platform that allows any device or machine to capture depth data in the world. In late 2018, Lucid is on track to bring in 10 times their 2017 revenue. They anticipate adding staff; opening offices around the world; and continuing to foster their culture of inclusion, work ethic, and continuous improvement.

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Tech Giants Are Noticing

Lucid was founded in Palo Alto, California, United States, in January 2015. They focused on mimicking human vision in robots because they believed true depth vision should not be emission-based but AI-based. This defied how the entire industry was working at the time.

Han Jin is the cofounder and CEO of Lucid. He details where the company stood technologically before any tech giants entered the now growing space.

“We decided to build the world’s first VR180 camera, LucidCam, because we wanted to prove our AI-based software technology had a market,” says Jin. “There was no similar hardware until iPhone 7 Plus came out with dual cameras.”

After they successfully launched their device into retail spaces and millions of consumer hands, they observed the trend of dual cameras spreading to more than just phones.

This innovation keeps the company on track to recreate human vision through software, and they believe the deeper intermingling of humans and technology when both humans and robots are capable of doing and seeing.

Exploring New Territories

AI provides solutions to many problems caused by hardware limitations. For example, smartphone manufacturers need to ensure the price they charge per device continues to be competitive in order to hit volume benchmarks. However, when trying to incorporate depth-sensing technologies, the process becomes both bulky and costly. In consumer electronics, there’s simply not a lot of room for more hardware.

Space margins are extremely thin, and this is especially true of smartphones, where real estate is dire. Additionally, when you add an expensive sensor to a device, the price, unsurprisingly, goes up.

There’s no way around this other than finding solutions that incorporate depth sensing into consumer devices without the addition of hardware. This is precisely why AI software is leading companies like Lucid into territories that weren’t previously accessible.

Massive Potential

Five billion people have mobile phones, but the latest technological upgrades, such as built-in depth sensors, are currently too expensive for most device makers to incorporate. This disallows facial recognition, VR/AR, and 3D scanning.

At the same time, smartphone makers specifically are feeling increased downward price pressure as they try to come out with newer, more advanced devices that outpace their competitors.

The entire market is trying to find new approaches to solve this problem. As phone makers scramble to conceive new features that convince consumers to upgrade, depth sensing is increasingly on people’s radar.

When Lucid won a Gold Stevie® Award for Entrepreneur of the Year for Computer Software, the community took notice. Lucid is already improving its pure software solutions.

“This year, Lucid partnered with elite camera maker RED to build an H4V camera. The RED camera features two moving high-resolution cameras that adjust dynamically,” says Jin. “Our engine allows you to generate multiple views through AI with only two views being captured. This camera will use the new Hydrogen One phone with a holographic display as a viewfinder.”

Technology and innovation are at the core of what Lucid does, and other entrepreneurs and businesses can learn from Lucid’s alternative AI solution. Their work illustrates that software can implement capabilities much faster (and cheaper) than hardware currently can.

Teaching machines to see like humans could have huge ramifications in the technological world, and we’re just beginning to imagine all the possibilities.

Tags: company awards, tech awards

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