The Stevie Awards Blog

This Technology Used to Track Cows; Now It Revolutionizes Event Planning

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Fri, Jun 12, 2020 @ 04:38 PM

Radio frequency identification (RFID) technology is certainly nothing new; it’s been around for decades. Essentially, small computer chips and antennae contained within tags are used to store and transmit data, making it the ideal solution for location tracking and information gathering.

So, it’s not surprising the tech got its start by tracking cattle and monitoring product shipments as they moved across the globe. What used to be limited to livestock and global logistics, however, has evolved over time. RFID tech is now one of the most exciting implements in modern event planning.

Modern RFID Solutions

One of the most significant ways RFID technology has evolved is in size. The computer chips and antennae are now small enough to seamlessly fit in personal badges or event bracelets.

This means an event attendee can slip on a bracelet or affix a badge to a shirt and have access to all the powerful benefits of this tech. Event attendees aren’t the only beneficiaries, though. Event planners are also seeing revolutionary possibilities thanks to this seemingly simple tech.

EventsAIR-Main Logo with Tagline-HighRes_crop

RFID Benefits for Event Attendees

As an attendee, RFID bracelets facilitate a handful of experience-enhancing benefits. First and foremost, it significantly cuts down on how long attendees must wait in line. More than half of live event attendees cite long lines as one of the most frustrating and negative aspects of attending an event. With RFID bracelets, though, a scan gets a person through check-in and security quickly and efficiently. By cutting down on the amount of time people stand around waiting to enter the event, you greatly enhance perception and enjoyment from the onset.

RFID bracelets can also be linked to various payment accounts, meaning attendees can swipe their bracelets to buy food, drink, souvenirs, or any other event-specific items. Attendees no longer have to stress about keeping an eye on their wallets or purses while navigating a crowded event or finding an ATM to get cash.

The other major benefit relates to social integration. Photographers can easily scan a bracelet and then link relevant pictures to that attendee, making posting to various social platforms easier than ever. This is good for attendees, but it’s also great for event coordinators, who thrive on positive word of mouth via social media.

RFID Benefits for Event Planners

RFID technology doesn’t just benefit attendees; it also makes the professional lives of event planners significantly better.

Security, for example, is always a concern at large-scale events. RFID-based passes can control attendee access to certain areas, such as VIP sections, and it allows security members to perform real-time checks of visitor accreditation. Plus, this technology significantly reduces the likelihood of  illegally reproduced, fraudulent passes.

The massive amount of tracking data also allows event coordinators to perform traffic pattern analysis, which reveals the most popular event features, identifies bottlenecks, and provides insight into venue layout deficiencies or successes.

As a particularly large incentive to incorporate this technology, several reports reveal that the speed and convenience of tapping to pay rather than dealing with cash or credit cards results in anywhere from 15 to 30 percent increased spend per person.

Events and Tech: Beyond RFID

RFID tech is just one modern innovation making its way into the world of event planning. Artificial intelligence (AI) and facial recognition software are also increasingly becoming a part of this landscape. Many companies today are tapping into the power of these technologies in order to enhance attendee or user experience at planned events. This includes EventsAIR, an event technology platform based out of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

“The way different technologies are starting to integrate and morph into one within the event planning space is something we’ve believed in from the start,” says Joe Ciliberto, global director of sales and marketing for EventsAIR. “Technology allows event planning companies today to be one-stop shops for all event-related needs.”

EventsAIR recently earned a Gold Stevie® Award in the Event Management Solution category at The 2019 International Business Awards®.

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Topics: International business awards, event awards, tech awards

Giving Back After Finding Personal and Professional Success

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Tue, Jun 09, 2020 @ 12:20 PM

Robin Toft, the Founder and CEO of Toft Group, a leading executive search firm  based in San Francisco, accomplished something rare: in the American Business Awards for 2020, Toft won Gold in the three major individual categories of Lifetime Achievement, Maverick of the Year and Woman of the Year.

Toft is a legend in her field and in many cases, outside of it as well. That field is executive search fully devoted to the life sciences, healthcare and biotech. As COVID-19 spreads around the globe, Toft is at the forefront of placing key talent researching a cure; as she has said, “my phone is ringing off the hook.

Portrait Robin Toft square 2020Toft founded her company ten years ago, in 2010, before which she worked full-time biotech, where she became a “superstar.” At Roche Diagnostics, Toft launched the first global initiative for access to HIV viral load testing; at ViroLogic, Inc., she launched and commercialized first HIV/AIDS genotype and phenotype tests to guide doctors in selecting correct drug combinations; as a result, HIV became a chronic disease and no longer a fatal one.

To know this disruptive leader is to know something else crucial: Toft is positive always. Call; email; meet one-on-one: the optimism is ironclad. And you may want to know this, too: Robin Toft is a colon cancer survivor; and a survivor of the California wildfires, where she lost everything, her home included.

Through it all, Toft’s focus has been steadfast on diversity since she knows it translates into return on investment. Companies with diverse leadership teams have been proven to be more innovative and profitable; and are more attractive to senior-level talent. Toft has focused on placing women in positions of power that have been held by men because, up until now, men frequently do not have female executives in the networks they rely on to fill top jobs.

In 2019, Toft Group had a remarkable 98% women on boards placement rate, five times the national average; and when it came to placing women in senior positions, the C-suite included, the company had a 48% rate at a time where the highest average offered is 29% (the lowest is 13%).

Over the years, as Toft interviewed and placed hundreds of women into executive roles, she knew something important that had been left unspoken: most women are miserable in their jobs and lack a clear direction for the future. “As a successful woman myself, it’s hard to see such high levels of career dissatisfaction.” As a result, Toft has personally coached thousands of women free-of-charge - to help them set goals; have the perseverance and tenacity to meet them; and to understand the importance of balancing and enjoying their lives.

robin toft horizontal picture

In 2019, Robin Toft put it all down in a groundbreaking book titled WE CAN, The Executive Woman’s Guide to Career Advancement, an intentional and powerful platform for change. Like Toft herself, the book goes where others fear to tread: female indecisiveness and doubt; the great need for discipline, for a plan, for a map of one’s progression and for confidence; the power to create opportunities; to practice self-care and self-talk. And that men play a role, too. And, yes, women are not - nor should they be - “mini-men.” 

WE CAN was honored with Silver for Best Business Book in the American Business Awards for 2020 and was also named to the Top 100 CEO books of all time by Book Authority. Toft also won silver for Entrepreneur of the Year – Business and Professional Services.

Interested in entering The American Business Awards® in 2021? 

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Since the publication of WE CAN, Toft has become a “name” on the keynote speaking circuit including corporations Qualcomm and Illumina; conferences including the top three for women in science; next generation female leaders and board members; the most prestigious in medicine including the Precision Medicine World Conference; MIT Alumni Network, among universities; and Athena International, the global non-profit leading the way in building a pipeline of women leaders in underrepresented areas, notably technology and medicine.

It’s no wonder then that thousands of executives outside of Toft’s search candidates now seek one-on-one mentoring with Toft (there is a waiting list) and that WE CAN, as of 2020, is a start-up company aimed at helping women – and men – grow from the “outside IN.”

As Toft says, “Placing top talent during the COVID-19 crisis has been extremely rewarding. My big dream in building Toft Group was to change the future of medicine, one relationship at a time and we have delivered upon that mission.  After 20 years as an executive in biotech and ten years building my own search company, I’ve learned to set goals, to reach them and to be happy. Teaching women - and men - to dream big and achieve their dreams is my mission for the next 20.”

For more on Robin Toft visit thetoftgroup.com; for information on Toft’s keynote speaking including topics, visit robintoft.com or wecan.works; to purchase the book WE CAN, go to https://www.amazon.com/WE-CAN-Executive-Womans-Advancement/dp/1949635031

 

Topics: American business awards, it awards, tech awards, best business book

AI Still Needs Human Expertise

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Tue, Jun 02, 2020 @ 04:16 PM

Siri, the artificial intelligence assistant of Apple, is impressive. She is sassy, efficient, and articulate. She is also the result of thousands of hours put in by hundreds of people who are experts in language, machine learning, and software development. When you see the end results of some of the most extensive AI projects, it’s easy to believe AI is replacing humans, but that is far from true.

Harvard Business Review researched 1,500 companies that implemented AI to automate processes. They found that businesses only reap the true long-term benefits of AI when humans and machines work together; companies that deploy AI in the hopes of displacing employees only see short-term productivity gains.

Standing on the Shoulders of Humans
DirectlyAI is not a stand-alone product. It needs to be trained to perform tasks, educated about the outcomes, and regularly maintained and updated. Millions of people around the globe earn their livings by teaching AI to make diagnostic decisions, to identify images, to recognize speech, and more. Has a website ever asked you to prove you are human by choosing the images that contain a certain street sign? If you filled in one of these image captchas, you were, in a way, teaching Google’s AI to identify that street sign.

Virtual support bots are one of the most common usages of AI today. One such example is Aida, a virtual assistant used by SEB, a bank headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden. Aida is trained to understand and to handle natural language conversations in order to answer customer queries. In about 30 percent of instances, the virtual system fails to resolve the issue, and it passes on the call to a human customer experience (CX) rep. It then monitors this human interaction and learns from it.

Complementing Each Other
What comes naturally to humans (reading complex facial expressions, creating art, making jokes, understanding implied meanings, and more) is not easy for machines. What’s easy for machines (such as crunching tons of data and doing repetitive tasks for months on end, for example) is practically impossible for people to accomplish. Through smartly executed collaboration, AI and humans can complement their respective skill sets to help businesses scale faster and better.

These things are no secret, of course. More instances of human experts powering AI are now seen worldwide. Directly, a support automation company based in San Francisco, California, United States, is one example. The company helps enterprises launch and train virtual agents. Their platform has human experts from all walks of life training CX AI agents for numerous enterprise companies, including Microsoft, SAP, LinkedIn, and Samsung. The human experts feed training phrases and intent to the company’s support AI, create authentic content the AI can use to automatically answer queries, and provide live assistance when needed.

When the expertise of human workers is systemically injected into the AI system, AI becomes more accurate and paves the way for continued coexistence,” says Antony Brydon, co-founder and VP of Platform at Directly. “Since AI will rely on the expertise of human workers to be successful, there’s no danger of people training themselves out of jobs because the AI systems need constant maintenance. And because the more input from domain experts an AI receives, the better it becomes, the demand for workers to train AI will only grow.”

Directly won the Bronze Stevie® Award in the Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning Solution subcategory of the Product Management & New Product Awards category at The 2019 and 2020 American Business Awards® .

Interested in entering The American Business Awards?

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Topics: American business awards, tech awards, artificial intelligence

Grand Stevie® Award Winners Announced in 2020 American Business Awards®

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Wed, May 27, 2020 @ 11:23 PM

The Stevie® Awards announced today the Grand Stevie Award winners in The 18th Annual American Business Awards® competition. Winners will be honored during the ABAs’ virtual awards ceremony on August 5, 2020.  Registration for the virtual ceremony is now open.

All organizations operating in the U.S. - large and small, public and private, for-profit and non-profit - are eligible to submit nominations to the ABAs in a wide range of categories, honoring achievement in every aspect of work life, from customer service and management to public relations and product development.

This year more than 3,600 nominations were considered in the judging process by more than 230 professionals, whose average ratings determined the Gold, Silver, and Bronze Stevie Award winners announced earlier this month. For a complete list of the 2020 Stevie Award winners, visit http://www.StevieAwards.com/ABA.

Grand aba pic

Grand Stevie Awards cannot be applied for directly.  Winners are determined by a points system based on the total number of awards won in the ABAs, with a Gold Stevie win counting for 3 points, a Silver Stevie for 2 points, and a Bronze Stevie counting for 1.5. 

2020 Grand Stevie winners in The American Business Awards are as follows:

ORGANIZATION OF THE YEAR: Cisco Systems, Inc., the multinational technology conglomerate headquartered in San Jose, CA, is the most honored organization in the 2020 ABAs, earning the most award points, 44.5, for nine Gold, five Silver, and five Bronze Stevie wins.

MOST HONORED MARKETING AGENCY: Mayfield Consulting, a business-to-business marketing and sales consultancy in Concord, NC, earned 25.5 points for Stevie wins on behalf of clients such as AspenRidge Recovery, B&S Site Development Inc., Newberry Tanks and Equipment, and Richmond Alarm Company.

MOST HONORED INTERACTIVE AGENCY: George P. Johnson, the Auburn, MI-based experiential marketing agency, earned 22.5 points for Gold, Silver, and Bronze Stevie wins for work for clients including AT&T, Google, IBM, and Infiniti, among others.

MOST HONORED PUBLIC RELATIONS AGENCY: Havas, the French multinational advertising and public relations company, is this year’s honoree, with several of its US-based agencies earning 22 points for Stevie wins on behalf of Loadsmart, Panda Express, Spireon, Inc., Toyota and other clients.

TOP 10:  The following organizations will also be presented with Grand Stevie Award trophies for being among the top award-point winners in the 2020 ABAs, for Gold, Silver, and Bronze Stevies won on behalf of themselves and/or clients.

  1. PAIRELATIONS, LLC (Denver, CO and New York, NY), 36.5 points
  2. Jeunesse Global (Orlando, FL), 32 points
  3. John Hancock (Boston, MA), 30.5
  4. Wolters Kluwer (several US-based divisions of the Dutch information services company), 30
  5. Melissa Sones Consulting (New York, NY), 26
  6. POWERHOME (Mooresville, NC), 24.5
  7. Comcast Business (Philadelphia, PA), 22
  8. 10Fold (multiple US offices), 21.5
  9. SoftPro (Raleigh, NC), 19
  10. The National Association of REALTORS ® (Chicago, IL), 18

Topics: marketing awards, American business awards, tech awards, company of the year

Stevie® Winners Announced in 18th American Business Awards®

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Mon, May 18, 2020 @ 11:00 AM

The Stevie® Awards, organizers of the world’s premier business awards programs, today announced the Gold, Silver and Bronze Stevie winners in The 18th Annual American Business Awards®.

All organizations operating in the U.S.A. – large and small, public and private, for-profit and non-profit - are eligible to submit nominations to the ABAs in a wide range of categories, honoring achievement in every aspect of work life, from customer service and management to public relations and product development. More than 3,600 nominations were reviewed in the judging process this year by 230 professionals worldwide, whose average scores determined the winners.

ABA spring day 5-1

Winners of three or more Gold Stevie Awards include:

Cisco Systems (San Jose, CA), CitizenNet & Magnitude Digital (New York, NY), Comcast Business (Philadelphia, PA), Crocs (Niwot, CO), Fazoli's Italian Restaurants (Lexington, KY), George P Johnson Experiential Marketing (Auburn Hills, MI), Harman International (Stamford, CT), Hearts & Science (New York, NY), Hilton Grand Vacations (Orlando, FL), Humana (Louisville, KY), Jeunesse Global (Orlando, FL), John Hancock (Boston, MA), London Computer System (Cincinnati, OH), Mastercard (Purchase, NY), National Association of REALTORS® (Chicago, IL), Newberry Tanks and Equipment (West Memphis, AR), Nexxt Gen Corporation (Irving, TX), POWERHOME (Mooresville, NC), Red Hat (Raleigh, NC),  State Farm (Bloomington, IL), Toft Group (San Francisco, CA), and United Imaging (Houston, TX).

Among other winners, organizations with five or more Gold, Silver, or Bronze Stevie wins include:

Bank of America (Charlotte, NC), BMO Financial Group (Chicago, IL), Curion (Deerfield, IL), Fannie Mae (Washington, DC), LifeVantage (Sandy UT), Medical Marijuana, Inc. (San Diego, CA), Merkle (Columbia, MD), Metro Development Group (Tampa, FL), MONAT Global (Miami, FL), Pareto Intelligence (Chicago, IL), Passageways (Lafayette, IN), SoftPro (Raleigh, NC), TBI (Chicago, IL), Tek Leaders Inc (Plano, TX), Tinuiti (New York, NY), United Imaging (Houston, TX), and Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory U.S. (New York, NY).

For a complete list of the Stevie Award winners announced today, visit www.StevieAwards.com/ABA.

2020 Stevie winners will be celebrated and presented their awards during a virtual awards ceremony on Wednesday, August 5 at 2pm ET. Details of the event are available on the website.

The categories that recognize outstanding new products and services introduced in the USA are among the most heavily subscribed in the ABAs, and every new product or service nominated in The 2020 American Business Awards is included in voting for the People's Choice Stevie Awards for Favorite New Products, a worldwide public vote. Voting opened today at http://peopleschoice.stevieawards.com and will conclude on July 15. People’s Choice Stevie winners will be announced the week of July 20 and will be honored during the August 5 virtual presentations.


“Despite the toughest business conditions in memory, American organizations continue to demonstrate their commitment to innovation, creativity, and bottom-line results,” said Stevie Awards President Maggie Gallagher.  “This year’s Stevie-winning nominations are full of inspiring stories of persistence, ingenuity, resourcefulness, and compassion.  We celebrate all of their stories and look forward to showcasing them during our virtual awards ceremony on August 5.”

Topics: app awards, American business awards, new product awards, tech awards

With MAD-learn, Today’s Student’s are the Future of App Development

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Mon, Apr 20, 2020 @ 01:19 PM

Summary: As technology races forward, there’s greater and greater uncertainty about what the future job market is going to look like, which is precisely why educational technology company MAD-learn seeks to turn students from consumers of tech into creators of it. In this piece, we explore how they go about this mission and why the Stevie® Awards honored their efforts with a Gold distinction.

In today’s landscape, technological discoveries and creations are increasing exponentially. With this rapid rate of change and development, it’s nearly impossible to anticipate what the job market is going to look like in even ten to twenty years, and it’s that very uncertainty that contributed to the creation of MAD-learn.

What Is MAD-learn?

MAD-learn, which is based out of Atlanta, Georgia, United States, is an educational technology company that runs a mobile app creation program for students. (MAD stands for “mobile app development.”) The curriculum focuses on bringing the concepts and tools of app development to students ranging from kindergartners to twelfth-graders. The program enables students to build their very own mobile apps. The web-based tool empowers all teachers—not just teachers of technology—to engage students in app development.

mad learn 3Alefiya Master is the founder and CEO of MAD-learn. Her educational background and professional experience motivated her to start the company.

“Alefiya has a degree in education and psychology from Emory University, and she’s gone through training and had experience as a Montessori teacher,” says Doreen Frempong-Baah, the project manager at MAD-learn. “She’s a teacher-turned-entrepreneur, and her background truly powers her passion for wide-scale educational improvement.”

What started as a small company has since grown into a program that serves over twenty thousand students across thirty states and five countries. Using just one metric of success, the company doubled its revenue in 2019 and is on track to do the same in 2020.

mad learn 2

Technology Creation, Not Just Consumption

One of the driving principles of MAD-learn is the desire to empower today’s children to gain the skill sets necessary to solve tomorrow’s unknown problems.

“By employing our design-thinking program, we can engender twenty-first-century technology literacy, as well as teach students vital and transferable skills that will enable them to gain experience with problem identification and solution,” says Frempong-Baah. “By using the design-thinking process, we’re preparing today’s students for tomorrow’s careers. Ultimately, we aim to inspire students to become creators of technology and not just consumers of it.”

Because of the rapid rate of technological change, and the uncertainty it brings, the curriculum of MAD-learn leans heavily on the process of learning how to solve problems.

“When we don't know what jobs are going to be available ten years from now, we have to teach kids how to create,” says Frempong-Baah. “It’s important to have all kids learn to think and to create for themselves.”

Teaching children how to tackle future problems isn’t just about ensuring a spot in the workforce. It’s about learning how to harness available technology to solve global-scale problems. It is this sentiment that spurred the launch of MAD About Mattering, another initiative of MAD-learn.

“We believe strongly in global collaboration, and that’s why we created MAD About Mattering. It enables students around the world to connect and collaborate virtually to create apps that solve social problems,” says Frempong-Baah. “We’re extremely excited about the opportunity for more kids around the planet to create world-changing apps that will solve social problems and improve lives.”

Impact of Winning a Stevie® Award

MAD-learn was honored with a Gold Stevie® Award in the category of Best New Product or Service of the Year - Consumer Products at the 2019 Stevie® Awards for Women in Business. For MAD-learn, this honor has had both internal company-wide effects, as well as a sweeping positive external impact.

“Winning this award has been such an exciting time for the organization as a whole. It’s truly motivation to keep working harder,” says Frempong-Baah. “Through the exposure of the award, we have also gained more global recognition, which has increased our social media following and our overall brand recognition. Both help us keep doing our important work.”

Interested in nominating your business in the 2020 Stevie Awards for Women in Business

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Topics: stevie awards for women in business, tech awards, mobile application awards, student awards, app development

American Business Awards Final Entry Deadline Further Extended to May 5

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Thu, Mar 26, 2020 @ 09:00 AM

The Stevie® Awards, organizer of The American Business Awards®, announced today that the final entry deadline for the 18th annual ABA competition has been further extended to May 5. The organizers said it is apparent that the original final deadline extension to April 14 will not be enough time for American organizations impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic to submit their nominations of achievement.

No additional late fees will be charged, and nominations submitted through May 5 will not be penalized in any way in the judging process. Organizers still hope to be able to stage the 18th ABA awards banquet at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City on Friday, June 12.

The American Business Awards are widely considered to be the premier business awards program in the U.S.A. All organizations operating in the U.S.A. are eligible to submit nominations— public and private, for-profit and non-profit, large, and small. The 2020 awards will honor achievements since the beginning of 2019. Entry details are available at http://www.StevieAwards.com/ABA.

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With the announcement of the deadline extension organizers said they have waived all fees for nominations to the Startup of the Year and Tech Startup of the Year categories, for organizations that began operations since the beginning of 2018.

ABA pic for linkedin big

The further extension of the final entry deadline has prompted the organizers to change several other dates in the 2020 ABA calendar:

  • May 10: Revised end of judging
  • May 15: Revised winners notification and announcement
  • May 15 - June 5: Revised window for public voting in the People's Choice Stevie Awards for Favorite New Products

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

More than 200 executives on 13 juries will rate nominations to determine the Gold, Silver, and Bronze Stevie Award winners.

The list of past Stevie Award winners in The American Business Awards reads like a who’s who of innovation and business success in the U.S.A. Explore the list of last year’s winners.

Topics: The American Business Awards, American business awards, tech awards, deadline extension, startup awards

Real Estate Offers within One Day? Tech-Oriented Firms Hope to Upend the Home-Selling Process

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Wed, Jul 24, 2019 @ 09:12 PM

For a lot of consumers, owning a home is the ultimate symbol of freedom, affording you the opportunity to customize to your heart’s content.

When it’s time to sell, though, real estate ownership can start to feel like the exact opposite of freedom. Suddenly, many find themselves preparing for countless showings while waiting for offers and potentially making last-minute renovations to lure buyers.

Offerpad is among a crop of U.S. companies trying to fundamentally change that process. The firm, which is based in Chandler, Arizona, USA, allows home sellers to upload information about their properties, including optional photos. Home sellers then get their purchase offers within 24 hours. The company bases its pricing on a custom algorithm, which compares the home against similar properties that recently changed hands in the area.

offerpad (2)

After the customer signs the necessary documents online and Offerpad conducts a home inspection, the seller is ready to set a closing date. According to the company, it can close in as little as 10 days or as many as 90 days. Clients don’t have to worry about showings or open houses, and they don’t have to make any headache-inducing concessions to buyers.

“Traditionally, selling or buying real estate is wrapped up in so much hassle that people often avoid it altogether,” says Offerpad spokesperson David Stephan. “By making it easy, Offerpad hopes to eliminate the stress from people’s milestone moves.”

Support from Venture Capital

Offerpad, which real estate veterans Brian Bair and Jerry Coleman started in 2015, is part of a growing group of companies trying to use technology to reshape the market. So-called “iBuyers,” such as Opendoor and Zillow, are using proprietary pricing algorithms to purchase and to resell homes, and the national brokerage firm Keller Williams is set to launch its own home-buying operative in May.

In the case of Offerpad, Stephan says the company is trying to appeal to people who are disillusioned with the more conventional home-selling approach.

“Real estate doesn’t need to be the frustrating, messy ordeal it’s been for decades,” says Stephan. “With our service, home sellers and buyers now have the better option of closing and moving at their convenience, without the hassle.”

Unlike older companies that paid cut-rate prices for mostly dilapidated housing, iBuyers serve a more mainstream client base. There is a flip side to the convenience they offer their customers, though. With Offerpad, for example, home sellers pay a service fee between 6 and 10 percent, which is higher than what traditional agents charge. However, once the home is sold, the company pays for any concessions to the buyer, as well as maintenance and other associated fees.

To date, iBuyers represent a small part of the residential real estate industry. Opendoor purchased just over 11,000 homes in 2018, and MarketWatch estimates Offerpad bought roughly 3,600 properties last year. The firm hasn’t officially confirmed that number, but whatever the actual amount, it could soar soon, especially with an influx of cash from venture capital and other funding sources. As of March, Offerpad, which garnered five Stevie® Awards this year for customer service and sales, brought in a staggering $975 million in equity and debt financing. The company doubled its home purchases in each of the past two years and is looking to expand on the 12 cities it currently serves.

For Stephan, the sky’s the limit when it comes to algorithm-based home purchasing.

“The world of real estate is rapidly changing,” he says. “Offerpad is at the forefront of its transformation, defining the modern approach to buying and selling a home. In the future, we’ll likely see this approach adapted in markets throughout the world.”

Topics: tech awards, stevie awards for sales and customer service, real estate 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.

Topics: American business awards, company awards, tech awards, tech award

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.

Topics: American business awards, company awards, tech awards