Final Entry Deadline Approaching in The 17th International Business Awards®

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Tue, Jun 30, 2020 @ 09:27 PM

The final entry deadline for the 2020 (17th annual) edition of The International Business Awards® is Tuesday, July 28.

The International Business Awards are widely considered to be the world's premier business awards competition.  In 2019 the competition attracted more than 4,000 nominations from organizations in more than 70 nations.

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 final entry deadline this year is Tuesday, July 28. Entry details are available at

Juries featuring more than 150 executives will determine the Stevie Award winners. The Gold, Silver, and Bronze Stevie Award winners will be announced on September 9. Stevie Award winners will be honored at a virtual awards ceremony this year.


New this year are a variety of COVID-19 response awards categories that do not have entry fees. These aim to honor heroes of every industry including medical, education, food delivery, media, public service, business response, and more.

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

The IBAs feature more than 40 categories that do not require the payment of entry fees, including all 35 of the Company/Organization of the Year categories, and that there are many new and revised features of the IBAs for 2020, including:

  • Nine new categories to recognize singular business achievements in areas such as business turnaround, finance, revenue generation, and science and technology, among others.
  • The simplification of submission requirements in the Company/Organization, Corporate Communications & Public Relations, Marketing, and New Product & Product Management category groups.

Interested in entering the IBAs this month?

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Topics: International business awards

How to Keep Up With Changing Retirement Needs

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Sun, Jun 28, 2020 @ 09:56 PM

With the ongoing economic impacts of the Great Recession, astronomical student debt, COVID-19, rising housing costs, and myriad other financial factors, retirement looks a lot different today than it used to. Gone are the days of finding a job, staying with the company for 40 years, and retiring with a handshake and a gold watch. Pensions and 401(k)s are increasingly hard to come by. Plus, with often insurmountably expensive real estate costs, fewer people are entering the realty market. As a result, many people don’t have valuable homes to supplement their retirement nest eggs.

Given these kinds of factors, it’s little surprise that the concept of “retirement” has shifted. In this landscape, one thing is clear: If financial services groups want to continue to stay relevant, they will need to change their approaches, advice, and outlook to match what financial wellness means to millennials and members of Generation Z.

healthy mind john hancock

Rethinking Retirement Age

In a 2018 study by, millennials responded that they think 61 is the ideal age to retire. Despite this aspiration of early retirement, however, approximately two-thirds of millennials have nothing saved for retirement.

Because of increased debt and decreased financial opportunities, more people than ever are being forced to reevaluate what’s realistic when it comes to retirement. For many, this means bumping out that expected age of retirement. Some don’t even expect to retire at all, instead considering part-time jobs, second careers, or other money-making opportunities as they get into the later years of their lives.

Increased longevity further complicates the issue. Across the globe, people are living longer than ever, which seriously skews issues related to realistic retirement age, health insurance, and life insurance.

Rethinking Financial Wellness

Companies that provide financial planning and other money-management services are often viewed as symbolic of a bygone era. After all, someone who has nothing saved for retirement, doesn’t own a home, and is working on paying down $50,000 in student debt can feel as if these companies aren’t relevant to their financial realities.

That doesn’t need to be the case, though. These companies can still help younger clientele reach their financial goals; they just have to shift how they think about accomplishing this endeavor. John Hancock, which is based in Boston, Massachusetts, United States, is one such company successfully refining its approach. 

“At John Hancock, we know it’s time to look beyond outdated concepts like ‘net assets’ and to build financial solutions that fit into customers’ whole lives—with easily accessible products that reflect their values, their approach to wellness, and their holistic well-being,” says Meghan Fackler, a thought leadership manager at John Hancock. “That’s why we’re redefining retirement, insurance, and investing for the modern generation of consumers to address both their health and wealth.”

To connect with this modern generation of consumers, one key is reframing the idea of financial wellness as the most important kind of wellness. Financial service providers are finding that the younger generation prizes a more holistic approach to well-being, and providing advice that resonates means tailoring to that mind-set.

Twine is an app that provides financial advice and automated money management to empower users to manage multiple savings goals with a partner – it’s a smarter way to collaborate and save for what matters. Twine is for people who might not have their own financial advisor but want to make better financial decisions to reach their goals, regardless of their income or age. The app simplifies saving for major milestones like down payments, weddings, and vacations by allowing users to collaborate and link accounts with others to stay on track. Twine is built, developed and powered entirely by innovative technology while leveraging the financial expertise of John Hancock.

twine john hancock

“We believe good health and financial wellness are essential ingredients to overall well-being, and we want to help motivate people to make healthier
choices—for themselves and their future,” says Fackler.

With this goal in mind, John Hancock has had success especially with one initiative: a partnership with the Vitality Group, which can serve as a template for similar companies looking to connect with younger investors.

“In 2015, we started a new chapter in our 155-year history when we partnered with the Vitality Group to help our clients live longer, healthier lives,” says Feckler. “As the first life insurance company in the United States to offer a wellness-based rewards program, John Hancock life insurance with Vitality gives our customers the financial protection they need while also helping them earn savings on their premiums, shopping gift cards, and travel discounts for their everyday healthy habits, such as going for a walk, eating well, and getting a regular health check.”

John Hancock was recently honored with multiple Stevie® Awards in the 2020 American Business Awards®, earning the company a Grand Stevie® Award. This designation is reserved for the top 10 most-recognized organizations. 

The 2021 American Business Awards are not open for entries yet. The 2020 International Business Awards® are accepting nominations through July 28, 2020.

Request the entry kit

Topics: American business awards, Grand Stevie Winner, Grand Stevie Award, financial awards

Competing for Talent with Technology

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Wed, Jun 24, 2020 @ 06:04 PM

Employing the right people is one of the most important yet challenging aspects of any organization. Enabling employers to improve their recruiting effectiveness through branding, talent engagement, and recruitment benchmarks is an area that’s getting more attention in today’s competitive professional landscape.

More than ever, employers, even those with minimal resources, need to be agile in order to quickly find and hire top talent. With candidates today expecting the same treatment as consumers, the power has shifted from employers to job seekers. Preboarding and onboarding programs, in addition to strong professional development offerings, are top of mind for employers, who know these programs are essential to both employee retention and engagement. 

Organizations need to provide a stellar candidate experience in order to recruit the right people. To keep their businesses moving forward, they must continue this positive experience throughout the entire employee life cycle.

icims employees

More than any other HR function, talent acquisition has rapidly expanded in recent years, and the function itself evolved along with its technology requirements. You now need to offer broader capabilities and deeper functionality, such as candidate relationship management, mobile-friendly capabilities, new-hire onboarding, and more, in order to help organizations grow and scale.

This is why nimble, cloud-based talent acquisition systems help engage and hire candidates while simultaneously managing complex and ever-changing global data privacy rules. 

Talent acquisition has truly become its own discipline, requiring dedicated technology solutions to help businesses find, engage, and inspire people to deliver business results. 

While some organizations struggle between the idea of centralizing software systems with one vendor and multiple best-in-class solutions, one thing is clear: Employers need their applicant-tracking systems to do more than just process candidates.

Additionally, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) continue to change the recruiting game. While some organizations are hesitant to invest in AI and ML, fearing the technology might cannibalize the industry and displace recruiters from their jobs, AI and ML are growing and evolving rapidly and becoming increasingly difficult to avoid.

One company using these dynamic and ever-changing functions in HR is iCIMS, a recruiting company based out of Holmdel, New Jersey, United States. The company employs four million hires annually through configurable recruitment solutions and an ecosystem of more than 245 talent acquisition partners. They’ve enjoyed this success due to their constant aim to find talent by delivering best-in-class software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions within a unified platform and by offering a customer-level experience.

By taking one client at a time, the company became one of the world’s leading talent acquisition platforms, enabling more than four thousand clients to hire four million people annually in almost every language worldwide.

“We have built upon our early success to create products that solve hiring challenges for some of the world’s most complex companies,” says Erica Bonavitacola, a communications associate for iCIMS.

To ensure the team is well-positioned to deliver excellent customer service, Bonavitacola says the company actively recruits employees who embody seven core competencies: adaptability, drive, transparency, customer commitment, kaizen, passion, and empathy.

Within this industry, the pendulum has swung from dedicated talent acquisition providers to human capital management (HCM) providers and back again. Acadian Advisory, an independent workplace technology research and consulting firm, recently reported that traditional providers that once dominated the recruiting technology market, such as Oracle Taleo and IBM Kenexa, have been in steady decline for years.

Solving problems for companies that engage talent has become a race in every sense of the word, and gaining access to new relationships through applicant-tracking software is revolutionizing how talent is discovered. Whether you place second, third, or last, companies are quickly realizing they must run or be outdone. 

iCIMS Inc. recently won a Bronze Stevie® Award in the category of Customer Service Team of the Year - Computer Software at The 2019 American Business Awards®. CFO Valerie Rainey also won a Silver Stevie for Female Executive of the Year in the 2019 Stevie Awards for Women in Business.  

Interested in entering the 2020 Stevie Awards for Women in Business?

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Topics: stevie awards for women in business

Grand Stevie® Award Winners Announced in the 2020 Middle East Stevie Awards

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Mon, Jun 22, 2020 @ 09:11 PM
  • Boehringer Ingelheim and Dubai Health Authority take top prizes
  • To be presented for the first time at a virtual award ceremony on 25 August

The Stevie® Awards today announced the Grand Stevie Award winners in the first annual Middle East Stevie Awards.  The winners will be honored during a virtual award ceremony on 25 August. Registration for the virtual award ceremony is now ongoing.

The Middle East Stevie Awards, sponsored by the Ras Al Khaimah Chamber of Commerce & Industry, is an international business awards competition open to all organizations in 17 nations in the Middle East and North Africa. The focus of the awards is recognizing innovation in all its forms.  

This year more than 500 nominations were considered in the judging process by more than 70 professionals, whose average ratings determined the Gold, Silver, and Bronze Stevie Award winners announced earlier this year. For a complete list of the 2020 Stevie Award winners, visit

MESA grand winner 2020

In addition to the Gold, Silver and Bronze Stevie awards, the top winner overall (total number of points conferred by total Gold, Silver and Bronze Stevie wins) and the highest-scoring nomination win Grand Stevie Award trophies.

A German-based, family-owned company, Boehringer Ingelheim is considered one of the pharmaceutical industry’s top 20 companies. In the inaugural Middle East Stevie Awards, Boehringer Ingelheim will receive the Grand Stevie for Organization of the Year with 23.5 award points, earned for six Gold, two Silver, and one Bronze Stevie Award wins.

"We believe that digital technologies offer exciting new ways to help patients around the world.  Health is what we care about; digital technologies help us to provide it. New tools nourish our passion for innovation and help ideas grow.  We are focused on delivering international best practices, innovative medical trends, while also ramping up our research and development capabilities, to address the diverse needs of patients in the country and region "said Evren Özlü, General Manager & Head of HP, Turkey

Dubai Health Authority’s nomination of diagnostic and prognostic liquid biopsy biomarkers for asthma was awarded the Gold Stevie Award for Innovation in Medical or Dental, and because it received the highest overall average score from the judges, of all nominations submitted in the 2020 competition, will also receive the Grand Stevie Award for Highest-Rated Nomination of the Year.

In the inaugural Middle East Stevie Awards, Dubai Health Authority won four Gold and one Silver Stevies for their Smart Home Care and Smart Health Professional licensing initiatives, as well as their innovative new approaches to early detection, diagnoses and treatments for asthma, sepsis, and childhood developmental disabilities. 

Dr. Younis Kazim, CEO of Dubai Healthcare Corporation from Dubai Health Authority commented, commented on the win by saying: “Dubai Health Authority are pleased to add a distinguished set of new prizes to its collection of prestigious international awards. Recognition with a Grand Stevie Award is the result of the great efforts made by the authority’s team to promote innovation and introduce smart services to facilitate the customer’s journey, and their continuous offering of improvement projects for services provided to individual or institutional clients.

Usually the two Grand Stevie Award winners are announced live at the award ceremony. However, due to the current development of the COVID19 pandemic, the Stevie Awards had to cancel the in-person award ceremony that was to take place on 21 March at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates. A virtual Stevie Awards ceremony will instead be offered on 25 August, 2020 in which the winners of the first Middle East Stevie Awards will be honored.

"We were very sad that the award ceremony could not take place in Ras Al Khaimah. It's always a very special moment to present the award winners with their awards," said Maggie Gallagher, president of the Stevie Awards. "That's why we are all the more pleased that we can now offer the winners of the Middle East Stevie Awards 2020 a virtual award ceremony in which our Stevie Award winners may be recognized and celebrated from the safety of their homes and offices.”

The Trophies for all winners will be shipped before the 25 August Ceremony so the winners can have their red-carpet pictures and record their acceptance speech holding their trophies. Orders should be made before 1 July 2020.

Complete information about the virtual awards ceremony is available at

The virtual awards ceremony will feature digital versions of all of the things that people love about Stevie Awards events, including the networking, acceptance speeches, red carpet photographs, and red carpet interviews.   A series of informative webinars this summer will also be offered to virtual ceremony participants.

If you, as a representative of the press, is interested in participating in the virtual award ceremony of the Middle East Stevie Awards on 25 August at 2 p.m GMT., please contact us at

The submission phase of the second edition of the awards will begin in September 2020.

Interested in entering the 2021 Middle East Stevie Awards?

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Topics: Grand Stevie Winner, top business awards, Middle East Stevie Awards

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; for information on Toft’s keynote speaking including topics, visit or; to purchase the book WE CAN, go to


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

How Food Fads Become a Multibillion-Dollar Industry

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Wed, Jun 03, 2020 @ 03:14 PM

Bubble tea, also called pearl tea, or boba tea, is a flavored milk tea with chewy tapioca beads. Sounds modest enough, right? The demand for this beverage, however, is anything but modest. Valued at $1.89 billion (USD) in 2018, the global bubble tea market is projected to reach $3.49 billion (USD) by 2026. So, how did a mere variation on classic tea capture this much of the global market share?

Food Fashion 

Social media is an easy way to gauge this fad’s popularity. Instagram is full of pictures of delicious food, and beverages often have dedicated hashtags. Plus, it’s now customary to share nearly every meal on social media before consuming it. In a culture that looks at what you eat the way it looks at what you wear, food has become just as fashionable as clothing.

“What’s in your pantry or on your plate has become a form of self-expression, much like a fabulous pair of Christian Louboutins. Just as the label ‘fashionista’ evokes an entire lifestyle, so, too, does the term ‘foodie,’” writes famous television host and entrepreneur Martha Stewart in a blog for HuffPost.

empire eagle

This phenomenon is not new, of course. In an article written for the New York Times almost four decades ago (“De Gustibus; Fashions in Food, Like Those in Clothes, Follow the Trends”), food critic Mimi Sheraton talks quite candidly about food fashion.

“It is probable that many people, anxious to be seen eating the right thing in the right restaurant, are swallowing hard-to-down rare fish, almost raw vegetables, white chocolate mousse that tastes like sweet fat and exotically aromatic seasonings they secretly consider to be as appealing as moth balls,” writes Sheraton.

While that sentiment might be true, there is no denying that food fashion is a huge economic driver. It has helped build numerous billion-dollar industries, including the bubble tea market.

The Rise of Bubble Tea

Bubble tea originated in Taiwan, in the 1980s. The most popular version is said to have originated in Chun Shui Tang tea shop in Taichung, Taiwan where the owner, Liu Han-Chieh, experimented with milk tea by adding it in a cocktail shaker with ice. At that time, no one served chilled tea, and the concoction went on to become extremely popular with the younger crowd. They called it “bubble tea” because of the thick foam layer that formed on top. In 1987 Han-Chieh held a competition for his staff members and asked them to come up with creative beverage variations. Lin Hsiu Hui, the store manager, added tapioca balls to milk tea and created the version now popular across the globe.

From its nation of origin, bubble tea quickly spread to several other Asian countries and communities. It burst onto North America’s food scene in waves but hit the mainstream around 2014 and is now considered a mainstay. It’s phenomenal growth is partly tied to the simultaneous rise of foodies on social media, who are notoriously partial to food’s visual appeal.

Researchers who study food cultures attribute another factor to bubble tea’s success. By introducing and marketing the product toward working professionals, it gave the drink a kind of stature. Krishnendu Ray, assistant professor of food studies at New York University, explains in an article published in the South China Morning Post: “One of the attractive things about bubble tea is the fact that it is spreading to the middle class, professional classes, so it has a lot more prestige at the very beginning compared to food associated with poor working-class Chinese, which is what I call a hierarchy of taste. The higher the class your food is, the easier it is to circulate in global circuits and acquire prestige.”

Riding on Boba’s Success

Many organizations grew out of bubble tea’s success. This includes franchises that serve boba to customers, as well as manufacturers that make the material and equipment for the tea.

Strong competition in the bubble tea market drives these manufacturers to experiment with flavors and to improve the quality of the boba they produce. Jasmine milk tea, avocado milk tea, and mango green tea are just a few of many great variations.

empire eagle 2

A Stevie-winning boba manufacturer is Empire Eagle Food Co., Ltd., which is based in Taichung City, Taiwan, China. They help businesses serve bubble tea by guiding them from the initial concept stage to sampling to making the final tapioca drinks. Conceding there are several other players in the market to compete against, Mindy Jen, co-founder and chief marketing officer (CMO) at Empire Eagle Food Co., Ltd., says they outstrip competition by treating bubble tea like the food fashion culture that it is.

“Even though bubble milk tea is a traditional drink, our team believes bubble milk tea is not only a Taiwanese local drink but a fashion culture, just like all the different fashion industries,” she says. “Therefore, we change our marketing strategy and products all the time to fit the quick changes in the industry.”

It’s anyone’s guess whether bubble tea is here to stay or will fade like so many fads before it. For now, though, many people count it as their favorite beverage, and that is all that matters.

Jen won a Silver Stevie® Award in the Female Executive of the Year - Business Products - 11 to 2,500 Employees category at The 2019 Stevie® Awards for Women in Business.

Interested in entering the 2020 Stevie Awards for Women in Business?

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Topics: stevie awards for women in business, womens awards, bubble tea, boba tea

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® .

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Topics: American business awards, tech awards, artificial intelligence