ReadSpeaker Offers Natural Text-to-Speech EdTech Solutions for Accessible Learning

Posted by Amanda Del Signore on Tue, Jan 02, 2024 @ 10:58 AM

22 spotlight Square-Jan-02-2024-03-41-03-0597-PMStevie-winner ReadSpeaker is a voice technology company providing text-to-speech for learning content with natural-sounding voices.

ReadSpeaker tools are a critical component of making content accessible, more comprehensible, and engaging. Their tools are cloud-based, so they can be accessed anywhere, anytime, for any content and on any device.

With ReadSpeaker embedded into a Learning Management System (LMS), a website, or learning content, the user can choose from 68 languages and over 245 voices. They can choose from a suite of reading and writing tools; personalize their reading speed, highlighting preferences, font, size, colors, and more; and select distraction-free “text-only” mode.

There are several solutions and certified plug-ins available to institutions of higher education—each meeting Learning Tools Interoperability standards for interoperability—and it can be customized depending on the application.

Moodle Text-to-Speech Plugin
In September 2022, ReadSpeaker released a text-to-speech plugin for Moodle, a free and open-source LMS, so that students could listen to content on the Moodle LMS with a single click of a button.

With ReadSpeaker in Moodle, all learners can access course content within the Moodle learning environment and have an equal learning experience
. A student might need content in their LMS read back to them in another language, or more slowly (or even faster). They might have a learning disability or be vision impaired, or they may not be fluent in English. Sometimes students benefit from modal-modal learning, listening to and reading along with the text simultaneously.

One of the most significant reasons why ReadSpeaker is a vital addition to websites and learning content is helping to meet the needs for those needing assistance due to learning disabilities. Websites and content meeting Universal Design for Learning standards help all learners to be successful.

Disability services on campus can use ReadSpeaker to read exams to students with dyslexia or visual impairments, which ensures a level playing field and removes the inconsistencies of using human readers for exams.

ReadSpeaker VoiceLab has opened an entirely new product class—custom digital voices—for nearly any industry vertical. VoiceLab has refined the process of creating custom digital voices—including how voices are processed, mapped, and digitized—to the point where the model can be replicated in any region, for any market, or for any language and audience.

By incorporating lexicon and context into voice solutions—ranging from voices for simple installations to enhanced human prosody for more sophisticated deployment—VoiceLab has provided voices and in some cases, custom voices for several global companies including Sonos, Strongmind, Vasco Translator M3, Soft Leaf Studios, and others.

Over the 20 years since ReadSpeaker's founding, education, inclusivity, and accessibility have been the core guiding principles of the company. They continue to support accessible initiatives in special education and have a larger goal to make the entire web an inclusive experience for all by using voice.

ReadSpeaker won a Silver Stevie® Award for Best Solution for Special Needs Students in The 2023 American Business Awards®.

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Topics: American business awards

Reducing Bias in AI Models With Quality Data and Diversity

Posted by Amanda Del Signore on Tue, Jan 02, 2024 @ 10:36 AM

22 spotlight Square-Jan-02-2024-03-33-46-6412-PMStevie-winner Appen is a global leader in data for the AI lifecycle, with over 25 years of experience in data sourcing, data annotation, and model evaluation by humans.

Appen leverages the expertise of over 1 million skilled contractors who speak over 235 languages in over 170 countries to give leaders in technology, automotive, financial services, retail, healthcare, and governments the confidence and capabilities to launch innovative AI intelligence systems and products.

Enabling organizations to launch, update, and operate unbiased AI models, Appen demonstrates its commitment to creating AI for everyone through a variety of projects and partnerships focused on the diversity of languages and dialects. This includes Translators without Borders, the Inuktitut translation project, and African-American Vernacular English datasets.

By specializing in data for the AI lifecycle, Appen is enabling companies to execute, expand, and improve AI initiatives. Appen is trusted by the world’s leading businesses like Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Salesforce, and Adobe.

Commitment to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I)  
As a part of Appen's commitment to inclusivity, the company partners with several Impact Sourcing organizations that help refugees, developing countries, or under-resourced communities earn a living. One example is a recent partnership with Mercy Corps Ventures, bringing microwork to those without access to traditional forms of banking through stablecoins.

Additionally, Appen improved its platform to be more transparent about pay for Appen Crowd workers by implementing a "Recommendation Engine" to provide guidance on pay. While paying a fair wage is a core value, the latest product improvement provides clients with a better-estimated wage per task, so the client can be confident the minimum wage is met. This process shows commitment to equity, inclusivity, and wellness of our Crowd, and the ability to provide work to unemployed/underemployed communities.

Appen’s partnerships with organizations like Translators Without Borders provide employees the chance to work on new and exciting projects to help improve the world for others.

Appen’s mission is to reduce bias in AI models. Businesses are now using AI to venture into previously unexplored territory, which leaves a greater possibility of inaccurate, incomplete training datasets to build AI models and an increased likelihood of biases.

Quality Data Essential for Quality AI
Human-in-the-loop data plays a crucial role in eliminating bias across AI applications. Biases of socioeconomic, demographic, and other origins are always an inherent risk when deploying AI models. Humans evolve over time and having a human in the loop to monitor the model as the data drifts becomes crucial for data science teams to continue to deploy safe, holistic, and inclusive models. Using human-in-the-loop datasets, Appen makes safer, more inclusive AI deployment and scaling a reality. 

To give businesses the insight they need to make informed decisions about their AI initiatives, Appen recently released its 2022 State of AI report. The sought-after 8th annual State of AI report is a cross-industry effort aimed at providing an overview of the status of AI and machine learning through input from businesses and their senior decision-makers and technical practitioners. Appen partnered with The Harris Poll to collect and analyze the survey data to ensure unbiased results. Appen’s 2022 report surveyed 504 participants across North America and Europe to understand AI adoption, the maturity of data management across the AI lifecycle, and the value placed on responsible AI.

The 2023 report reveals that, although AI adoption has slowed following the surge prompted by the global pandemic, companies are shifting their focus to ethics, data diversity, and maturing their use of AI. Appen’s research also found that sourcing quality data is the biggest hurdle to creating AI. To successfully build AI models, organizations need accurate and high-quality data, but business leaders and technologists are experiencing a significant gap in data accuracy. The report also dives into industry trends such as the increased reliance on synthetic data and the prioritization of ethics in AI projects.

With over 25+ years of experience putting together high-quality training data that strives to be free of unconscious bias, Appen’s robust synthetic datasets allow companies to break away from traditional AI data limitations and reduce human bias. Pairing this synthetic data in conjunction with authentic, historical data points ensures that datasets are robust, accurate, and realistic. These capabilities are making strides across several industries, such as automotive, financial services, retail, and healthcare.

Appen won a Bronze Stevie® Award for Most Innovative Tech Company of the Year - Up to 2,500 Employees in The 2023 American Business Awards®.

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Topics: American business awards

Lucid Reality Labs' Immersive Macular Degeneration XR for Health Training

Posted by Amanda Del Signore on Tue, Jan 02, 2024 @ 10:30 AM

22 spotlight Square-Jan-02-2024-03-24-29-3283-PMStevie-winner Lucid Reality Labs is an immersive technology consulting, design, and development company creating immersive, extended-reality training and simulations for healthcare, MedTech, pharma, aerospace, and defense.

The company creates virtual reality simulation solutions with elements of gamification for training, education, and collaboration scenarios. Through these scenarios, users explore, interact, learn, and build skills as well as master procedures attached to the role in a risk-free, controlled environment.

They also offer mixed reality (MR) solutions that merge physical and digital worlds, people, and virtual beings, revealing new opportunities for human, computer, and environment interactions. This creates new forms of remote collaboration, operations improvement, reskilling, and upskilling of the workforce while promoting safety and creativity.

Their solutions transform the way people perceive information, play, learn, collaborate, shop, socialize, and explore the world. The goal is to create immersive solutions with a positive impact, by going the extra mile, focusing on team synergy, client collaborations, and deep tech expertise.

"Seeing the Problem"
"Seeing the Problem" The Extended Reality (XR) Ophthalmology Macular Disease Simulation is a new product that was developed in collaboration with pharmaceutical company Roche and launched in October 2021 in the Houses of Parliament in the Palace of Westminster, UK. 

This unique immersive tool was built to demonstrate age-related macular degeneration in real-time. It helps users experience and learn what it is like to live with these symptoms and face everyday life challenges.

The product aims to raise awareness and recognition of macular disease conditions among healthcare practitioners, patient associations, and the public to facilitate understanding, bring attention, and help prevent macular disease in its early stages.Lucid reality body image of product

The product was built using visual materials, medical specialists' insights, and patient feedback to ensure accurate condition representation. Developers used one of the most advanced MR headsets on the market for the experience, the Varjo XR-3. This specific headset is designed to offer a high level of visual fidelity and realism, making it suitable for various professional use cases such as training, simulation, design, and research.

In this experience, there is an eye-tracking function, making it impossible to avert from the symptoms and see-through capabilities that overlay the real-life objects and surroundings with the condition symptoms in real time (e.g., visual distortions, increased blurriness of printed words, and well-defined blind spot in their field of vision).

The main benefit of this product is that healthcare practitioners, medical students, and patient associations obtained an opportunity to experience the macular disease condition firsthand and thus better understand the condition and the patient experience.

"Seeing the Problem" The Extended Reality (XR) Ophthalmology Macular Disease Simulation presentation to the UK Members of Parliament drove active communication around the eye care topic and brought governors, professional associations, practitioners, and journalists into dialogue. The product is planned to be expanded globally, with the US presentation in the next few years.

Lucid Reality Labs won a Gold Stevie® Award for Best Emerging Technology in the New Products & Services Categories in The 2023 American Business Awards®.

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Topics: American business awards Education Platform With Multiple Learning Formats for Cancer Patients and Caregivers

Posted by Amanda Del Signore on Tue, Jan 02, 2024 @ 10:21 AM

22 spotlight Square-Jan-02-2024-03-11-20-0198-PMStevie-winner is a next-generation, personalized website experience designed to empower those new to a cancer diagnosis with easy-to-understand information and resources.

Founded in 2021, site creators aim to help individuals and families devastated by a cancer diagnosis achieve better treatment results.
By guiding visitors through a personalized website experience, provides resources, educational material, and community for patients, making a complex and overwhelming life situation easier to navigate and understand.

While cancer research and treatments have seen incredible progress over the past decades, unfortunately, little advancement in the approach to patient education has occurred. Through partnerships with patients, caregivers, cancer experts, and health innovators, the website offers curated content through a proven customer experience design. AI functions and adult learning techniques are also integrated into the programs.

XpertPatient breaks down the complex world of cancer into a personalized education experience for each visitor. Not only is the content curated by cancer type and stage and sub-type if known, but the platform also offers visitors the opportunity to choose their preferred learning format: easy-to-read text, AI-powered audio over high-resolution medical illustrations, or curated videos from top institutions.Screenshot 2024-01-02 at 10.15.51 AM

Developers feel that the real game-changer element delivered by is that the site allows visitors to compare, side by side, their FDA-approved treatment options. For example, how will the side effects compare? Pill vs infusion? Hair loss vs shaky hands? Understanding all the options and the associated side effects is important as patients work with their treatment team to find the best choice given their daily needs and goals.

Launching in 2022, their patient education experience today supports 90% of the diagnosed cancer community. In 2023, they have added more online Cancer Information Centers to their existing 13, getting closer to supporting 100% every day.

XpertPatient has the talent, expertise, technical foundation, and passion to continue to innovate and grow on behalf of patients and collaborators as their needs change, including patients with other chronic illnesses. This focused yet fluid model for design, development, and deployment sets XpertPatient up to help as many people as possible while achieving long-term business success. won a Bronze Stevie® Award for Startup of the Year - Consumer Services Industries in The 2023 American Business Awards®.

Interested in entering The 2024 American Business Awards?

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Topics: American business awards

Hear From Winners in The 2023 American Business Awards®

Posted by Amanda Del Signore on Fri, Dec 29, 2023 @ 04:20 PM

Each year The American Business Awards®, the top business awards competition in the United States, attracts nominations from organizations of all sizes and in virtually every industry nationwide.

In The 21st American Business Awards, more than 3,700 nominations were submitted for consideration in a wide range of categories, including Startup of the Year, Executive of the Year, Best New Product or Service of the Year, Marketing Campaign of the Year, Thought Leader of the Year, and App of the Year, among others. 

Professionals and organizations enter the competition to demonstrate the progress and achievements they’ve made, to encourage their teams, to expand the reach of their brand, and to set themselves apart from others in their industry. 

Below are comments from a few of the winners in The 2023 American Business Awards competition, explaining in their own words what winning a Stevie® Award means to them and their organization.

“What Does Winning a Stevie Award Mean to You?”

Women’s Real Estate Investors Network (WREIN) won a Gold Stevie Award for Large Real Estate Company of the Year.

"It is a great accomplishment for both myself and my organization, the Women's Real Estate Investor's Network, to have won a Stevie Award this year. This recognition validates our efforts to empower women in the male-dominated real estate investing industry. It inspires us to continue creating opportunities for women to thrive as real estate investors."

Founded in 2018, WREIN is a learning and networking community for women real estate investors focused on helping women become financially confident and build multigenerational wealth.

Tivid TV Studios won a Silver Stevie Award for Startup of the Year among Business Services Industries.

“Tivid TV Studios is humbled to win this year's 2023 Silver Stevie Award for Startup Business of the Year. We take pride in contributing to our community, so this award honors them. It speaks volumes to have others recognize Tivid TV's efforts to create a more sustainable industry for professionals, corporations, and students alike. Thank you!”

Tivid TV Studios supplies the tools and creative space to aspiring filmmakers or content creators that lack any area of expertise or resource.

Matthew Caiola, Co-CEO, 5WPR, won a Silver Stevie Award for Communications, Investor Relations or PR Executive of the Year. 5WPR also won a Bronze Stevie Award for Public Relations Agency of the Year and a Gold Stevie Award for Communications or PR Campaign of the Year in Consumer Products Marketing.
"It’s an honor to be named a Silver Stevie recipient in the Communications, Investor Relations, or PR Executive of the Year category for the 2023 American Business Awards. In my position, I always hope to lead by example to empower leaders both within my agency and the PR industry as a whole, to continue challenging themselves. This distinction reminds me that our hard work does not go unnoticed, and I owe an enormous part of my success to my team and the agency at large, for allowing me to guide them but also for the support they provide me."—Matthew Caiola, Co-CEO, 5WPR

5WPR is a full-service PR agency that partners with brands to help them define and achieve their strategic PR goals.

Dr. Tianyi (TJ) Jiang, CEO and Co-Founder, AvePoint, won a Silver Stevie Award for Best Entrepreneur in Computer Software among organizations with 500 or More Employees.

"It’s an honor to be named a Silver Stevie recipient in the Communications, Investor Relations, or PR Executive of the Year category for the 2023 American Business Awards. In my position, I always hope to lead by example to empower leaders both within my agency and the PR industry as a whole, to continue challenging themselves. This distinction reminds me that our hard work does not go unnoticed, and I owe an enormous part of my success to my team and the agency at large, for allowing me to guide them but also for the support they provide me."—Dr. Jiang, CEO and Co-Founder, AvePoint

AvePoint is an independent software vendor of SaaS solutions to migrate, manage, and protect data in Microsoft 365.

Thomas PR won a Silver Stevie Award for Achievement in Management in Advertising, Marketing & Public Relations.

“Thanks to the Stevie Awards team and judges! We are honored to win the prestigious Stevie Award for our PR work on behalf of swisstech at CES [Consumer Electronics Show]. The Thomas PR team worked long hours to achieve the results and this level of recognition is an amazing honor.” —Karen Thomas, President, Thomas Public Relations, Inc.

With over 15 years of experience, Thomas Public Relations specializes in technology, high-tech, consumer electronics, trade shows, apps, and internet companies.

Hornet Security Inc. won a Bronze Stevie Award for Best Business Technology Pivot.

“We are delighted to have won a Stevie Award: This prestigious recognition serves to validate and motivate the work and commitment invested by our worldwide team in developing, promoting, and supporting next-gen cybersecurity, backup, and security awareness services to exceed the needs of our partners and customers. Thank you for this honor!”

Hornet Security Inc. is an email cloud security provider, which secures companies and organizations of all sizes across the world.

Shaip won a Bronze Stevie Award for Startup of the Year among Business Services Industries.

“Winning a Stevie Award this year is an exceptional honor for our organization as it signifies recognition from industry peers for our relentless dedication to innovation, quality, and customer service. This award is not just a testament to our achievements, but it also underscores the collaborative spirit, hard work, and commitment of every team member. We believe it further motivates us to continue setting new standards in our industry and deliver exceptional value to our customers.”

Shaip provides high-quality data across multiple data types (i.e., text, audio, image, video) to companies looking to build unbiased and high-quality artificial intelligence/machine learning models.

The final entry deadline for The 22nd American Business Awards is February 7, 2024, but late entries will be accepted through March 6 with payment of a late fee.

More than 250 professionals worldwide will participate in the judging process beginning in February, through mid-April. All Stevie Award placements will be announced on April 27, prior to the June 13 awards banquet in New York. 

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Topics: American business awards

Judging Chairs Named in the 2024 Stevie® Awards for Sales & Customer Service

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Tue, Dec 19, 2023 @ 03:05 PM

The Stevie® Awards are delighted to announce the seven distinguished professionals who will chair the judging committees of the 2024 (18th annual) Stevie® Awards for Sales & Customer Service competition.

The Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service are the world's top sales awards, customer service awards, business development awards, contact center awards, and more.

Stevie Award finalists will be determined at the end of the judging period in February. Results of Gold, Silver, and Bronze Stevie Awards will be announced at the 18th annual awards ceremony in Las Vegas on April 12.  

The seven committee chairs were invited to chair based on their professional experience and expertise. Judging chairs helped to form their committees, each of which will be comprised of other professionals from around the globe. Learn more about the Stevie Awards judging process here

Here are this year's judging committee chairs:

Customer Service & Contact Center Achievement Awards
Chair: Neal Topf, President, Callzilla, Miramar, Florida, United States

24 sascs csa chair Neil topfNeal Topf is the President and Co-Founder of Callzilla, an outsourced contact center provider. Inspired by Annette Franz’s Built to Win tome on how to truly serve customers, Neal has learned the importance of shaping Callzilla to be Employee Centric, Customer Centric, and Client Centric. Neal’s passions are taking apart and solving modern Customer Experience puzzles through the lenses of the employee, customers, and clients, including how the intersection of humans and artificial intelligence can be leveraged to remove friction, to improve speed of response and resolution rates and truly place each of these at the center of the enterprise. 

Neal serves on the Executive Board of the Society of Consumer Professionals (SOCAP) where he enjoys the role of governance of a leading CX industry association. A graduate of the HEC Paris MBA program, Neal studied entrepreneurship and general management. Prior to his MBA studies in Paris, Neal worked for 4 years in the international division of MCI, the great telecom challenger of the 80’s and 90’s, which was a career changing opportunity. Neal now resides in South Florida where he tries to incrementally improve his golf game. And in his spare time, he wonders if the Washington Commanders, his lifelong favorite football team, will ever return to prominence? 

Customer Service Department & Customer Service Success Awards
Chair: Sarah Sajedi, CO-founder, CEO & CTO, ERA Environmental Management Solutions, Saint-Laurent, Quebec, Canada

24 sascs csd chair sajediSarah Sajedi is an award-winning environmental expert and one of the co-founders of ERA Environmental Management Solutions. Over the past 28 years as the company’s CTO and CEO, Sarah has had to carve out a place for herself in a competitive and largely male-dominated industry. Through her business acumen, degree in Chemistry/Biochemistry, and determination, Sarah has established herself as an authority on environmental performance and compliance solutions across the automotive, aerospace, chemicals, metal, and general manufacturing industries, among countless others.

Sarah’s leadership philosophy is simple: investing in the education and growth of employees promotes innovation and a stronger company. By fostering emerging talent from a diverse workforce, Sarah has grown ERA from a small firm into Canada’s most successful environmental management solution provider, successfully winning out Fortune 100 and 500 companies against multimillion-dollar U.S. competitors. Sarah is a passionate advocate for higher education. She believes education is empowering - that is why she currently sponsors three scholarships for higher education and is working toward establishing a foundation to provide financial aid and university access. She believes in helping others, particularly young female entrepreneurs, by providing a means to obtain higher education and independence, which is vital for their continued success.  Voluntarism is also an essential part of Sarah’s leadership. She works with Angels of Mercy to provide food, clothing, and a listening ear to Montreal’s homeless population, and through the Helping Hands organization she provides clothing and education to children in developing nations. It’s important for her to be able to work hands-on with those in need.

Under her leadership, ERA has been named one of the most admired companies to watch (2018), one of Canada’s top SMEs by the Globe and Mail (2019) and Corporate Vision (2021), one of the top 10 automotive solution providers (2021), the most innovative EHS&Q compliance platform (2022), the Canadian Sustainable Business of the Year (2022), and the Gold Stevie Award winner in the Customer Service (Technology Industries category) at the 2023 Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service.  Sarah herself has been named a Woman of Influence by RBC, the Silver Stevie Award winner at the 2013 Stevie Awards for Women in Business, and the recipient of the national Sara Kirke Award for Leadership in Technology.

Customer Service & Contact Center Individual & Team Awards
Chair: Kimberley Hayes, Global Chief Experience Officer, MONAT Global Corp, Doral, FL, United States

24 sascs csit chair hayesKimberley Hayes is a distinguished professional with over 25 years of extensive experience in managing Customer Care operations on a global scale. Her leadership journey has taken her from the corporate landscapes of the USA, Canada, and the European Union to the bustling markets of Asia. Kimberley is renowned for her exceptional expertise in customer experience (CX) management and a distinguished career marked by remarkable achievements. Throughout her illustrious career, Kimberley has proven herself as a seasoned executive who consistently delivers exceptional results. Her unwavering commitment to success is a driving force that has set her apart in the industry. Kimberley is known for her strategic approach to customer care operations, making her a visionary leader who excels in crafting innovative and effective solutions to complex challenges.

In 2023, Kimberley Hayes received a prestigious Silver Stevie Award in the Stevie Awards for Women in Business, a testament to her excellence in customer care where she was honored as "Women of the Year in Customer Service," underscoring her extraordinary contributions and leadership. Furthermore, Kimberley is no stranger to the dynamic world of start-ups. Her entrepreneurial spirit and adaptability have allowed her to excel in nurturing and growing early-stage companies. This experience has equipped her with a profound understanding of the fast-paced, ever-evolving nature of the business world.

Kimberley's track record extends beyond accolades, as she has successfully built and managed organizations of over 500 seats, showcasing her remarkable ability to scale operations while maintaining a focus on quality and excellence. Her wealth of experience, exceptional results, and relentless determination position Kimberley Hayes as a leading figure in the customer care and CX industry. Her commitment to delivering unparalleled customer experiences, combined with her extensive global experience and expertise in start-ups, make her a true luminary in the field. With a career that epitomizes excellence, Kimberley continues to be a driving force in shaping the future of customer care and CX management.  

New Product & Service Awards
Chair: Dennis Reno, Chief Customer Officer, Cyara, Almeda, California, United States

24 sascs np chair renoDennis Reno joined Cyara in 2020 and most recently has been a member of the executive leadership team as Chief Customer Officer and is focused on delivering world-class customer experiences for a global customer base.  Dennis has a rich background managing Customer Experience and Customer Success functions among leading tech firms in Silicon Valley and at companies such as Microsoft, Oracle, Proofpoint, BEA Systems, and Continental Airlines.

On being appointed Chair, Dennis commented: “I have had the honor of being a judge for the Stevie Awards for many years and each time I participate I have the pleasure of making new friends and contacts among my fellow judges and gain the unique ability to learn so much about other businesses and industries that deliver world-class service and support.”  

Sales Achievements & Sales Distinction Awards
Chair: Oğuz Kartal, Chief Transformation Officer, Karaca Zuccaciye A.S., Sisli, Istanbul, Turkey

24 sascs sasd char kartalOğuz is a Chief Digital Transformation Officer with more than 15 years of experience working alongside Telecom, Retail, Finance, and Technology industries. During this time, Oguz has worked with top companies in Turkey, Dubai, Qatar, and Kuwait. Having worked for top telecom and finance companies, Oguz has a unique set of capabilities for leading the strategic vision and business development for companies to leverage digital capabilities and digital channels as well as to build and differentiate the brand through a better digital experience for everyone.

Sales Individual & Sales Team Awards
Chair:  Mario Martinez Jr., Founder & CEO, Vengreso, Inc., Walnut Creek, California, United States

24 sascs sit chair martinez-whiteMario is the CEO and Co-founder of Vengreso - the creators of FlyMSG, the AI All-inOne Productivity Assistant helping professionals save 1-hour a day in lost productivity by storing, organizing, typing, and writing for you. He spent 106 consecutive quarters in B2B Sales, Marketing, and Executive Leadership roles, growing hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue annually. 

In 2023, he was named Most Influential CEO in the Software Solutions category by CEO Monthly, and he was also named to the #1 spot in the Top 10 Most Influential Business Leaders by Beyond Magazine in 2021. Most notably, he was one of 20 sales influencers invited to appear in the documentary film “The Story of Sales”. He was named one of the Top 10 Sales Influencers by The Modern Sales Magazine, Top 25 Most Influential Inside Sales Professionals, Selling Power Magazine’s Top Sales Training and Coaching Consultant, and was recognized as one of the top Social Media Leaders by The Social Shake Up. 

As a renowned sales influencer, Mario teaches marketing and sales professionals how to develop an engaging personal brand to attract today’s modern buyers using the digital sales ecosystem.  Mario is the host of the popular The Modern Selling Podcast. He’s been featured in Forbes, INC., Entrepreneur,  and was formerly a contributor to the Huffington Post. He’s a highly sought-after Keynote Speaker with brands such as LinkedIn, Cisco, and many more. He is also known to open a speech with a Salsa dance.  Follow him on YouTubeLinkedIn, on Twitter, or view his website at

Solution Provider, Business Development & Thought Leadership Awards 
Vicki Brackett, Chief Knowledge Office, Knowledgely, Hollister, California, United States

24 sascs spbd chair brackettRecognized as a subject-matter expert on virtual/work-at-home environments and leadership development, Vicki Brackett has written for and been interviewed by ForbesFast CompanyFortune MagazineCIO MagazineCEOWorld,  HR News, Training MagazineICMI, Contact Center Pipeline, The Justin Brady Show,and a host of other publications and podcasts, on creative work-at-home, leadership development, and employee engagement strategies. Vicki has led customer service, technical support, and sales teams in a contact center environment for over two decades. She and her teams have helped organizations achieve exceptional operational excellence, increased sales, higher employee engagement, productivity, and retention with strong customer satisfaction - driving both top line revenue and bottom-line contribution.

Today, Vicki is the Chief Knowledge Officer, at Knowledgely, an organization that helps contact centers understand how their knowledge maturity is adding operational costs and increased mental stress to agents who are looking for the right answer to help a customer.  With a proven methodology, Knowledgely can help companies drive reduced new hire training times, increased agent productivity and employee/gig worker job satisfaction. Their systematic approach can offer new strategies to achieve better knowledge maturity behind self-service technologies that exceed customer expectations and drive down operational costs.

Vicki is also the author of ‘The Leadership Toolbox - Manage Less Achieve More,’ a book about her experience leading virtual/work-at-home and brick & mortar contact center organizations across industries ranging from consumer technology, education, automotive, cosmetics, nutrition and other consumer products and services. Her book showcases a set of leadership tools that have been vetted by thousands of employees and a systematic approach that can transform organizations into top performing business units, where employees and gig workers love coming to work, are highly engaged, and exceed customer expectations.

On being appointed a 2024 Chair, Vicki commented: “It’s an honor and privilege to be a Stevie Award Chairperson and Judge. The Stevie Awards recognize top performers in an industry that continues to respond to the changing business climate. We can learn from these award winners and take best practices back to teams across the globe. Congratulations to all the winners!”

Topics: Steve Awards for Sales and Customer Service

ValueSelling Associates Marks 17th Consecutive Year Supporting Workplace Excellence as a Stevie® Awards for Sales & Customer Service Sponsor

Posted by Amanda Del Signore on Wed, Dec 13, 2023 @ 11:21 AM

Premier awards competition for sales and service professionals accepting nominations from organizations around the globe.

The Stevie® Awards, organizer of the world’s premier business awards programs, has announced that ValueSelling Associates will sponsor the 2024 (18th annual) Stevie® Awards for Sales & Customer Service for the 17th consecutive year.

ValueSelling has been a sponsor of the Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service since 2008. ValueSelling Associates are again sponsoring the Sales Individual Categories, which include Woman of the Year in Sales, Senior Sales Executive of the Year, Virtual and Pre-Sales Professional of the Year, Sales Representative of the Year, and Sales Training or Education Professional of the Year, among others.

Entry kits and complete details on the Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service are available at The final entry deadline for the 2024 competition is January 24.

Eligible nominees for this competition include departments, teams, and professionals from around the world who work in customer service, contact centers, business development, and sales. New products and services and solution providers used by those professionals are also eligible. The 2024 awards will recognize achievements since July 1, 2021. Explore the full list of categories.

ValueSelling Associates is the creator of the ValueSelling Framework®, the sales methodology, training and toolset that aligns your revenue engine with a common language to enable sales professionals to compete on value, not price, and saves time in all selling scenarios. Since 1991, ValueSelling Associates has helped thousands of sales professionals realize immediate revenue growth and achieve results they never thought possible. They offer bespoke training to FORTUNE 1000, mid-sized, and start-up companies to drive sales results.

Maggie Miller, President of the Stevie Awards, expressed, "ValueSelling has been a steadfast sponsor of the competition from its early days, contributing to the program’s remarkable growth. Partnering once more with ValueSelling is a source of great excitement as we continue to highlight outstanding sales professionals and organizations globally. The Stevie Awards relies on dedicated partners such as ValueSelling, who recognize the importance of acknowledging excellence in the workplace."

President and Chief Executive Officer of ValueSelling Associates, Julie Thomas, said, “The Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service is an excellent platform for recognizing the accomplishments of our customers and business partners. We look forward to celebrating those sales professionals who found ways to connect, secure new business, and propel their companies forward in this tough selling environment.”

Finalists will be announced on January 24, and the Gold, Silver, and Bronze Stevie Award winners will be revealed during an awards banquet on April 12 in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.

View full details for the 18th annual Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service at

About ValueSelling Associates
ValueSelling Associates, a leading global sales training company, offers a practical methodology for selling on value, not price. The ValueSelling Framework® is a proven formula that simplifies complex B2B sales, and the Vortex Prospecting™ program provides a repeatable process that increases connections and conversions to the revenue pipeline. Once trained on the ValueSelling method, organizations grow revenue and increase productivity. Since 1991, thousands of professionals around the world have chosen ValueSelling Associates for customized training, reinforcement, and coaching to drive sales results. Learn more at ValueSelling Associates, Inc.


Topics: Steve Awards for Sales and Customer Service

How Swing Education Is Rethinking Substitute Teacher Recruitment

Posted by Amanda Del Signore on Tue, Dec 12, 2023 @ 11:51 AM

22 spotlight Square-Dec-12-2023-04-49-01-0608-PMStevie-winner Swing Education is an online staffing marketplace that connects substitute teachers with schools.

Founded in 2015 by former K-12 educators and administrators, Swing makes it easier for schools and districts to find reliable, qualified substitute teachers when they need them most.

With over 500,000 absence days filled to date, Swing is dedicated to improving the experience of finding substitute teachers, becoming a substitute, and keeping student learning on track. Swing serves more than 2,800 partner schools across California, Arizona, Illinois, Texas, New Jersey, New York, and Washington D.C.

Understanding Both Sides in Substitute Teaching
Substitute teaching jobs are tough to recruit for, manage, and fill. One complication is that quite often a teacher's absence isn’t discovered until that morning when schools scramble to post an opening. This uncontrollable and unavoidable reality, coupled with the dramatic shortage of substitutes who are qualified and ready to go, is a significant problem.

On the other side of this coin—considering this problem from the substitute teacher’s perspective—are the challenges the substitute teacher faces. Substitutes may only find out at 7:00 am that there is a job opening; they may know very little about the school or the class or perhaps have never been a substitute in that particular school. They worry about how long it will take to get paid or how long the commitment will last.

The process of how to fill short-term or even long-term teacher absences with substitute teachers has barely changed in 50+ years—even the modern communication modes of emails, text messages, and robo-phone calls are not any more effective at solving the problem in the angst-driven and uncertain process of finding substitute teachers.

How it Works
The basics of how Swing works are as follows: Schools post a request in the Swing community that instantly notifies hundreds of substitutes that have been pre-approved and screened by Swing. Substitutes register for the job and the school accepts, or “assigns,” the substitute. The schools do not need to recruit or manage their own substitute pool, although Swing can easily work alongside existing substitute programs.

Swing handles the recruitment of substitutes in the region of its partners and manages the payroll so that substitutes do not need to wait weeks or months for payment from the district as contractors. The school’s platform tracks data so that it is easy to see which substitutes are a good fit, discover new substitutes, and track successful placements.

Swing brings a 21st-century solution to a 20th-century problem. Swing leverages social communities and technology to not only improve communication but also put power back into the hands of substitutes and the schools that need them. Instead of scrambling to find anyone who will answer the phone—or, for the substitute, being completely in the dark about if there is only one opening today or 10—now both stakeholders have power: schools have the power to match the best person for a particular need, and substitutes have the power to pick the best job for their day or week ahead.

Since being founded in 2018, Swing has 2,800 school partners and 4,000 substitutes in the community and has filled 500,000 absences for teachers.

Swing Education won a Silver Stevie® Award for Best Human Capital Management or Talent Management Solution in The 2023 American Business Awards®.

Interested in entering The 2024 American Business Awards?

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Topics: American business awards

Werden sie Jurymitglied der German Stevie® Awards 2024

Posted by Jana Novatscheck on Tue, Dec 12, 2023 @ 03:00 AM

Wir laden Geschäftsleute, Vordenker, Unternehmer, Innovatoren und andere Personen aus aller Welt ein, sich als Juroren für die  German Stevie® Awards 2024 zu bewerben.

Die Auswahl oder Nominierung als Jurymitglied ist eine ehren- und verantwortungsvolle Aufgabe. Sie spiegelt nicht nur das Fachwissen einer Person in einem bestimmten Beruf wider, sondern zeigt auch, dass diese Person über hohe ethische Standards verfügt, in ihrer Geschäftswelt anerkannt ist und Vertrauen genießt. Qualifizierte Bewerber werden in Juryausschüsse für Marketing, Unternehmertum, neue Produkte, Technologie, Vordenkerrolle und vieles mehr berufen.

Jedes Jahr nehmen mehr als 1.000 Fachleute an der Bewertung der Stevie Awards teil. Die Durchschnittsnoten der Juroren bestimmen die Gewinner in jeder Stevie Awards-Kategorie. Da dies eine entscheidende Komponente der Stevie Awards-Wettbewerbe ist, achten wir sehr darauf, die Integrität des Juryprozesses zu wahren. Das Jurorenteam stellt sicher, dass die Jurymitglieder Experten und Fachleute in ihrer Branche sind, und führt regelmäßige Kontrollen und Überprüfungen des gesamten Prozesses durch. Das Juryteam steht neuen Jurymitgliedern als Ratgeber zur Verfügung und veranstaltet Sitzungen, um die korrekten Jury-Protokolle zu erläutern.

Vorteile für Stevie Awards-Juroren

Als Jurymitglied erfahren Sie, wie andere Organisationen oder Einzelpersonen Erfolge erzielen und Herausforderungen bewältigen. Im Folgenden finden Sie die exklusiven Vorteile einer Jurymitgliedschaft bei den Stevie Awards:

  • Anerkennung - Während des Beurteilungsprozesses werden die Jurymitglieder auf der Stevie Awards-Website und im Stevie Awards-Blog gewürdigt und erhalten eine Urkunde in Papierform und im PDF-Format, die gerahmt werden kann.
  • Profil - Sich als Jurymitglied zu qualifizieren, ist eine Ehre und ein Privileg. Die Erwähnung dieses Amtes kann Ihrem beruflichen Profil hinzugefügt werden.
  • Self-Development & Awareness - Die Juroren lernen bei der Bewertung der Beiträge Strategien, Taktiken und bewährte Verfahren anderer Branchenvertreter kennen und haben so die einmalige Gelegenheit, neue Markttrends sofort zu erkennen.
  • Verleihungszeremonie - Alle Jurymitglieder sind herzlich eingeladen, an der Preisverleihung teilzunehmen, die am Ende eines jeden Wettbewerbs stattfindet. Genießen Sie einen spektakulären Abend, an dem Sie mit den Preisträgern und anderen Jurymitgliedern Kontakte knüpfen können.
  • Einladungen zum Jurieren zukünftiger Wettbewerbe

Bevor Sie sich als Juror bewerben

Wenn Sie daran interessiert sind, als Juror für die German Stevie Awards zu fungieren, folgen sie dem unten stehenden Link, um weitere Informationen zu erhalten:

Jurymitglied der German Stevie Awards werden

Angehende Juroren sollten darauf achten, dass ihr LinkedIn-Profil auf dem neuesten Stand ist, Ihre aktuelle Erfahrung widerspiegelt und einen Wettbewerbsvorteil darstellt.


Judge-Testimonials-Farzan-InstaDie einzelnen Kriterien unterscheiden sich je nach Kategorie, aber der Schwerpunkt liegt auf der Gesamtqualität des Beitrags: Sowohl einer Bewertung der Behaupteten im Bezug auf Innovation, Integrität, Effektivität, Kreativität, Wachstum usw., die in dem Beitrag gemacht werden, im Verhältnis zur Erfahrung der Jury und ihrer Kenntnis der Branche des Teilnehmers, als auch die Qualität des Beitrags selbst.

Die Juroren legen Wert auf gut geschriebene Beiträge, die: (1) viele Fakten, Zahlen und konkrete Ergebnisse enthalten; (2) nahe an der Wortgrenze für die jeweilige Kategorie liegen (d. h. nicht als zu kurz empfunden werden); und (3) durch Anhänge unterstützt werden, z. B. Links zu einer Unternehmenswebseite, Presseausschnitte, Arbeitsbeispiele usw.

Wir empfehlen angehenden Juroren, die Teilnahmeunterlagen anzufordern, damit sie sich mit den Kriterien und Einreichungsanforderungen vertraut machen können.

Nominierungen, die mit dem Goldenen Stevie ausgezeichnet wurden, sind auf der Website der Stevie Awards verlinkt. Dies ist ein gutes Hilfsmittel für angehende Juroren, um zu erfahren, wie eine hoch bewertete Stevie-Nominierung aussieht. 


Alle Einsendungen werden zunächst von Stevie Awards-Mitarbeitern geprüft, um sicherzustellen, dass die Teilnahmebedingungen erfüllt sind, dass die Einsendungen ordnungsgemäß formatiert sind, um zur Bewertung weitergeleitet zu werden, und dass die Einsendungen in den passenden Kategorien eingereicht wurden.

Alle Juroren erhalten schriftliche Anweisungen zur Bewertung der Beiträge. Die Juroren werden gebeten, die in den einzelnen Beiträgen dargestellten Leistungen zu bewerten, und zwar auf der Grundlage a) ihrer eigenen Erfahrung und b) ihres Verständnisses der Leistung von Unternehmen und Einzelpersonen in der Branche des Nominierten in dem Zeitraum, für den die Teilnahmeberechtigung gilt, unter Berücksichtigung der Wirtschaftslage im Allgemeinen und der Branche des Nominierten im Besonderen. 

Bei Einsendungen in kreativen Medienkategorien werden die Juroren gebeten, die eingereichte Kurzbeschreibung zu den Kommunikationszielen zu lesen und die eingereichten Medien (Website, Video, Live-Event usw.) auf der Grundlage von Originalität, Kreativität und Produktionswert zu prüfen und zu bewerten, wie gut die Medien ihrer Meinung nach die angegebenen Kommunikationsziele erfüllen.

Bewerben Sie sich als Juror für die German Stevie Awards


Topics: German Stevie Awards, Jury, German Stevie Awards 2024

Multiple Stevie® Award Winner Vodafone Oman Looks Beyond Traditional Telecommunications Services

Posted by Amanda Del Signore on Thu, Dec 07, 2023 @ 09:28 AM

Stevie-winner Vodafone Oman was established through a strategic partnership between the Oman Future Telecommunication Company and Vodafone Group, one of the largest providers of mobile, fixed, broadband, and digital TV services.

Vodafone Group is a British multinational telecommunications company. With its registered office and global headquarters in Newbury, Berkshire, England, it predominantly operates services in Asia, Africa, Europe, and Oceania.

In 2021, the company obtained a Class I License to establish and operate public mobile telecommunications services in the Sultanate of Oman, becoming the third telecom operator in the local market.vodafone Oman logoMy Vodafone in Oman
The My Vodafone app has been downloaded by over 2 million people across Oman. Through the app, customers can onboard themselves virtually in less than two minutes, including plan and number selection, identity verification using advanced AI and facial recognition capabilities, payment, and eSIM (and physical SIM delivery or pick-up). They also enable customers to replace their SIMs remotely, providing SIM-to-eSIM replacement within seconds.

Vodafone offers a monthly subscription model wherein customers can enable the auto-payment feature so that the user's account is charged on the plan’s renewal date without any human intervention to ensure uninterrupted service. Customers are given the ability to set an amount to be withdrawn automatically once a minimum threshold is reached.

They have also developed a feature called "Everything Is Okay (EIO)" which allows customers to check their account against any technical, financial, and network issues. Customers are presented with an issue and a way to resolve it, covering payments and renewals, account status, network, and device and SIM management.

Existing customers can digitally add up to 10 numbers under their main account in less than a minute using My Vodafone, including number selection, plan selection, payment, and SIM activation.

vodafone body imageApp Improvement & Service Expansion
To localize an international brand, Vodafone had to bring on a team of agencies that brought local insights with technological prowess.

The Vodafone Academy was an integrative program between the different agencies and Vodafone Oman that aims to build a circular talent economy that nurtures young Omani talents. The program was centered around three key pillars of marketing: media, content/creative, and social media. The program spanned six months and ultimately awarded two graduates full-time placements at the end of the program.

With fewer resources and less time in the market, it leveraged its agencies’ local and international expertise to develop a team that deepened its relationship with not only its partners but also the wider Omani community.

The app has enabled Vodafone to collect a huge amount of data points, which helps them make constant improvements to both the services and customer service.

Vodafone’s AI-enabled networks automatically detect and even pre-empt problems and threats via data analysis and create tickets for dispatch to the network operation center, saving significant time for affected customers and enhancing their experience.

Telecom operators have previously focused on selling services, i.e., voice and data. The My Vodafone app aims to offer more than that, providing other services in line with the Government of Oman’s digital ambitions: parking booking within Muscat and Nizwa in collaboration with local partners, with notifications when a reservation is about to expire; and high school grades in collaboration the Sultanate’s Ministry of Education, when students enter their seat ID to receive their grade automatically.

Entering Oman as a digital-first service, Vodafone said the speed of transformation that the pandemic brought to the world was an enabler for a winning launch and a solid foundation for the brand.

Vodafone Oman won a Bronze Stevie and three Gold Stevie Awards for Innovation in Cross-Media Marketing, Most Innovative Startup of the Year in Services, Most Innovative Advertising or Marketing Team of the Year, and for Innovation in Brand Development in the 2023 Middle East & North Africa Stevie® Awards.

Interested in entering the 2024 Middle East & North Africa Stevie Awards?


Topics: Middle East, Middle East Stevie Awards