Final Entry Deadline Extended in the 18th Annual Stevie® Awards for Sales & Customer Service

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Thu, Jan 25, 2024 @ 09:15 AM

Business Development, Customer Service, and Sales Achievements, Professionals, and More May Now Be Nominated Through February 21

The Stevie® Awards, organizer of the world's premier business awards programs, has extended the final entry deadline for the 2024 (18th annual) Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service. Entry kits and complete details about the competition are available at

The original final entry deadline was January 24, but, by popular demand, entrants may now submit nominations through February 21. Finalists will be announced March 5, and the Gold, Silver, and Bronze Stevie Award winners will be revealed during an awards ceremony on April 12 in Las Vegas.


Eligible nominees 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.

The Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service feature more than 150 sales awards, customer service awards, business development awards, new product awards, thought leadership, and solution provider awards categories. Entrants may submit any number of nominations to any number of categories, which include:

  • Sales Individual categories such as Senior Sales Executive of the Year and Sales Representative of the Year
    ● Sales Team categories like Global Sales Team of the Year and Online Sales Team of the Year
    ● Sales Achievement categories such as Sales Turnaround of the Year and Sales Training or Coaching Program of the Year
    ● Sales Distinction categories in 14 industry groupings
    ● Customer Service and Contact Center Individual categories such as Front-Line Customer Service Professional of the Year and Customer Service Leader of the Year
    ● Customer Service and Contact Center Team categories like Contact Center of the Year and Back Office Customer Service Team of the Year
    ● Customer Service and Contact Center Achievement categories such as e-Commerce Customer Service Award and Award for Innovation in Customer Service
    ● Customer Service Department categories in 12 industry groupings
    ● Customer Service Success categories in five industry groupings
    ● New Product and Service categories like Best New Business Intelligence Solution and Best New Marketing Solution
    ● Solution Provider categories such as Sales Consulting Practice of the Year and Incentive, Rewards, or Recognition Provider of the Year
    ● Business Development categories such as Business Development Professional of the Year and Business Development Achievement of the Year - Hospitality & Leisure
    ● Thought Leadership categories such as Best Use of Thought Leadership in Sales, Best Use of Thought Leadership in Business Development, and Best Use of Thought Leadership in Customer Service

Winners of the 2023 edition of the Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service included AT&T, Banco Popular Dominicano,, Cisco Systems, Cvent Inc., DHL Express Worldwide, Dubai Airports, Easyship, Enerjisa Enerji, GoHealth, HP, IBM, Michael Kors, Modern Campus, Nasdaq Governance Solutions, Pan American Energy, PT Telkom Indonesia (Persero) Tbk, SAP, SoftPro, Splunk, Support Services Group, ValueSelling Associates, VIZIO Inc., Vodafone Turkey, and many more.

The 2024 competition will be judged by more than 150 professionals around the world. 

Interested in submitting 2024 nominations?

Request the Entry Kit


Topics: Steve Awards for Sales and Customer Service

Winners in the 2024 Middle East & North Africa Stevie® Awards Announced

Posted by May Hassan on Thu, Jan 18, 2024 @ 09:30 AM

Fifth Annual Awards Sponsored by RAK Chamber of Commerce & Industry Recognize Innovation in 18 MENA Nations

Winners in the fifth annual Middle East & North Africa Stevie® Awards, the only awards program to recognize innovation in the workplace throughout 18 nations in the Middle East and North Africa, have been announced. The awards are sponsored by the RAK Chamber of Commerce & Industry. The list of Gold, Silver, and Bronze Stevie Award winners is available here.

MENA24 Winner Announcement (1)

The 2024 Middle East & North Africa Stevie Awards have recognized winning organizations in 13 nations: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates. More than 1,000 nominations in Arabic and English were evaluated in this year’s competition. Winners were determined by the average scores of more than 150 professionals worldwide, acting as judges in more than 150 categories recognizing apps, achievements, companies, public relations, customer service, human resources, individuals, live and virtual events, management, social media, technology, thought leadership, and more.

Winners of multiple Gold, Silver, or Bronze Stevie Awards include Abu Dhabi Sports Council, UAE; Acceligize, UAE; AXS - TECOM Group, UAE; Beyaz Kağıt San. ve Tic. A.Ş., Turkey; Big Data Minds MENA, Jordan; DHL Express, multiple locations across the region; Dhafra Region Municipality, UAE; General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs, UAE; Glimpse, UAE; INFLOW Network, USA; KAFALAH, Saudi Arabia; Megamind IT Solutions, Saudi Arabia; Miral Destinations, UAE; Now Health International, UAE; Ooredoo Group, multiple locations across the region; Petromin Express, Saudi Arabia; Qatar Vision Production Company; QNB Finansbank, Turkey; RAK Ceramics, UAE; RAK Police, UAE; Royal Commission for Jubail & Yanbu, Saudi Arabia; Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia; SOCAR Türkiye; Saudi Telecom Company, Saudi Arabia; The Captain Agency, Turkey; Ministry of Justice, UAE; The Others Brand Experience Agency, Turkey; VakifBank, Turkey; Visiontech Systems International LLC, UAE, and ZIGMA8 | 360º CREATIVE COMMUNICATIONS, Iran.

MENA24 Winner Announcement (2)

“We are delighted to recognize the achievements of such a diverse group of organizations across the MENA region in the 2024 edition of the Middle East & North Africa Stevie Awards,” said Stevie Awards President Maggie Miller. “We look forward to celebrating Stevie winners during our gala event on 2 March in Ras Al Khaimah. The quality of nominations received this year was exceptional. The program has grown every year, showing the vast amount of innovation in the MENA region.”

Stevie winners will be presented their awards at a gala banquet at the Mövenpick Resort Al Marjan Island in Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates on Saturday, 2 March. Tickets for the event are now on sale.

Entries for the 2025 (6th annual) Middle East & North Africa Stevie Awards will open in September. Sign up now to get the entry kit once it becomes available.


About the Stevie® Awards

Stevie Awards are conferred in nine programs: the Middle East & North Africa Stevie Awards, the Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards, the German Stevie Awards, The American Business Awards®, The International Business Awards®, the Stevie Awards for Women in Business, the Stevie Awards for Great Employers, the Stevie Awards for Technology Excellence, and the Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service. Stevie Awards competitions receive more than 12,000 entries each year from organizations in more than 70 nations. Honoring organizations of all types and sizes and the people behind them, the Stevies recognize outstanding performances in the workplace worldwide. Learn more about the Stevie Awards at

About the RAK Chamber of Commerce and Industry

RAK Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RAK Chamber) is the second chamber of commerce commissioned in the United Arab Emirates. Incorporated on 22 October 1967, RAK Chamber embraces a spirit of innovation and creativity, strong leadership, and initiative to support and develop business sectors to achieve excellence. With its focus on clients, investors, and businesses, the RAK Chamber of Commerce offers added value to businesses. Rak Chamber works to create and develop a system of sustainable enterprise relations and a business environment that encourages a culture of teamwork. By providing useful information, data, procedures, and laws for all concerned categories, Rak Chamber helps businesses achieve transparency and credibility. Rak Chamber strives to create a business-motivating environment to promote the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah as an economic hub in the United Arab Emirates. Learn more at

Topics: Middle East Stevie Awards

Sales Partnerships to Sponsor Ethics in Sales Award in the 2024 Stevie® Awards for Sales & Customer Service

Posted by Amanda Del Signore on Wed, Jan 03, 2024 @ 04:19 PM

Entries in this special Ethics in Sales Award category are welcome through March 1

Nominations for the 2024 (18th annual) Stevie® Awards for Sales & Customer Service, considered the world’s top honors for customer service, business development, and sales professionals, will be accepted through January 24 at SASCS24-SalesPartnerships-Square

For the fifth year in a row, Sales Partnerships, Inc., one of the world's leading providers of outsourced sales solutions, will sponsor the Sales Partnerships Ethics in Sales Award in the competition. The award will recognize outstanding examples of ethical sales practices since the beginning of July 2022. The entry deadline for this special category, for which there are no entry fees, is March 1.

To nominate and view the entry requirements of the Sales Partnerships Ethics in Sales Award, complete the nomination form.

Nominations for the Ethics in Sales Award will be reviewed and rated by Sales Partnerships.  The results will be reported to nominees in early April.  One Gold Stevie winner will be chosen from among all nominations.  Other nominations may be accorded Silver or Bronze Stevie medals, depending on their ratings.

Fred Kessler, Sales Partnerships Founder and Chief Executive Officer, said, “Recognizing excellence in sales has never been more important than today. These awards judge the best of the best ranging from Fortune 500 companies to small businesses. It is the highest recognition in the field of selling for both performance as well as systems and support of world-class selling organizations. We take pride in sponsoring the Ethics in Sales Award. Recognizing the best of the best who sell ethically and are responsible to their communities aligns with Sales Partnerships' guiding principles. We find the organizations that are the most productive tend to also have a focus on doing the job ethically—spotlighting this helps the industry as a whole."

Stevie Awards President Maggie Miller said that she looks forward to having the longtime Stevie Awards sponsor present this award again. "We are excited to welcome Sales Partnerships back as they join us in acknowledging individuals who not only excel in sales within their organizations but demonstrate both success and integrity in the workplace. This award is an excellent opportunity to celebrate a friend or colleague who upholds honesty and high professional standards."

Enter the Ethics in Sales Award Category
The Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service recognize achievement in business development, customer service, and sales worldwide.  Eligible nominees include departments, teams, and individual professionals. New products and services and solution providers used by those professionals are also eligible. The 2024 awards will recognize achievements since July 1, 2022. Explore the full list of categories.

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

Sales Partnership Logo_blog

About Sales Partnerships
Sales Partnerships, Inc. is a contract sales organization founded in 1997 with the mission to combine best practices in sales recruitment, training, management, quality assurance, and selling technologies into a complete services platform that consistently delivers exceptional results for our clients. The firm has been recognized and awarded multiple times as the best sales outsourcing firm in North America, for innovation in the fields of applied sales technology, best service offerings, one of the best places to work, and for the individual accomplishments of its sales professionals and key leadership team members. Learn more at


Topics: Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service

Computer Vision AI Fruit-Sizing App Spectre for Efficient Orchard Management

Posted by Amanda Del Signore on Tue, Jan 02, 2024 @ 01:47 PM

23 spotlight Square-Jan-02-2024-06-29-49-6064-PMStevie-winner Hectre is a fruit technology company offering a full suite of orchard management modules plus a computer vision AI early fruit sizing tool, so users can gather accurate fruit size data at scale and with speed.

Established in 2016, Hectre helps clients optimize food production by enabling digitization of key processes and access to accurate, rich data for better-informed operations decision-making. They offer easy-to-use orchard technologies that deliver value to growers and packers—whether they be small family-owned businesses or large-scale enterprises.

Product Design & Development
Size is a major determinant of export sales. Industry needs analysis identified a major problem caused by a lack of early fruit sizing data. Growers and packhouses had to make critical sales, storage, and packing decisions based on minute-size samples, as manual early sizing processes were extremely time-intensive and costly.

When the wrong size fruit is selected for packing and sale (due to lack of size data), huge packing operations come to a standstill, causing enormous costs and non-fulfillment of orders, negatively impacting reputations, and causing fruit waste.

Hectre body imageHectre harnessed the power of machine learning to develop the Spectre early fruit AI app. Spectre enables growers and packers to size a large sample of fruit by taking a photo of it with a simple iPad; users receive accurate size samples and color detection results within seconds.

The computer vision technology means users don't need expensive equipment, and clients can add unlimited users and images within the app. Spectre's high accuracy—whether a user is in an orchard, in receiving, or anywhere else—has been proven against multi-million dollar grader machines, not just lab tests.

In December 2020, Spectre for Apples was launched. Demand from the citrus market and premium cherry market followed. Spectre for Citrus and Cherries have now been released to New Zealand, the United States, Australia, and Canada. Spectre for Pears was then released in December 2022.

The Spectre app is now being used by some of the largest fruit companies in the United States, including Washington Fruit & Produce, Sage Fruit, Borton Fruit, and Monson Fruit.

Customer Service & Personnel
Hectre has a strong dedication to the success of its customers. They do in-person implementation at their property whenever possible.

Recognizing the importance of strong onboarding, training, and support in an industry that has not historically had much exposure to technology support, Hectre established a Customer Success team and provides bilingual tech and support in person, via phone, and online. An extensive online knowledge base for customers who wish to troubleshoot independently before contacting support has also been created.

To support current and future employees, they created paid internship pathways, which immerse tech grads into Hectre’s culture with opportunities to work on fulfilling Hectre projects. This has enabled Hectre to acquire talent despite tight labor markets.

Hectre won two Gold Stevie Awards for Most Innovative Startup of the Year - Business Product Industries and Most Innovative Tech Startup of the Year - Software in the 2023 Asia-Pacific Stevie® Awards.

Interested in entering the 2024 Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards?

Request the entry kit

Topics: Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards

BGL Corporate Solutions' Third-Generation Software Suite Evolves With Regulatory Compliance Requirements

Posted by Amanda Del Signore on Tue, Jan 02, 2024 @ 01:36 PM

23 spotlight Square-Jan-02-2024-06-34-30-8811-PMStevie-winner BGL Corporate Solutions (BGL) delivers third-generation, company compliance management, self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF), and investment portfolio software solutions to over 9,500 businesses in Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and 15 other countries around the world.

Founded in 1983 as a small consulting firm to assist accountants and businesses in gaining more value from their computer systems, BGL has since become a market leader in compliance management software, employing over 200 people across Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, China, and the Philippines.

Australia's accounting and compliance software industry is highly competitive, with several established players and new entrants vying for market share. BGL operates in this industry and provides software solutions to assist businesses in managing and automating their clients' financial transactions, reporting, and regulatory compliance obligations.

The compliance software industry in Australia is growing, driven by the increasing complexity of regulatory compliance obligations and the need for businesses to manage these obligations efficiently and effectively. BGL's mission is to make compliance easy for its clients by being innovative, collaborating with its community, and creating remarkable experiences.

Product Suite & Customers
With sophisticated automation and AI-powered technologies, the BGL Product Suite includes 3 integrated, cloud-based solutions:

  • CAS 360 (Innovative company compliance, trust, and AML management software)
  • Simple Fund 360 (AI-powered SMSF administration software)
  • Simple Invest 360 (End-to-end investment portfolio management software)

The BGL Suite integrates with 350+ data feeds and ecosystem partners to provide clients with holistic compliance solutions. Plus, the Suite's automation and integration eliminate manual and duplicated data entry, freeing up time for clients to focus on delivering remarkable moments to their clients while boosting their productivity, profitability, growth, and team satisfaction.

BGL clients include all major accounting firms, law firms, many listed and private company groups, accountants, financial planners, and many individual SMSF trustees. The demand for compliance software solutions will likely grow as compliance requirements evolve.
BGL Body image-1
Featured Achievements
In July 2020, BGL launched its cloud-based compliance management software, CAS 360, in New Zealand. CAS 360 New Zealand now supports 70+ firms, managing 25,000+ companies.

CAS 360 is a complete compliance management solution and a huge time-saver for accounting firms and corporate service providers. With powerful automation and integration with the New Zealand Companies Office, CAS 360 provides a streamlined workflow for managing annual returns, company registrations, and common registry changes made by companies. CAS 360 also simplifies the management of trusts and AML/CFT and CDD compliance requirements.

In June 2021, BGL launched an end-to-end portfolio management solution, Simple Invest 360, which now supports 500+ firms, managing 3,000+ entities. Simple Invest 360 is a portfolio management solution for companies, individuals, partnerships, and trusts. With powerful automation and AI-powered technologies, Simple Invest 360 keeps track of investments and income, providing a complete set of financial statements with automated preparation and electronic lodgment tax returns with the ATO. Simple Invest 360 also provides integrated accounting workpapers, digital signing, 350+ data feeds, and registry integration.

Another offered tool, BGL SmartDocs turns paper documents into usable digital data saving clients a tremendous amount of time and money. Using AI, BGL SmartDocs extracts data from PDFs or images. BGL SmartDocs has helped clients extract over 24 million transactions from Bank Statements with our AI-based model with 95% accuracy.

In October 2022, BGL released its latest product in BETA, BGL Smart Docs 360. BGL Smart Docs 360 is an AI-powered cloud solution that helps businesses unlock their full potential by transforming unstructured data in paper and digital documents into smart digital data. Using Agile, BGL has been able to continuously update its software for changing regulations and technologies.

BGL Corporate Solutions won a Bronze Stevie Award for Innovation in Technology Development - All Other Industries, and a Silver Stevie Award for Excellence in Innovation in Technology Industries - 100 or More Employees in the 2023 Asia-Pacific Stevie® Awards.

Interested in entering the 2024 Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards?

Request the entry kit

Topics: Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards

Sustainability at Scale: Cainiao's E-Commerce Logistics Platform and CSR Impact

Posted by Amanda Del Signore on Tue, Jan 02, 2024 @ 11:40 AM

23 spotlight Square-4Stevie-winner Cainiao Network is a global leader in e-commerce logistics and cross-border e-commerce logistics services with logistics facilities in strategic locations around the world, serving over 200 countries and regions.

It was founded by Alibaba Group and other partners in 2013 to address the growing, evolving requirements for logistics services of the buyers and sellers on Alibaba Group’s e-commerce platforms.

The rapid shift to e-commerce during the pandemic amplified challenges in communications and collaboration between last-mile logistics companies, merchants, consumers, and courier personnel. To alleviate some of these pain points, Cainiao developed an AI e-commerce logistics digital collaboration platform.

The two key offerings of the platform include:

  • An AI outbound call robot, used primarily by courier personnel, which helps to proactively notify consumers of their upcoming deliveries, obtains corresponding delivery requests, and provides acknowledgments.
  • AI-powered customer service robots in the smart call center to handle inquiries from merchants and customers autonomously, including order placement, parcel tracking, complaints, pick-up locations, and more. Each year, the smart call center serves more than 40 million customers, saving one million working days for customer support.

The proprietary platform aims to address communications needs, data security, consumer privacy protections, and the inefficiency and high cost of manual calls. The platform improves the overall efficacy of communications systems, reduces labor costs, mitigates labor constraints, and supports the continuation of logistics operations with minimal human interaction or labor—all while enhancing customer satisfaction rates.

Today, the platform facilitates over 80 million private and secure communications daily. It assists couriers, post station managers, and customer service personnel across the entire network to save more than one million outbound calls daily while reducing labor costs by approximately USD $42.8 million a year.
Cainiao body image
Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Initiatives
Cainiao's ESG initiatives are deeply embedded in every element of the logistics value chain, revolving around five focus areas, namely green logistics, customer experience, community services, emergency logistics, and high-quality employment.

Cainiao’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy aims to support the sustainable development of communities and businesses, drive job creation, and revitalize rural revitalization amid economic instability.

Recognizing CSR as a multifaceted initiative, Cainiao’s business is mapped against the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDG) to pinpoint focus areas that align with the company’s expertise and resources. To that end, Cainiao Post and Green Logistics serve as the key technology and community-enabled sustainability initiatives.

Cainiao Post
Launched in 2015, the Cainiao Post network was created to alleviate the pain points of last-mile delivery. Presently, there are over 170,000 post stations across China, providing entrepreneurial opportunities while also serving as a model for revitalizing last-mile logistics via digital transformation.

Over the past year, the network has been expanded by over 20%. Over 200,000 jobs were created in 40,000 communities and 3,000 campuses, serving over 100 million consumers combined. By 2024, Cainiao aims to build 10,000 more Cainiao post stations to support the government’s goal of driving domestic economic growth.

Green Logistics
To reinforce a greener supply chain, Cainiao has partnered with global brands, such as Nestlé and P&G, alongside logistics players to share resources and expertise as well as organize campaigns to raise awareness.

Cainiao’s green warehouses feature photovoltaic (PV) panels on its rooftops, which generate 25 million kWh of electricity and are responsible for reducing 16,000 tons of carbon emissions in a year. To double capacity by 2023, Cainiao aims to install PV panels across all its logistics park rooftops in China.

Looking ahead, Cainiao is committed to delivering faster, more cost-effective, and environmentally friendly services to merchants and consumers across the world.

Cainiao won a Silver Stevie® Award for Innovative Achievement in Corporate Social Responsibility, and a Gold Stevie Award for Innovation in Transportation & Logistics in the 2023 Asia-Pacific Stevie® Awards.

Interested in entering the 2024 Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards?

Request the entry kit

Topics: Asia-Pacific Business Awards

Founded on 60 Years of Expertise, The Tea Heaven Specializes in Organic Teas With Sustainable Packaging

Posted by Amanda Del Signore on Tue, Jan 02, 2024 @ 11:32 AM

23 spotlight Square-2Stevie-winner The Tea Heaven is a women-run tea company built upon more than 60 years of experience in providing fresh, premium quality, 100% organic teas with a consistent taste.

More than a tea brand, The Tea Heaven is a community of professional contributors who have been involved in the tea business most of their lives. Founder Harshada Bansai is a fourth-generation tea producer who learned the art of blending teas from her father and grandfather.

Once Harshada started learning more about tea, she always had a dream of building a tea product that not only provided the freshest and healthiest tea to consumers but also helped underprivileged women who are an unseen part of the tea industry and environment.

With this vision in mind, she learned the basics of building a great brand by attending courses in brand management from business and fashion schools in Paris, London, and Shanghai. During her travels and studies, she spent hundreds of hours learning more about the tea industry and the gap between what tea is available in the market and how it can be improved.

Harshada then decided to start The Tea Heaven in 2018 and determined that it would employ only women and only use 100% sustainable packaging material for all products. She wanted to challenge the male-dominated tea industry with her determination to provide a product that is environment-friendly and 100% plastic-free. 

The Tea Heaven Body imageTea Heaven’s product design and development includes tea bags that are handcrafted with muslin cloth without the use of any plastic, paper, glue, or staples. Along with this, the loose-leaf teas are packed in double-lid moisture, light-proof, food-grade tin caddies. The muslin cloth tea bags ensure a microplastic-free cup of tea, and they also employ underprivileged women in rural India to produce them since eight of 10 women in rural India know the art of stitching. With this approach, they seek to provide employment and enable financial independence for these women. All teas are grown and shipped from small estates, eliminating the need for middlemen.

By July 2020, The Tea Heaven had successfully expanded its presence on Amazon in India and the United States, achieving this milestone with no external investment. In its inaugural year, The Tea Heaven generated USD $100k in revenue, though the profit margin remained modest due to reinvesting all earnings into training employees and equipping them with modern tools and machines. Harshada led training sessions for women unfamiliar with computers or lacking opportunities to contribute as breadwinners in their families. Despite the modest revenue, the impact on individual workers was substantial.

Fueled by the motivation and dedication of its women workers, The Tea Heaven family labored diligently, resulting in a significant revenue surge to $200k in 2021. By early 2022, the brand began gaining visibility in other countries, attributed to its products, mission, vision, and packaging. Responding to heightened demand from global markets, a new entity, Tea Heaven Inc., was established, commencing operations in June 2022. Remarkably, within a short time, this new entity has already achieved a six-figure revenue.

The Tea Heaven won a Silver Stevie Award for Excellence in Innovation in Consumer Product & Service Industries - Up to 20 Employees in the 2023 Asia-Pacific Stevie® Awards.

Interested in entering the 2024 Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards?

Request the entry kit

Topics: Asia-Pacific Business Awards

Fresh by Friska's Approach to Digital Business Transformation and Lasting Behavior Change

Posted by Amanda Del Signore on Tue, Jan 02, 2024 @ 11:20 AM

23 spotlight Square-1Stevie-winner Fresh by Friska is a change management consultancy for executives, teams, and businesses positioned to help organizations in their digital transformations by assessment and guidance of new technology, alternative structures, leadership styles, and other key aspects of operations.

The agency was founded in 2020 by Friska Wirya, a self-described geek and lifelong learner with a flair for communication. Friska helps businesses achieve elusive behavior change in large globally distributed workforces by implementing strategies that work with, not against, an organization’s culture and operating environment. This leads to change that lasts.

Friska is the former Head of Change at a large gold mining company where she led digital transformation changes to achieve USD $170 million dollars in annual savings. To do this, she implemented a digital-first culture across four countries to create a strong foundation to drive the adoption of new and emerging technologies.

Prior to this, she was the Global Change Lead for multimillion-dollar projects spanning technology, structure, process, and people, impacting +23,000 employees at Tier 1 engineering firm Worley, and she was one of the founding consultants for Fujitsu Australia’s change practice. This real-world experience enabled her to develop a comprehensive toolkit of methodologies, frameworks, and processes proven in different environments.
Friska body image
Fresh By Friska is the culmination of her contemporary approach that helps companies move away from old ways that aren’t getting traction, so they are more fluid and agile, enabling them to faster develop their culture, technology, structure, or strategy. Integrated into her approach are team-building principles, positive psychology, emotional intelligence, and vulnerability.

Since starting Fresh by Friska, Friska has more than doubled its revenue each year. She achieved this growth by developing her differentiation edge, cementing her position as a thought leader, and expanding her services to include multiple revenue streams.

In addition, Friska often speaks at events and conferences. She has spoken on stages within Australia and internationally to a diverse audience of professionals and executives with experience in presenting, chairing, and facilitating several conferences such as Future of Mining, Female Influencers in Tech, and Women in Leadership Asia.

Friska also volunteers as a career coach for Deloitte's leadership program, Elev8, helping young professionals, especially women from minority backgrounds. She's also on the management committee for Liberty Victoria, the longest-running human rights advocacy group in Australia.

Outside of fortifying her change practice, Friska explores somewhere new each year and is growing her personal styling business, partnering with Mys Tyler (a fashion style inspiration app) and Mirvac Retail on key fashion and personal branding events.

Fresh by Friska won a Bronze Stevie® Award for Most Innovative Startup of the Year - Business Service Industries and a Silver Stevie Award for Excellence in Innovation in Business Product & Service Industries - Up to 20 Employees in the 2023 Asia-Pacific Stevie® Awards.

Interested in entering the 2024 Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards?

Request the entry kit

Topics: Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards

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®.

Interested in entering The 2024 American Business Awards?

Request the Entry Kit

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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