The Stevie Awards Blog

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

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

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

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

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

Grand aba pic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stevie® Winners Announced in 18th American Business Awards®

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

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

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

ABA spring day 5-1

Winners of three or more Gold Stevie Awards include:

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

What Is MAD-learn?

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

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

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

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

mad learn 2

Technology Creation, Not Just Consumption

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

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

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

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

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

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

Impact of Winning a Stevie® Award

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

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

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

Request the entry kit

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

American Business Awards Final Entry Deadline Further Extended to May 5

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

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

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

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

Request the entry kit

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

ABA pic for linkedin big

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

offerpad (2)

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

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

Support from Venture Capital

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See What’s Behind the Latin American Tech Boom

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

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

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

belatrix

The Transformative Influence of the Internet

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

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

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

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

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

Request your entry kit here

English as the Unofficial Language of Business

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

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

Time Differences Make a Difference

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

Government Initiatives Provide Financial and Logistical Help

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

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

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

The Future of Tech

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

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

Making Sure Online Sellers Experience Benefits, Not Hassles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leveraging Its Awards

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tags: American business awards, company awards, tech awards

Artificial Intelligence Goes Where Hardware Can’t

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

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

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

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

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

lucidcam-virtual-reality-camera-2

Tech Giants Are Noticing

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

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

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

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

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

Exploring New Territories

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

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

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

Massive Potential

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tags: American business awards, company awards, tech awards

The Tech Department Behind TGI Fridays

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Tue, Sep 04, 2018 @ 11:45 AM

Although Alan Stillman didn’t invent the phrase “TGIF,” he knew how universal the feeling was, and he opened the first TGI Fridays restaurant in 1965 in New York, United States.

As the original casual dining bar and grill, TGI Fridays offers authentic American food and legendary drinks, and it’s all served with genuine personal service.

Bringing people together to socialize and to celebrate the liberating spirit of Friday was the restaurant’s founding premise, and from this was born the brand promise: in here, it's always Friday.

To share the Friday experience all over the world, TGI Fridays proudly serves guests in over nine hundred restaurants in more than sixty countries. Making every day feel like Friday wouldn't be possible, however, without creating a place where friends feel free to get together. TGI Fridays takes pride in their nearly 74,000 skilled and knowledgeable team members who help serve their guests each and every day.

tgi fridays

Connected Experiences

Technology is revolutionizing the restaurant industry, and the influx of mobile capabilities, tablets, online ordering, and even AI-driven automation in the food and beverage space continues to accelerate and to create more meaningful and connected dining experiences.

Chief Experience Officer at TGI Fridays, Sherif Mityas, affirms the impact they’ve felt since winning a Gold Stevie Award®, especially as it pertains to their IT department.

“This is an amazing award for our team and for the organization as a whole. Being recognized as the best IT department of the year in The American Business Awards® is truly an honor, and it has created an immense sense of pride for every team member in the organization.”

By incorporating technology into the dining experience for their guests, TGI Fridays continues to make a concerted effort to create an innovative mindset for their entire brand. In many ways, according to Mityas, they consider themselves a “technology company that happens to sell beer and ribs.”

The team has also been recognized as a two-time winner of the CIO100 award (by CIO Magazine), a Digital50 award winner, and the Most Innovative Team (by the International Franchise Association).

Be Better, Do Better

TGI Fridays doesn’t just celebrate the Friday brand in their restaurants; they also pass that mentality to their staff members. As such, they allow all IT team members to leave early on Friday, which gives people time to enjoy their friends and family and, in turn, to be better and more productive at work.

Their IT team also comprises men and women from all walks of life and backgrounds. Ranging in age from twenty-two to seventy-five, the team members are over 60 percent women, and the minority workers hail from over twelve countries.

“It’s truly an exceptional team that does great things together for the benefit of our millions of guests around the world every day.”
 
A never-ending drive to be better and to do more has allowed a relatively small group to accomplish great things. One of the keys to their success is never settling for how things are expected to be.

“We're always challenging the status quo and asking what’s next,” says Mityas.

Tags: awards technology, The American Business Awards, American business awards, innovative technology, it awards, tech awards

Lightcast.com Helps Independent Content Producers Find Success on Roku and Fire TV

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Tue, Aug 28, 2018 @ 04:51 PM

Over the past decade, there’s been a sea change in the way people consume video content. Today’s viewers can download and stream multimedia on their computers, as well as on mobile apps, social media sites, and a variety of connected TV devices, such as Roku, Fire TV, and Apple TV.

Thanks to the proliferation of outlets—and a steep drop in production costs—you no longer have to be a major broadcast network or media conglomerate to gain viewers. Now, even small businesses, state and county governments, and churches are using these non-cable outlets, commonly referred to as “over the top,” or OTT, to reach a whole new audience.

While the barriers to entry are certainly less insurmountable than in the past, independent producers still need the tools to upload, manage, and publish their video and audio content on a wide range of media platforms. Lightcast.com has been helping clients overcome this exact challenge since its inception in 2010.

The company, which has offices in the United States (Charlotte, North Carolina) and Europe, bills itself as the one-stop shop for all its clients’ publishing needs. In addition to providing transcoding services—it creates more than a dozen renditions of each video in different bitrates—it offers a fully functional content management system and the ability to distribute multimedia using one of the world’s largest server networks.

It also helps organizations monetize their content by creating advertising, pay-per-view, and subscription strategies. By eliminating the need to work with video ad networks—what it calls the industry middlemen—the company claims content creators can boost their net revenue.

The “Democratization” of Video

“The shift away from mere streaming on websites to OTT has kept all streaming providers and online video platforms on their toes,” says the company’s managing director, Andreas Kisslinger. “Lightcast.com, in particular, has really enjoyed, welcomed, embraced, and promoted this change as we see the new publishing channels and platforms as a huge opportunity for media publishers.”

lightcastFor Kisslinger, the changes in the media landscape enable organizations of all stripes to amplify their messages and to expand their reach.

“It’s a chance for democratization of information flow, creativity, and entrepreneurship among independent producers, of which many are highly successful,” he says.

Lightcast, whose Media Cloud solution won the Gold StevieⓇ Award  in The American Business Awards® for New Product or Service of the Year in the CMS category, has tapped in to those opportunities as well as anyone. Its software suite now helps support a multitude of media outlets on social media, connected TV, and mobile apps. Today, InTouch Ministries, Foody TV, and All About Golf are among the thousands of clients Lightcast helps connect with new audiences. It’s an impressive achievement for a company that started with little and worked tirelessly with its “bootstraps” mentality.

“We are all young entrepreneurs from various countries. All self-funded and self-made, without any venture capital or connections behind our backs,” says Kisslinger. “Instead of using investment capital, we built our business exclusively with sweat, blood, and tears—and, most of all, the satisfaction of our customers who share their excitement about our products with others."

Kisslinger acknowledges that keeping a trans-Atlantic operation going isn’t always easy, though. The staff has to continually navigate language and time zone differences to make it work. For Kisslinger, however, what they have in common is more important: a desire to go above and beyond for their customers.

One of the company’s keys to success is a relentless pursuit of the perfect multimedia publishing suite.

“We have a proprietary CRM system and database in which we record every feedback, every wish, and every need customers send us. We do this in order to refine the user interfaces and feature sets of our software-as-a-service offering,” says Kisslinger.

This approach helped the company earn numerous awards for product design over the past few years, but for Kisslinger, snagging the Stevie Award was particularly satisfying.

“We regard the Stevie as one of the most important and prestigious awards a business can win,” he says. “It’s boosted the excitement and self-esteem of our teams—especially among our hardworking coders, web developers, and graphic designers. Everyone is especially excited and grateful over this year's award,” he says.

Tags: creative media awards, American business awards, new product awards, tech awards

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