Calling #ServiceTrailblazers For Dreamforce 2018!

Dreamforce 2018 is here! And there’s so much to do and see! To get the most out of the week I’ve put together some notes for #ServiceTrailblazers! Reserve your seat and put these sessions on your calendar! They span the world of customer service and are curated for anyone wanting to learn more about customer service and becoming a #ServiceTrailblazer! If you are Tweeting or want to follow what’s happening please join in the fun, share the info so everyone is included! The hashtags/handles are: #DF18 and #ServiceTrailblazers and @ServiceCloud @Dreamforce!

Have colleagues not attending DF? Watch sessions from your desk: http://bit.ly/ServiceKeynoteLive

Want to know how to get the ROI out of Dreamforce? This is an insider’s view on how two of our #ServiceTrailblazer customers (who attended Dreamforce ‘17) made the most of their experience and got the maximum return on their investment! Here’s the link to the on-demand webinar: https://sforce.co/2wzablw You’ll hear how these customers”

  • Plan with their team before Dreamforce
  • Collaborate at Dreamforce
  • And bring the “best of Dreamforce” back to their teams!

The Service Cloud Keynote: Thursday, September 27th! Arrive at 10:30 AM. Starts at 11:00 AM in Moscone North, Hall D – Add this to your agenda builder to make sure it’s on your calendar! sfdc.co/ServiceKeynote
[Read more…]

Share

A New Flying Car By Google’s Co-Founder Larry Page, Cora

Remember the flying cars in the TV series the Jetsons? Flying cars are not just for cartoons anymore! Google’s co-founder, Larry Page, has launched an autonomous flying taxi firm called Kitty Hawk. Could this mean competition for commuters and business travelers that use apps like Lyft? To reinvent personal aircraft transportation, Page invested in two flying start-ups, Zee.Aero and Kitty Hawk in 2010. The flying car projects were kept secret until a report by a bombshell investigation by Bloomberg Businessweek found that Page had invested $100 million into the project. Going back to 2014, Zee Aero and Kitty Hawk have filed dozens of different aircraft registrations with the FAA. These include electric gliders, rotorcraft, and fixed-wing designs that function more like traditional, commercial planes.

via GIPHY

The current prototype, Cora, is an electric, autonomous air taxi/commercial plane. It was reported to travel at 93 mph, with a range of 100 kilometers. Because it can take off and land vertically, it doesn’t require long runways. Cora is being piloted by the government of New Zealand as a part of a commercial air taxi service. Part of the goal in using Cora in New Zeland is for the country to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. The unveiling was showcased on YouTube:

Source: Kitty Hawk

What’s the Competition Look Like?

At the 2018 Geneva Motor Show, the PAL-V Liberty Sport and the PAL-V Liberty Pioneer were introduced. These are made by the PAL-V Dutch company, claiming the world’s first production-ready flying cars. The PAL-V vehicles are gyroplanes, which, according to the company makes them “much safer and easier to fly” than helicopters or small fixed-wing planes. But you need more than a driver’s license to take this one for a spin. In fact, you’ll also need to get a pilot’s license. And when the Liberty is in flying mode, it must comply with FAA regulations. Which probably means that you can’t just take off if you are stuck in a traffic jam on the freeway.

And it’s not inexpensive. In addition to the $25,000 non-refundable deposit, the Dual Mode Sports Vehicle is expected to retail for $399,000–$599,999. When will the production-ready flying cars be ready? Estimates are by the end of 2018. Here’s the video on PAL-V flying car:

Source: PAL- V

Other competitors…

  • Airbus launched their first successful flight of its self-piloted flying car
  • Velocopter is working on flying taxis in Dubai
  • Uber is working with NASA on its flying taxis and
  • German startup Lilium is creating aircraft smaller and quieter than helicopters to travel in urban areas
  • Lyft is creating partners and alliances with groups like nuTonomy, Magna and General Motors
  • Ford is investing $1 billion in Argo AI, an artificial intelligence start-up focused on developing autonomous vehicle technology
  • GM acquired Cruise for an estimated $1 billion in cash, stock and incentive packages
  • BMW has joined forces with Lego Technic to create a flying motorcycle concept, the Hover Ride, based on a Lego modeling kit
  • Toyota goal is to create a flying car piloted – potentially an athlete – that will deliver the Olympic torch to launch 2020 Tokyo Olympic games
  • Terrafugia’s flying car, TF-X, will have vertical take-off and will hit 320km/hr and offer an 800km range
  • AirQuadOne was created by Neva Aerospace, a UK-based syndicate comprised of five European aviation and robotics companies.

The future is flying high!

 

@DrNatalie, Success Cloud, VP, Salesforce.com

Share

What’s One of the Best Ways To Reach Your Audience to Avoid “Content Shock”?

Content Shock” coined by Mark Schaefer, refers to the rising amount of content posted on the internet on the various channels vs. the finite ability of people to consume all that content. In talking with Mike Barrett, he shared with me a infographic on video content. What’s important to note is that if you want to reach an audience, then video can be the most effective method. And YouTube has a large number of viewers. But it isn’t just about the numbers. YouTube also creates unique relationships with viewers that few other sites can claim.
Here’s more of Mike’s thoughts on the topic and important reasons why YouTube can’t be ignored by anyone who is creating content. With the expansion of channels to reach an audience and the volume of content, whether you are a Marketer, an entrepreneur, a content creator, or simply an entertainer, it is difficult to succeed in a competitive online landscape without video in 2018.
Where Blogs Once Ruled
Video is now the expectation among people online who are seeking interesting content or valuable information.  There is a lot of evidence to suggest that not only is video more popular, but it is also more effective in delivering your message. For example, people remember as much as 80% of what they watch as opposed to merely 20% of what they read.
Top Video Platform
With improved bandwidth more video/ vlog content created every day, YouTube has maintained its position as the top video platform, even as other massive sites like Facebook have started leaning into video heavily.  YouTube has cleared an astonishing 1.5 Billion users and has over 5 million independent channels regularly contributing new content. There is more content than any one person could hope to consume – as many as 400 of hours of new video are uploaded to YouTube every minute!
Here’s some stats to get your wheels turning:
And this where the whole infographic from Mike Barrett – with many more statistic from Vlogging Guides – can be found.
YouTube is Trusted
 Since it was formed in 2006, YouTube has come a long way since funny cat videos.  It is now a credible source of information for many in both their personal and professional lives. YouTube is the second most popular search engine in the world behind only Google which means that a startling number of people are actually turning to YouTube first when they have a question that they need help answering.
That is significant – if you can produce videos that answer those questions and solve those problems, then you can build an engaged audience who will trust your brand and your voice.
Video as a medium has proven that it is effective. Forty-four percent of people report that they have taken action specifically due to an online video, and videos have shown that they improve conversion rates on sales pages, or within emails.
High Engagement
 YouTube is not a site that people use to skim headlines. In fact, an average YouTube user watches 1 hour of video per day on the site. Much of this is due to the many high-quality content producers, but the engineers at YouTube deserve some credit as well.
The site is intelligently designed to maximize use viewing time by promoting videos that perform well in user satisfaction metrics. It uses a sophisticated search algorithm that helps surface the videos that fit exactly what a user is looking for. This is supported by personalized recommendations that give users a number of suggested videos that are related to content that they have engaged with in the past.
The Platform Is Growing
 YouTube’s total view time increase 10x between 2012 and 2017, and it is showing no signs of slowing.  One of the main reasons this upward trend is likely to continue is that younger people have shown that they use the platform that most. 95% of 13-17-year-olds in the US are regular YouTube users, the most of any age bracket.
As more young viewers enter prime YouTubing age, and the platform grows in international markets, YouTube likely still has a long way to go before it reaches its ceiling. This is one of many reasons why it is not too late to establish yourself on this platform now, and why it is critical to do so in 2018.
Thanks Mike for gathering the stats on YouTube! Appreciate you sharing them with me and giving me the opportunity to share them with everyone!
@DrNatalie, VP, Success Cloud, Business Transformation
Salesforce
Share

Creating An ROI For Human Capital And Organizational Change Projects: Part 2

I was working at a company and asked to do several things. First was to recruit 100 engineers. That may not seem like a lot, but for every 100 people, we interviewed we had 1 person accept. So it took interviewing 1000 people to obtain 100 engineers. Part of that was because we were looking for a specific type of engineer – digital signal processing engineers. The company I worked for had gone through a series of hiring and layoff cycles, so they weren’t completely trusted by the local community as being a stable place to work. Many of those types of engineers had left southern California to go to northern California to pursue work – and for larger salaries and more stable positions.

Examining What Was Important to The Employees Was the Key

We had lost a large number of engineers and some accounts were in trouble. So the need to recruit quickly was key. Normally it could take us 3- 6 months to recruit these type of engineers. I had been given a month. So I stepped up to the challenge. I thought, what would I want to experience to determine if I wanted to work for this company? I would want to hear from the leadership that they were dedicated to doing things differently. I would want to know that there were exciting career options in various categories and I would want to feel, touch and see the advanced technologies I would be getting a chance to work with and enhance my skill set so I would be more marketable in the future, both inside the company as well as if I decided to leave. I would want to get to talk to potential colleagues and potential bosses. I would want to get a sense of the culture and the environment I would be working in. And I’d like to meet people who were seeking the same or similar positions to what I was seeking – who would be these new people on-boarding with me?

The Answer? A Career Day With a Special Invite to Top Candidates

What I proposed was a career day. We took out an ad in the LA Times, inviting the best of the best to apply to our company and upon invitation, they would be invited to come to the career day, hear from our leadership about our company and their future there, be interviewed by direct hiring managers for our 5 major divisions as well as tour booths staffed by some of our top engineers and business folks. In the booths, we demonstrated our “cool” technology – at least that which was not classified as top secret.

To pull this day off, I worked with our graphics department to create amazing ads, colorful booth content, onsite brochures and the personal invites sent to those that had sent in resumes and qualified to participate in the career day.

The Launch of the Career Fair

The day started with a group of engineers who began their career day journey with us by hearing from our top leadership. Then they got to tour 5 divisions, each with several booths where the top technology was being demonstrated. We tried our best to come up with really interesting, real-life demos that potential employees could get to touch and feel the technology = actually experience it. Then they were invited to interview with a hiring manager there on site. The hiring managers were given the ability to hire people on the spot (something we’d never done before.)

The Reaction of the Interviewees Was Fantastic

What was interesting was the feedback we collected on video as the employees left the career day. Most of them, after interviewing wanted to go back and hang-out in the tech booths or listen to more talks from our leadership. They commented that it was the best interviewing process they had ever experienced. What was even more gratifying was that the day not only had a positive effect on the interviews but also on the employees who helped put the day together. I had not seen the employees shine so brightly in a long time. It was clear they had a new found sense of pride in the work they were doing as well as for the company. We even captured their feedback on the video and put a compilation video together. Why the video? To help demonstrate the ROI.

Examining the ROI for the Career Day

The cost to develop the day and put it on was about $1,00,000, including the a portion of the salary of all people who participated in the project for various amounts of time, the graphics, the ads in the LA Times, the billboards off the 405 freeway, the booths, tanks we had onsite as part of the booths, etc… When we looked at the cost of recruiting one engineer in our typical process. HR had calculated that to be about $150,000. To obtain 100 engineers we would have had to interview 1,000 people at a cost of $150,000 and that would be equal to $15M. Most people would have considered those soft costs. But they still cost the company time and money. In this new process of interviewing, it cost about $2M. We were able to interview and hire over 100 engineers. The ROI?

$15M – $2M / $2M x 100 = 650%.

(Benefit of saving the regular cost of interviewing – Cost of the new interviewing process / Cost of the new interviewing process x 100 = ROI %.

What I Found Surprising

It wasn’t just that we were able to recruit so many great people quickly. Another aspect of this process was that we actually interviewed our own employees who staffed the event and created all the content to make it amazing. What they said on camera was they were truly proud of the place they worked. They felt a sense of pride they had not in years. I what I learned was that by engaging our own employees, making them part of the recruiting process in this event, it changed their attitude towards the company and their work. So not only were we able to hire all the engineers we needed, but we had boosted the internal company morale! It was a very exciting day for everyone. Something I will proud of for years to come!

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP, Innovation and Transformation Expeditions, Salesforce

 

 

Share

ROI of Human Capital and Organizational Change Management: My Personal Story

I was working for a company that had found themselves in a situation where they had poor morale. Raises were few, partially because of the economy and as a result, people were working very hard and not feeling appreciated. HR came to me to ask what to do. As an early design-thinker, my reaction was always to ask the “customer.” In this case, the “customer” was our own employees. When I interviewed them, I asked them what they wished they had- essentially what was missing? I found that the answers were very surprising. They didn’t feel appreciated. They didn’t feel they were growing and expanding their skills. They didn’t feel like they had a future or that the future looked bright or that they had a hand in creating that future. Or that they even mattered.

The Root Cause of Employee Dissatisfaction

I found that in the appraisal process, once the employee heard they were not getting raise, they shut down. So pretty, much after the first few minutes of the appraisal, they stopped actively participating. So when it got to the part where they were going through their goals for the next year, they had stopped engaging and were only going through the motions.

Because their future goals and engagement to their jobs and their careers was key to being a top company, I came up with the idea of separating the employee appraisal process from the employee development process. And set out to design an employee development process where employees could examine, through goal setting practices, personal-professional goals that would enhance their skill set and make them more valuable to the company, but also have a personal sense of accomplishment and growth.

The Cost of Low Employee Morale?

The cost? With my team, we estimated about $6M for 60,000 employees. I went to the executive leadership meeting and presented my proposal. There was a lukewarm reception, that is… until I got to the cost. At $6M I was laughed at and told to sit down. That was the longest meeting I have ever been in. I couldn’t wait for it to be over. Trying my best to hold back the tears, I just sat there feeling awful.

I went home that night and I did cry. I had interviewed the “customer” figured out what was missing and proposed the solutions. But what I didn’t do is calculate the return on the investment (ROI.) This was very early in my career and this experience taught me the valuable lesson of creating the business value or business case of whatever it was I wanted to propose. The lesson served me well because once I learned to do this, I always got my funding.

Calculating the Cost of Low Employee Morale and Attrition

So you might be wondering how did I calculate the ROI of employee development? Isn’t that a soft skill or a soft benefit? My grandpa had taught me that any time there is value, there is a financial benefit. You just had to find the numbers. So the next day, after a good night’s sleep, I went o HR and asked them, “How much does it take to hire this type of engineer – a digital signal processing engineer?”

They said, combining the recruiting teams time, traveling to various universities, ads in the local papers, radio advertisements, (This was way before social media) reviewing incoming resumes, having the initial screening calls, and then interviewing with a number of the staff and the hiring managers, getting the engineer a secret clearance, etc… the cost was about $150,000 / engineer.

And then I asked the crowning question, “How many engineers did we lose in the last month?” HR said, “200.” And I saw the ROI. If we had lost just 40 people, then $150,000 x 40 would equal the $6M I was asking for. But in the last 3 months we had lost 200, so the cost of attrition just for 3 months was $150,000 x 200 = $30M.

So with the loss of 200 engineers, if I could retain half of them, 100 engineers, then the cost of attrition would only be $15M.

Calculating the Cost of Employee Attrition

The ROI = Benefit – Cost / Cost x 100 = % Return on the Investment

The benefit is the saving of the $15M in attrition costs. The cost is the cost of the program or $6M.

So to calculate the ROI…

Savings of $15M in attrition – Cost of the employee development program of $6M /Cost of the employee development program x 100

So the calculation looks like this:

$15M – $6M / $6M x 100 = 150 % ROI

The Defining Moment

So after pulling my self together and confident with my calculations, I asked for 5 minutes on the agenda. Of course, they were reluctant to give me any time. I got 2 minutes. So I went in with one slide. The slide with the ROI calculation. I said, “We are spending $30M in attrition and if we pay attention to why people are leaving and create a better culture so people feel that they matter, they are learning and growing and feel apart of something bigger than themselves, we can reduce that attrition. So let me walk you through the calculation….” And I did.

To my surprise, instead of sighs of ridiculousness and grumpiness, there was silence. I had hit upon something that no one had thought about. The cost of attrition. While is at first seemed like a “soft” cost, when it was laid out for them in black and white… even if I was off by 50% – we were still wasting the companies money on having people leave because we weren’t paying attention to what was important to them to feel loyal. Why go through all the time and expense to recruit these amazing people, only to push them away and have them go to our competitors, making our competitors smarter and stronger?

How Does This Story End?

Actually very well. I was given the money to develop the employee development program. I was very surprised to get so many emails and people stopping me in the hallways to tell me how much they appreciated what I had done. I didn’t do it for the accolades. I did it because I truly wanted to create an amazing place to work.

The lesson learned? If there is value to something, even if it feels like it is initially a “soft” cost, there is a way to express it in hard dollars in a way that executives can see change is needed. And this was my first experience in organizational change management!

@drnatalie

VP, Salesforce, Innovation and Transformation Expeditions Center

Share

Edible Robots: Researchers from Switzerland Work to Deliver Medicines in the Intestinal Tract

We know that robots play a key role in medicine by helping to conduct surgery by being able to conduct more precise and predictable movements than a surgeon as well as in pacemakers that can help regulate a person’s heartbeat. The healthcare industry spent $4.5 billion in 2016, according to IDC. But that’s only the beginning. In fact, the amount spent on robots is expected to grow as new types of robots are used in hospitals and clinics, globally.

So what is new in robots? Edible robots that can deliver medicine or conduct other medical procedures. In particular, we may find them crawling around inside our intestinal tract say researchers from Intelligent Systems Laboratory at Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland, which was led by graduate student Jun Shintake.

How do they work? These tiny edible and digestible robotics are made of gelatin. Actuators are what is responsible for their movement. However, they are not made like the typical metal robots powered by a motor. Instead, what causes these edible gelatin actuators to move is air or chemicals. The research talks about combining these actuators with other advancements in edible electronics. What might that look like? Perhaps the might be batteries that can safely pass through a digestive tract, or chips and cameras that can be ingested. These could make for a fully edible robot says Recode.

École hôtelière de Lausanne in Switzerland poised to make different kinds of food substances that may be ingested and roboticized. Are there any ingestible electronics on the market? Yes, and they include pills with ingestible sensors on them that can track patient’s compliance with taking medication. Often what affects someone’s ability to recover from a situation is their ability to comply with what is prescribed. And as humans, we sometimes forget to take very things that will help us. In addition, there are some robots that contain a camera that is small enough to be swallowed and record activity in a person’s digestive tract to help diagnosis issues that scopes can’t detect, like bleeding.

So as our ability to detect what’s going on in the body gets more sophisticated, so do the robots designed to help us heal. What will be next? It’s difficult to tell, but always interesting to see what scientists will discover!

@DrNatalie Petouhoff

VP, Program Executive | Innovation and Transformation Center (ITC), Salesforce.com

 
This transmission is intended by the sender and proper recipient(s) to be confidential, intended only for the proper recipient(s). If you are not the intended recipient(s), please notify the sender at either the email address or telephone number above and delete this email from your computer
Share

Facebook’s Artificial Intelligence Has The Ability to Search Photos by Content

The term artificial intelligence was coined 60 year ago. But now its starting to deliver. Lumos’s computer vision platform was initially used to improve the experience for visually impaired members of the Facebook community. Lumos is now powering image content search for all users. What does this means to you? You can now search for images on Facebook with key words that describe the contents of a photo, rather than being limited by tags and captions.

How does this work? It starts with the huge task of computational training. For the object recognition used in Facebook’s image search, the artificial intelligence (AI) system started with a small set of 130,000 public photos shared on Facebook. Using the annotated photos the system could learn which pixel patterns correspond to particular subjects. It then went on to use the tens of millions of photos on Facebook. So what this means is that the caption-reading technology trained a deep neural network though public photos shared on Facebook. The model essentially matches search descriptors to features pulled from photos with some degree of probability. You can now search for photos based on Facebook AI’s assessment of their content, not just based on how humans happened to describe the photos with text when they posted them.

How could this be used? Say you were searching on a dress you really liked in a video. Using the search it could be related back to something on Marketplace or even connect you directly with an ad-partner to improve customer experiences while keeping revenue growth afloat. So it seems it can help both customers, customer experience and companies selling things as well as ad partners.

What else is new? Facebook released the text-to-speech tool last April for visually impaired users so they could use the tools to understand the contents of photos. Then, the system could tell you that a photo involved a stage and lights, but it wasn’t very good at relating actions to objects. But now the Facebook team has improved that painstakingly labeling 130,000 photos pulled from the platform. Facebook trained a computer vision model to identify 12 actions happening in the photos. So for instance, instead of just hearing it was “a stage,” the blind person would hear “people playing instruments” or “people dancing on a stage” or “people walking” or “people riding horses.” This provides contextually relevancy that was before not possible.

You could imagine one day being able to upload a photo of your morning bagel and this technology could identify the nutritional value of that bagel because we were able to detect, segment, and identify what was in the picture.

So it seems the race is on for services not just for image recognition, but speech recognition, machine-driven translation, natural language understanding, and more. What’s your favorite AI vendor?

@Drnatalie, VP, Program Executive, Salesforce ITC

Share

The Smart Home Race: Who Will Win?

Here are three main smart home contenders:

  • Apple’s HomeKit
  • Amazon’s Echo, Tap and Dot and
  • Google’s Home.

The main issues? Consumer confusion, which adoption follows. There is, unfortunately, technological fragmentation within the connected home ecosystem. Currently, there are many networks, standards, and devices being used to connect the smart home, creating interoperability problems (the ability of a system or a product to work with other systems or products without special effort on the part of the customer) and this makes it confusing for the consumer to set up and control multiple devices.

Until interoperability is solved, consumers will have difficulty choosing smart home devices and systems. So here’s how different companies are approaching the market place. Some make it really easy for the customer, while others require a more technical approach.

Apple’s HomeKit

Tim Cook demonstrated how he uses Apple’s HomeKit in his personal life to give potential or current users some ideas on how they can apply it. During Cook’s quarterly earnings conference call he talked about how he has integrated HomeKit products, and the iOS 10 Home app, into his home routine. There are about 100 HomeKit-compatible products available.

Ways to use Apple’s homeKit? When you wake up and say good morning to Siri, your house lights can be programmed to come on and the coffee machine can be started! Though there don’t seem to be any coffee makers on the market with integrated HomeKit support, it’s likely he may be using  smart plug. There are plenty of HomeKit smart plug options on the market— AppleInsider has reviewed both the Elgato Eve Energy and iHome iPS5 SmartPlug. There are two options For HomeKit lighting: bulbs and switches. Philips Hue is a popular option bulb option. It  comes in a starter pack with three bulbs and a HomeKit-enabled hub for ~$199.99.

As far as switches go, the Lutron Caseta Wireless in-wall dimmer kit is HomeKit compatible. Like Philips Hue, it needs a hub to be connected to a home router for HomeKit support— the hub is included in the ~$190 bundle. Smart plugs are only useful with appliances that automatically turn on and operate when they are connected to an outlet. If the connected device requires any sort of manual input, HomeKit and Siri integration don’t work. Cook also mentioned that when he relaxes in the evening, he asks Siri to adjust the lighting and turn on the fireplace. And upon leaving the house, Cooks says by simply tapping on his iPhone, the lights turn off, the thermostat turns down and the doors lock.

Using HomeKit to turn down the thermostat, a common device is the Ecobee3 second-generation model, ~$250. When it comes to door locks, you could consider the $215 Schlage Sense and $230 Kwikset Premis. These both have numeric keypad entry. The $230 August Smart Lock integrates with many existing door locks and makes for simpler installation. When Cook talks about the simple tap” on his iPhone, in “Apple language” he is creating a “Scene” with the Home app in iOS 10.

What is a “scene?” An example is when Cook says his “Hey Siri, good morning” greeting, it turns on the lights and a smart plug to brew coffee. How does that work? You’d open the Home app in iOS 10, tap the plus button in the top right, and simply choose “Add Scene.” Then you’d create a custom scene name and choose which accessories are powered on or off. For more on this, check out the AppleInsider.

Screen Shot 2017-02-04 at 10.18.48 AM Source: AppleInsider

Amazon’s Echo, Tap and Dot and Amazon Prime Services

Amazon’s Echo offers tiered-speaker in three heights – large, medium and small. Using Alexa, Echo is your personal, cloud-based assistant. Alexa has finely tuned automatic speech recognition (ASR) and natural language understanding (NLU) engines that recognize and respond to voice requests to add intelligent voice control to any connected product that has a microphone and speaker. In addition to Echo, Amazon offers Amazon Tap and Amazon Dot (which has been updated.)

Screen Shot 2017-02-04 at 10.21.00 AM                                     Echo                      Tap                      Dot

Source: Pocket-link

Echo

Why is Amazon considered by some to be at the helm of the smart home arena? Not only is Amazon cleverly locking customers into its wider Prime ecosystem, but Alexa adds additional value. It’s easy to set-up, on average about a minute or so. You just plug Echo it into a wall outlet using the included power adapter, wait for the spinning light ring on top to go from blue to orange and then Alexa will greet you. Amazon Echo is great if you just want to have a stationary speaker that doubles as an always-on personal assistant. It provides room-filling audio that’s good for casual listening. When it’s connected to Wi-Fi, you can ask it all sorts of questions and control your devices.

Echo works with devices such as lights, switches, thermostats, and more from WeMo, Philips Hue, SmartThings, Insteon, Nest, ecobee, and Wink. Here’s where you can learn about how to set-up your smart home devices. Some products that work directly with Alexa and other smart home ecosystems require a compatible hub. If you are still confused, you can book an appointment with an Alexa expert. It’s free and you get:

  • Personalized smart home solution recommendations from a trained Amazon employee 
  • Home WiFi assessment to identify and troubleshoot any issues 
  • In-home demo of popular smart home products 
  • Appointment typically lasts 45 minutes 
  • But installation, troubleshooting, and setup of devices not included.

Tap

Amazon Tap provides a similar sound experience, but uses a charging cradle in order to be portable (there’s no cord.) Because it’s not always plugged into power, always-on Alexa isn’t available though. You have to push a mic button to access the service. Tap is great if you’re going to the beach or are always on the go.

Dot

Amazon Dot is basically the top section of Amazon Echo. Dot supports always-on Alexa, connects to the cloud to stream music, controls your smart home devices, and does all the same stuff as Echo. The main difference between Dot and Echo is that the full-size speaker is gone. Instead, customers would hook Dot up to their own audio setup (via out jack or Bluetooth), so they can use Alexa with their existing speakers. That tiny speaker doesn’t output much audio; it’s only for Alexa voice feedback (which requires Wi-Fi.)

Amazon Prime and Alexa

Amazon’s Echo products are designed to be an access point to the Amazon Prime network. The monetization strategy is not really on the hardware of the Echo devices. Instead it’s really focusing on connecting users directly to the Prime network without having to go through an iPhone or Google search engine. And Alexa is the brain behind Echo. It’s smart because the more you use Echo, the more it adapts to your speech patterns, vocabulary, and personal preferences. And because Echo is always connected, updates are delivered automatically.

What can Alexa do? Alexa has skills. While I’ve given a list, you will find over 4,000 here. Alexa can help you find things on yelp, give you movie showtimes, order a pizza from Domino’s, request a song from Spotify or Pandora, request a ride from Lyft, open your garage with Garageio, provide Samsung SmartThings support, play Jeopardy, update your Google Calendar, read you Audible audiobooks, convert text-to-speech for Kindle eBooks…

Alexa gives you a guide on great things to do in some of your favorite cities like New York, London, Boston, act as a travel guide, be your vacation rental virtual concierge, give you the next arrival for the route and stop you specify in a city like San Francisco, tells you door buster hours and sale hours for Black Friday for major retailers like Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Old Navy, Staples, Bed Bath and Beyond, Costco, Gamestop, Home Depot, Lowe’s…

Alexa gives you interesting relevant health and nutrition information, ask beer snob to look up a specific beer, get information like a price, rating, location, or a short description from a Wine Sommelier, quickly review your task lists, find out what is due, and add tasks, give you an inspiration quote or provide a mediation…

Alexa also gives you based on the weather of the location you request it will recommend what to wear so that you don’t feel too cold or too hot, switch on the lamp before getting out of bed, turn on the fan or space heater while reading in your favorite chair, or dim the lights from the couch to watch a movie and order the right products that work with Alexa.

With the free Alexa App on Fire OS, Android, iOS, and desktop browsers, you can easily set-up and manage your Echo. With the app, you can view shopping and to-do lists while on the go as well as control your timers and set custom tones for your alarms…

Google’s Home

Google Home is a voice-activated speaker powered by the Google Assistant. Ask it questions. Tell it to do things. It’s your own Google, always ready to help. Just start with, “Ok Google.”

The Google Home is centered on targeting users with ads. Google is one of the largest companies in the world to rely on ads as its primary stream of revenue. They garnered $79.4 billion from its AdSense division on its earnings, with the overwhelming majority of the Alphabet parent’s total revenue. While Alphabet bought the device makers Nest and Dropcam, Google Home doesn’t have the built-in user base that Apple has with iPhone.

What does Google Home do? A simple voice request triggers Google Home to play music, podcasts or radio from services like Google Play Music, Spotify, YouTube Music, Pandora and TuneIn. Thanks to Google’s rich history in search, Google Home is ready for your questions. Get real-time answers including the latest on weather, traffic, finance, sports, local businesses – you can enjoy entertainment, manage tasks, plan your day, control your home, get information like nutrition information for ingredients or food or ask about current individual stock prices or current points of an index, like the NASDAQ or ask for scores, live updates, or next game date, location and time for your favorite sports teams.

Their compatible smart home partners include nest, Phillips, IFTTT, WEMO, Honeywell and SmartThings. Streaming devices include: Google Chromecast, VIZIO, TOSHIBA, PHILLIPS, Sony, Bang and Olufsen, BO & Play, Grundig, polk, RUAMFELD. You can watch videos and photos on youtube, NETFLIX, and Google Photos.

If you want to learn more about how to use Google Home, click here. Essentially there are three main steps:

  1. Plug power cable into your Google Home device
  2. Plug the cable into a wall socket
  3. Download and run the Google Home app on a phone or tablet.

The newly-designed Google Home app is your one-stop destination to discover all of Google Home’s content and features. DayDream is Google’s VR headset and controller that lets you explore new worlds, kick back in your personal VR cinema, and play games that put you at the center of action. When your phone’s screen becomes your big screen, you can get fully immersed in your favorite shows, movies, VR videos…

It will be interesting to see who wins in the smart home race! What’s your choice? And why?

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP, Program Executive, Salesforce ITC

 

 

Share

Digital Disruption is Gonna Get You Unless You Prepare Your Brand Now

Disruption surrounds the marketplace. As companies face disruption in their industry, the race to stay ahead of or beat the competition is quickening. Software is one of the ways companies competitively automate, manage and analyze business processes, data and content and scale operations. And to successfully compete in this increasingly digital world, enterprises need to transform slow, error-prone operations from manual, analog processes to automated digital workflows and document generation.

However, as various departments in companies buy software applications, often the lines of business are choosing the best of breed solutions and platforms which don’t necessarily easily integrate with each other or the main IT systems. This results in companies having many separate software systems. With people distributed over large geographies, it can be difficult to coordinate work across the business and thus defend against competitors.

While obtaining the right software for each department and use case is important, this often leaves the organization without a way to easily connect the work flows across departments and lines of business to get the return on investment. What is the key to winning the digital transformation race? A digital business process flow platform.

Businesses that drive process efficiency and effectiveness across desperate software solutions and across every aspect of their business will be uniquely qualified to position themselves to exceed and excel. To do this, companies need a platform to digitally integrate, sync and create sophisticated business processes independent of the variety of different software solutions throughout the various departments in a company.

The issue is however, not just to connect SaaS applications, but to also provide process automation to make sure the processes from each of those applications work together well. Without a digital workflow and content automation (WCA) platform and corresponding analytics, it can be very difficult to make sure the investments the organization has made in separate software solutions are actually returning the investment. Nintex does just that.

Competitive Positioning

Nintex’s key differentiator is they offer a digital transformation platform comprised of Nintex Workflow Cloud and Nintex Hawkeye. The host of Nintex’s digital SaaS connectors allows clients to rapidly build and deploy a digital workflow and content automation (WCA) and cloud transformation platform without having to write code. The business result is the ability to acquire customers faster, increase the pace of innovation, as well as control and manage expenses. The platform allows organizations to automate their business processes quickly and easily. And the drag and drop interface encourages quicker adoption of the Nintex solution. Importantly, any workflow automated with Nintex Workflow can be deployed to native mobile platforms (Android, iOS and Windows) in a rapid and simple manner.

The Nintex platform automates processes on and between enterprise content management systems and collaboration platforms, connecting on-premises, cloud workflows and mobile users. Two hundred of the Fortune 500 companies use Nintex, including more than 7,000 public and private organizations in 90 countries, running millions of workflows daily.

For companies that are not ready to move everything to the cloud, Nintex also allows companies to create workflows that stretch across both cloud-based and on-premises systems and services, to distribute work to multiple sites for multiple purposes and move data and workflows to the cloud when they are ready.

Nintex’s overall power is as a Digital Business Platform (DBP). Nintex combines powerful Workflow and Content Automation (WCA) capabilities in one platform. (Editor’s Note: WCA is an emerging technology category that consolidates the legacy technology markets of Business Process Management (BPM) and Customer Communications Management (CCM).) Nintex offers advanced WCA for its easy-to-use workflow and document generation capabilities and workflow analytics (workflow process intelligence).

Target Markets and Industry Vertical Solutions

Target markets include Communications and Media, Education, Financial Services, Government, Healthcare and Life Sciences, Legal, Manufacturing, Professionals Services, Retail Services and Technology industries. Nintex solutions are designed for a range of lines of business within organizations, including Sales and Marketing, Finance, Human Resources, IT and Administration, Customer Service, Field Service and Safety.

High-payback document processes that are faster to implement with a system like Nintex include those in Table 1, customer-facing processes as well as back-office processes (see Table 2a and 2b.) What’s important to note is that the implementation timeframe and costs are fractions of a traditional enterprise-level IT system and instead of using a single, formal, top-down development effort, they are evolved with rapid iterations. This takes a page out of the lean-process, design-thinking community, where rapid iterations and pivoting is key to success and gives large organizations not used to the start-up mentality the edge to be more competitive, quicker.

Screen Shot 2017-01-23 at 2.57.42 PM

Screen Shot 2017-01-23 at 3.01.12 PM

Customer References

In speaking to Nintex customers our research found that many of the gains came from having an easy way to process and execute their digital transformations. This might include moving to the cloud, reducing the number and complexity of workflows like creating and approving a press release, signing and approving contracts, reducing resources and reassigning them to more important jobs as well as reducing the number of software applications used by the company.

The savings in time for enhanced workflows advanced the company’s position in the marketplace, allowed them to get to market faster and beat the competition. In addition, IT departments were able to be more focused on the needs of the business versus being taxed with the maintenance of many separate software applications. These typical IT responsibilities took IT’s time and focus away from the direct needs of the business. By implementing Nintex, the relationship between the lines of business and IT were greatly improved. With the ever changing dynamics in IT, the IT department needs to be highly agile and flexible in the solutions they provide for the business. Nintex provides IT with what they need to deliver to the business. This makes IT more relevant than ever, which is especially key when many lines of business are buying their own software. Now, more than ever, IT can play a key role in the success of the business.

Are you looking to digitally transform your business? Have you determined which processes are slowing the digital transformation of your business? And do you have a solution to take those manual, error-prone processes and digitally enable them? This report will help you in choosing a vendor that can help you with just that.

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, www.ConstellationR.com

Covering customer and employee applications that empower digital workplaces

Share

What’s a Key Part of a Digital Transformation? Digital Workflow

As companies take on digital transformation for real, they need to consider the people (their skills and backgrounds), the processes (has the brand made them digital or they still doing things on spreadsheets?) and the technology (to enable the company to be more digitally oriented.)

That all sounds easy, but it is only if a company uses a digital business platform that enables an advanced,  easy-to-use workflow and document / content generation and automation capability; Workflow and Content Automation (WCA) capabilities that improve the way people work digitally. This type of software needs to enable point and click workflow automation to handle everything from basic business functions to company-wide processes with a few clicks.

But in addition to WCA, the digital business platform also needs to have analytics. Why? Because the business will want to monitor the workflows and determine which ones are working well and which processes still need improving. (Most of the time companies don’t look to see if a process they have implemented is effective or efficient.) For example, let’s say you wanted to see how well your expense claims process was working. In the figure below, Nintex Hawkeye is used for expense claim processing;  to look claims  submitted and service level agreement infringements data to sharing among the management to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the expense claim process.

Dashboard for Expense Claims Submitted

Dashboard for Expense Claims Submitted

Not only can a company automate a workflow digitally, but they can also monitor, capture and share the process performance for expense claims. The company can see number of claims submitted (677), the amount of expense claims submitted ($1.41M), the average expense claim amount submitted ($2.08K) and what the SLAs infringements were (1996). They can also see how the average expense claim is rising in cost each year (bar chart) and the departments who are submitting the expense reports (the circle graphic.) In this one simple example, a company can take what used to be a manual or somewhat manual process and make it completely digital as well as provide analytics around how well the process is working.

Nintex’s intuitive user interface eliminates the need for complicated coding and training for the lines of business, system integrators, and IT departments as they pursue digital transformation. In addition, the workflow analytics allow companies to more effectively optimize workflows across organizations, be more productive and intelligent, correct ineffective or inefficient workflows, and thus increase revenue as well as decrease costs.

In evaluating the value of digital transformation software, it is important to look at departments that drive revenue and affect customers. High return on investment (ROI) use cases are processes that involve content (documents, forms, records, etc.) for which requests for further automation and process improvement may take a long time for IT to accommodate. (IT has a lot on their plate and what seems to the business as a simple change, could take IT much longer without a digital business platform.)

To successfully compete in this increasingly digital world, enterprises need to transform their slow, error-prone operations from manual, analog processes to automated digital workflows and document generation. As companies consider their journey to a digital workplace, they will need to consider how they are going to transform all their processes that were once done on paper or in spreadsheets, to a fully digital process. A digital business platform is a great place to start. For more on this report, please click here.

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, www.ConstellationR.com

Covering-customer and employee-facing applications that make employee and customer experiences better

 

 

Share