Can POS Systems Boost Your Business?

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Brian Wallace, Founder & President, NowSourcing

Point-of-sale (POS) systems aren’t new.

As a retail business owner, it is important for you to have an efficient POS system in place.

In the year 2020, the market size of POS software touched 9.3 billion.

If you want to give your customer a seamless experience, then a POS system is a must for your retail business.

A quality POS system comes with a customizable toolkit that can help increase productivity and track essential business data hundred times better.

In this post, you’ll learn about what POS systems can do and how they play a crucial part in boosting your business.

Benefits of POS systems

POS systems have been in the market for a long time, and many businesses have benefited from this.Choosing the right kind of POS system can help you grow your business and enhance the level of customer experience.

Without any further ado, let’s dive right into the benefits:

1. Ensure faster payments and checkout 

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Did you know about 65 percent of customers complain about longer checkout times as their biggest frustration?

With an advanced and efficient POS, this is never a problem.

Check out why.

  1. It offers various payment methods so that customers do not need to dig into their wallets while standing at the checkout lines
  2. It enables customers to save their preferred payment methods so they do not need to take our their wallets during their subsequent purchases

With the easy synchronization between devices integrated and POS systems like card swiper, barcode scanner, printer, and so on, the time taken for each transaction can be significantly reduced thereby making the process faster and more efficient.

2. Simplify accounting and invoicing processes 

POS systems are used to keep track of every financial activity.

Retail frauds are high, but with efficient POS systems, these can be minimized, and losses can become a thing of the past.

Every invoice is stored in the central system and also automatically processes the underlying accounting operations.

This saves businesses from spending too much time behind maintaining accounts and invoices. Moreover, the invoices can be grouped to have a better look at the business activity.

3. Tracks inventory in real-time

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POS Systems are tightly integrated with inventory details.

When an invoice is generated, the invoice items can be deducted from inventory, and a transparent stock can be managed for the business.

With proper inventory management from POS systems, you can keep an eye on products selling out fast and create a safe limit to place orders when the quantity automatically reaches a certain point.

POS systems can help you eliminate out-of-stock states. They can also enable you to serve more customers and unlock immense growth opportunities.

As per the Intuit market research, a business ranking at $300,000 in revenue can decrease its operational cost by 10% and save an average of $30,000 annually.

4. Features advanced reporting capabilities

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Today, POS systems are as advanced as you can imagine. If you have been looking for an efficient cloud-based LMS, check out this POS system by Lightspeed.

They are equipped with all modern technologies for reporting and analytics. Using these technologies, you can briefly look at the business performance and make crucial decisions.

POS systems can crunch all the accounting and invoicing data and provide insightful, tailor-made business reports.

Many POS systems create reports that require little to no modifications, and you can directly present them to stakeholders.

With advanced reporting features, you do not have to spend much time preparing and generating reports. Moreover, choosing the correct data to include in reports requires deep expertise.

5. Get access to customer data

POS systems are designed to store large amounts of data efficiently. This data is made available whenever required, making them ideal for businesses.

Once you’ve identified patterns in the data that contribute to your business growth, you can indeed focus on them specifically.

Moreover, having more customer data can help you contact customers regarding offers, special occasions, events, and more to attract them towards your business.

Today, POS systems can save their data in on-premise servers or in the cloud. Many businesses prefer storing POS data in the cloud because the costs are lower.

Further with relevant credentials and access permissions, anyone can access the POS data stored in the cloud from any place. This makes cloud data storage the best option for POS systems for multinational businesses.

Having lifetime data access is a boon for businesses because you can access any metric at any time, and there will be almost no delays. Moreover, with more historical data of your business, you can predict the future better.

6. Boosts your brand image

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An efficient POS can greatly help with enhancing your brand image.

For example, if you own a restaurant, there are several ways in which POS technology can impact your brand value. Take a look:

  1. Customer loyalty programs — Loyalty programs are a great way to build your brand value and reputation. An efficient POS can make creating and implementing a digital loyalty program a simple affair.
  2. Connecting with diners through technology — While building a great brand image for your restaurant, it is essential to display that you can handle all types of payment methods. A reliable POS can facilitate contactless payments.
  3. Maintaining consistency across multiple locations — Look at any reputed hotel or restaurant chain and one thing that you will notice is the consistency of their brand across locations. By using an efficient POS, you can ensure that all critical functions including but not limited to inventory management, staff monitoring, and payments are consistent across all locations.
  4. Managing employees better — Did you 83 percent people trust the suggestions of their friends and families in choosing a restaurant over advertisement activities? And a POS system can aid in better management of employees. Managers can use a POS to efficiently track the work schedules of employees and also supervise their sales performance.

7. Enhance security

There are several ways in which a POS system can enhance the security of the business.

  1. It boosts the prevention of loss
  2. It combats fraudulent activities by significantly reducing security risks for both the customers and businesses
  3.  It ensures safer access to customer data

An efficient POS is secured with the latest encryption techniques and comes with user and role management features. With such features, you can restrict access by roles and prevent tampering with data by others.

For example, any data stored in the Lightspeed POS system is secure because of the security features that come along with the software suite. Even if someone manages to get past the security, the system’s log files will record it and send alerts for suspicious activities.

8. Simplified order management

POS systems have policies that can be set to place purchase orders when inventory stock goes below one point.

Such features help you automate the ordering of products and invoicing them. Moreover, this makes managing orders easier as everything is right there in the POS system only.

Once the purchase order is fulfilled, the payment receipt is generated, and the stock quantity is updated too.

All these tasks are prone to mistakes and are time-consuming. Hence, with the help of Lightspeed POS systems, you can enable growth by managing all orders under one roof in an efficient manner.

9. Get access to dedicated support professionals

Before you select a POS system for your business, check with the team whether they have a dedicated and centralized support team who can handle every kind of issue.

The best POS provider will provide you the required assurance that your ticket is not passed from one desk to another only to find in the end they can’t help. You need to have access to dedicated professionals who are there whenever you need them.

10. Improves store performance

A real-time POS system can help improve the store performance by providing visibility into customer management, inventory management, sales performance, and purchase order management.

In fact it provides the required data to retailers when they need it the most. In fact the data helps the retailers to tweak the performance of their stores and boost the sales figures.

Being able to track data real time and from anywhere enables retailers to keep tabs on their inventory and business without wasting time traveling between different locations. Instead they get up-to-date information as and when they need it on their mobile phones.

Conclusion

In this century when technology is power, it will be a smart move to choose a POS that can integrate with other modules to create an omnichannel experience for the shoppers.

When weighing the advantages of an efficient POS, you will find there are more pros than the number of cons. If you continue to operate your business without one, you run the risk of putting your brand in danger.

Having said that, with the above information, we believe you will be able to find the POS that suits the needs of your business in the best possible way.


Brian WallaceAbout the Author: Brian Wallace is the Founder and President of NowSourcing, an industry leading infographic design agency in Louisville, KY and Cincinnati, OH which works with companies ranging from startups to Fortune 500s. Brian runs #LinkedInLocal events, hosts the Next Action Podcast, and has been named a Google Small Business Adviser for 2016-present. Follow Brian Wallace on LinkedIn as well as Twitter.




6 Ways for Your Business to Reach More Customers

CommPRO Editorial Staff

Most businesses thrive off of having a lot of customers. After all, more customers generally mean that your business will be earning more money. Bringing in a lot of customers also means that your business has a bigger likelihood of gaining loyal customers, which could provide a steady income stream.

However, all of this can only take place once you have those customers. But that, unfortunately, can often be the hard part. Reaching a lot of customers can be hard to do if your business is still quite new, or if you have a small business. Luckily, we’re here to help. We’ll be sharing six ways that your business can reach more customers. If that sounds good to you, then keep reading. 

Use data

Businesses nowadays have a much bigger advantage than businesses a few years back had, because businesses have access to a lot of data, and they can use that to their benefit. 

Your business probably already uses data to monitor employees and manage finances, so why not use it to help you reach more customers? Software such as a territory map maker can help you understand more about your customers, which could, in turn, help you come up with better strategies to get more customers. For example, if you can see that your business doesn’t get a lot of customers from a certain area, you may need to market twice as hard in that area to make up the difference. 

Get on social media

Most people use at least one kind of social media, so by not using it to reach customers, you’re missing out. There are loads of social media platforms out there, each with its own audience. By utilizing these platforms, you can reach a large number of potential customers at once. 

While you can opt for paid advertisements on social media, you can also use it as an entirely free platform to promote your product and interact with clients. Instagram is currently one of the most popular social media platforms, so if you’re looking for tips on how to grow your Instagram audience, you can find some here.

BusinessUse the online sphere

We’ve already spoken about how successful social media can be when it comes to reaching customers, but social media isn’t the only online aspect that your business can use to reach people. For example, having a website can help people learn more about your business in one convenient space. You can also make use of email marketing or pay to have your business advertised on people’s blogs. The possibilities are nearly endless!

Go to markets or fairs

Many businesses are run entirely online. This has many benefits, especially when it comes to finances. However, it doesn’t give you the opportunity for face-to-face interaction with customers, and some people don’t like buying products online. Luckily, there is a way for you to sell your products directly to your customers without having the monthly expenses of a physical store.

By having a stall at markets or fairs, you get to reach more customers, especially those who might not use the internet very often. Since these are usually once a week, you won’t be paying as much as you would if you had to rent a shop or something similar. Just be sure to have an attractive market stall.

Collaborate with other businesses

Look, no matter how many of these methods you follow, it’s likely going to take you some time to reach as many customers as you’d like, especially if you’re a small business. However, there is a way for you to reach a lot of customers at once, and that is to collaborate with a bigger business than you.

Business collaborations are beneficial for both parties because they each get to reach an audience that they might not ordinarily have access to. If you can effectively form a business collaboration, you’re sure to gain more customers. 

Make use of a variety of marketing techniques

We know we’ve been talking about how much the internet can help you reach customers, and that is absolutely true. However, you shouldn’t solely rely on the internet when it comes to your business marketing.

Instead, use a combination of digital and old-school marketing techniques. Advertising on billboards, televisions, and the radio can help your business gain the publicity it needs, while at the same time reaching more customers. When it comes to reaching as many customers as possible, you shouldn’t limit yourself to just one method; the more you do, the more customers you will reach. 




5 Tips to Better Manage Your Business Budget

Maggie Bloom

A business budget is one of the most important aspects of any business. Without a budget, a company runs the risk of being unprepared. Without a buffer for unforeseen expenditures and investments, a company faces the danger of being unable to pay such commitments when they become due. Budgets enable businesses to plan out their financial future by establishing objectives and striving to attain them. A budget allows a company to develop priorities and therefore better manage expenditure, which results in increased profitability. It would be preferable if a new manager were not required to make too many unpleasant mistakes. Here are some pointers for you to better your management with budgeting responsibilities.

1. Keep track of your expenses

While revenue and profits take precedence when it comes to company finances, cost containment may have a significant effect on your profit margin. Budgeting for variable costs like marketing or office expenses may be challenging, resulting in overspending. Establish a budget for fixed and variable expenditures and carefully monitor them for patterns that erode your business’s budgeting and financial objectives. It would be of much help to keep track of bills and payments of services for the sake of accountability. These daily numbers serve as a barometer for whether you’re over or under budget for the month. The whole procedure aids in your financial literacy.

2.Take a Strategic Approach

Begin by establishing a strategy and objectives and then determining the resources needed to accomplish those objectives. If you need more money than last year, create a business case to support your proposal.

A comprehensive and reasonable budget is a critical tool for managing your company. A budget offers vital information for living within your means, overcoming unforeseen obstacles, and profiting. A well-constructed budget will identify available capital, project expenditures, and forecast income. Make strategic planning the cornerstone of your budgeting approach to achieve this. You can also hire and inquire on such helpful services from available platforms like https://www.ottopay.com/ to maximize your business efficiency.

3.Facilitate teamwork

Teamwork achieves efficiency. While it is critical to control your budget, your unit is a subset of a more prominent organization. Inquire how your budget fits into and contributes to the larger picture and the interconnections with your peers. There may be instances when another department needs funding for objectives that are more important than yours. Don’t wait to be asked or have your privileges revoked—be proactive and volunteer to assist your peer manager. You’ll be seen favorably as a strategic and collaborative individual. Employee engagement in the budgeting process instills achievement, happiness, control, involvement, and participation in the organization. Thus, budgetary involvement enhances work happiness, which contributes to the improvement of subordinates’ performance.

4.Set budget follow up sessions

If you want to keep your business’s finances on track, budget management must be a priority. It’s much too simple to continue deferring a review until next week, “when things settle down.” The longer you put a budget on hold, the more likely it is that you will soon have another fire to put out.

Determine how often you will close books and inform department heads of any necessary course modifications. A quarterly or monthly check may assist in identifying expenditures early enough to rectify the situation. Budgeting enables you to establish a spending plan for your money. A budget can also help you avoid debt or overcome debt if you are already in debt.

5.Separate personal and business funds

Keeping company and personal finances separate is essential for effective money management. Bank statements for businesses are beneficial for measuring profitability, reconciling accounts, and monitoring expenditure.

Combining personal and company money may result in unorganized records, resulting in overspending and lost chances for development. When monies are combined, it becomes more challenging to trace withdrawn and deposited company dollars, making it harder to manage incoming and leaving money. If you connect your company and personal finances in one account, you may find yourself using business money for personal expenditures or vice versa.

Budgeting is a simple but critical procedure that company owners use to estimate income and expenditures for current and future periods. The objective is to guarantee that sufficient funds are available to keep the company operating, develop the firm, compete, and maintain a healthy emergency reserve.

 




3 Essential Resources to Increase Business Credibility

Victoria Smith

Credibility is essential to any business today. This is partly because more consumers are taking the time to make informed decisions before taking any further actions. So, any resources that can improve credibility and encourage beneficial interactions can be very much appreciated. There’s even a leading hockey team using machine learning to keep fans engaged and facilitate ticket purchases. Below, we spotlight three essential resources that can help you increase business credibility and get the results you’re hoping for.

1. Online Reviews and Feedback

Ninety percent of customers read online reviews before visiting a business. This is one of the most compelling reasons why online reviews can go a long way in increasing business credibility for any business. Yes, when satisfied, clients, customers, or patients will automatically post or share reviews. Other times, however, you may need to provide a gentle reminder in a way that’s not too intrusive.

Another way to encourage online review is to make the process of posting a review as simple as possible. You might do this with a simple form on your website or emails that include links to website review pages or third-party review sites. Your social media pages can also be used to encourage and share reviews. Online reviews are a helpful resource linked to credibility since online searchers are more likely to choose a business or service provider based on authentic reviews from real people. There’s research suggesting people trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations. On the other hand, less credibility is associated with carefully crafted content that’s not supported with reviews or testimonials.

On a related note, be willing to ask your customers for feedback to determine what you need to focus on or improve. This added step can go a long way in increasing your business credibility among your target audience or within your customer base. The reason is that people tend to consider it a sign of credibility if a business is willing to seek and listen to constructive feedback.

2. Improved Data Accuracy

Businesses collect a lot of data these days, whether it’s directly online when purchases are made or in person. This is precisely why anything that improves data security and accuracy can play a role in boosting business credibility. For instance, if you run or manage a medical practice, electronic health records, or EHR, can make it easier to collect and secure patient data, especially if efforts are made to verify what’s entered. For e-commerce sites, to provide another example, secure payment options can also increase confidence and credibility. In this case, the added credibility and trust can directly improve conversions and revenue.

Better data accuracy also increases credibility by:

  • Reducing billing errors
  • Making it easier to share essential data with other relevant parties
  • Creating a more consistent and convenient customer/patient experience

As data accuracy and collection improves, the added credibility can create a better user experience. This is what ultimately provides meaningful benefits or payoffs for any business.

3. Chatbots and Other Customer Service/Support Options

You’ll also boost your odds of increasing your business credibility if you make it easier for customers, end-users, patients, or anyone who uses your services or products in some way to receive support. Several specific resources can be used to achieve this goal. One of the more popular ones today is the use of chatbots. These are programs that allow for some degree of customer interaction with digital devices. Chatbots can be especially useful for after-hours questions new customers may have with fairly standard or common answers.

Credibility can be further increased with customer service and support resources involving:

  • Live chat features
  • An established policy for responding to questions/concerns
  • Easy access to FAQs directly on your website

One other resource that can increase your business credibility is you and anyone on your staff. The way you interact with customers, patients, clients, or anyone else who benefits from what you provide can go a long way when it comes to credibility. It can also help get everyone on the same page with procedures and protocols related to anything involving the typical customer/patient experience, from the initial contact to pay for services or products. Lastly, appropriate follow-up engagement is essentially icing on the cake when it comes to increasing business credibility.


About the Author: Victoria Smith is a freelance writer who specialized in business and finance, with a passion for cooking and wellness. She lives in Austin, TX where she is currently working towards her MBA.




Why You May Need to Consider Restructuring Your Business

Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

Victoria Smith

Just because a business worked at one point in history does not mean that will be the case today. Many once very profitable companies, both large and small, have eventually fallen by the wayside. The forces of change affect us all, and this certainly holds true for business owners. If you feel like there is now something fundamentally broken about your business, it’s not too late to take action. You can restructure your company. Here are a few reasons why it might be a good idea to do so.

Technology Has Made Your Company Obsolete

One of the biggest drivers of change in the business world, as well as the entire world in general, is the advancement of technology. At one point, the manufacturing of typewriters was a huge industry. Today, if you asked school children what a typewriter was, they more than likely wouldn’t even know the answer. When technology is poised to make your company obsolete, you have to evolve or go extinct. If you don’t want to become a dinosaur, start laying the groundwork for plans to restructure your company’s business model. Start doing so many years before the change will be permanent. This is part of the reason why all the major auto companies are developing electric vehicles. They know change is coming.

Your Plans for Growth Aren’t Working

Another issue happens when a business owner is trying to grow the company past its more humble beginnings. Despite the owner’s best efforts, growth ends up stagnating. The hopes of reaching certain benchmarks for growth may be dashed. In this scenario, most likely, your business needs an organizational development adjustment. The organization of your company may have been sufficient when it was smaller. However, that structure may not be one that can facilitate the rapid kind of growth you want to obtain for your company. This process may involve overhauling the technical systems of your company in regards to technology and how the workflow is completed. It may also include the overhaul of social systems as well such as your business culture and leadership hierarchy.

Your Revenue Has Dried Up

A third scenario that may require a business restructure is when your revenue simply dries up. This may happen slowly over a period of months and years. In some cases, the revenue drop may be more dramatic and seemingly happen overnight. Whatever the case, it may still be possible to save your company if you act quickly. Think, for example, of how many restaurants adapted to lock-down orders during the pandemic by switching to a business model of delivery and curbside service. A drastic re-think of how you can continue delivering a product to customers and make a profit doing so may be required to stay afloat. Moving through a formal restructuring process can help you find a way to do so in an orderly fashion.

You’re Losing to Your Competition

Sometimes a business does well enough for an extended period of time. Then, at some point, a new competitor enters the market and takes all of that company’s former business. This isn’t a new phenomenon. Think of how most department stores disappeared after the advent of huge retailers like Walmart. If this is the case for your business, a restructuring can help you develop new strategies for competing in your market on a more equal footing. Changing your business model can help put you on top again. Think, for example, of how Little Caesars started growing again after changing their business model and centering it on a more fast-food approach with the Hot-N-Ready pizza that is always available for walk-in customers.

Your Business Is Dependent on Debt

If your business has become too dependent on debt to make it by, it may be time for a formal restructuring of your company. When you amass too much debt, you are more or less running your company for your creditors instead of yourself. The ability to grow your company or even simply re-invest into the business may be lost due to having to pay down your debt load. Your ability to maintain a competitive advantage may vanish as a result. Many companies are in this situation, and the global corporate debt is about 72 trillion dollars. Restructuring your company may allow you to find a way to make paying off your debt quicker and more orderly while also having some funds left over to invest in your business.

Overall, no business can stay the same forever. Whether it’s technological changes, the economy, consumer trends, or some other force of change, businesses will have to readjust from time to time to remain competitive and solvent. Don’t be afraid to go back to the drawing board and re-think your company’s business plan in a formal restructuring.


About the Author: Victoria Smith is a freelance writer who specialized in business and finance, with a passion for cooking and wellness. She lives in Austin, TX where she is currently working towards her MBA.



Role of Blockchain Technology in the Finance Industry

7 Ways Blockchain Will Improve Digital Marketing and AdvertisingCommPRO Editorial Staff

Blockchain is playing a significant role in increasing the efficiency of fintech companies across the globe. This has led to a reduction in the manual manipulation of information. Blockchain ensures intercompany transparency along with the settlement. The technology helps in providing cost-effective techniques by preparing the payment mechanism.

With that being said, in this post, we will discuss how blockchain technology is shaping the finance industry, making it more robust and agile. 

What is Blockchain Technology? 

A blockchain is a database that records different kinds of information that cannot be changed and hacked. It is generally considered as a digital ledger of duplicate transactions that are spread across various computer networks. Blockchain technology helps to eliminate delays, failure of intermediaries, lowers the credit risk, etc. Bitcoin is also formed out of blockchain technology, where it is operated in a decentralized manner taking away all the power to act accordingly. Also, there are many companies that develop blockchain wallets for storing Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. 

How Blockchain has Revolutionized the Finance Industry? 

  1. Security. Blockchain has helped in eliminating the major failure points and has reduced the foremost data intermediaries like the system operators. Moreover, it enables you to execute a secure application code that is fool-proof against malicious third-parties and fraud. This makes blockchain technology practically impossible to manipulate or hack
  1. Scalability. When a system achieves greater TPS than the usual system, it ensures scalability. It helps in providing tremendous resilience, global reach, and higher integrity of the main net by providing an enterprise solution. It also supports interoperability between the public and the private chains. 
  1. Transparency. Blockchains acts as a single shared medium of truth for the network participants. It also employees the protocols, mutualized standards, and the shared processes. 
  1. Privacy. The efficiency, trust, and transparency of the finance company are improved by blockchain technology while maintaining the confidentiality and privacy of the finance company. Blockchain allows sharing of the selected data in business networks, by providing different market-oriented tools for data privacy covering every layer of the software.
  1. Trust. As blockchain is considered the digital ledger, its transparency can also make it a lot easier for the parties involved in the business networks to reach the agreements properly, manage data precisely and collaborate easily. 
  1. High Performance. Blockchain ensures higher performance by allowing periodic surges for the network activity. Moreover, hundreds of transactions are sustained per second because of the private and hybrid network.
  1. Programmability. Blockchain helps to automate the business logic by creating increased efficiency and trust. It also supports the formation and implementation of smart contracts like deterministic software and tamper-proof.  

Conclusion:

Blockchain technology is a comprehensive process that can assure a safe and secure life. It forms such records that are consistent for every transaction and are immutable. It affects most of the firms in the world like transport, healthcare, manufacturing, and retail. Apart from this, it does include companies like Dole, Nestle, Microsoft, Intel, Apple, Google, IBM, Hitachi, Walmart, Chase, American Express, etc. It ensures there’s no theft, fraud, lost information, or hacked data. 




Tech Issues Your Business Could Deal With In 2021

Image Source: Pexels.com

Samantha Higgins

Information technology is a vital thing in the operation of any business. IT has the power to bounce your business from scratch to a new level. In life, there are ups, and downs and business is no exception. Your business can experience challenges from finances to technology issues. This article will be focusing on some of the tech issues your business will likely face in 2021.

Integration Issues

The world of technology is evolving each day, and new applications are coming to life. Many businesses are experiencing the problem of integration. Integration is where new technology is not compatible with the old technology. Some tools work well on their own, but you will need to work with more than one tool with the latest technology. This will make your appliances in your workplace fail. Poor integration brings about double-entry of data leading to time wastage when looking for essential client’s data.

Technology Cost

Like any business, the end month is around the corner, and bills are starting to pile up. The statements involve employee’s salaries, payments to suppliers, and utilities. The process of doing arranging all the paperwork can be tiresome, and the results can be repetitive.

If you switch from the analog to the digital way of doing things, you will notice that the processes above will be taking less time to complete productivity will rise to another level.

Backup and Recovery Problem

If you have ever deleted data unintentionally, experienced a power surge, and experienced any data disaster, you will have known how vital reliable data backup and data recovery are. Having the right backup and recovery procedure guarantees that you can access your data at any time and that the data is securely stored.

You might have seen or heard many prominent organizations that have lost all their information because of assumptions.

Problems Running Programs

Even if your business is a well-oiled machine, you could always run into simple problems with tech like your computer not being able to run the programs you want. When you go to open a program and it pops up with an openal32.dll error, your first instinct may be to panic. These errors are very common, and usually, just mean you need to replace the DLL link in the program to get it up and running again.

Security Risks

The security risk is one of the tech issues that businesses are likely to face in 2021. This is a problem small companies will experience as hackers are targeting them due to their vulnerability. Hackers are after your trade secrets, customer data, HR records, and confidential communication. There are cost-effective IT security procedures and solutions that are worth looking into. They pay in the long run.

Waiting till the Damage is Done

For systems to run smoothly and effectively, regular maintenance is critical. With the right IT specialists, you can predict a problem, plan for it, and resolve the issue before the situation becomes unmanageable. It is wise to solve a problem before it gets out of hand and becomes a time-consuming emergency.

Frustrated Users

An employee’s day consists of interacting with technology. Using outdated systems experiencing frequent problems makes them feel unmotivated while working. This will lead to unproductivity, and your employees may go looking for better working conditions.

It could be better if you could upgrade your appliances in your workplaces to increase productivity. These IT problems and many others that small businesses face are because they don’t know that better IT supports are possible.

Cloud Confusion

Businesses encounter confusion with multi-cloud security. This system is termed by many inconsistent and incompatible. If you are looking to invest in cloud-based services, you will need to inquire about the different security levels across several platforms. This is because multi-cloud involves managing other security systems.

Also, it is useful if you are on top of your cloud usage as it will save you money and time. This is because many providers are not transparent when it comes to using and invoicing. You need to invest in a cloud-based service that meets all your requirements.

By knowing the most common technical problem your business was facing in 2020, you can anticipate how you will handle the experience in 2021. Make sure that your IT department is functional at all times to curb a situation before it starts to drain your resources.


About the Author: Samantha Higgins is a professional writer with a passion for research, observation, and innovation. She is nurturing a growing family of twin boys in Portland, Oregon with her husband. She loves kayaking and reading creative non-fiction. 




3 Things To Know Before Starting Your Own Business

Tracie Johnson

Are you wondering whether to start or not start your own business? If you are, think about the advantages associated with owning a business. For instance, with such a business, you will be financially independent and follow your passion and control your schedules and lifestyles. After discovering these advantages, you are likely to decide to start your business. However, do not start such a business without knowing much about it. Below are the three important things that you need to know before starting your own business.

1. A Business Is Supposed To Be Separate From The Owner

You are likely to think about blending your business finances with your personal finances after starting your business. Although no one will deny you from doing so hence, you should separate your personal money from your business checking accounts. You should also pay business expenses using business checking accounts and not your personal account.

When you acquire any assets to use in the business, make it clear that they are business assets and not personal assets. Also, follow particular protocols when transferring money from the business’s checking accounts to your personal account. If you transfer this money arbitrarily, you might end up using business money for your personal expenses.

You need to do this to legally protect yourself and your business. For instance, if you do this, your creditor will not claim against your personal property if you fail to pay your business loan. You will also have an easier time preparing your business taxes than when your business is merged with your personal finances.

2. The Success Of Your Business Will Depend On The Type Of Business You Choose To Start 

Your business’s failure or success will depend on the type of business you decide to start. For you to choose the right business to start, think about your interests. Also, look at your target audience and what it needs. Developing products that the audience will use regularly will make you make a lot of profit.

When choosing the type of business to start, you need to also think about similar businesses. Think about what you will offer to make you better than these businesses. If possible, develop a business that will not experience a lot of competition. Other entrepreneurs can help you come up with a good business idea.

After deciding the type that you will start, look for a business lawyer. Therefore, the lawyer will take care of your business legal needs. The lawyer will also trademark your business name and review the business’s legal documents. 

3. A Business Plan Is Important When Starting A Business

You are likely to decide not to write down a formal business plan if you do not receive outside funding. Although it is not a must to write this plan, it is important to do so. By writing this plan, you will avoid getting wrapped in any business idea that comes to your mind. You will also hone your business vision since the plan will highlight your plans, marketing strategies, and forecasts.

When writing the plan, think about how your business will serve a particular need and represent a market opportunity. Also, think about the business’s exit strategy. This strategy will help you determine the building blocks of your business.

Starting a new business without knowing much about businesses is not good as it is likely to crash. To avoid this, get to know a lot about starting new businesses before starting yours. Entrepreneurs who already have successful businesses can give you insights on what to do to become successful.


About the Author: Tracie Johnson is a New Jersey native and an alum of Penn State University. Tracie is passionate about writing, reading, and living a healthy lifestyle. She feels happiest when around a campfire surrounded by friends, family, and her Dachshund named Rufus.




OriginClear® Creates Water Marketplace to Finance New Form of Water Treatment It Believes Will Sentence Pandemic Wannabes to Lonelier Death

Thomas J. Madden, Chairman and CEO, Transmedia Group

What role to do you think more widespread water treatment can play in helping to prevent future pandemics?  Can it be that more sanitation could drown future COVID-19’s before they surface?  

A genius I know, OriginClear® CEO Riggs Eckelberry, firmly believes it can and to finance it, he has created the ultimate liquid investment. 

Called “InvestorWater,” the Water Marketplace is designed to advance a new form of decentralized water treatment that once fully implemented will make future pandemics far less likely and less dangerous. 

Riggs, a client of my PR firm, TransMedia Group, was known as “The Algae Man.”  

It was a name commentator Stuart Varney gave him when he appeared on FOX Business. This was because his company was then so adept at harvesting those micro cellular organisms.  Then one day Riggs had a eureka moment.  

“We can do the same thing and solve a far more serious problem on our planet by harvesting sewage,” he told his staff.  So, a new goal was set, and his enterprising public company had a new name, OriginClear.

Riggs realized his company could engage in the same process of harvesting organic materials, whether human or animal effluent, or  factory waste. They all can be extracted through electrostimulation.  

So, Riggs pivoted his company to water treatment and to finance it, he created the first Water Marketplace for investors interested in cleaning up the planet.  And in the process, making viruses like COVID-19 and other diseases less likely to rebound and spread.

Riggs Cites These Facts

Only 20% of the raw sewage in the world is ever treated. Only 30% of the industrial waste is ever treated. Most of the bad water is never touched. And yet, it’s a trillion-dollar industry. 

“So, think what it could be if it were done right.  It could be a $5 trillion industry if we all did our jobs.”  

But the problem is the water industry grows torturously slow, only 3% to 6% per year, which is less than population growth. “This is why we’re  falling behind. And we decided to fix it.” 

The main problem today, according to Riggs, is that the big central plants providing most of the water treatment are continually falling behind causing a degradation to our water systems. 

“There’s just no room nor motivation for these central systems to grow, let alone having funds to pay for it, hence the need for a Water Marketplace.” 

“It’s important to note the difference between past pandemics like in 1918 when over 50 million people died and today when far fewer will die.  The difference clearly is sanitation. 

“In 1918, the virus incubated in horribly unsanitary trenches, and it  exploded worldwide. 

“While we’ll never have that bad a problem today, we can do a much better job against all viruses, not just corona, if we improve sanitation. 

“The problem is where do property owners get the money?  So, we started solving that problem in two parts. One the technology, the other paying for it. 

On the technology side, we developed cool new innovative devices to do water clean-up jobs quickly, efficiently and effectively.  

“To pay for them, we came up with a plan to rent them to property owners.  To finance the process, we created a new market, like an Airbnb for water, allowing investors to connect with the people who need the systems in a world that needs to stay safe.

“Now, we’re finding investors love that concept. Why? Because they will own the devices and collect rental income.  It’s the Rent-A-Center model. And the landlord doesn’t have to do anything, but just pay first, last and security, as if renting an apartment. Suddenly The Water Marketplace was born.

“These sanitation improvements are getting done, not in months, but  in weeks, and we’re seeing investors eager to find cool ways to invest in water.” 

Now, thanks to Riggs and The Water Marketplace, we’ll be charting a productive new course, sailing on an ocean of opportunities. 

We’re all so proud of Riggs Eckelberry.  And we raise a toast and drink to him a tall glass of . . . what else ?   TREATED WATER! 




Modern Business Formation and Management on the Blockchain

CommPRO Editorial Staff

Blockchain development firm Liquidus announced their official launch and commitment to building better businesses via their Digital Corporate Services Platform. Built on blockchain technology, Liquidus is poised to usher in a new era of security, transparency, investment, and innovation to the corporate lifecycle from business name registration to formation, reporting and eventually the digitization of assets.

The platform connects businesses with a marketplace of corporate services, including legal, brokerage and accounting and encompasses a full suite of online software tools, such as video notary, cryptographic digital signatures, Know Your Customer (KYC) onboarding tools, automated corporate reporting, and more.

“Liquidus aims to revolutionize the way organizations are registered and managed around the globe. This Digital Corporate Services Platform – which includes a Federated Digital Identity solution – provides all types of businesses with a significantly more efficient way to manage corporate information, auditing, and compliance, ” stated Matt Hinkley, Liquidus CEO.

Operating in a progressive regulatory jurisdiction, Liquidus will be integrating a permissioned blockchain governed by a federated digital identity system, ensuring an organization’s data will be stored and managed with unparalleled security and ease.

Based in The Bahamas, Liquidus is driven by a team of technologists, accountants, lawyers, and experts in finance and blockchain who are building a more efficient way to facilitate the creation of companies, track data, and manage liquidity.

Source: Blockchain Wire




How to Become Money Smart and Grow your Wealth through your Business

Chutisa and Steven Bowman 

Operating and growing your own business can be exciting, but it is also extremely challenging. Choosing to create a business with your life partner and your family can add a whole new level of challenges and dynamics.   

To combine a personal relationship with business aspirations requires rising above what is normal and comfortable. It requires the ability to effectively merge your business and personal lives, skilfully sharing power and responsibility, so that you can enjoy working and being with each other every day, without having to compromise or losing yourself.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70 percent of all businesses fail within 10 years. Businesses can go under for many reasons, including problems over money and poor management. In fact, financial problems are the number one cause of a business breakdown.

In many instances, mismanagement of finance has been a key attribute which results in conflict or even to falling-out and separation of the business partners and even life-partners. A large reason behind this is the fact that many business owners fail to educate themselves about money and finance.

Many life partners often start a business together with little knowledge about the business’ finances and how to take charge of their money. Sooner or later, they discover the hard way that without the capacity to master their personal and business finance, it often leads to unmet expectations, anger and frustration. Having a business but not being aware about money and not having knowledge of the underlying financial matters is a nasty position to be in.  

According to a study by SunTrust (Feb. 4, 2015), finances are the number one reason causing stress in a business and personal relationship. Research suggests that married couples argue about money—more than any other topic. Studies show that the more frequently married couples fight over money, the more likely they are to suffer marital problems. The good news is, there’s a way to prevent this problem, even if you and your partner have vastly different viewpoints and attitudes about money. 

To be successful as life and business partners, both of you must meet two intertwined challenges: achieving strong business performance and keeping the personal relationship strong and generative. For your relationship and your business to thrive, to expand, grow, become sustainable and generative requires you to be money smart and become the master of your own financial reality.

Financial mismanagement and fighting over money can be eliminated if you and your partner get on the same page and choose to become money smart together. Money is often the hardest one in which to get on the same page together. However, it can be done if you both make being money smart a priority. 

The first step is to start getting educated about money and finance. Take the time to educate yourself about how money and finance works, how to deal with money, how to grow money with ease, and how to use it to generate different possibilities for you and your business.  Financial education is a process of exploration. You must educate yourself through your own discovery process and to gain awareness and discover new and different possibilities for yourself.

Business finance can be a minefield of confusion if you don’t know what you’re doing – but it’s also a field of infinite possibilities if you are money smart and financially savvy! Being money smart is about being literate and informed about personal and business finance and having the power and capacity to make money work for you. It is about having practical knowledge, being well-informed and making good financial choices.

The essential element on the path to being financially literate is taking stock of where you are right now. You need to have a clear picture of your business and your personal financial position. This is about looking at how things really are regarding your money and finance, instead of how you would like them to be. Money is what allows your business to continue, without it your business will wither and die.  

Becoming money smart begins with an awareness of your current financial competence. So, consider these questions: 

  1. Are you financially literate and truly educated in everyday business and personal financial choices? If not, where do you need to start?
  1. Do you have power and ability to grow your wealth and to act in your best interests when it comes to making choices with money for your business? If not, where do you need to start?
  1. Do you have financial systems specifically created to allow you to build wealth through your business? If not, where do you need to start?

 The number one reason many business owners fail to become money smart and financially savvy is simply because they never choose this. In fact, most people are not aware that being money smart and financially savvy is an important skill for them to create a thriving business. 

So, if you are genuine about changing the course of your financial future, make a 100% commitment to being money smart and expanding your capacity to be in charge of your money. That means you have to be willing to take action and be willing to be and do something different to change what you’re currently doing that isn’t working for you. 


How to Become Money Smart and Grow your Wealth through your BusinessAbout the Authors: Steven and Chutisa Bowman have been CEOs of major organizations, Chairs of Boards and senior executives in multi-million-dollar global corporates. They now run 7 global businesses, including a consultancy business that assists organisations to become aware of their priority and vision, and to use this strategically. They are Access Consciousness facilitators for its specialty programs, including Wealth Creators Anonymous. Learn more about their work at, https://the2bowmans.com/.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




Trending Topics in Finance & FinTech 2019

Free Live Event / Livestream: July 11 (New York City)

OVERVIEW

The ultimate networking and strategic leadership and communications event for C-suite professionals (IROs, CFOs, general counsel, CMOs) at financial services and fintech companies and advisories.

This event will examine what‘s trending in the world of fintech and financial services, ranging from the internet of value to diversity and inclusion in the C-suite.

This event brings together industry leaders to discuss topics, including:

  • Securing Data with Encryption and Tokenization
  • Rebuilding Brand Trust with Data-Driven Decision-Making
  • A Conversation on Women, Diversity and Inclusion in the Financial Services C-suite
  • The “State of the Blockchain Address”

While there has been a marked change in the number of women working in the fintech industry over the past decade, more needs to be done to ensure they are given the opportunity to rise through the ranks, lead teams, develop company and industry policy as well as invest in the companies and the people that they believe in.

As the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution continue to evolve, the value of data is indisputable. We will examine the role of data in the industry as well as how brands are using data to better inform the decisions they make when supporting their stakeholders.

SPEAKERS

Glenn Fodor, Head of First Data Insights (KEYNOTE)

Glenn Fodor joined First Data in August of 2014 as Senior Vice President and is head of First Data Insights, the firm’s data and analytics arm. The reports and findings that Insights compiles are frequently referenced in the press, including the Associated Press, CNBC, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Bloomberg TV and more. Glenn is often tapped as a media spokesperson to offer his insights into the latest consumer spending trends. Previously, Glenn was a Partner and Senior Equity Research Analyst at Autonomous Research, a boutique research firm focusing on the financial and payment technology industries. Prior to Autonomous, Glenn held equity analyst roles at Morgan Stanley, UBS and JP Morgan. In 2012 Glenn was named one of Institutional Investor’s “Up-and-Coming” analysts. In addition, Glenn worked in retail payment strategy at Chase where he helped optimize the firm’s payment assets, forge new partnerships and refine its direction in payments. Glenn graduated cum laude with a B.S. in Finance from Rutgers University and is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) charter holder.

 

Michael Terpin, CEO, Transform Group; Founder, BitAngels; General Partner, Alphabit Fund (KEYNOTE)

Michael Terpin is founder and CEO of Transform Group, whose divisions include Transform PR, a global public relations firm that has served more than 200 clients in the blockchain field and helped launch more than 100 ICO’s, including Aion, Aeternity, Augur, Bancor, Dent, Ethereum, Factom, Golem, Gnosis, Lisk, MaidSafe, Neo, Qtum, SALT Lending, VideoCoin, and WAX Token; CoinAgenda, an event series for cryptocurrency investors, and Transform Strategies, the company’s advisory division.  Transform Group International, LLC, is headquartered in San Juan, Puerto Rico, with offices in Santa Monica, Las Vegas, Silicon Valley, New York, Toronto, and Denver.  The Firm is also a partner in TokenMatch, the leading investor matching event series, presented across Asia, Europe and North America, 12-18 times a year.

Terpin also co-founded BitAngels, the world’s first angel network for digital currency startups, in May, 2013, and he is co-founder of Aspire, a new asset creation blockchain platform scheduled to do its token generation event in 2018. Previously, Terpin founded Marketwired, one of the world’s largest company newswires, which was acquired in 2006 and later sold to NASDAQ for $200 million.  He also co-founded Direct IPO, one of the earliest equity crowdfunding companies, and founded his first PR firm, The Terpin Group, which represented many of the early Internet leaders, including America Online, Earthlink, Match.com and the Motley Fool, as well as serving as AOR for divisions of Alpine, Fujitsu, JBL, Kawai, Konami, Playboy and TEAC. The Terpin Group was sold in 2000 to Financial Dynamics, now part of FTI Consulting (NYSE: FCN), the same year he received venture funding from Sequoia Capital and Hummer Winblad for Marketwired’s predecessor, InternetWire.

Terpin holds an MFA from SUNY at Buffalo and dual BA in journalism and English from Syracuse University, where he serves on the board of advisors at the top-ranked Newhouse School of Public Communications.  Terpin is also an investor and advisor to many blockchain, media and technology companies, including Aion, Alpha Networks, Polymath, Purse.io, ShapeShift, VideoCoin and WAX. He is a general partner and heads up the ICO investment committee in Alphabit Fund (www.alphabit.fund), a Cayman Island registered digital currency fund with $400 million assets under management and a first-year return on investment of more than 750 percent.  Twitter: @michaelterpin; Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/michaelterpin/

 

Jessica Gatti, Vice President, Marketing, First Data

Jessica has been at First Data since 2016, coming from the advertising agency environment with extensive digital, social, multicultural, and account experience spanning multiple sectors. As a dynamic, results-driven high-energy leader with a  20+ years proven track record in advertising/marketing communications, operations, customer/relationship management, and revenue growth, she holds strategic portfolio responsibility for 30+ sports and entertainment sponsorships, as well as strategic brand messaging and social media at First Data/Clover. Leading the strategy, planning, and execution of marketing programs that support brand awareness and elevation, new business development, product promotion, and overall communications for B2B customers for both First Data/Clover, Jessica closely collaborates with corporate communications, media relations, industry influencers, and third-party partners, to create opportunities for meaningful engagement. As a newly-appointed board member of the Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) Foundation Board, Jessica also has a solid background in the arts, with extensive studies in both theater and photography.

 

Kelcey Gosserand, Program Director, Developer Advocacy North America, IBM

Kelcey Gosserand is the City Leader and Program Director for IBM, overseeing Developer Advocacy for North America. Kelcey is driving the strategy and execution of developer engagements focusing on Blockchain and emerging tech. Her team is responsible for building the trust and respect required to engage with today’s new developers.

Kelcey is a pioneer in the blockchain landscape entering the scene as an early investor and participant in the crypto-economy. She founded the blockchain community building engine, Trellis, working with clients in new market development, brand positioning, and strategy. Kelcey is a community builder, storyteller, and blockchain evangelist.

 

Eric Koefoot, CEO & Founder, PublicRelay

span>Eric is an Internet pioneer, having either founded or served as a senior executive in Internet companies since 1996. He was CEO and Publisher of U.S. News Ventures, CEO of Five Star Alliance, and CFO and later VP of Sales at Washington Post Digital.  Prior to his entrepreneurial endeavors, he was an executive at Ford Motor Company and Deloitte Consulting.  Eric has an engineering degree and an MBA from M.I.T. An accomplished Olympic-distance and Ironman-distance triathlete, Eric is currently a co-founder, and the CEO and President, at PublicRelay.
span>PublicRelay is the most trusted media analytics solution for communications and marketing professionals at the world’s most recognizable consumer and business brands, associations, universities and government agencies.

 

Kate Lam, Managing Director of Digital Financial Products, Ideanomics

Kate Lam serves as Managing Director of Digital Financial Products at Ideanomics and is responsible for designing and bringing to market new digital financial products.

Highly regarded for her capital markets skills across Asia and US, Kate has more than 25 years of financial markets experience dealing with a multitude of asset classes and clients. In addition to her extensive finance experience, Kate also spent a few years at a fintech startup, where she obtained regulatory license and helped design a compliant interface for onboarding investors. Her skillsets bridge the gap between traditional finance and new technological innovations such as Distributed Ledger Technology. In addition, Kate has expertise in multiple areas of finance, financial products, and securities RegTech.

Prior to her work at startups, Kate Lam held senior management positions at Deutsche Bank, Bear Stearns and Standard Chartered Bank with a global client base of financial institutions such as
international banks, central banks, funds and insurance companies. Throughout her career, Kate’s work on behalf of clients has been recognized through the largest and fastest growing Asian
markets- including China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, and South Korea.

Kate Lam received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Economics and International Relations from the University of Pennsylvania. She continues to lecture and speak on topics such as Fintech, Digital
Financial Products, and Digital Transformation. She is an avid traveler and has visited all 5 continents, touching down on both the Arctic Circle and Antarctica within a year.

 

Lananh Nguyen, Finance Reporter, Bloomberg News

Lananh Nguyen is a finance reporter for Bloomberg News covering banking and wealth management in New York. She has extensive experience reporting on key decision makers, including CEOs and central bankers, for print, TV and radio. Lananh previously covered currencies and was formerly based in London, reporting on energy. She holds a BA in Political Science from Tufts University and also studied at the London School of Economics.

 

 

 

Caleb Silver, Editor in Chief & S.V.P. Content,  Investopedia

Caleb Silver has been the Editor-in-Chief of Investopedia since 2016. He is an award-winning media executive with more than 20 years of experience in business news, digital publishing and documentaries.

Prior to joining Investopedia, Caleb was the Director of Business News for CNN and worked for the network for ten years in a variety of executive and management roles including the Executive Producer for CNNMoney.com, where he helped launch the CNNMoney Video Network. He was also a Sr. Producer on The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer. Caleb began his business journalism career at Bloomberg News in 1997, where he worked as a senior television producer for eight years. Over the course of his career, he has earned and contributed to multiple industry awards and nominations, including the EMMYs, EPPYs, SABEW’s Best in Business, and the Peabody. He is on the Board of Governors for SABEW (Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing).

Caleb earned his M.A. at NYU’s Carter Journalism Institute and his B.A. from Colgate University.

 

Adryenn Ashley, Blockchain Global Influencer, Founder & CEO of Loly Labs, Inc.

Adryenn Ashley is a serial entrepreneur, speaker, and co-founder of CryptoVixens. As a Startup Advisor her advice is sought after, whether for her abilities to viralize a global conversation, or increase a company’s revenue while streamlining costs. Her expertise ranges everywhere from breaking into banks (security testing in the 1990’s), to being one of the first females in AI in the 2000’s, giving Ashley decades of experience in navigating the bleeding edge of what’s next. Having immersed herself in blockchain, artificial intelligence, and augmented reality, Ashley’s newest disrupt, Loly, aims to reinvent the way people meet, mingle, and make magic online. Funding Loly through an ICO is what inspired the content for her newest book, Minting the Future (Winter 2018).

Recently named the #1 Woman in Blockchain, Ashley speaks around the globe from small elite audiences of family offices to jam packed convention centers, using her signature style of humor to break down complex technologies into understandable bites of must have knowledge.

In addition to being a tech entrepreneur, Ashley is a best-selling author and award-winning filmmaker. In 2015, she skillfully turned fan engagement into #SocialTV profits with CrowdedTV, the world’s first crowdfunding platform for broadcast television. Going a step further than just raising funds, CrowdedTV also recruited sponsorship and secured distribution. Using the CrowdedTV platform, Ashley’s first show, Wake Up!, went from idea to national broadcast television in under four months, and is in pre-production for a second season, as well as development for their first 360 sitcom, and a crypto-centric comedy news show.

 

Davia Temin, CEO, Temin & Company

As President and CEO of Temin and Company – a boutique management consultancy that helps corporations and organizations create, enhance and save their reputations and coaches board directors and C-Suite executives – Davia Temin works with some of the most talented and impactful leaders in the world, helping them to refine and strengthen their vision, voice and market position in times of crisis and opportunity. Temin and Company specializes in crisis, reputation, and culture management, and corporate governance for global companies, professional services firms, foundations, colleges and universities, and governments.  Davia serves as a spokesman during crises, strategist, and leadership and communications coach at the board, CEO and executive committee levels. Temin and Company works with clients to create brand-distinguishing thought leadership and best practices in governance and corporate leadership, as well as to promote women’s leadership, provide socially responsible marketing, media and social media strategy and execution, and create cultures supportive of gender equity.

Davia is a frequent speaker around the world on crisis, reputation, and culture management, leadership, corporate governance, women’s leadership, resilience and what boards and leaders need to know about media, social media and artificial intelligence.  A nationally recognized writer, commentator and expert in her fields, she has appeared on CBS, CNN, NBC, Bloomberg, PBS, ABC, and in The Wall Street Journal, and numerous other publications and networks around the world.

Prior to founding the firm 21 years ago with the backing of GE, Davia headed Corporate Marketing for GE Capital, Schroders, Scudder, Citi Investment Bank and Columbia Business School.  An Honors graduate of Swarthmore College, she serves on their Board.  For nine years she served as First Vice Chair of the Board of Girl Scouts of the USA and Chair of their National Fund Development Committee – originating their $1 billion campaign for girls, the largest fundraising campaign for girls in the world.  She is Chair the of Board of Video Volunteers, an India-based investigative media nonprofit, and sits on the Boards or Advisory Boards of ProPublica, The Knight-Bagehot Fellowship, Committee for Economic Development, Harvard Women’s Leadership Board, WomenCorporateDirectors (WCD), Girl Scouts of Greater New York, WCD New York Leadership Council, and Predmore Holdings.  She is a member of Columbia’s Women Creating Change Leadership Council, and also serves as an advisor to AI startups Chinook.ai and Springboard.ai.

In 2018, Davia was named an Enterprising Woman of the Year by Enterprising Women magazine.  She was honored by the National Organization for Women, accepting their 2017 Woman of Power & Influence Award for forging new paths for the next generation of women leaders.  She received the Lifetime Achievement Award by Trust Across America-Trust Around the World and was named a “Top Thought Leader in Trust.”  She was awarded The Girl Scouts Pinnacle Award for Leadership in 2015 – their highest honor.  In 2014, Davia was chosen as a Delegate by the U.S. State Department to the Global Entrepreneurship Program in Greece.  She has also been honored as one of the “30 Outstanding Women” in the world by the National Council for Research on Women; and named by Girl Scouts as a Woman of Distinction.  Profiled in many business and leadership books – most recently Broad Influence: How Women Are Changing the Way America Works and Stiletto Network – she writes the “Reputation Matters” column for Forbes.com, is a contributor to Huffington Post, American Banker, Directors & Boards, Corporate Board Member, and Chief Executive Magazine and has written chapters on “Rebuilding Trust in the Financial Markets” for the book Trust, Inc., and on crisis leadership for Women on Board – Insider Secrets to Getting on a Board and Succeeding as a Director.

Joseph Small, Wealth Management Advisor at Northwestern Mutual

Joseph Small joined Northwestern Mutual in 1992 and has grown his wealth management practice to a team of 11 full time and several associate members. In 2018 he earned the rank of #7 in the Northeastern US and #18 in the Country (out of 7,500) for assets under management.
Although he is very excited about this growth and has every plan to continue to perform at the highest level possible, he believes this is just one measurement of success. Joe has developed deep, meaningful relationships with the people he works with. He knows their family, their pets, their dreams, and passions, their fears and their goals. Joe has relationships that span generations. What makes him different? He is unapologetically himself – a deeply compassionate, passionate and boisterous guy who goes all in! He is bold, direct and sometimes brash.
He recently went through the exercise of affirming his life’s purpose with the guidance of a well-known and respected life coach. There was no surprise as he has been enthusiastically living it daily since he was a child. His life’s purpose is to help care for and protect loved ones and generations to come. This purpose has not happened by chance but as a result of his real life experience and the commitment he made to himself as a child (more on this if you ask). He does this by using his financial planning skills plus more!
 He is particularly committed to bridging the confidence gap for women when it comes to understanding and guiding their own finances. Over 52% of the worlds wealth is controlled by women yet less than 20% take an active role in growing it, managing it & understanding it. Anecdotally, it continues to surprise him that so many hugely successful women manage their careers, their homes, their educations & their hobbies expertly yet they shy away from full engagement on growing their personal wealth.  Joe takes special care in his approach to female clients empowering and supporting their independence, knowledge and success.
Joe is a father (2 biological children and 6 bonus children), a pet owner (three dogs and one cat in the near future), a brother to three younger sisters and a life partner to Tricia. He calls his work team, his other family – his assistant has been with him for more than 17 years. Like most men enjoys his toys! Bigger, brighter and more obnoxious the better! Whether it’s clearing woods with his big yellow excavator or racing around Limerock in his BMW “race” car, shooting sporting clay at Orvis or zipping around town in his sunburst orange corvette. Joe is a hungry traveler and in the last few years has visited South Africa, Portugal, Italy, Spain, Thailand, Germany, Argentina, Canada and France.
He fervently believes in Northwestern Mutual and their strong investment in community. Joe follows suit by supporting local organizations that align with his personal values and beliefs through donations, event support, gifts of services and partnerships. They include: Children’s Home of Poughkeepsie, Meals on Wheels of Hyde Park, Counseling in Schools, Dancing in Classrooms, Alex’s Lemonade Stand, Anderson Center for Autism, Greystone Programs, Boy Scouts of Hudson Valley, ERVK (Eleanor Roosevelt Val Kill Center), Komen, Mike’s of Hope, Leadership Dutchess, and more.

EVENT SCHEDULE

  • 11:30 am – 12:30 pm  Networking lunch & registration
  • 12:30 – 12:40  Welcome remarks
  • 12:45 – 1:15 pm Keynote speaker – Glenn Fodor, Head of First Data Insights offers a midyear report on commerce and payments
  • 1:15 – 2:00 pm Panel discussion: Managing, monitoring and rebuilding brand trust with data-driven decision-making
  • 2:00– 2:30 pm  Keynote speaker – Michael Terpin on the “State of the Blockchain Address”
  • 2:30 – 3:15 pm  Panel discussion: Women in the financial services C-suite
  • 3:15 – 3:30 pm Closing remarks

ATTENDEES

  • Private & Public Company C-Suite executives (CCOs, CMOs, CFOs, CEOs, General Counsels, Financial Advisors)
  • Institutional Investors
  • Sell-side Investors
  • Entrepreneurs

REGISTER NOW

 

For sponsorship opportunities contact fays@commpro.biz 




5 Crucial Ways to Improve Business Fitness

Business Fitness

Susan Parks, Freelance Blogger

With a trade war raging in China and concerns about a global economic slowdown growing, many small business owners are left wondering what to do.

Do they stay the course, investing for growth and bringing on more staff? Or do they rein it in and take a more cautious approach?

As it stands, the economy is humming along. However, for some, confidence is starting to waiver. The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index declined 3.2 points in January to 101.2, the lowest reading since the weeks before the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The index polls small businesses on their plans for spending and hiring and any weakness could be a forewarning that pain may come, requiring business owners to ensure their business fitness is in optimal shape.

Businesses need to be in top shape not only to handle potential business interruptions but more importantly, to weather them. That means ensuring the organization is primed to achieve the maximum profits with the least amount of outlays. If that sounds difficult or impossible to you, check out the following five ways to accomplish it:

1. Reduce Costs

Small business owners know all too well how to do more with less. After all, many are operating on shoestring budgets as they grow their enterprises. In order to protect what they already have, they must run a lean business and keep costs to a bare minimum. When you add potential business hiccups to the mix, the phrase “doing more with less” takes on a whole new meaning. The good news is that there are ways to cut expenses, which is the first step in maximizing your business fitness. Here are three examples:

  • Everyday Expenses. Whether it’s the costs of supplies from wholesalers or the expenses associated with running an office, those outlays can quickly add up if left unchecked. That’s why it is important for business owners to keep a regular eye on expenses and be willing to constantly shop for a better deal. The last thing you want to happen is to find out after years of using a specific vendor that you could have gotten it much cheaper from a rival. Plus, cost-cutting strategies can run the gamut, from headcount to advertising.
  • Real Estate. Office space is one of the biggest outlays for business owners who are not operating in their home. Whether they are paying a mortgage on a commercial property or paying rent, businesses shell out a lot of money to house their staff. Unless you operate a storefront or warehouse, chances are you can get by with a smaller space. Curbing that ahead of a potential downturn can go a long way in improving your business fitness and positioning the business when growth resumes.
  • Outsourcing. Giving up control can be hard for a business owner but when looking to reduce costs, it can be a huge money and time saver. The Internet makes it easy to outsource certain business tasks. For instance, services are available to help with everything from payroll to customer relationship management. There are also a host of more traditional outsourcing companies and freelancers who can take care of the busy work for your business.

2. Streamline Operations

Every business owner wants to have a lot of smart policies and procedures on the books. Without them, how can they ensure control and confirm that everyone is following the proper protocols? But sometimes, those processes and procedures can bog a business down, wasting time and money in the process. In times of growth, a business owner may not even notice these questionable policies on the books. However, when money is tight and time is constrained, those policies could come back to haunt them.

To prepare for any future challenges and to improve your business fitness, let go of those processes and procedures that aren’t working and replace them with more cost-effective strategies, being mindful of those steps that save time rather than create more work.

Determining which policies should go in the heap can be challenging, particularly if you are the person that came up with them. To ensure you aren’t hanging on to ineffective processes just because you thought it was brilliant at the time, have your workers weigh in. They are on the frontline following those processes and procedures and as a result, they know which ones work well and which ones are a waste of time.

3. Train Your Staff Regularly and Efficiently

Most businesses focus on training their staff when they come on board and then outside of the annual review, they do very little in the way of retraining. And that’s even true for businesses that experience constant changes. Smart business owners understand the importance of staying on top of evolving industry standards and training their staff accordingly. For instance, this could mean staying abreast of every trending social media platform or offering the latest payment system — and training their staff to use them effectively. Without any training, employees will make mistakes that can cost a business a lot of money or worse, harm its reputation.

To avoid any of those unthinkable scenarios and to prepare for any changes that come your way, pledge to train your workers consistently and for every new process. The more your employees learn, the better they will be at their jobs. That will eliminate frustration and enhance productivity — ultimately boosting profits for your enterprise. Not to mention, it can breed loyalty. For example, if you have a vested interest in your employees, they will be more committed to you. When times are tougher, they won’t be too quick to jump ship if you are forced to freeze salaries or cut hours.

4. Maintain Laser-Focus on Customer Service

If your philosophy is “the customer is always right,” you are much likelier to succeed in business. After all, customers are the lifeblood of any operation. Without them, there would be no business to operate. That’s why it’s important to remain laser-focused on customer service in good and bad times. When business is booming, the more customers you retain the better and when business is suffering, you’ll be thankful for their loyalty.

When focusing on customer service, make sure to meet your customers wherever they are. For example, if your customer base is predominantly on Twitter, try to respond to any tweets as soon as possible — they will appreciate the immediacy of your response. If your customers prefer to communicate by email, ensure you respond daily when dealing with complaints and concerns. In this fast-paced, technology-driven society, people welcome a business owner who goes the extra mile. Even sending a coupon on a customer’s birthday can go a long way in boosting customer service.

Make sure that the love of the customer is weaved into the culture of your organization. It should be part of the mission, emphasized during the onboarding process and frequently during training and retraining. After all, if your employees aren’t providing top notch customer service, your business will undoubtedly suffer.

5. Embrace Technology

Cloud computing, chatbots, digital payments, and social media can be very scary, particularly for business owners who aren’t that tech savvy to begin with. But just because technology frightens you doesn’t mean you should avoid it. Technology can do a lot for businesses — from cutting costs by moving operations to the Cloud to reaching new customers by running ads on a social media platform.

Technology is designed to streamline operations, freeing you up to run and grow your enterprise. If it seems daunting, take baby steps. Embrace just a couple of applications or new marketing ventures and take it from there. Make sure to learn how to use the technology or platform — and teach your staff to do the same — before going live with anything customer-facing. You want any novice tech mistakes to happen behind the scenes and not in front of your customers, many of whom have grown up with a smartphone on their hip.

Final Thoughts

Maintaining a fit business doesn’t mean embracing everything under the Sun. Instead, think of it as picking and choosing the strategies that work best for you. Just like people benefit from a healthy lifestyle, businesses can benefit from ensuring their operations are fit for the race. For instance, that could mean cutting costs out of the equation or implementing new technology in an effort to grow. Either way, the idea is to have a well-oiled machine that can thrive when times are good and continue operating in strength when times are bad.

Are you a business owner? What strategies have helped you keep your competitive edge?


About the Author: Susan Parks is a freelance contributor and journalist based in San Diego, California. She writes and reports on topics related to personal finance and careers. When not working, she splits her time between the beach and the hiking trails.

 




Velocity Ledger Receives Approval for Public ICO from Bermuda’s Ministry of Finance

CommPRO.biz Editorial Staff

Velocity Ledger Holdings Limited ”VLHL” has been approved to conduct an initial coin offering “ICO” by the Ministry of Finance of Bermuda in accordance with the companies act of 1981. VLHL is a Bermuda Company with two subsidiaries for which the ICO will fund operations: VL Financial and Velocity Ledger Technology Limited (“VL Tech”).

VL Financial is currently engaged in the application process with the Bermuda Monetary Authority (BMA), which regulates the financial sector, to obtain the required licenses to operate. Following approval by the BMA, VL Financial would operate a digital asset exchange in Bermuda supporting asset backed investment and real estate tokens.

VL Tech is a private blockchain enabled platform for the generation of tokenized assets, secondary trading and settlement of trades. It is a comprehensive technology solution that operates as Software-as-a-Service (SAAS). Participants utilizing the technology will require token ownership.

VL tokens may be used for payment for licensing VL technology platform and services. Benefits include revenue sharing and monthly distribution of newly minted tokens to stake-holders. The VL token sale was approved on March 22, 2019 and is expected to commence in the middle of April, through July of 2019.

“Bermuda has adopted pragmatic, non-restrictive frameworks for digital assets that provide regulatory certainty to market participants,” said Shawn Sloves, CEO of Velocity Ledger. “Bermuda will be a focal point for blockchain initiatives globally.”

Premier, the Hon David Burt, JP, MP, said: “Velocity Ledger represents the exact kind of company that Bermuda is pleased to attract. They have a traditional finance industry pedigree and are building solutions for the institutional finance market. Their platform will showcase the potential of what Fintech and Bermuda have to offer. I am pleased that they have been granted a license to issue an ICO and will be proceeding to apply for a Digital Asset Business License. I look forward to them developing their business and creating jobs in Bermuda.”

Source: Blockchain Wire




The Business Case for Diversity

Research Proves that Firms with Diverse Workforces Perform Better Financially

Sharon Fenster, Diversity Consultant and Immediate Past-President at PRSA-NY

Today, diversity is a hot topic of discussion for business leaders across the country and for good reason. The issue is constantly in the public eye and it’s not going away.  Demographic changes are driving seismic cultural shifts in behavior and attitudes every day and these trends will provide both opportunities and challenges for businesses.

It makes good business sense for organizations to get ahead of this issue and the best way to do so is to promote a culture of diversity and inclusion.  The business case is straightforward.  Research shows that organizations that are successful in dealing with these issues prosper relative to their competitors that don’t.  Failure to manage it effectively can both impact the bottom line and create business risks that management ignores at its own peril.

McKInsey has been examining the value of diversity in the work place for years and finds that it is a competitive advantage that skews market share in the direction of more diverse companies.  According to their recent study, companies that reflect the racial and ethnic composition of the communities they serve earn about 35 percent more than their competition.  The advantage for gender equity is smaller – about 15 percent- which may reflect previous gender initiatives that have generated positive results.

This has become a business imperative for many of the leading marketers in our nation.  The U.S. Census Bureau reports that by 2045, persons of color will make up the majority of the nation’s population.  Today, whether it’s a multi-racial family having a bowl of cereal or a man proposing to another man, an increasing number of TV commercials are pushing the envelope on diversity for still another reason—individuals are proud of their cultural heritage and uniqueness. The traditional “melting pot” concept is passé.  To the sophisticated marketer, this sounds a diversity-alarm that demands immediate attention.

In addition to profitability there is a more challenging and complex reason for promoting a culture of diversity.  As the Starbucks racial debacle last year shows, no one is immune from damage to their reputation, not even a company that was generally viewed favorably by the public in this regard.

Russell Reynold’s current analyses demonstrated a powerful connection between finances and public incidents of racist and sexist scandals in 2017 and 2018—resulting in an average 7 percent decline in market capitalization following the news.

Take note that increasing numbers of companies are hiring diversity and inclusion officers.  The Wall Street Journal says that as of 2012, 60 percent of Fortune 500 companies had diversity executives.  This is not a coincidence.  The red flags have been unfurled and companies have clearly decided that accountability for satisfying legal mandates and protecting the company’s reputation needs to reside with a senior corporate officer.

All of this makes a compelling argument for greater diversity in the workplace.  The evolving 21st century cultural context has made it essential that companies tap into what will be an increasingly diverse future workforce and customer base.  Implementing a culture of diversity is a critical step in the process, so it should come as no surprise that diversity can be the difference between profitability and poor performance.  Now is the time to take full advantage of these changes and bring them to reflect on your bottom line.  Remember, it is better to invest now because those who hesitate will be left behind.


About the Author: Sharon Fenster is an entrepreneur and owner of Sharon Fenster Consulting. The company is a strategic partner that advises its clients on custom solutions that significantly increase employee productivity and morale through business practices and a culture that is enlightened and inclusive. Sharon’s workplace strategies help employees bring their full selves to work. She is passionate about helping each workforce stratum find their authentic voice. As a powerful advocate of implicit bias training, Sharon provides a broad cross-section of solutions that leave all kinds of talent with feelings of respect, being valued, welcomed and heard. Her area of expertise is catalyzing diversity to drive innovation and business results.

 

 




Four Marketing Tips for Finance Professionals

Ronn Torossian, CEO, 5WPR

In the United States, the finance and service industry represented 7.5 percent, or $1.45 trillion of the US GDP in 2017. The industry employs around 6 million people and the every sector of the industry is extremely competitive and fast-paced. As with most industry these days, technology and advancements in the financial services sector is rapidly evolving, with constant new product introductions and service enhancements. With this in mind, strong marketing and sales teams are integral to the financial services industry. Here are four tips to stay ahead of the game in this highly-competitive industry:

 1) Understand your potential customer

This is the no. 1 rule of marketing, no matter what industry. We live in a world of high competition, where customers usually have a number of similar options to choose from. The goal is not to stand out, even when it’s hard to do so. Find out what your potential customers are looking for and market your product accordingly. If price is usually the concern and customers are interested in the low cost option, then show your audience how your price is competitive and provide discounts and deals. 

The most effective approach for long-term business success requires a company to intimately understand what their customer base needs. On top of that, different customer bases are likely to have different needs, and this needs to be taken into account as well. A 65 year old retiree is most likely to have very different needs from a financial services company than a 30-year-old professional.  

2) Know your compliance issues 

The financial services industry is full of regulations and rules that require strict adherence. Therefore, a lot of people in the industry hold back from digital marketing due to concerns about compliance. While it is absolutely necessary to stay within the bounds of the law, it is still very possible to have a strong marketing campaign without upsetting your compliance department. The key is having people who understand how to be compliant-friendly while engaging potential customers and converting them into clients. If you’re hiring a digital marketing firm, makes sure they understand the industry and the compliance requirements. 

3) Use Social media

Some financial services industry shy away from social media because they don’t believe that their target audience, i.e. baby boomers that are retired or close to retirement,, are social media savvy. However, this is a falsehood. Baby boomers are known to interact and view content online using social media, primarily Facebook. Therefore, if you want a wider reach, the social media marketing via Facebook can be a beneficial way to engage with your target audience. 

4) Use education in your marketing

People are more likely to respond positively to your marketing approach if you provide them with useful information they want to know. The financial industry can be confusing and scary, due to which some people stay away from financial products and services. However, if you can provide information, advice and tips to people about the industry and new developments in the industry, you’ll be able to position yourself as an educator with expertise and credentials. 


Ronn Torossian - CEO - 5WPRAbout the Author: Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, a leading PR Agency.




Presentation Management: A Foundation for Business Success

AlexAnndra Ontra, Co-founder, Shufflrr 

Presentations are important assets that directly affect the success of your business. But too often, large organizations treat presentations as throwaways – used only once before they are lost in an email or buried in a desktop folder. This is a waste of valuable employee time, a waste of content and it also hinders collaboration. For example, sales people are often expected to piece together PowerPoint slides in the field, on the fly, but, if the sales rep on the road has no idea that that marketing team back at HQ just updated the market research figures, he will go into his meeting with outdated, wrong information.  Not only is the poor sales rep presenting inaccurate information, his time was just wasted.  Time that could be better spent speaking to potential clients was instead spent scrambling to put together a fresh presentation from bad assets. 

Instead, businesses fit for the modern age should implement a presentation management solution that gets all of the company’s digital assets in order and allows all employees – from C-level executives to entry-level marketers and salespeople – to easily access, share, present and collaborate on every piece of content the company uses. This strategic approach to presentations equips everyone at an organization to speak intelligently about the business while also driving a competitive advantage that strengthens the bottom line. 

Companies that execute a presentation management strategy enjoy a number of benefits their slower-moving competitors could not dream of, including: 

Improved Productivity

One critical aspect to an efficient presentation management strategy is that all files – not just PowerPoint slides – are visualized. Humans process visuals 60,000 times faster than text, so presentation management solutions that offer a visualization function allow for a much more streamlined experience, and results in employees saving time they would otherwise be spent digging through folders and clicking through past presentations. Visualization makes creating presentations faster. 

A presentation management strategy makes everyone in your organization more efficient and productive. According to an IDC study, more than 45% of workers’ frustrations are related to conducting time-consuming searches through email attachments, while 30% of frustrations are due to how much time workers have to spend following up with people to get documents reviewed. They are either digging through email or asking around to find the content they need. That’s frustrating! Presentation management puts the content in front of the users, streamlining the process and therefore allaying their frustration and increasing their productivity. 

Ensured Compliance

Ensuring compliance goes beyond making sure that the proper employees have access to slides and information that may be sensitive or confidential. While it is important to house all up-to-date, approved content in one location, a presentation management strategy not only provides access to the appropriate employees, it also lets employees take control of the presentation depending on their job function, meaning the proper employee has the ability to share, review, edit, present, etc., depending on their role. So, an organization can grant presentation permissions to sales team members while a copywriter has editing permissions.  

Presentation management directs the right content, to the right person, for the right purpose.

Automated updates push out new content and deletes retired content, so that everyone stays current by using the most up-to-date and effective slides and files. You can also lock messaging and force required disclosure statements into presentations further securing your company’s message. In highly regulated industries like finance and insurance where compliance is crucial, regulatory fines because of non-compliant content is an unnecessary risk — not worth taking. 

Optimized Sales and Work Hours

According to IDC, 22.7% of an employee’s time is spent dealing with challenges related to documents, which results in a 9.8% loss of organizational productivity. Presentation management solves this problem by cutting down the time it takes to create new presentations while making all branded, compliant, up-to-date content that is proven to convert, accessible, whether the employee is in the office, on the road or wherever the job takes them. 

Many large businesses have its best sales employees on the road, where they meet with, learn from and present to prospective customers – making them more knowledgeable than any focus group. Sales team members get first hand feedback of what a paying client needs and wants, and with an efficient presentation management strategy, they can proactively edit, update and distribute new material accordingly – as opposed to waiting until the next status meeting to make changes. 

Large organizations that apply a presentation management strategy are investing in the long-term company brand,  while making sure that presentations are fueling day-to-day sales activity. With sound presentation management, businesses can finally employ a complete and effective solution that works across your company and provides you with the support you need to drive business.


About the Author: AlexAnndra Ontra is the co-founder of presentation management company Shufflrr, and author of the book Presentation Management: The New Strategy for Enterprise Content.

 




2017 Silver and Bronze Anvils Winner Highlight: Ag Finance and the Era of Content Marketing

PRSA

Farm Credit Mid-America – a $21 billion agricultural lending cooperative serving farmers and rural residents of Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee – is a well-known entity, but is was perceived by growth-oriented farmers as a stodgy, conservative operation trying to apply 20th century lending solutions to 21st century farming. 

FARMSILVERANVILIn light of this, Farm Credit needed to show that it has the expertise and agility to help these farmers succeed. They worked with Exponent PR to develop a reputation management program to make use of its wealth of expertise, improve customer service and drive them to action. 

The organization defined three objectives: Grow overall loan volume year-to-year; Build awareness among current and prospective customers; and drive year-to-year engagement with current and prospective customers. 

Planning began by defining an overall strategy to create and deliver interesting and useful content to demonstrate the shared purpose Farm Credit and its customers had in advancing rural America. Farm Credit developed key themes focusing on the Business of Farming, the Future of Rural America, and Curating Innovation. Farm Credit identified storytelling guidelines to keep content aligned with program goals and objectives, and identified top channels for targeting its content externally.

These included a two-day conference aimed at top farmers, endemic and programmatic digital media buys, paid radio spots, targeted e-blasts, sponsored text messages, print inserts and a cohesive media relations program that raised the credibility of Farm Credit experts to regional and national media. The team broadly defined executional timing, from creation to distribution, and developed a phased approach to bringing various channels to life.

Farm Credit also created process workflow and governance plans, capturing all activities and timing within a master editorial calendar. By adopting a “create once, publish everywhere” philosophy, the agency leveraged the content across its multiple distribution channels for maximum impact.

As part of the campaign – and a strategy that also earned them a Bronze Anvil – Farm Credit developed Insights Reports, a series of printed and digital reports consisting of bylines from Farm Credit’s executives and subject matter experts. More dynamic than a whitepaper, stories leveraged internal expertise to demonstrate the organization’s unique level of agriculture and agriculture financing knowledge to help its audience achieve its goals.

The report series was printed and emailed every three months to customers and prospects and was also available on the company’s website. Additionally, a microsite was created that housed all the reports and included a “contact us” button for more information or to inquire about getting a loan from Farm Credit.

Despite a down agricultural economy, Farm Credit reported growth in it loan volume in 2016. Media relations efforts resulted in 840 clips and more than 140,000,000 earned impressions which exceeded the goal of 400 clips and 50,000,000 impressions. Additionally, the campaign resulted in 57 interviews conducted, and an average clip quality score of 15.03 (out of 20), which exceeded the goals of 25 interviews and an average clip quality score of 14.

These numbers, and other positive metrics, demonstrated not only the value of Farm Credit’s insight and content to target audiences, but also underscored the compelling nature of the content. The success of the program reinforced the ability of Farm Credit to stand out in a crowded agricultural marketplace and establish a strong foundation for future success as a capable lending partner to 21st century farming enterprises.

For more information, click here: https://bit.ly/2018anvils.




Bloomberg Businessweek: A Rejuvenated Magazine Capturing An Audience Pursuing Quality Over Quantity

The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Megan Murphy, Editor, Bloomberg Businessweek

“With Businessweek, there’s no question that we skew, and we’re always going to skew, towards capturing people who are pursuing quality over quantity, people who are going to prefer to look for more intensive analysis, insight and value to add, than you can get from just a commoditized news platform.” Megan Murphy…

The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Megan Murphy, Editor, Bloomberg BusinessweekBloomberg Businessweek has been around for the last 88 years. And yes, some of those years it existed without the Bloomberg attachment. The brand has covered the companies, people, and products that have shaped and reshaped the world’s economy. But evolvement in the 21st century is a given. While our world has become more instantaneous, more urgent, and in more need than ever for a clear and concise, authoritative voice out there, Businessweek is reinventing itself to meet those needs.

Megan Murphy has been at the editor’s helm for around seven months now, having previously been a Financial Times reporter and the journalist who ran Bloomberg’s Washington, D.C., bureau during the election. In her most recent editor’s letter, Megan stated that, “More than ever, Businessweek readers need journalism to be more authoritative, more urgent, and more indispensable. We need to take you to where today’s events will be tomorrow’s trends. And we need to do more to help you to cut through the noise to better understand the dynamics that are disrupting the way we work and live.”

Mr. Magazine™ agrees. In all the chaos and melee that surrounds us, news and information that is indispensable is definitely most welcomed. I spoke with Megan recently and we talked about the new relaunch and her ideas and thoughts for Businessweek’s future. Megan is passionate about news, politics, finance and business; everything that her brand deems important as well. So, it’s a match made in magazine heaven, or at least Mr. Magazine™ thinks so.

Her editor’s letter promises a magazine, with sharper storytelling, cleaner and more consistent design, and richer graphics and photography. And on the digital front, there is a suite of digital products you can access wherever you are and whenever you need them, including a redesigned app, “Daily IQ,” which is an email newsletter delivering analysis and insight from senior Bloomberg Businessweek editors worldwide directly to your inbox each afternoon; and a revamped vertical on Bloomberg.com, with fresh stories, a sleeker design, and easier navigation.

Who says you can’t find compelling stories and provocative design among exceptionally precise, important journalism? Certainly not Mr. Magazine™, because I do believe I’ve found it in the new Businessweek. So, I hope you enjoy the equally compelling interview with its editor, Megan Murphy.

But first, the sound-bites:

The Mr. Magazine™ Interview With Megan Murphy, Editor, Bloomberg Businessweek -

Megan Murphy, Editor, Bloomberg Businessweek
Photo by Lori Hoffman/Bloomberg.

On where she thinks magazine media is heading: I think the biggest shift is really just the bifurcation of taste and habit that has been radically transformed by consumption habits. Here’s the thing, social media has been a great disruptor, but people also forget, in terms of where people go for immediate news, that we increasingly live in a TV society as well. So much of what you see playing out in Washington or Westminster or Hong Kong is dominated by what used to be called the twenty-four-hour news cycle, which now is almost like the one-hour-thirty-minute news cycle. That is really great for TV and why you see continued strength in TV, but also why you see print mediums really struggling; obviously magazine brands struggling at some point, but also newspapers as well. I’m an ex-newspaper hack for a long time.

On whether she is overwhelmed by her role as editor of Businessweek, with all of Bloomberg’s many platforms: When I first took over Businessweek as the editor, I had been the Washington Bureau chief—obviously, a tumultuous campaign—and one of the big things I was really clear about from the start, and I’m glad in retrospect now, seven months later that I was, is Businessweek always needs to have a clear lane within the broader Bloomberg enterprise. And when I came in, the other point I tried to make was, we don’t want to compete at all, or cannibalize at all, with our existing platforms. We want to be complimentary and do what we can to surface all of the great journalism that’s being done at Bloomberg, but we have to be distinct and separate from them.

On why she thinks that even though times have changed within the world of journalism, the actual reporting hasn’t: I know, it drives me crazy. Just to go into background, about five years ago I created a product at the Financial Times called “Fast FT,” because what I believe passionately is that you can actually add value within the first five minutes. It’s just that more people aren’t doing it. So at Fast FT that’s what we were really trying to do, add value immediately. Instead of just reporting what everybody already knows at length.

On the specialness of the six to eight issues digital subscribers get of the printed magazine: As the editor of Businessweek, I think one of the amazing things about Businessweek is that I learn so much, especially about topics I’d fancied myself very knowing on. I think, if we surface that content, if we patch it in the right way and we get it to people—that’s what some of the special issues are designed to do about these issues that we feel really passionately about—that’s why we do them. That’s why, for digital access, we’re giving them to them.

On how her own personality figured into the new redesign of Businessweek: When I came in, they wanted to redesign. Time has moved on. We live in incredibly different times then when Bloomberg first acquired Businessweek during the first year of the Obama presidency. We face challenges unlike we’ve known in foreign policy, in economic populism, in very disruptive trends that are really changing the way people live, the way they retire, the way they care for their families, the way they project their own personal and national identity, so I try to stay in lanes and empower the people. They knew that they wanted to take this product to be a cleaner, simpler, more robust design that would allow the quality of our journalism to shine through. I pretty much got out of the way and let the experts take the reins on that and do it.

On if someone gave her a magic wand that could humanize Businessweek, both the print and digital versions, who would that person be: The recent cover of the book is Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple. And do you know why I think he is the perfect manifestation of what you just described? It’s because he is, and I’d actually never met him; he is a deeply thoughtful human being. And we had a deeply thoughtful, substantive discussion.

On whether she feels they’re on the top of the mountain with the new redesign: In terms of the book, we’ve done a really good job of cracking at least most of that. And I think now it’s about execution. Obviously, it’s always going to be about content and what we get and how we do it. But in terms of directionally knowing where we’re going and how we want it to look, I’m looking at the current issue now and it looks so amazing. And we’re so excited about it.

On what someone would find her doing if they showed up unexpectedly to her home one evening after work: I have been wanting to write a book for a long time about people and YouTube. And the sort of weird communities that exist around YouTube, because I’ve heard of this one community, and there are a lot of strange communities on YouTube, but this one is about people who film themselves at garage sales looking for very unique things, such as baseball cards or old video games, things like that.

On the words or phrase that she would want tattooed on her brain to keep with her forever: One thing that is already tattooed on my brain, and I’ve said this before, but I’m quite competitive, and when I was growing up my dad had this favorite phrase that he would always say: show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser.

On what keeps her up at night: What keeps me up at night is the same thing that keeps so many people, I think, up at night, which is not political polarization; not a decline of civility; not any of these disruptive trends. But it is the biggest, I think, disruptive trend of all that we’ll look back and say was the unifying factor. And it’s that we do have this increasing divide between the elite, or the perceived elite, and everybody else.

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Megan Murphy, editor, Bloomberg Businessweek.

loomberg Businessweek-A Rejuvenated Magazine Capturing An Audience Pursuing Quality Over QuantitySamir Husni: In the middle of all of the instant changes that are taking place in our industry, now it’s no longer just mobile, it’s voice first. And for the last 10 years, we’ve heard everything from the tablet is taking over, to mobile, to voice—so, where do you think we are really heading and how are you adapting to all of these changes?

Megan Murphy: I think one of the most profound changes in our industry—and when I say our industry, I might be talking about journalism more broadly, is that okay?

Samir Husni: Definitely.

Megan Murphy: I think the biggest shift is really just the bifurcation of taste and habit that has been radically transformed by consumption habits. Here’s the thing, social media has been a great disruptor, but people also forget, in terms of where people go for immediate news, that we increasingly live in a TV society as well. So much of what you see playing out in Washington or Westminster or Hong Kong is dominated by what used to be called the twenty-four-hour news cycle, which now is almost like the one-hour-thirty-minute news cycle. That is really great for TV and why you see continued strength in TV, but also why you see print mediums really struggling; obviously magazine brands struggling at some point, but also newspapers as well. I’m an ex-newspaper hack for a long time.

With Businessweek, there’s no question that we skew, and we’re always going to skew, towards capturing people who are pursuing quality over quantity, people who are going to prefer to look for more intensive analysis, insight and value to add, than you can get from just a commoditized news platform.

That being said, I don’t think you can be relevant in 2017 unless you address consumption habits of people by trying to go to the mediums where they’re consuming journalism. That means on mobile, on tablet—through social, in terms of how we effectively mobilize our audience through social—on TV, on the radio. I feel for us the responsiveness is making more people aware of how quality a publication our content is on more platforms; so keeping that commitment to excellence and quality in everything we do, trying to get that out to as many people as we can to actually see it, and, at the same time, being more responsive in a thoughtful, considered, shall we say Businessweek way, as things happen and develop. [We do it in a way] where we can really carve out and develop out a lane for us that we see consumers and readers responding to.

Samir Husni: When you look at your big network of 2,700 writers, correspondents, and staffers all over the world, are you overwhelmed by your role? And how do you curate all of that and then distill them to say, “Okay, this is going to be on the app, this is going to be on mobile, and this is going to be for the magazine.”

Megan Murphy: That’s a great question and this answer may get a little long, but I’m still going to bring it out. When I first took over Businessweek as the editor, I had been the Washington Bureau chief—obviously, a tumultuous campaign—and one of the big things I was really clear about from the start, and I’m glad in retrospect now, seven months later that I was, is Businessweek always needs to have a clear lane within the broader Bloomberg enterprise. So, you’re exactly right, in that we have 2,700 journalists and analysts in 120 countries around the world; we’ve got a whole TV network, we’ve got various premium products, various sort of analytical premier products like Business Intelligence; we’ve got our editorial site; we’ve got our radio station. We have invested so much in our editorial operations over the years. It truly can be overwhelming when you think about it.

I run a very important part of that enterprise, we think, because it is consumer facing and it’s such a well-known brand, and has been around for so long, and is known for its excellence. But it’s also, people-wise, relatively small.

And when I came in, the other point I tried to make was, we don’t want to compete at all, or cannibalize at all, with our existing platforms. We want to be complimentary and do what we can to surface all of the great journalism that’s being done at Bloomberg, but we have to be distinct and separate from them. We have Bloomberg.com; we have a separate consumer app; we have the Terminal, which is an amazing product. So, we were very ruthless, I would say, about making sure that we had had a very clear sense of mission and purpose about what we’re doing.

So, taking all of that into this question, let’s use an example, as we’re talking right now, we’ve got Whole Foods and Amazon merging, and I was onset when the story broke. My thing now is going back to the journalists and saying to, not a Businessweek reporter, but actually a Bloomberg editor, who is the head of global business, and saying, ‘I want to know everything that you’re going to do on this deal.’ But Businessweek is never going to write “Amazon Just Acquired Whole Foods for $13.7 Billion,” because that editor knew that immediately. Anybody who is at all interested in the sector knew it already.

What I need to think about now for Businessweek and my audience, is what are they going to want to know about this deal, not immediately when it happened, but maybe in a hour or two? What’s counterintuitive? Who are the players behind it? What is this going to mean for the rest of the industry? What does this mean for the trajectory of Amazon? More importantly, the trajectory for other supermarkets, other grocers in the sector?

Again, everybody can see the immediate share-price reaction, but what I want to know is what’s going to really push me to think differently about what Jeff Bezos’ strategy was, or about what Wal-Mart is going to do to respond to this?

So, that’s what I do as the editor of Businessweek, which is an incredibly fortunate position, and I’m a business and finance, news junkie. I always have been. I’ve been a business reporter all of my life, except for my stint in politics. So, that’s what I really want to think about for my consumer, my reader; what are they looking to Businessweek to value-add to a deal that really will be an industry changer. And how can I harness those 2,700 journalists in 120 countries, this time we’re looking at a lot of them domestically and internationally, to say, ‘What are you guys looking at that we can combine on; that we may take and curate for our app, that’s going to push this story in a direction that’s more than what everybody knew five minutes ago?

Samir Husni: What you said is just common sense, yet why haven’t the newspaper people and some of the media people changed their way of reporting?

Megan Murphy: I know, it drives me crazy. Just to go into background, about five years ago I created a product at the Financial Times called “Fast FT,” because what I believe passionately is that you can actually add value within the first five minutes. It’s just that more people aren’t doing it. So at Fast FT that’s what we were really trying to do, add value immediately. Instead of just reporting what everybody already knows at length.

I’ve been surprised by the lag in our industry about moving to that type of quicker analysis takes, and being not so heavy on what’s already known and out there. Social is so dominant, and as I said earlier, TV is so dominant too in the “what’s happening” space.

And I do think that as professionals, we really need to push ourselves harder when we are asking people to invest their time and more than 140 characters. We need to be giving them content that’s worth more than 140 characters. (Laughs) And I don’t think that everybody is quite there yet.

Samir Husni: I tell my students, “What’s in it for me?” It’s as simple as that.

Megan Murphy: Why would I give you my eyeballs? Why would I give you my time?

Samir Husni: Exactly. Now, as you move forward; I’ve noticed that if people just subscribe to the digital, they still get six to eight special issues of the printed magazine. Can you explain those six to eight issues? What’s so special about them?

Megan Murphy: We still breakout the year ahead, and what we call our “Franchise Issues” here, so, I can’t tell you some of them, because they’ve changed since I’ve come in. Businessweek has been an incredibly fun list editorial, in terms of changing direction, but we’ve also put it at the center of our events strategy at Bloomberg. Frankly, we have been underleveraged at Bloomberg on events. I’m not saying that as like a PR person; I’m just saying as a journalist, events can be a platform to really service your journalism again to other people to get exposure.

So, when we think about franchises and these special issues, those are usually franchises that are tied into broader events that we really want to use as showcase events. For example, we’ve had a franchise called “The Year Ahead,” which has traditionally been one of our blowout issues where we really step back, draw on some of our analysts, and say, “Okay, really think hard about what this coming year is going to look like.” We use their projections across business, finance, ecology, the economy, to really build a cool magazine around those projections. That’s one of those special issues that we’ll be keeping.

Some of the other franchises are changing a little bit, some that we haven’t announced yet. We have a special issue coming up that’s focused around jobs. It goes directly to what we were just talking about, “What’s in it for me?” I do believe that so much of journalism now—and I’m a passionate, passionate advocate for fantastic, investigative reporting and long form—but I also believe that you have to have a way that makes people invest their time.
One way to do that is to do special issues where you say to them, “Look, everybody is talking about bringing manufacturing back to the U.S. Everyone’s talking about technology disrupting the workforce. Everyone’s talking about ‘Are robots going to be doing my job?’ not just in America but around the world. Okay, let’s really talk about this and let’s blow it out and give you twenty pages that really look at this, at the disruptive workforce, where the future of the work force is going, why manufacturing jobs aren’t coming back, why everybody’s probably going to be more in the service sector, what’s going on with Asia in terms of China, Japan, and the knock on in Southeast Asia, why do we still have a persistent wage gap, [etc.]. Let’s really look at these issues, go in depth.”

I think when you make that value prop to people and you say, “Give me thirty minutes. Give me five minutes on your mobile at first. Give me twenty minutes at night. Give me an hour on the weekend.” If I can get people to do that with Businessweek content, that is great. I do think that is the way, directionally, we want our readers to experience and consume our content. If you are really interested in the subject, and I think everybody is, we’re going to give you a package of articles that are going to make you think differently. Maybe it’s going to confirm some of the things you thought, but it’s also going to really push you to think “Okay, I know a lot more about this landscape than I ever thought I would.”

As the editor of Businessweek, I think one of the amazing things about Businessweek is that I learn so much, especially about topics I’d fancied myself very knowing on. I think, if we surface that content, if we patch it in the right way and we get it to people—that’s what some of the special issues are designed to do about these issues that we feel really passionately about—that’s why we do them. That’s why, for digital access, we’re giving them to them.

Samir Husni: As I hear you talking, I can feel your passion to the subject matter you’re covering and working with. How did your own personality and background factor into the redesign that took six months in the making, especially after Businessweek was relaunched as Bloomberg Businessweek. There was a lot of talk about the design and the whole aspect of the magazine. How did all of that factor in this new redesign?

Megan Murphy: I feel incredibly grateful and lucky in the sense that I am a journalist. I love the content. Of course, I love breaking news, but I love even more when I can tell you that something you thought you knew isn’t really true. Just to use an example: In our recent issue, we’ve got a story on exposure of female workers in technology companies in South Korea and how, as of recently in 2015, they have been exposed to toxic chemicals during the chip making process, something that should’ve been eradicated twenty-five years ago. That journalist has spent years working on that. We’ve got a story on Western Union. The thing I love about that story is you think you know what Western Union does? Guess again. It’s surprising. It’s an amazing corporate profile.

I’m so proud of some of the journalism in the front of the book—all of the journalism in the front of the book. But we’ve also done stand-out graphics. I am a journalist. I am a content person, and I think everybody knew that about me when I came in. The flip side of that is, I let the people who are experts about design, about photography, about art direction—of which we literally have many of the best in the industry—I want to empower them to take responsibility for the design direction of this magazine. That is what they did.

When I came in, they wanted to redesign. Time has moved on. We live in incredibly different times then when Bloomberg first acquired Businessweek during the first year of the Obama presidency. We face challenges unlike we’ve known in foreign policy, in economic populism, in very disruptive trends that are really changing the way people live, the way they retire, the way they care for their families, the way they project their own personal and national identity, so I try to stay in lanes and empower the people. They knew that they wanted to take this product to be a cleaner, simpler, more robust design that would allow the quality of our journalism to shine through. I pretty much got out of the way and let the experts take the reins on that and do it. (Laughs)

Of course, there are certain things that I like that are reflected, but what Rob Vargas, our creative director, and Clinton Cargill, the director of photography here; what they have done is exactly what I wanted and 100 times more. And I’m so grateful and proud of them, in taking responsibility and ownership of the book and putting it on themselves to develop a product which we always say that we wanted it to come out to market and have people say that it was so much better.

Yes, the design is cleaner, but it’s also better, in terms of showcasing the stories and the content that we really want to get out to people. And at the end of the day, Businessweek will always be about fantastic design, but it’s also about fantastic business journalism. Fantastic journalism about technology; fantastic journalism about politics, and we want people to know that and they hit out of the park with the redesign, as far as I’m concerned.

Samir Husni: If I gave you a magic wand that allowed you the power to humanize Businessweek; those pixels on the screen and that ink on paper, who would that person actually be?

Megan Murphy: The recent cover of the book is Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple. And do you know why I think he is the perfect manifestation of what you just described? It’s because he is, and I’d actually never met him; he is a deeply thoughtful human being. And we had a deeply thoughtful, substantive discussion. In fact, I did an interview with Obama a year ago, and he reminded me of that interview, in the sense of, many times when you talk to corporate leaders, I’ve been in this business a long time, and even if they give the impression that they’re really engaging with you and telling you what they really think, many of them are so studied that it’s actually just PR statements repeated in a false folksy way. And what really struck me about Tim was his genuineness and humanity; his passion in ways that I didn’t expect, his passion about music, about Steve Jobs, and the Apple legacy being very separate from his own.

And I think there are things that he talked and said that were totally unexpected and surprising, engaging and thought-provoking, and that go far beyond Apple, but more about America’s place in the world.

And that is what we seek to do every week at Businessweek. To give you the substance beyond what you think you knew, or the headlines, or where you think directionally things are traveling. In that sense, putting totally aside whether or not people agree with him and what he’s saying, in terms of conveying substance, genuineness and surfacing ideas, I thought it was a really interesting discussion.

Samir Husni: What’s next? Are you on top of the mountain now, after the redesign?

Megan Murphy: In terms of the book, we’ve done a really good job of cracking at least most of that. And I think now it’s about execution. Obviously, it’s always going to be about content and what we get and how we do it. But in terms of directionally knowing where we’re going and how we want it to look, I’m looking at the current issue now and it looks so amazing. And we’re so excited about it.

But digitally; when you layer this on the digital products, the app, the new vertical, and with the newsletter, which I will be personally writing next issue, it’s a lot of stuff. First of all, we’re not even in the footholds. I actually used to be a mountain climber; I would climb Mt. McKinley and Denali, and I would always think, before you get to Denali there’s like 100 miles of no population and very tall mountains, and that’s where we are. It’s like this is work; this is hard work. It’s hard work to create journalistic excellence; it’s hard work to create design excellence; and it’s hard work to create and sustain this much of a product relaunch, in terms of ethos, mission, brand and design.

It is going to continue to require work every single day, and creativity, innovation, and teamwork. So, I wish we were at the top of the mountain, but all I know is that this crew is strapped in and they have shown, every time I thought we were all going to collapse during what was a frankly grueling time, they always rose to the occasion. And they always just wowed me. I always say that I was along for the ride with some of the most talented people that I’ve ever worked with. And I think that’s going to continue to be the case. Maybe later in the summer, when we have more great issues to look at, we’ll feel that we’re halfway up the mountain. (Laughs) I am so pleased at how the rollout has gone, but there’s so much more work to be done.

Samir Husni: If I showed up unexpectedly to your home one evening after work, what would I find you doing? Are you on your iPad, watching TV, having a glass of wine, reading a book, or something else?

Megan Murphy: I have been wanting to write a book for a long time about people and YouTube. And the sort of weird communities that exist around YouTube, because I’ve heard of this one community, and there are a lot of strange communities on YouTube, but this one is about people who film themselves at garage sales looking for very unique things, such as baseball cards or old video games, things like that.

There are certain characters that I identify with; I am just fascinated by how communities form in modern society and how even now through social media platforms, your weird little obsessions can become something that 10,000 people watch, such as filming yourself going to garage sales looking for video games. To me that’s a fascinating thing about how communities form, so you would likely find me with a glass of wine, probably watching YouTube videos about this subject. So, that’s a weird one, but it’s true. (Laughs)

Samir Husni: If there was one thing that you’d want tattooed on your brain, something that would be with you forever, what would it be?

Megan Murphy: One thing that is already tattooed on my brain, and I’ve said this before, but I’m quite competitive, and when I was growing up my dad had this favorite phrase that he would always say: show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser.

Samir Husni: (Laughs)

Megan Murphy: So, that’s the permanent tattoo that’s on my brain. I could never get it out.

Samir Husni: My typical last question; what keeps you up at night?

Megan Murphy: What keeps me up at night is the same thing that keeps so many people, I think, up at night, which is not political polarization; not a decline of civility; not any of these disruptive trends. But it is the biggest, I think, disruptive trend of all that we’ll look back and say was the unifying factor.

And it’s that we do have this increasing divide between the elite, or the perceived elite, and everybody else. And for me, that is the most worrisome; the most dangerous; the most underreported, on a global sense; and the most potentially catastrophic element of both Western Democracies and in places like China and Japan. Until we can find a way where globalization, either true or perception-wise, does lift all boats. That we can have people begin to think that the political class is not elite, but relevant to their daily lives.

Where people feel that the decisions being taken in centers of government actually are going to make their lives better. That there representatives are working for them and that we don’t have a capitalist society or a corrupt society, like other places in the world that just strips and cleans off the world for the elite. Where things talked about have real world impact and people believe that. Until we start moving that way as a society again, where people feel truly vested in the decisions made in the corridors of companies and the corridors of Westminster and the corridors of Washington, we are in for a really big problem if this continues to go in the other direction. So, I spend a lot of time thinking about that topic, and whether media is a part of the problem or part of the solution. And I try to be part of the solution.

Samir Husni: Thank you.




5 Ways Automation Will Forever Change How We Do Business

Lauren Ruef, Research Analyst/Copywriter, Nvoicepay

Fintech isn’t a trend, and now more than ever, businesses are starting to believe it. Governmental regulatory bodies like The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency granting Fintech a special charter to dodge regulatory barriers could fundamentally change everything about the future of finance.

While many welcome this change with open arms, others fear the pace of adoption in an industry that’s slow to give bank customers what they want—more access to their money and a greater sense of personalization in the user experience. These customer expectations are part of raising the bar.

Fintech—much more than a buzzword—is doing more than disrupting. Fintech is building partnerships with banks to deliver the technology pipeline needed to engage a generation of Millennials hungry for on-demand, personalized services. According to Deloitte, Millennials will be the prevailing global workforce by 2025, accounting for 75 percent of it in all.

Automation on a mass scale has paved the way forward. Let’s look at a few ways automation is tearing down barriers to doing business.

1. Increased competition: Automation lowers barriers for new entrants into the market.

The McKinsey Global Institute released a study in January of 2017, assessing the impact of automation on a global scale. The research firm conveyed that while automation might be a slow-building wave, it is a far-reaching one for individuals doing fixed tasks in predictable environments.

The study implicated jobs from low-skilled factory labor to white-collar professionals like doctors and engineers are under the lens of reorganization due to automation. The report says:

“The effects of automation might be slow at a macro level, within entire sectors or economies, for example, but they could be quite fast at a micro level, for individual workers whose activities are automated or for companies whose industries are disrupted by competitors using automation.”

This means it’s going to be much easier for the small fish to enter the same streams that the big fish have been running in for some time. We’re already seeing it with small ecommerce retailers competing with big box department stores likes Macys or Nordstrom for sales. This kind of movement will only increase with the rapid expansion of automation solutions enabling businesses to focus on their core competencies with laser-like precision.

2. Markets free of legacy technology have an unparalleled advantage.

Riding the front of the automation wave are countries and industries that lack the burden of legacy technology. There’s no sharper advantage than being legacy-free, and many emerging international markets are picking up that edge.

BRIC is an acronym for the emerging international markets showing the most promise for economic development and influence in the twenty-first century. The phrase was coined by Jim O’Neil of Goldman Sachs back in 2001, identifying the nations of Brazil, Russia, India and China as those showing particular promise based on GDP and other growth factors. China is showing itself as the strongest contender, particularly in its manufacturing and technological prowess. A few years ago, a statistic said that in China there are more cellphones in circulation than people in America.

There’s little holding back the rest of the world from taking the lead in tech innovation that has typically been dominated by Western Europe or Silicon Valley. Places like Brazil, China, and India are picking up the pace. New entrants free of the shackles of old technology are able to scale at an impressive rate. Call it outsourcing or a global economy but moving faster is the name of the game.

3. Blockchain will cut out middlemen and their services completely.

Blockchain has earth-shattering automation potential, and its effect in recent headlines is not overstated. Some are comparing blockchain’s expected influence on financial markets to the advent of the internet. Some of the reason why is the way it will give both sides of a transaction immediate and unprecedented access to a single truth source.

Part of its novelty is that there is no central authority required to maintain or verify its record of truth. It is self-verifying, by attaching an ordered list of records called blocks. It creates a unique fingerprint that cannot be modified or altered by referencing the previous block.

The audit process of the future could be completely automated. Ownership of assets including inventory could be registered and tracked using this new form of technology. The possibilities are endless, but one thing is certain, an intermediary to verify the legitimacy of these transactions is not required.

4. Federal regulatory branches swing open the doors to innovation.

Fintech is just one example of how disruptors can change the entire mindset of an industry. But for most blazing new trails in any industry, there are a few frustrations unique to a startup. Fintechs must gain licenses to bank in each state they have customers in, which quickly translates into costly regulatory hurdles to scale.

When the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, a division of the United States Treasury Department, granted fintech a “special purpose national bank charter” back in December of 2016, this welcome news meant one less hurdle to clear before gaining traction as a business. It removed some of the built-in resistance to innovating in the financial sphere, giving fintechs the green light to proceed with their idea.

5. Traditional banking services will be driven by new values.

As Brian Stephens National Leader of Financial Services for KPMG says: “Be prepared for customers to move money how they want, when they want.” This differs dramatically from what traditionally structured banking services have offered consumers, though we’re starting to see a positive shift with mobile banking functionality and the elimination of fees to transfer money.

Financial startups and fintechs are changing all of that. Now biometrics are being used to verify bank account ownership. Imagine instead of typing in or remembering a password, account access is granted with a selfie. And if that is not futuristic enough, there’s always the idea of finance bots recommending smart investment strategies or even trading stocks in the near future.

So what’s the ultimate goal of automation?

To break down barriers to competition, to make finance more accessible to a broader range of people than ever before, and to outsource tasks that are not high-level, to automation. And while not every disruptor will bring qualitative change, those aimed at shape-shifting to fit customer expectations have a great chance of changing the future business landscape.