Monthly Archives: November 2017

Teamwork and Collaboration

I recently wrote about the ways AI and machine learning will impact productivity. For this article, I’m focusing on teamwork and collaboration. I reached out to founders, productivity experts and futurists who work in this space every day to ask what their predictions are for the next five and 10 years. Their answers were enlightening.

The future isn’t just coming for personal productivity; experts also believe that advances in technology will strongly affect teams and organizations. From productivity platforms that seamlessly integrate the tools we depend on, to new ways to collaborate in an ever-more diverse and distributed workforce, here’s how the future will affect team productivity.

Embrace the power of teams.
When I asked Dom Price, the head of R&D at Atlassian, he said, “The future of productivity is all about unleashing the potential of your teams.” According to him, “90 percent of organizations claim to be tackling issues so complex they need teams to solve them.” This doesn’t bode well for organizations in which collaboration has not become a priority.
Price further stated that, “Diversity, distribution, timezones, cultural differences and hierarchical reporting lines all make teamwork hard. We all need to unlearn some old ways of working, and embrace diversity, inclusion and better collaboration to drive team productivity in this new era of work.” I think that as teams become more distributed in the modern workforce, wether its because of politics or the war for talent, collaboration is the number one factor that companies need to implement.

It started with email.
Bret Taylor, former CTO of Facebook, inventor of the “Like” button and co-founder of productivity suite Quip, sees a solution to this challenge in the way communication has changed to become less formal in recent years. He believes that “connected, mobile and social — work is about communication. It’s about people sharing work, ideas and opinions.”
Like many of the experts I spoke to, Taylor sees the future in the form of modern productivity suites that are no longer just “designed to augment email.” “Combining content and communication into a single, seamless experience — word processing, spreadsheets, chat, checklists, live editing and much more. Everything will happen in one place, vastly reducing the need for teams to send long email threads with clunky attachments, or waste time in endless meetings.”

Visual communication moves up.
Others see the solution to this challenge in the form of even more casual communication techniques. Wendy Hamilton, CEO of TechSmith, sees the future in video and screencasting.
“As younger workers progress higher in their careers, they are setting the standard for communication in a workplace and they are leading with a preference for visual communication.”
She believes that “from corporate training to marketing, video will become ingrained in the fabric of how companies operate, both internally and externally.”
“Businesses both small and large are using this technique to demonstrate processes, improve communication efficiency and effectiveness, increase productivity and eliminate unnecessary meetings,” she adds.

Enterprise App Improvements to Watch For

If you are an entrepreneur, chances are you have been courted by numerous enterprise software companies, pitching how their solution can boost your sales, increase your user engagement or maybe even reduce budget expenditures. If you have worked in larger corporate settings, you are also likely to know that enterprise software, while useful, often ends up creating more work for the end user.

You are not alone. In fact, more than 96 percent of executives admit that at least some of the enterprise software they have purchased over the years has been shelved due to obsolescence or challenges using the product. While products naturally become outdated, SaaS products should retain their value through consistent management and updates. Unfortunately, this is also rare.

1. Consumer grade enterprise apps.
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems are notoriously clunky and hard to customize. The consumer app revolution, however, has brought a new wave of innovative tech startups to the scene, showing how easy it can be to manage systems and data through modern apps. “Business and IT should be able to work together to address the needs of human beings quickly and efficiently,” McElrath explained. “Instead of using software that forces people to behave like machines (or like a vendor wants them to behave), together, business and IT can force software to behave more like humans.”

2. Unifying apps and platforms.
Most companies use several ERP solutions and struggle to piece together all the data they collect. That is why software companies are working to build platforms that sync various tools and systems in more useful ways. “Most companies use several systems of record, but struggle to piece together all the data they collect. It is worthwhile to use the technology you have in place already, working in tandem with existing systems to add huge value,” McElrath said.
Companies that can offer new solutions without forcing people to archive old software stand to gain significant market share by reducing the cost and risk associated with taking on a new ERP platform.

3. Internet of Things on the rise.
With the number of Internet of Things (IoT) devices growing each year, many companies are already considering how connected objects can help them gain actionable insights for enterprise use. The challenge will be finding scalable solutions that can work together.For entrepreneurs, it is essential to find the right partners who can leverage existing software they already own, while upgrading efficiency and usefulness. Taking time to research and find the right solutions will no doubt result in increased adoption of new enterprise solutions without the stress that usually accompanies such decisions.

Technology Is Shortening the Road to Fame

It wasn’t that long ago that Justin Bieber was discovered on YouTube by Usher. Katy Perry, Macklemore, Psy and Lana Del Rey are others who used this online video platform to get noticed when music industry executives wouldn’t pay attention to them. Thanks to this social media platform and mobile technologies, the road to fame has changed and helped many artists, including musicians and voice-over talent, get the attention they deserve while winning a fan base in the process.

Apps that find gigs.
Voice-over actors now don’t have to rely on jobs coming to them or hoping an agent lines up gigs. Saving time and money on not having to race to various in-person gigs means these talented individuals can locate more voice-over work and carve out a career they define. Previously, they had to depend on agencies and share their earnings in exchange.The actors are now using available apps much like those used by other types of freelancers for locating work. is one example of how digitizing the voice-over industry is removing layers of paperwork and putting the talent in contact with gigs directly. Voicebunny is another site where talent is able to conveniently find work while various types of companies can also be assured they will connect with the talent they seek.

Apps that “discover” talent.
Seeing what YouTube has been able to accomplish led to the idea that a special platform could be created that would help aspiring singers make much more polished and professional videos that improve their chances of getting noticed. StarMaker has become the largest online talent network in the world with over 45 million users. The platform works with the major record labels, publishers, agents, and agencies to also connect this talent with those forces in the music industry who can help to make them famous.
Recently, StarMaker partnered with the new season of American Idol, set to launch in 2018 on ABC, to develop a contest that gives 10 talented individuals a front-of-the-line pass to go directly to an audition with the producers of the show.

Platforms that fund bands.
Musicians have also discovered that crowdfunding is something that can work for them so they can independently produce their own music and make it available for sale rather than hoping to convince a music label to sign them. All types of bands have done successful campaigns on sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo among others, building a fan base and giving them direct access.

Accelerating a Boom In the Food Business

As diets change, food prices climb and corporations fail to come up with innovative ideas, investment in the food tech industry is still a valuable prospect.

Advancements in data and technology have led to incredible developments not only in the way we grow and harvest our food, but also in the way we obtain and consume it. From seed to table, technology is affecting the entire food supply chain in remarkable ways.It’s time for entrepreneurs in the industry to reap the benefits. By leveraging the latest advancements from agriculture to food service, restaurateurs can craft a top-quality experience that’s sure to keep hungry customers coming in.
Aggregating agriculture.
Much like fintech or martech, advancements in the food sector are increasingly based on technologies that enhance our relatively newfound ability to collect, store and analyze data.For restaurateurs looking to cash in on this new frontier, these three avenues could give their establishments a high-tech advantage over the competition:
1. Source ingredients from “smart” farms.
While many of the factors affecting a restaurant’s success or failure can’t be controlled, one that can is the food itself. Serving a high-quality meal begins with sourcing high-quality ingredients, and there’s no better way to ensure quality than through the latest tech.Many farms today are highly sophisticated, tech-driven operations, whether they’re family-owned or run by large corporations. Telematics products offered by companies like Trimble, John Deere and AGCO help farmers get more out of their expensive equipment by enabling them to easily transfer location, navigation, prescription application and other data between machines.
2. Minimize farm-to-table tampering.
Food safety has been a hot topic over the past few years, and for some companies — Chipotle, for example — public food safety concerns have led to PR nightmares. In response to the public outcry that erupted after several cases of E. coli and norovirus were linked to the chain in 2015, Chipotle temporarily closed all of its franchises for a companywide health safety meeting last year.
3. Go hands-off and tech-on with restaurant management.
Like farms, restaurants are increasingly becoming tech-driven operations, and like farmers, restaurateurs have a growing array of tools at their disposal to maximize efficiency and food quality.

Platforms like Upserve represent a new generation of restaurant technology that takes some of the guesswork out of managing an eatery, empowering restaurateurs to make decisions based on customer data. Upserve’s restaurant management platform produces a wealth of data, enabling restaurants to analyze what types of meals keep customers coming back and emboldening managers to build menus that make the most of the ingredients on hand and drive more revenue