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8
Jul

Digitally, Yours or Future-Forward – What’s Drives a Smart Workplace?

Digitally, Yours or Future-Forward – What’s Drives a Smart Workplace?

It’s the year 2030. You’re greeted at the office by a robot that’s offering you tea/coffee. The lights switch on and the blinds open automatically in your office pod – without you having to lift a finger. Does this seem like a reality that’s taking shape in a galaxy far, far away? Think again.
Smart office and digital workplaces are dominating the future and the future is now.

Futuristic Workplaces have the “Smarts” for Digital Transformation:


Advanced communication and a convenience-driven lifestyle have created a forward-looking workforce – one that’s highly-engaged, productive, and more capable than ever before.
Naturally, in order to keep up with their dynamic pace, workplaces need to change their tune and embrace innovative digital workplace solutions that are technologically-sound. If they fail to do so, every lost opportunity will lead to an “Ex” employee. Backing this claim is Randstad which says that 40% of workers would quit if their workplace lacked state-of-the-art digital tools. Plus, research by Nokia suggests that an American smartphone user checks their phone once every six-and-a-half minutes! In short, people today are heavily reliant on technology – be it in a personal or professional capacity.

The message is loud-and-clear: Employees today are ready for a workplace that’s:

  • Flexible and adaptive to their changing lifestyles.
  • A balanced blend of people-centricity and digital technology goals.
  • Spearheads digital-first thinking and gives rise to smart spaces.

Changing Dimensions of the Dynamic Workplace
– 4 Key Factors for Successful Implementation & Seamless Adoption.
An explosion of smart workplace technologies and employee lifestyle changes have brought about a tectonic shift in the way organizations and people operate today. For instance, a recent study suggests that 60 percent of the time, Fortune 1000 company employees are not at their desks. In such a scenario, an integrative use of modern work styles and maturing technologies such as Video Conferencing, Robotics, AI, Machine Learning, and Cloud Computing becomes imperative.
Additionally, research by MetLife demonstrates that 56 percent of employers view automation technologies like AI, analytics, and robotics in a positive light. All in all, digital workplaces and smart offices as concepts are gaining momentum and finding a huge fan base in today’s Gen-Z. To that end, let’s list the 4 factors that can translate a static, physical workplace mindset into a more dynamic and digital one:

  1. Prepare ahead for the arrival of the Digital Revolution. To start with, train your employees to become technology- friendly, thus giving birth to the “digitally-fluent” generation.
  2. Going digital means diving deep into data mines. Create a mechanism to organize information that can be  accessed in a quick, systematic, and efficient manner.
  3. Move strategically from solely-physical office space to a physical (office), virtual (electronic tools), social (a network of team, managers and customers), and mental (company’s values, beliefs, and goals) one.
  4. The end-goal should be to create a digitally-driven work vibe that feels personal, collaborative, mobile-enabled, and employee-oriented – all at the same time.

Multi-Purpose Technology, Infinite Advantages:

Even though the rate at which smart technology is discouragingly slow, digital-first workplaces are finding their footing gradually. If implemented properly, organizations stand to gain a multitude of benefits, namely:

Impactful business advantages such as:

  1. Real-time insights into performance, growth, problem areas, potential, etc.
  2. Use of innovative technology such as robotics and AI that helps reduce costs frees up resource time by offloading repetitive tasks and inspires people to be more productive and creative.

Enhanced efficiency and access to in-depth information anytime, anywhere – Courtesy of digital knowledge-sharing platforms.

  1. Faster, global interactions due to virtual inter-connectedness.
  2. Rise of intelligent, collaborative, and agile business environment that benefit individuals and organization together.

Real-time insights into performance, growth, problem areas, potential, etc.
Use of innovative technology such as robotics and AI that helps reduce costs frees up resource time by offloading repetitive tasks and inspires people to be more productive and creative.

 

Closing Thoughts:
Workplace trends such as “BYOD” (Bring Your Own Device) and the creation of private spaces such as “office pods” are making life easier for everyone. Armed with greater flexibility, employees are driven to contribute more and be more. Perhaps, the irony of it all is that virtual systems can liven up any work space – if only seen through smart, futuristic prisms that throw light on “next-gen” technologies. So the real question isn’t about choosing between digital or future workforce, it is about combining both to leverage the values and benefits of tomorrow, today.

20
Jun

How Small Businesses can Benefit From Salesforce

Salesforce is a Customer Relationship Management or CRM platform designed to improve the customer interaction aspect of businesses. It is a cloud-based platform and is one of the most commonly used CRM systems by businesses of all sizes. Here is how a small business benefits from Salesforce.

Scalability
You may be a small business now, but you definitely have your sights set on bigger goals. You need a CRM platform that can grow and adapt with your changing needs, or in other words, is scalable. This is exactly what Salesforce does. It is a flexible platform, and that is precisely what makes it so attractive for large and small businesses alike.

Use AI to Improve Your Business

How Small Businesses can Benefit From Salesforce

AI plays a key role in the growth of your business by analyzing the existing data and offering meaningful insights. This may sound too fancy or too expensive for a small business, but Salesforce‘ Einstein AI is an affordable AI service that offers market predictions, customer behavior patterns and other useful information that can be extremely valuable for a small business. The AI also gleans the necessary information from your emails and calendar and removes the need for manual data entry.

Increase Productivity
Salesforce can help automate a lot of tasks related to storing and sorting customer information. This frees up your employees and lets them focus more on other areas of business. It will also help them target the right clients to call for making sales and increase the efficiency of the sales calls.

Improve Your Marketing Strategy

How Small Businesses can Benefit From Salesforce
The Salesforce CRM can connect to social media and use the information to help you identify potential customers. This can also help you create a marketing strategy aimed at converting those prospects into customers. In addition to this, it also tells you how much time and effort has been spent on each customer. You can compare this with the revenue generated by the customer and realign your services to ensure that you are spending an optimum amount of time on each customer.

Improve Your Sales
Did you know that increasing your customer retention rate by 5% can lead to a 25% to 95% increase in profits? With the comprehensive customer history at your fingertips, you can provide better customer service and retain more customers. The increased revenue can always be used to attract new clients and grow your business. While gaining more customers is important, it is equally necessary to keep the existing ones happy.

Join the Salesforce Family Today!
Do you know what Unilever, Aston Martin, Fireclay Tiles, Onmibees, and Crowdcube have in common? All of them use the Salesforce CRM platform! They have become more efficient, flexible, and have witnessed an increase in their customer base. These companies may be of different sizes, but they have all found common ground in Salesforce. It is the leader in the CRM industry and has achieved this status by continuously adapting to the changing needs of the market and adopting the latest technology to provide excellent service to the clients.

2
Jul

Is Your Sales Prediction a Forecast or a “Wish-cast”?

Are your sales predictions based on a data-driven forecast? Or are they more a reflection of your ideal or desired outcome?

Let me give you an example from my own experience on how “wish-casts” tend to play out. At a recent meeting at a Fortune 500 firm, the company’s CEO took an Executive Vice President (EVP) to task over her revenue forecast, saying, “These numbers aren’t acceptable. You have to do better over the next two quarters. Come back with a 15% increase over last year or don’t come back at all.”

To be fair, the original numbers presented to the CEO reflected a 4% year-over-year increase. But clearly, that wasn’t enough. The CEO’s objective was to report higher numbers to the board, analysts, investors, and beyond. The only problem with this scenario, however, is that the new numbers requested by the CEO were inaccurate — or worse, potentially unattainable. There was no real basis or rationale for increasing the numbers, other than the fact that the CEO wanted to see a higher projected number. And as a result, the company’s sales organization had no choice but to face excessive pressure to meet their CEO’s revenue “wish-cast.”

Fast forward two quarters down the road. Here’s what happened:

Fortunately, the sales team successfully achieved a number higher than the EVP’s initial 4% forecast but still below the CEO’s requested 15% target. As you can imagine, the CEO wasn’t pleased with this performance but was nonetheless able to report a certain level of success on the quarterly earnings call. Unfortunately, the numbers alone don’t tell the full story. Achieving “success,” from the CEO’s perspective, came at the expense of margins and future growth. For the Sales team to hit this more aggressive target, they had to offer customers greater-than-usual discounts and sacrifice cultivating prospects for the rest of the year (which, in turn, damaged the margins associated with those new opportunities).

And in spite of this, the same scenario would play out again while forecasting for the second half of the year. However, this time, with few critical differences.

First, the Sales organization was now in a weaker position to impact revenue — a byproduct of the sales pipeline being leaner after having been pillaged for short-term gain in the first half of the year. This alone made it challenging for the sales team to compete effectively in the marketplace. In fact, the situation became so dire that two senior sales leaders started actively looking for new opportunities because they no longer believed in the business’s ability to succeed in the future. This created a domino effect wherein the working environment became increasingly negative, to the point where the company’s two major account teams felt discouraged and disengaged. It was clear that the business was on a downward spiral.

Watching this play out was painful. Unfortunately, I’ve seen it happen all too often — and there’s a good chance you have, too. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Here’s what CEO’s can do about it:[/vc_column_text]

1. Increase Your Involvement with the Sales Organization
Executive involvement with sales is too often characterized by reviewing (and approving) forecasts — and little else. As a leader, however, you have an opportunity to make a big and lasting impact. Start by focusing on what you can do to build a stronger sales organization because, after all, it’s your business’s definitive strategy-execution engine. If the strategy doesn’t guide or even correlate to what happens in the field, it’s really just an academic exercise with little value. The sales function is directly linked to business strategy. Avoid the tendency to delegate that work to other parts of the organization that can’t execute on that business strategy (i.e. impact revenue growth). Part of this involves being invested in enabling and empowering your sales team to operate at a higher level. To do this, it’s critical that you: 1) create a sales structure aligned to your go-to-market strategy; 2) recruit and hire high-performing talent capable of executing on that strategy with your customers; 3) build a “coaching” culture that aims to develop and improve the performance of your sales team from day one. If you’re only inspecting their performance, you’ve missed the boat here.

2. Avoid Counterproductive Pressures
When reviewing revenue forecasts, if you only ask: “Can you get more revenue into this month/quarter?” followed by “Why not?” without discussing any of the factors that contribute to these results, then you are setting yourself up for failure. As an executive, you deserve to have a clear understanding of forecasts and expected results. This is something the sales team can easily put together for you. However, when the projected numbers don’t match your expectations, it’s very easy for anxiety to start to take hold across the entire organization.

As a starting point, don’t increase the frequency of revenue and forecast reviews. Doing so only creates more pressure and stress for your team. Keep a regular forecasting schedule and set clear expectations around how the team can achieve the goals you’ve set. If your requests don’t materialize — especially in the short-term — avoid relying on heavy-handed pressure tactics to drive results. (It rarely works.) This is not to say that you can’t motivate your team to succeed; after all, that’s the way you can ensure that your team constantly performs at a high level. This is called eustress: a positive kind of pressure that motivates and pushes people to perform with a high degree of success. Unfortunately, more often than not, many leaders go well beyond eustress and push their teams to a state of distress. This creates a culture of fear and ultimately causes people to operate and behave in counterproductive ways (i.e. misleading customers, overcommitting, deeply discounting, etc.). Not to mention, it will cause people to retreat, especially when the stakes are exceptionally high.

3. Understand the End-to-End Sales Process
Evaluating forecasts and results at monthly and quarterly milestones is essential, especially for a publicly-traded company. This is what helps executives understand early on any sales patterns that either inhibit or contribute to revenue growth. The best way to evaluate this is by being involved at the early stages of the sales pipeline, not just when deals are about to get closed. Doing so provides a bird’s-eye view onto the overall health of your revenue streams and can help inform decisions about where additional resources could be most valuable for achieving business objectives. If you only look a month or even a quarter ahead, there’s really very little you can do to impact those objectives. Getting involved further back in the process gives you — and your team — more opportunities to implement changes and can (and will) positively improve desired outcomes. There’s no question about it: forecasts are important decision-making tools for any executive. You have the power to influence the future strength of your business almost uniquely through your interactions with sales. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to make a lasting impact. Resource form salesforce blog

2
Jul

Visual search in SAP Hybris Commerce

We have explained why virtual search in e-commerce is important. Before going into implementation, let’s mention the use case from a customer’s perspective once again: You are walking down the street, see someone’s outfit, snap a photo, upload it to the web store of your favorite brand to search for similar products.

Let’s break the implementation into steps:

Search for visually similar products. What does visually similar mean? Does it mean only by color or also texture, structure, edges…
Analyze what is in the image, which clothing items are in the image.

Lire for visual information retrieval

LIRE stands for Lucene Image Retrieval, it uses Lucene to store and query image feature values. It takes numeric images descriptors, which are mainly vectors or sets of vectors, and stores them inside a Lucene index as text. It comes with many image descriptor implementations, such as Color Layout, Pyramid Opponent Histogram, SIFT, SIMPLE, SURF and many more. Depending on your requirements, different image features can be used. Lire is used to extract the histogram (_hi), the hashes (_ha) and if the feature supports it, metric spaces (_ms) of an image. This is then all stored in the index.

Indexing
To integrate with SAP Hybris Commerce, a new SolrIndexedProperty needs to be defined for solr indexed type and the corresponding ValueResolver implemented. In this case, all 300×300 product images are processed, cl,eh,jc,oh,ph,ac,ad,ce,fc,fo,jh,sc descriptors are used and all three (hashes, histograms and metric spaces) are extracted.

Searching

Now that we’ve indexed the features, it’s time to make them available to the search.

One way to search for similar images is by using LireRequestHandler, with query type “/lireq”. It supports different kinds of queries, but the most important one is getting images with a feature vector like the one from the uploaded image. The other way is by using function queries: lirefunc(arg1,arg2).

To enable this, the new RequestHandler and the ValueSourceParser have to be registered in the solrconfig.xml. As for the SAP Hybris Commerce implementation, few data objects have to be extended, along with populators and services.

Each feature uses its own defined distance metric. Metric spaces, spanned by each feature, are not compatible, so using multiple features for search is challenging. Relevance scores should not be added or subtracted. Possible solutions could be margining result lists, where each feature returns its own result and mash them somehow. The other way could be filtering and ranking, where one feature is used to return results and the other to re-rank them. The third way is machine learning, using learning methods to fit parameters and select appropriate dimensions.

Analyzing the image

It was relatively easy to train the model to get the information which items can be seen in the image. But, in a case when a customer uploads an image of the whole outfit, but wants to search only for a specific item, that was not enough. There was no information about where the wanted item is in the picture. There are not many open fashion datasets that are annotated with bounding boxes. Collecting images and annotating them myself would take a long time, so I’ve chosen to use Algorithmia’s DeepFashion instead. The only problem with that is the response time, it can take up to a minute.

This algorithm detects clothing items in images; it returns a list of discovered clothing articles as well as annotating the input image with bounding boxes for each found article.

Resource from hybris.com

2
Jul

10 highlights from Salesforce Connections 2018

Salesforce Connections 2018 has just wrapped up in Chicago and it was a whirlwind couple of days. The digital marketing, commerce and customer service event of the year was full of announcements, learnings, impressive Trailblazers and inspiring messages of equality. We’ve pulled out the highlights:

1. Innovation for the Fourth Industrial Revolution was revealed

Customers – both B2B and B2C – now look beyond the product, rewarding businesses that can deliver a more convenient, personalized experience. In the ‘We Are All Trailblazers’ keynote, Salesforce Chief Product Officer, Bret Taylor, announced several new Salesforce product innovations that would help businesses succeed in this goal.

Taylor said the technology will enable teams with a platform and a set of skills to achieve a 360-degree view of their customer.

2. Lucy Liu shared how she has overcome racism and adversity

No Trailblazer hasn’t faced their fair share of hurdles; actress Lucy Liu included. In the opening keynote, Liu talked about how she has broken barriers to success and beaten adversity in Hollywood. She also spoke about the topic of equality for all – a key Salesforce value.

3. Transforming the customer service experience

One common mantra that resonated throughout Salesforce Connections 2018 was that customers are more connected than ever. In the world of customer service, organizations must respond by delivering results that move customers from transactions to transformation through connected, intelligent, personalized and scalable experiences.

We heard about the latest Service Cloud innovations – Einstein Bots, Service for Commerce and the next generation of digital engagement – as well as how Trailblazers like Marriott and DoorDash are driving lasting customer loyalty.

4. Intelligent marketing for empowered customers was championed

We learnt that intelligent marketing is the driving force for growth behind some of the world’s most valuable brands. In the marketing keynote, Salesforce Senior Vice-President of Marketing Cloud, Liam Doyle, along with Trailblazers from Ticketmaster and Ducati, unveiled the latest Marketing Cloud innovations. They also shared new insights into building brands and winning the hearts, minds, and loyalty of customers.

5. The convergence of B2B and B2C

In the commerce cloud keynote, the need to integrate B2B and B2C experiences was discussed. “Experiences in one world influence and set expectations in another,” Salesforce Chief Operating Officer for Commerce Cloud, Tom Griffin, said. In the Salesforce universe, this consumerisation of B2B is coming to life through the acquisition of CloudCraze and the subsequent launch of Salesforce B2B.

“Consumer expectations are changing, and they’re manifesting in B2B business,” Salesforce Senior Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer for B2B Commerce, Ray Grady, explained. The main takeaway: Customers shop everywhere. And, it’s only with the innovations of AI, voice, visual search and modernised service that Trailblazers can continue to make their customers happy.

6. Kerry Washington inspired us to stand up for equality

“You have to be willing to collect your NOs to get to your YESes,” actress Kerry Washington, who appeared as part of the Women’s Equality Trailblazer keynote series, said. Trailblazing women break barriers every day, leading us all on the path to equality. Washington, known for her starring role in the TV show Scandal, is fearlessly blazing that trail. A long-time advocate for equal pay and gender equality, she shared her experiences, inspiring the audience to blaze their own trail to equality.

7. We took a deep dive into the customer of the future

What will customer experience look like in 2025? This was the topic of discussion between Catharine Hays, co-author of Beyond Advertising: Creating Value Through All Customer Touchpoints; Glen Hartman, Senior Managing Director of Accenture Interactive; and Harsha Mokkarala, Chief Revenue Officer at 2U Inc.

One of the big shifts accelerating expectations around customer experience is how people gather information, according to Mokkarala. “Consumers don’t want to follow the funnel,” he said. “They want to research and find all the info they need across a million different places on the web. We need to aid consumers in the research process.”

The panellists also discussed the essential role of trust between individuals and the companies they choose to do business with. “A brand is a promise and trust is a big part of that,” Hartman said. “The way promises are kept are with experiences.”

8. Trailblazing women of the world united

Salesforce’s Trailblazing Women group, in partnership with the Salesforce Women’s Network, hosted a networking lunch where an awe-inspiring panel of female leaders shared their experiences and tips for navigating the corporate world. Moderated by Salesforce Senior Director of Global Equality Programs, Molly Ford, the conversation touched on topics that included sponsorship versus mentorship, negotiating salaries and advice for younger selves.

9. Our Ohana came together to give back

Conference attendees had the opportunity to participate in a hands-on giving back activity that benefited City Kids Camp Dixon – a summer camp that gives Chicago-based students a place to experience nature and outdoor adventures. Our Trailblazers jumped in, building summer camp kits, wilderness adventure kits, and arts and crafts kits.

10. Adrian Grenier told us to treat our planet better and “stop sucking”

How did actor Adrian Grenier – who made a name for himself galavanting around Los Angeles in a Hummer in the TV series Entourage – get into ocean conservation work? The answer is quite simple: “My mother raised me with one basic rule: to clean my room,” he told a room full of conference attendees. He now applies that same rule to the larger world, raising awareness and global participation around the issue of ocean pollution.

“What the planet needs is not just a really passionate extremist to do something once; we need everyone around the world to commit to a lifetime of daily, subtle effort,” Grenier said.

Resource form salesforce blog