All Blogs and News (262)

Can You Feel It?

Haptics (touch) technology has been around for a while (think about how you can "feel" the buttons vibrate when you tap on your smartphone), but now is being developed with more real time control and feedback between fingertip and touchscreen. Companies like Tanvas are finding new uses for this technology. Tanvas Touch allows the user to "feel" different textures - such as grainy, silky, wavy and more - on a smart screen. It has also been used to simulate different fabrics, wood, stone and grass. Users have reacted differently to this - with some being very impressed and others "not feeling it" as much. Haptics technology could have a lot of really neat applications - it could allow users to "feel" fabrics before they purchase clothing online, it could be used in immersion gaming, and it could also be used to help the visually impaired when they use smart technology. It will be interesting to see how this technology develops over time and what new applications people create for…

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Remember that good old, predictable Christmas sales curve you’ve built your forecasting around for the last five to ten years? Amazon has changed it for good. If you’re not on board by next Black Friday, you’re kissing a good portion of potential holiday sales good-bye.
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Cars That Run On...Poo?

Researchers have discovered a way to create biocrude oil from human waste. Hydrothermal Liquefaction (HTL) mimics the geothermal conditions Earth uses to create crude oil - applying high pressure and temperature to raw sewage - they can create biocrude in about 45 minutes. The biocrude can then be refined to make gasoline, diesel and jet fuels. Scientists estimate that HTL could produce up to 30 million barrels of oil per year.

This is a pretty amazing concept and an interesting way to reduce and recycle human waste. We don't know yet what size or scale this technology could be applied to - if it would only be used at wastewater treatment plants, or if it could eventually be used in homes. And I have to wonder...how does this new fuel smell when it's burned in an engine?

This new source of alternative energy could be ready as soon as next year.

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Top 5 Holiday Prep Items Most Manufacturers Forget

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are right around the corner, so it’s time for manufacturers to do a prep-double check.  Most manufacturers are thinking "my job is done, it's all up to retail and my partners".  Think again.  Today original manufacturers can make a major impact on holiday sales - regardless of whether you sell direct or not.

It’s not too late! There are still a few key things you can do to help boost holiday sales.

1. Make sure your main website is ready for prime time

A recent study found that 65% of shoppers visit a manufacturer's direct website to research a product prior to purchase. Your website needs to present your products in a clear, salable, format—whether you…

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Google Mobile Search

At the moment, if you perform a Google search from your phone or from your computer, you'll see the same results. But in a few months, the company is set to launch a new mobile search index that will be more up to date than the desktop index (mobile pages will be indexed separately from desktop pages).  It means that mobile and desktop searchers will end up seeing different results.

It also means websites and online publishers will have to make sure their sites are mobile friendly, if they want to be properly indexed by Google.

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How Do You Manage Your Contacts?

We’re always looking for efficiencies and steam-lined workflows to save time, be more productive, and stay organized.  CRMs are designed to help us, but how do you get the data in so that you can effectively manage your leads and customers? 

A company called Vision-e makes a few plug-ins for Salesforce that may help, including a map feature and a business card scanning solution.  The map feature allows you to organize your contacts on a map to effectively plan your travel schedule.  The scanning solution allows users to scan business cards, QR codes, bar codes, etc and have this information upload into Salesforce (one report states that 88% of business cards never make it into your CRM, making it pretty challenging to keep track of your contacts).

What…

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Shortage of Software Engineers

The demand for software engineers in the US is forecast to be 1.4 million within the next decade and only 400,000 trained people to fill them.  Companies are trying to fill the gap by importing foreign trained graduates (H1-B visas) or shifting operations outside the US.  3 Venture Capital firms (Trinity, AME Cloud and Partech) have invested in the Holberton School, a 2 year program training future software engineers.

https://www.holbertonschool.com/

At the Holberton School, there are no formal teachers and no formal courses.  Instead, project-based and peer learning is used.  It is a physical school, open 7 days a week, located in San Francisco.  Holberton School is open to anyone, whether a high school graduate or not.  No programming experience is required.  There is no upfront tuition cost or fees.  Instead, they charge 17% of your internship earnings and 17% of your salary over 3 years once you find a…

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Yeoman is often asked by clients to help identify 'gaps' in their teams' abilities to be more digitally focused.  Most companies we work with often have great sales teams, a solid marketing group, and good business analysts but they still struggle with the best way to support their sales and distribution efforts online. 
 
Over the years, Yeoman has found most organizations have gaps in 3 key areas:
 

1. Online Product Merchandising:  The actual creation of product details online is often relegated to a junior buyer, marketing associate, (or worse) an intern. The thought of what product details will be often comes last and is rushed out as the product is shipping.  Big mistake.  Building up your internal content skills is…

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Groupon may have started life as an online coupon site, but most of its growth and revenue is due to their discount goods business, which launched in 2011. Five years and nearly $2 billion USD in goods revenue later, the company is ready to take on the world of ecommerce mega giants like Amazon, eBay, Sears, Buy.com and Jet—just to name a few.
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Heads-Up Driving

Heads-Up Displays (HUDs) are coming to a vehicle near you! HUDs were originally developed for military aviation, but are now being designed for consumer use.

Hudly is one company that has created these devices. It works by connecting with your phone, then projecting the phone’s video output onto a transparent glass mounted on your windshield. So information from your phone will appear in your line of sight, and you will still be able to see the road in front of you because Hudly is transparent. You can then use voice commands to access and control the data you see.

This is an interesting concept because – in theory – it reduces distracted driving by putting the information at eye level and helping us keep our eyes on the road. However, it is another gadget for us to fool with and be using when we should just be focused on driving. Hudly works with iOS and Android and will work on all cars with an OBD2 port or a cigarette lighter adapter.

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What’s in a Name?

What’s in a Name? In online merchandising just about everything.

Data quality online is one of the biggest problems manufacturers face. How good your product “looks” online (including not just clean photos, but also well-written product descriptions and titles) impacts everything from SEO rankings to customer preference to channel relations – so getting it right is important.

There’s a lot that goes into data quality. One critical element is the title. This is often the first and only information your prospect is going to see before making that all important decision to click or not to click. This snippet of text is also weighted heavily by the search engines, meaning a good title will get you in front of more prospects.

The biggest mistake we see manufacturers make is using…

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A recent Yeoman study of over 1,500 items sold on Amazon from a leading US manufacturer found a whopping 70% contained errors or did not follow Amazon’s best practice recommendations for providing product details. This study further showed the same level of inaccuracy on Google and Bing product searches. This is a maddening problem that plagues manufacturers in every industry. Once a product is “out there,” resellers, partners, distributors and reviewers end up shaping and revising the product details that your customers are going to use to make their purchase decision.

Products sold by Amazon definitely had better data quality, but less than 4% could be considered 'optimized' with the proven best practices for any item:

  • Descriptive title at least 50…
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Amazon had 900 million visits Christmas 2014,  1.3 Christmas 2015, and have regularly cracked the 1 billion visitor mark every month this year (as of May 2016). Let that number sink in. That’s 3x the population of the United States. The giant of retail, Wal-Mart only has 240 million visits a month. Target? 140 million. Grainger (for you B2B manufacturers)? 7 million. And Amazon visitors are buying. Amazon holiday sales will likely be up 20-25% over Q4 last year. That’s a decade of double digit YoY holiday sales growth (in case anyone’s counting :)  And its not just the US - we see this growth in UK, Europe, and Canada.

What's their secret?  They key for any manufacturer or publisher to understand, is that Amazon’s success IS NOT simply due to the products Amazon buys and…

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How to Empower Staff with Data

Data, data everywhere, and nary a data scientist in sight. Or at least, not one you can afford. It's a classic Catch-22. To thrive, businesses need to pull financial, sales, predictive, social, and other data into a complete view of the customer. But big data practitioners with fancy degrees who can bring sophisticated analytics chops to bear on that effort start in the six figures, if you can even find one.

Academics and consultants pontificate on the crisis. McKinsey & Co. exclaims that advanced big data analytics, driven partly by the Internet of Things, could increase GDP in retailing and manufacturing by up to $325 billion annually and trim nearly as much from the cost of healthcare and government services by 2020. Too bad most organizations will never be able to hire that expertise.…

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