Category: digital trends
Shamir Duverseau

Smart Panda Labs Recognized Nationally as One of the Best Workplaces for Commuters in 2020

Orlando, FL – February 13, 2020Smart Panda Labs, a digital consultancy that leverages data and creative intelligence to drive customer lifetime value, today announced its been named one of the 2020 Best Workplaces for Commuters for offering employees exceptional commuter benefits.

Smart Panda Labs is among a select group of workplaces in the United States that have achieved the Best Workplaces for Commuters National Standard of Excellence by providing an array of commuter benefits, resulting in at least 14 percent of their employee base not driving alone to work within a 12-month period. With a workforce that’s 100% virtual, Smart Panda Labs offers employees several telecommuting benefits options, including:

  • Computers and peripherals
  • Monthly budgets to support team members as needed
  • Innovative technologies that advance collaboration such as on-demand conference calls, video conferencing, screen sharing and virtual whiteboarding

“Smart Panda Labs is one of the top employers in the nation offering high level commuter benefits to their employees,” said Julie Bond, Program Manager, Best Workplaces for Commuters. “Smart Panda Labs made the list because they put people first and support employees with technologies and resources that enable telework and compressed work weeks. Smart Panda Labs gives its employees the support they need to excel in a virtual workplace business model.”

“We take immense pride in receiving our 2020 Best Workplaces for Commuters national designation,” said Shamir Duverseau, co-founder and managing director of Smart Panda Labs. “Our support of remote and virtual workers reflects our commitment to our people and has helped us recruit top talent, experience lower turnover, and foster a highly collaborative environment. Financially, we have reduced overhead costs and reduced payroll tax contributions. I have found that the Best Workplaces for Commuters program is good for our company and good for our people.”

The Best Workplaces for Commuters program offers designated organizations access to a range of support services to assess and promote non-driving commuting of employees, including organizational assessment and implementation tool-kits, web-based tools and webinars, staff training, and information exchange.

“The companies on this list understand the importance and impact commuter benefits have on their employees and the value they bring to the environment,” said Bond. “Excellent commuter benefit programs reward these companies not just with a national designation, but buoys workplace productivity, customer loyalty and brand recognition in an increasingly competitive marketplace.”

About Smart Panda Labs 

Smart Panda Labs is a digital consulting firm that drives customer lifetime value by optimizing every digital experience along the customer journey in a variety of considered purchase industries such as higher ed, travel and hospitality, healthcare, real estate, retail, and technology. MWBE-owned and founded in 2010 by digital strategy experts from Fortune 1000 companies, Smart Panda Labs is focused on the strength of data-driven and creative intelligence to increase their clients’ new customer acquisition and improve customer retention.  Visit Smart Panda Labs. Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter 

About Best Workplaces for Commuters (http://www.bestworkplaces.org/ 

Best Workplaces for Commuters is the national authority on recognizing and assisting workplaces that provide exceptional commuter benefits to employees. More than a recognition program, the Best Workplaces for Commuters program provides support needed to create and sustain an employer-provided commuter benefit program, including online assessment tools, advisory services, case studies, tool-kits, web-based tools, webinars and training. Best Workplaces for Commuters represents over 350 workplaces with Best Workplaces for Commuters designation representing over 2,000,000 employees. The Best Workplaces for Commuters program is managed by the Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR)  at the University of South Florida with support from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). 

About Center for Urban Transportation Research (https://www.cutr.usf.edu/) 

The Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR) at the University of South Florida, established in 1988, is an internationally recognized resource for policymakers, transportation professionals and the public. CUTR provides high quality, objective expertise in the form of insightful research, in-depth policy analysis, comprehensive training and education and effective technical assistance that translates directly into benefits for CUTR’s project sponsors.  CUTR’s faculty of 49 full-time researchers and 75 students, combines academic knowledge and extensive “real world” experience in developing innovative, implementable solutions for all modes of transportation.  The multidisciplinary research faculty includes experts in economics, planning, engineering, public policy and geography.  CUTR logs nearly $20 million per year in expenditures through contracts and grants to support its research, education, training and technical assistance missions. In 2019, CUTR was competitively selected by the U.S. Department of Transportation as the university to oversee the National Institute of Congestion Reduction. 

Category: digital trends
Charlene Hixon

Digital Marketing: What’s Now + What’s Next

It seems like with every passing day our digital world is exponentially more exciting — and more personal. Google knows when it’s cold in my house, Apple knows when and where I go for my run and Amazon knows what I bought for my grandmother last month. Personalization is happening at our fingertips, on our wrists and by command (“Alexa, make my life easier.”) And as a digital marketer, I know that customers – both B2B and B2C – now look beyond product, rewarding businesses that can deliver a more convenient, personalized experience.

Several of us recently attended the 2018 Salesforce Connections Conference in Chicago to learn how technological advances, including Salesforce product innovations, will help our clients succeed in this goal. Here are a few of my takeaways from the three-day conference.

Prepare for Voice

From Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana to Google’s Assistant suite and Amazon’s Alexa, these smart personal assistants are getting better at using artificial intelligence and natural language processing to interpret and fulfill our commands. By 2020, ComScore predicts that 50% of all search will be voice generated. These software/hardware combinations are also becoming more personalized. Last month, Amazon launched the Echo Dot Kids Edition, and currently in development is an Echo that caters to an elder population.

During a session presented by digital strategist Lisa Graves, “Alexa, How Can Marketers Prepare to Utilize Voice Assistants,” Graves discussed the importance of leveraging the opportunity of voice by keeping it simple. “Unfortunately, voice can be difficult if a multi-step process is required to get the result you want.” Brands interested in leveraging voice must offer customers a process for solving problems with smart speakers that offers more convenience than alternative solutions.

Optimize for the Wrist

During “Designing Email for Apple Watch Attention Spans,” Heidi Robbins of Salesforce discussed how the ways in which consumers read and interact with email are changing—constantly. Not only should we be thinking about designing communications for multiple desktop browsers and mobile users, we must now take devices like the Apple Watch into account. That means subject lines (the extent of what fits on a watch face) are the new email. Interesting to note, 141 million Apple Watch wearers are forecasted for 2018, up from 75 million last year.

Wearables market share is rising.

Get Into the AR Game

Since its inception, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have been most closely associated with gaming. That is no longer the case, as brands and companies everywhere seek to add augmentation to their arsenal. Ikea recently launched their AR app that allows customers to view IKEA furniture in their own home before purchase. Jeep’s new AR experience lets you interact with a car that isn’t actually there. And last year Toll Brothers introduced a virtual reality program for personalized kitchen design. According to Penny Gillespie from Gardner, immersive commerce is “enhancing the customer’s interaction with products, thereby increasing conversion and loyalty.”

Go Live to Get Personal

Facebook Live gives anyone with a phone the power to broadcast to anyone, anywhere in the world. Mobile streaming through social media is like live theatre, giving all participants a feeling of personal connection. According to Facebook Product Manager Vibhi Kant, the latest figures suggest that “people spend three times longer watching live video compared to video that is pre-recorded.” Whether through live interviews and events or sharing behind-the-scenes footage, live streaming presents a real opportunity for businesses to connect with their audience.

Be Customized — Not Creepy

Mike Davidson of Lyonscg articulated the growing feeling of “ick” around the omniscience of social networks, especially Facebook—it’s like they’re listening to us right now. During his session, Davidson discussed when tailored experiences start to feel like stalking and shared that the key to personalization is combining it with customization. Give the consumer control of what data they would like to share in order to start the conversation.

Why it feels like Facebook is listening through your mic

Offer Seamless Mobile Experiences

During his keynote address, Salesforce president and chief product officer Bret Taylor touted the virtues of mobile data stream. He gave an example of his Marriott hotel experience during the conference, where his phone was the room key and he could order a toothbrush via the app even prior to arriving. “Mobile is the greatest opportunity brands have ever had to connect with customers,” he said. Other examples of customer-centric mobile apps of course include Uber and Lyft, which provide instant gratification and demonstrate the power of straight-through processing.

Changes in technology are constantly forcing businesses to find more innovative, impactful and exciting ways to talk to their audiences. In an increasingly digital world where the average person spends nearly nine hours per day on digital devices, it’s essential for businesses to not only have an effective digital strategy, but to also regularly review and update how they market themselves to their audience.

A key point for brands looking to jump on the bandwagon of any digital trend is to make sure that it’s an opportunity to add value to the customer experience. Don’t do something just for the sake of doing it, otherwise you risk making a huge investment only to annoy—or even creep out—your customers.

Key Takeaways

  • Prepare for voice. Smart personal assistants are getting smarter, and by 2020, ComScore predicts that 50% of all search will be voice generated. Brands interested in leveraging voice must offer customers a process for solving problems with smart speakers that offers more convenience than alternative solutions.
  • Optimize for the wrist. When creating digital experiences and crafting communications we must now take devices like the Apple Watch into account. That means subject lines are the new email.
  • Get into the AR game. Immersive commerce by way of virtual and augmented reality is enhancing the customer’s interaction with products, thereby increasing conversion and loyalty.
  • Go live to get personal. Whether through live interviews and events or sharing behind-the-scenes footage, live streaming presents a real opportunity for businesses to connect with their audience.
  • Be customized — not creepy. Tailored digital experiences can go too far. Give the consumer control of what data they would like to share in order to start the conversation.
  • Offer seamless mobile experiences. From turning mobile phones into hotel room key cards to the seamless, customer-centric experiences of Uber and Lyft, mobile is the best opportunity brands have ever had to connect with customers.
  • Before you jump on the bandwagon of any digital trend, make sure that it’s an opportunity to add value for your customers.