As Machines Get Smarter, How Will the Way We Live and Work Change? Part 2: Shifting Human–Machine Dynamics

T

Every day, we see new examples of how technology is reshaping the dynamics of human–machine partnerships at work and at home. Some of the changes we can already see include everything from smart watches to drones to self-driving cars.
How will the next wave of technology disrupt our lives and change the nature of human and machine partnerships, and how quickly will this disruption happen? Although no one knows the exact path this latest round of innovation will take, Dell Technologies has partnered with Institute for the Future (IFTF) to explore how these trends are likely to take shape in their new report, The Next Era of Human–Machine Partnerships: Emerging Technologies’ Impact on Society & Work in 2030 . In the first post in this two-part series, I discussed the emerging technologies that will underpin these changes. In this second installment, I examine how these technologies are likely to reshape human–machine dynamics and how we can start preparing for them.

What will the brave new world of 2030 look like? The Dell/IFTF study highlights the following key shifts in human–machine relationships:

  • People become digital conductors. We already use apps for many tasks, from finding jobs to hailing rides. Personal assistants—or chatbots—help us turn off the lights, monitor home security and order products online. As technology helps us to orchestrate more activities and tasks, more of us will become “digital conductors,” using more personalized apps to predict, meet and respond to more of our needs. Expect solutions to help us monitor and care for elderly relatives, understand the role our emotions play in making a decision and help us to run errands. We’ll “conduct” these apps through connected devices. In the future, machines will become extensions of ourselves. Honor, for instance, has developed a platform to match elderly patients with doctors and care professionals as well as coordinate meals, transportation, housekeeping and companionship. OhmniLabs is working on an affordable telepresence home robot. With one click of a button, a person can be in the same room as his/her family, friends and colleagues without being physically present.
  • Work chases people. There’s little doubt that machines will replace humans in many jobs: PwC predicts that robots could take over 38% of U.S. jobs in the next 15 years. However, IFTF authors contend that new jobs will replace them. The percentage of “gig” or contract workers will grow to make up 50% of the workforce by 2020. Instead of workers looking for jobs, organizations will compete for the best talent for specific jobs, using solutions such as reputation engines, data visualization and analytics to automate the process. Companies will also change the way they work, adopting more capable solutions that streamline collaboration across geographies and time zones. Glowork, the first women’s employment organization in the Middle East, has launched a platform that links female jobseekers with employers. So far, it has put more than 3,000 women in the workplace and located work-from-home jobs for 500 women. By leveraging big data, employers can search for candidates based on different search criteria.
  • In-the-moment learning becomes the norm. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that today’s learners will have 8 to 10 jobs by the time they are 38, and IFTF estimates that 85% of the jobs they’ll be doing in 2030 haven’t been invented yet. This makes the ability to learn new skills a worker’s most valuable asset. But how will people—especially the growing population of gig workers—learn new skills? Probably not through traditional HR and training processes. Instead, they’ll need to do more learning on the fly, with “in-the-moment” learning becoming the norm by 2030. New technologies such as AR and VR will facilitate this trend, guiding, for example, a new field service technician through an HVAC repair. DAQRI, which is based in Los Angeles, is using AR devices to display digital work instructions in workers’ physical environment, helping them to complete tasks more efficiently.

Technology: The Fabric of Our Future Lives

No one knows exactly how these trends will unfold; and while some people are excited about them, others are uneasy about what may happen. Will machines steal jobs from people and lead to unemployment? Will bad guys create evil robots like the Terminator in the movie of the same name and Ava in Ex Machina?

But whether we’re ready or not, it’s safe to assume that technology will continue to play a bigger role in our business and personal lives. Think about it: the internet was a novelty 20 years ago, and “dumb” phones outsold smartphones until 2013. Now, both are ubiquitous. The next round of technological change is likely to be as inevitable and pervasive, so the best route is to start preparing for it by asking critical questions, such as the following:

  • How can we, as individuals, get smarter and keep learning?
  • What skills are most likely to be automated?
  • What human skills will have the most value?
  • How can we use new technologies as tools to accomplish goals, for our businesses and ourselves?
  • How can we build people skills and digital infrastructure for the future?

Recognize that what seems disruptive today will become part of our individual and business fabric tomorrow. By thinking proactively about the next level of human and machine interactions in the workplace now, we will be much better positioned to reap the benefits in the future.

You can read the full Dell/IFTF report  for more food for thought and take the Dell Technologies Digital Transformation Survey to help assess your organization’s readiness for the future. 

This is the second post in a two-part series sponsored by Dell. The first post examines the emerging technologies that will underpin changes in human–machine dynamics.

As Machines Get Smarter, How Will the Way We Live and Work Change? Part 1: Key Technology Drivers

You don’t need to be a genius to figure out that machines are getting smarter. Every day, we see new examples of how entrepreneurs, businesses and academics are using new technologies to reimagine how things get done. Not that long ago, for instance, ADT provided armed security guards to protect property. Today, ADT has transformed to become the largest professional installer of home automation solutions in the United States. From manufacturing robots to self-driving cars to devices to help us manage our homes, technology is reshaping the dynamics of human–machine partnerships.

Depending on your point of view, the next round of innovation may be exciting, scary, confusing, uncertain—or all of the above. How will the next wave of technology disrupt our lives and change the nature of human and machine partnerships, and how quickly will this disruption happen?

Although no one knows the exact path this latest round of innovation will take, Dell Technologies has partnered with Institute for the Future (IFTF) to explore how these trends are likely to take shape in their new report, The Next Era of Human–Machine Partnerships: Emerging Technologies’ Impact on Society & Work in 2030. In this post, the first in a two-part series, I examine the emerging technologies that will underpin these changes. In the second installment, I discuss how they will reshape human–machine dynamics and how we can start preparing for them.

The Next Technology Wave

According to the Dell/IFTF study, the following key emerging technologies will radically change how humans and machines engage:

  • Robotics: Robots have been around for a while—especially in manufacturing, where they’ve mainly performed repetitive and/or dangerous tasks that don’t require a lot of problem-solving skills. But technology is expanding robots’ capabilities, enabling them to do more in manufacturing and to take on new roles, from driving our cars to administering physical therapy. For example, some rehab facilities already use wearable “exoskeletal robots” to help patients recovering from spinal cord injuries and strokes to stand, reach for objects and relearn to walk.
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning make computer programs and machines “smart” by enabling them to learn, change and predict patterns as they are exposed to new data, as well as to converse with users to answer queries and provide insights. Unlike humans, programs that use these technologies can crunch massive amounts of data quickly and efficiently. For instance, many financial trading firms use these systems to predict and execute high-speed, high-volume trades. In healthcare, computer-aided diagnosis (CAD) is helping radiologists find early-stage breast cancers that might otherwise be missed. And, as I wrote about previously, Alice (which is powered by Circular Board and partnerships with Dell and Pivotal) is the world’s first AI platform for female entrepreneurs. Alice uses machine learning to guide and connect these women with mentors, referrals, capital and other resources needed to start and grow their businesses.
  • Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are transforming how we engage in both virtual and physical worlds. VR “blocks out” the physical world, taking the user to a simulated, digital world. VR is often used for training, such as in the military, where soldiers can prepare for combat situations without the risk of death or a serious injury. AR adds a digital layer on top of the physical world. The best-known example is the AR game Pokémon Go, which uses your smartphone’s GPS to mark your location and move your Pokémon avatar, and uses your smartphone camera to show you digital Pokémon in the real world.
  • Cloud computing: I know, after 20 years, cloud computing no longer seems like an emerging technology. However, cloud computing is the backbone that provides scalability, flexibility, cost, speed and ease-of-deployment benefits that enable businesses and people to continue to take advantage of newer technologies. For instance, Chitale Dairy’s “cow to cloud” initiative uses the cloud to improve farming for 50,000 dairy farmers in India. Chitale has outfitted more than 200,000 cows with RFID tags to monitor their health habits. Information from the tags is sent to the cloud to be analyzed, and alerts are sent to local farmers regarding when to make dietary changes or arrange vaccinations.

The Chitale story also underscores how some of these technologies are maturing, converging and coming to life as part of the next generation of the Internet of Things (IoT). According to Liam Quinn, chief technology officer and SVP of Dell Technologies, the cloud provides the technology required to dynamically distribute and allocate resources across different platforms and devices. Now, organizations can attach gateway-to-legacy IoT systems so they can send the data they’re already capturing to the cloud to analyze and use it to run their businesses more intelligently. These advances also make IoT more cost effective and manageable, and they will enable companies to develop entirely new IoT solutions to improve efficiencies and facilitate new business models.

You can read the full Dell/IFTF report  for more details and insights on these trends and take the Dell Technologies Digital Transformation Survey to help assess your organization’s readiness for the future.

This is the first post in a two-part series sponsored by Dell. The second installment looks at how these technologies are likely to reshape human–machine dynamics and how we can start preparing for them.

Blue-9 Climbs to Success With SAP Anywhere

Blue-black-tunnelGrowing revenues and attracting new customers are the top business goals for small wholesale distributors and retailers. But, in the age of the empowered buyer, these goals are getting more difficult to achieve. Today, both consumers and business buyers have information at their fingertips, and can tap into an ever-widening range of digital content and reviews to learn about products, get advice about different brands, and ratings for sellers. Once buyers decide to purchase, they expect a fast, friendly, efficient shopping experience—online, in-store and on mobile devices. If they don’t get it, they’ll take their business elsewhere.

The result is an environment that is more complex and competitive for small business wholesale distributors and retailers than their predecessors could have ever imagined. But many small businesses use a patchwork of databases, spreadsheets and manual processes to manage sales, marketing and inventory. This may work when a business is very small, but will eventually create a drag on the business as more information falls between the cracks of different applications. Often, just as a small business starts to take off, the owner realizes that relying on different applications that don’t connect leads to mistakes and missed opportunities.

Blue-9 Steps Up to an Integrated Solution to Support Growth

Despite these problems, many small businesses resist upgrading to a more integrated solution, fearing that an upgrade will be too complex, costly and time-consuming for them to use and afford. So I was very interested to speak with David Blake, President of Blue-9, at SAP’s 2017 SAPPHIRE user conference. When Blue-9 was just a year old with three employees, Blake took the leap from a tangle of point solutions to an integrated front office solution.

Launched in 2013, Blue-9 Pet Products developed and manufactures the KLIMB dog-training platform. Blue-9 sells the platform, along with dog harnesses, training videos and other accessories, directly to customers and via dealers and affiliates.

Blue-9 started the business with a WordPress website, Woo Commerce for ecommerce, and Microsoft Excel for inventory tracking. Blake tried using the same web store for both B2C and B2B partner sales, but the B2C site didn’t accommodate the different workflow and processes required for B2B sales. Meanwhile, orders began to surge, and Blake was concerned about not having enough inventory to meet demand. He also wanted to centralize inventory, and integrate Blue-9’s marketing campaigns with its ecommerce operations.

Blake didn’t know that SAP offered a solution for small businesses, but stumbled onto SAP Anywhere, a cloud-based solution that integrates five critical front office functions into one integrated solution, at a tradeshow in 2014. He investigated the solution, and decided that SAP Anywhere could help him solve all of his workflow problems with one integrated solution, quickly and efficiently.

The Blue-9 team migrated Blue-9’s website from WordPress to SAP Anywhere In about thirty minutes. It took them another two week to migrate ecommerce information from Woo Commerce, and inventory data from Excel took.

Screen Shot 2017-05-29 at 1.54.33 PMToday, Blue-9 uses SAP Anywhere to host its B2C and B2B websites, and for ecommerce, payment processing and inventory management. According to Blake, it has the tools he needs to create customer specific pricing for dealers and affiliates, and also provides Blue-9 with a clear view of inventory, integrated across online and in the field consumer and partner channels. The company has also integrated social media marketing, email marketing, and its Intuit QuickBooks Online accounting with SAP Anywhere.

SAP Anywhere also offers a Learning Center that has made it easier for Blue-9 to get new employees up to speed on different tasks, such as creating a P.O. or managing inventory. Notes Blake, “In a small business like ours, all seven of our employees have to wear many hats. This has made it easy for new employees to get up to speed quickly.”

And, instead of relying on a hodgepodge of different application providers and third-party tech support, Blake has one place to go for support. “I’m actually spending less money now on applications and support than I had been before, and now I feel like I have a staff of 10 IT people, available seven days a week, to help if we need it.”

Perspective

As customer expectations grow, the sales environment for small wholesale distributors and retailers is becoming more complex. Using a patchwork quilt of databases, spreadsheets and manual processes to manage sales, marketing and inventory may work when a business is very small, but won’t enable a business to grow.

Screen Shot 2017-05-29 at 2.01.39 PMFor many small retailers and wholesalers, automating and integrating key front office functions with a solution such as SAP Anywhere can help align supply with demand, accelerate business growth and drive sales. A unified solution uses one database to run and integrate applications for different functions, providing a common user interface and a complete view of each customer and inventory.

Once repetitive front-office functions are integrated and streamlined, small business owners have more time to focus on things that can help the business grow—like meeting customers and partners, developing new products and services, evaluating new business opportunities and creating new marketing strategies.

Ready, Set, Grow: Getting the Tech Expertise Small Businesses Need

From job creation to innovation, small businesses have a big footprint in the U.S. economy. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses constitute 99.7% of U.S. businesses and employ 48% of the private workforce. As important, small businesses fuel innovation, generating 16 times more patents per employee than large companies.

Small Businesses Need Technology to Start and Grow—But Most Aren’t Tech Gurus

Today, technology can enable more people to start businesses than ever before. So it’s no wonder that small businesses increasingly view technology as a key driver for business success: 64% agree that digital technologies are changing their industry, and 63% view technology as helping them run the business better or achieve better business outcomes (Figure 1).

Figure 1: U.S. Small Business Technology Attitudes

Technology plays a vital role in helping people to launch and grow their businesses. But most small business owners started their company to pursue a passion, build financial independence or create a more flexible lifestyle. Whether a plumber, a spa owner or an accountant, it’s likely that these entrepreneurs don’t have the time or interest in becoming a tech guru.

Unfortunately, they also may not have anyone else to pick up the slack in this area. 33% of small businesses don’t have any IT support at all (Figure 2). And when small businesses have IT staff on the payroll, they tend to be IT generalists, not specialists in certain areas, such as security and storage. Despite this scarcity of IT skills, 66% of small businesses take a do-it-yourself approach to deploying technology solutions. This makes technology tasks—such as keeping systems up and running, securing company information and implementing new solutions—challenging.

In addition, many small businesses say just figuring out which solutions will best help their business is one of their top three technology challenges. Given the growing scope of technology solutions available for small businesses, this isn’t surprising.

Figure 2: U.S. Small Business Support and Deployment

The Small Business Technology Dilemma

Lack of time, resources and technology know-how means that small businesses may make poor technology decisions—or postpone making any decision at all. For instance, many small businesses take an “It won’t happen to me” approach to security. They underestimate how vulnerable they are to security threats, leaving the business open to potential financial, brand and customer trust risks. Likewise, businesses often miscalculate the cost of downtime in terms of employee productivity and lost sales.

Too often, small businesses realize that they are making less-than-optimal technology decisions when they hit a growth spurt. As the customer base increases, transaction volumes rise and hiring expands, IT shortcomings and gaps become much more obvious—and potentially costly. Without scalable technology in place, small businesses can find it difficult to capitalize just when demand for their goods and services rises.

But hiring IT staff—especially those with specific skills—is expensive. And even if a business can afford the expense, technology personnel often prefer to work in bigger companies that can offer more development opportunities. Small businesses can turn to local solution providers for help, but the quality and scope of services offered by individual providers vary greatly, and it may be hard to find the right fit.

Taking Care of Small Businesses with Dell

Dell Small Business can help small businesses get the answers they need to chart a technology course to launch, grow and thrive. Dell’s dedicated small business advisors in Round Rock, Texas and Nashville, Tennessee, can answer both simple and complex questions, from “What is a server, and how can it help my business?” to “We’re setting up a medical practice. What do we need to do to be HIPAA compliant?” (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Types of Questions Dell Small Business Advisors Can Answer

Dell’s advisors can provide this type of expertise based on their years of experience serving small business customers, and they can recommend the solutions that will best fit each business’s requirements. As Rakia Reynolds, founder and CEO of Skai Blue Media (a multimedia public relations agency for nonprofits, tech start-ups, fashion designers and other businesses) said, “My Dell Small Business Advisor has gotten to know our business so well that it feels like he’s a part of our team.”

Perspective

Technology has become a critical business necessity for small businesses. But to get the best outcomes from technology investments, these companies must sharpen their focus and understand what solutions can best help their business. They need to consider individual product decisions, the big picture, and the ongoing investments necessary for a scalable, secure infrastructure that’s ready to meet business requirements.

An expert, trusted resource such as Dell Small Business can answer questions and demystify technology so small businesses have confidence that they’re making the right decisions. With the right technology advice and solutions, small businesses can get more value from their technology investments and spend more time focusing on the business. 

Note: This post is sponsored by Dell.

Infusionsoft Spotlight, Part Two: Bite-Size Marketing Campaigns for Small Businesses

This is the second post in a two-part series featuring my conversation with Terry Hicks, Chief Operating Officer at Infusionsoft. We chatted at ICON17, Infusionsoft’s annual user conference. In this post, we talk about Infusionsoft Propel, Infusionsoft’s new solution, which allows small businesses to set up bite-size automated marketing campaigns in just a few minutes. In the first post, we discuss Infusionsoft’s vision to help small businesses win and keep new customers with its customer engagement and marketing solution, and new capabilities that Infusionsoft is adding to it’s core product.

Laurie:  Tell me about Infusionsoft Propel, the new solution that is in alpha or beta now. It sounds like it’s for people who need even more of a marketing shortcut.

Terry:  The background is that with our core products there have always been two parts that customers had to learn. First, they had to decide whether they were trying to follow-up or get repeat engagement from their customers. So, they need a marketing strategy or marketing campaign concept first, and implement it and in our core product. We refer to our core Infusionsoft product as our builder series, because the customers that use it want to build this, and they want customization.

But there are many other small businesses that want an easier starting place, they are willing to stand on the shoulders of others. They don’t want to be the builder, they want to deliver the campaign and see results. They’d like to see results in about three seconds after the campaign is launched.

So, we’ve tried to do a couple of things with Infusionsoft Propel. Number one, build a very simple experience to get yourself set up. Of course you have to say who you are and what your website is, all things that small businesses already know about themselves. No trick questions! Then, we incorporate their branding to customize them for who you are and what product you’re selling. But then you just decide what part of your business are you trying to improve. Are you trying to get new customers, trying to get repeat customers, or trying to get referrals? As soon as they decide on that goal, in just a few clicks, they can launch a campaign to achieve that goal. With really good, base language that can be tweaked, really professionally designed landing pages, emails or whatever components are part of the campaign.  And within 3-5 minutes, it’s on its way.

Laurie:  Which is great, not only because they don’t have to spend a lot of time learning how to use software but they can do it in little bite-sized pieces and as they see the outcomes and they get the results, they can build on that.

Terry:  Right. And when I say they are standing on the shoulders of experts who have done this before, who have thought through these details, those are the experts in our partner ecosystem where most of the campaigns are going to come from. Some have industry specializations, some are really good at getting referrals and recommendations. The small business owner can have the confidence that these have been tested in the marketplace. These campaigns are from the folks whose campaigns and wisdom has been tested.

Laurie:  Tried and true. And if they want to keep going, they can find a great partner to help them.

Terry:  Exactly. It’s a great opportunity for partners because they are always looking for ways to leverage their expertise. Also, sometimes our partners get a little bit anxious about customers that want to tweak campaigns, which may have the effect of making the campaign less effective than their partner imagined. One benefit to our partners is they can reach more customers and spread their knowledge a little bit more broadly, get more clients as a result. Another benefit is that they can put some guard rails on the customer so that customer ultimately gets to success.

Laurie:  I’ve been seeing for years now that the cloud and the SaaS model have really taken the technical barriers off of the small business back to use a solution but nothing is really taken off that lack of business process expertise off their backs. It looks like maybe this is going to be a start, which is kind of cool.

Terry:  Remember we talked about multiple follow ups produce better results, so they are going to get initial nudge and then follow-up with them again. Or if I leave a voice mail, I’ll get a little suggestion on things to highlight in the voice mail. All of it is gently guiding the small business owners so that they don’t forget to do these things. And you know, they know it’s the right thing to do, but people get busy so this helps them get to get to succeed.

Laurie:  When will Infusionsoft Propel be available for general release?

Terry:  We have limited availability right now, a few hundred customers. Folks are signing on here at ICON and they’ll be getting their invitations back and coming online. Probably general release will be by the end of June. It may happen sooner than that. We are testing to make sure we the right strategies in, and enough strategies so we have good product out of the gate. Also, there are always ways to perfect the on boarding experience, so that customers get launched, see the outcomes they want, and then are happily referring Propel to other businesses that could really benefit from it.

Laurie: It sounds like you’re going to start with freemium model?

Terry:  It’s a freemium model and there’ll be a couple different ways that folks will move from free to paid. It’ll be a fantastic freemium model with contact records built-in so you can see the history, that’s a basic piece of functionality that most small businesses need. There will be some prepackaged free campaigns, a couple of other transactional forms, and follow-up sequences that come out of the campaigns. Some customers will need more functionality, like grater sales pipe line management. So that would be a move from free to paid. There will be some campaigns as we progress with partners that will be for fee and over time, there will be add-ons like payments and the payment processing at an incremental cost.

Laurie:  They can get their feet wet and kick the tires for free.

Terry:  Yes. We are really hoping that the freemium model will get them small benefits they’ll see quickly, and then they’ll consume more strategies and the functionality they need that makes it right for their business.

Laurie:  Terry, this has been great. Thank you so much!

This post was sponsored by Infusionsoft.

Infusionsoft Spotlight, Part One: Simplifying Growth For Small Businesses

This is the first post in a two-part series featuring my conversation with Terry Hicks, Chief Operating Officer at Infusionsoft. We chatted at ICON17, Infusionsoft’s annual user conference. In this post, we discuss Infusionsoft’s vision to help small businesses win and keep new customers with its customer engagement and marketing solution, and new capabilities that Infusionsoft is adding to it’s core product. In the second post, we talk about Infusionsoft Propel, Infusionsoft’s new solution, which allows small businesses to set up bite-size automated marketing campaigns in just a few minutes.

Laurie:  Today I’m speaking with Terry Hicks, Terry, can you tell us a little bit about your role?

Terry:  Sure. I’m responsible for product development, sales and marketing, customer success, business development, basically all the operational parts of the business focused on building our products, serving our customers and growing the business. Obviously, there are lots of talented people in our team. We focus on Infusionsoft’s vision and strategy and solving problems for our customers and helping them to grow.

Laurie:  So, what is Infusionsoft’s mission and big picture vision?

Terry:  Our big picture vision is to simplify growth for millions of small businesses. Infusionsoft is a SaaS product that helps our customers connect with their prospects and customers, and increase the likelihood that the prospect will become a customer, and that customers will come back for more and will also refer new customers. We do that through customer engagement software that also includes contact management, information about who the customer is and what business they’ve done with the company. Then we automate the follow up that small businesses need to do to save them time.

Laurie:  There are some really interesting statistics that were shared earlier at the event about follow-up, and how critical it is.

IMG_7913Terry:  Right. We see that if you follow-up eight times, then you’re going to get about eighty percent of the opportunity. We are all busy and we get distracted and so while somebody in the moment might say, hey, I really need this service or I really need this product, but often things come up in life and they go to the next thing. If you don’t follow-up enough, you’re going to miss out on the sales opportunity. There’s a speed component and a number of times component to it. Both are important. That’s why product like ours that allows that follow-up to be automated and personalized really helps give the small business owner who is juggling so many things the ability to improve the performance of their business. That’s why I always talk about multiplying their time by automating follow up for them.

Laurie:  How does Infusionsoft define small business?

Terry:  For us, it’s less than 25 employees. There are very small businesses, one or two employees, that can be very sophisticated and have a high revenue, and there are some larger businesses like up to a hundred, that operate very much like a small business. But our sweet spot is 25 and fewer employees.

Laurie:  So truly focused on very small business, not really kind of stretching that definition.

Terry:  Right, because when you start having much larger business, the solution needs to consider other things, like specialized skill sets, departmental focus, things that really require that your tools adapt more to that expert. But with the small business, you’re dealing with people who are swapping hats on and off, all throughout the day. They are switching from one thing to the other. So that has implications on how the solutions work.

Laurie:  You made several key announcements here at ICON17. Can you jgive us your take on the highlights?

Terry:  Yes. First, when we talk about simplifying growth, the simplify part of it is really so critical and what we have been working on since last ICON is simplifying some of the capabilities that are most commonly used. A great example is the new landing page. The old landing pages’ feature was pretty robust but you had to start from scratch most of the time. But sometimes it’s easier to edit or tweak than it is to say, wow, that blank page is staring at me. So, you might say let me sit down to that later when I can really think that through.

IMG_7919But the new landing pages have a much more modernized UI that allows very easy drag and drop, and dozens of dozens of templates and little template widgets so you have a really great starting place to quickly get to the outcome you want to get to. The other thing that is really important is making sure landing pages on mobile devices look great. everything has to be mobile first, and 100% of our new landing pages are mobile responsive and optimized for mobile.

Laurie:  It takes the burden off the back of business owner to say where do I start. It also offers best practice advice about what you should put on a landing page, right?

Terry: Exactly. And that’s absolutely necessary for a small business owner. I trust my bicycle shop repair guy to fix my bike. He does that all the time. He knows how to do it, he knows how to tune it, if I’m choosing a new bike, which one. But when it comes to marketing, not only he doesn’t know, he doesn’t want to know. He got passion about the bike shop and so we need to give them that simplified path to marketing success.

This post is sponsored by Infusionsoft.

Welcome to Wonderland: Dell EMC’s Virtual Ecosystem For Women Entrepreneurs

Unleashing a fire hose of announcements is the norm at vendor conferences, and Dell EMC World 2017 was no exception. This year’s announcements spanned a wide range of topics, from data center modernization to augmented and virtual reality, and from hybrid cloud to security.

However, as a woman business owner, one announcement stood out for me: Hello Alice, Dell EMC’s new data-driven platform, powered by Circular Board, which connects female entrepreneurs with mentors, resources and events that can help them start, grow and thrive.

How Alice Was Born

Women-owned businesses currently employ 7.8 million workers in the U.S. and generate $1.3 trillion in revenue overall. But only 2% of women entrepreneurs in the U.S. have reached more than $1 million in revenues. Unfortunately, many women find it difficult to access the resources they need to build and grow their businesses. Like Alice falling down the rabbit hole, they find that they have entered a new world with new rules—but without connections and guidance to help navigate it.

For instance, according toe CrunchBase Women in Venture report:

  • Among the top 100 venture capital firms, just 7 percent of the partners, or 54 of 755, are women.
  • Between 2010 and 2015, only 10 percent of venture dollars globally (from a total of $31.5 billion) funded startups that reported at least one female founder.
  • Only three female co-founded venture firms are in the top 100.

To turn this tide, Circular Board, the first virtual accelerator for women entrepreneurs, approached Dell in 2016 with a new idea to disrupt the startup world: What if we could   build an entirely new ecosystem, designed especially for women founders? Dell, which has a long history of supporting growing businesses and women entrepreneurs, jumped on the opportunity, and Alice was born to help women entrepreneurs build more scalable and sustainable businesses.

Pivotal, Dell Technologies’ cloud native development platform company, supplies a good part of Alice’s DNA. Pivotal developed Alice in about three months. The Circular Board incorporated Pivotal’s software development methodology and cloud technology in its accelerator, endowing Alice with machine learning capabilities so she can grow and evolve with the female entrepreneurs she engages with.

How Alice Helps Female Founders

Alice helps level the playing field by helping women founders connect with the mentors and resources they need to successfully launch and scale their businesses. According to Carolyn Rodz, founder and CEO of Circular Board, “Alice instantly filters millions of resources down to the personalized, verified content that enables founders to scale to the highest heights, no matter where they are located or who they know.”

Alice uses a conversational interface to connect women entrepreneurs with the resources needed to scale based on startup stage, location, industry, revenue and individual needs. As more users engage with Alice, she gets smarter. Alice uses her intelligence to help guide women to resources, mentors and events that are aligned with their goals and financial, legal, marketing, technology and other requirements.

Alice provides each user with a personalized data and real-time modules. Users can also search, sort and filter queries by location, industry, annual revenue, employee count, years in business and content publication source.

Go Ask Alice

At the Mad Tea Party, the there was plenty of room at the table, but when Alice came, the Mad Hatter, March Hare and the Cheshire Cat cried out to Alice, “No room, room!” Likewise, there is an abundance of money, technical resources and expertise in the startup world, but women founders often find it “curiouser and curiouser” to decode and succeed in it.

But Alice is available now at www.helloalice.com. So if you are a woman founder, go ask Alice for help to navigate the startup system, and get access to the resources you need to scale your business.