In an Email-Overload Work Culture, Nugg Connects Teams More Effectively

Nugg, a workplace collaboration tool based in Vancouver, understands that every morning, consulting, IT, sales, corporate and communication team members across the globe wake up to the smell of coffee and the often tricky task of emptying their email inbox.

Not surprisingly, the increased volume of digital correspondences has made it difficult to track key decisions, relay messages and identify success and failure throughout the course of a disorganized message thread.

It is the standard, but it is far from perfect. Miscommunication or misplaced messages ends up causing impactful errors that waste time, energy and money.

Nugg breaks workplace communication down into four categories: Focus, decide, track and align. This enables team members to mark each significant message as such, helping the whole team collaborate better and succeed long-term.

“A lot of people live in email,” said Tris Hussey, director of customer success at Nugg Solutions Corp., “and we are not going to fight that trend. It’s a really interesting dichotomy, where we know people are looking for tools that will help keep their team on track above the area of having meetings, emails and task managers.”

It is not good enough for Nugg to simply operate on its own; it must work seamlessly with other platforms, not just forwarding emails, but also completing the round trip. If a worker wants to do everything on Gmail, they can, and that’s the beauty of Nugg.

“Teams don’t often communicate their decisions well or quickly,” said Hussey. “They don’t track or connect decisions with goals. And then they never review their decisions. With this first iteration of [Nugg], you can see the decision records and everything you decided in the past on a particular team. There you can go: ‘Oh yeah, that was a bad decision’ or ‘Yeah! That was a great decision, we took a risk and we made it.’ Before that you don’t really have a record of that.”

According to the work by Professor Alex Pentland of MIT Media Lab, truly effective teams have a high level of energy, engagement and exploration. Energy can be the act of discussing, brainstorming or negotiating, while engagement is the reaction to the energy, should it be a nod of comprehension or feedback to what has been said. Finally, exploration is the act of bringing in new external ideas that has yet to be present within the team. Nugg is currently promoting energy and engagement within workplace, while refining the capability to explore within the platform.

Nugg wants teams to focus on the big picture by allowing the whole team to see what is happening above, below and all around them. The transparency of the application is an important aspect in terms of building a free flowing communication highway with the various company goals as clear destinations.

“We believe teams are more than just projects,” said Hussey. “They are bigger than projects. And there are things that people need to talk about that are bigger than what will happen day-to-day. If I have a project today to update the website, that’s just a facet of the entire mission of the company.”

Hussey added, “It’s the idea of capturing information, ideas and progress in a way that isn’t lost in emails or chats. Someone can say something really brilliant in chat, but if you come back to it five hours later, are you going to see it? No. But in Nugg, you’ll see it.”

Avanti Commerce Allows Big Appetite Customers to Order Meals Through Mobile Devices

Merchants are set to enhance their customer service efficiency and practice, and consumers are prepared for a more convenient and satisfying solution to long line-ups. Avanti Commerce sees this new attitude in mobile users and knows that the Quick Service Restaurants (QSR) industry is ready to take the next leap in mobile integration.

Anytime and anywhere, restaurants using the Avanti platform will be able to receive orders and payment from their guests moments before arrival. And guests are now able to have a saved database of favourite customized orders, access to handy all-in-one payment and chances to earn loyalty rewards over time. It’s not just a web interface like Amazon or Ebay—it’s a complete order, pay and fulfillment kind of mobile platform or Real Mobile Commerce.

“Just because you can do something on your mobile phone doesn’t mean it’s helping you with your mobility,” said Jason Strashek, founder and CEO of Avanti Commerce. “It’s supposed to be all about the convenience. It’s supposed to be about ‘I don’t have to wait at home to take a phone call. So why should I be waiting in line inside a store if I can just order something off my phone when I’m walking?’”

Flashback to the ‘80s: It was a time when bank patrons would wait in line patiently to withdraw money, and an age where if you miss the ridiculous bank hours there is simply nothing you can do. Technology changed all that. Online banking, ATM and other convenient solutions changed the culture of banking forever. And Avanti Commerce knows that it’s only a matter of time before consumers demand the same from QSR favourites: Starbucks, McDonald’s, Tim Hortons and Subway.

“A lot of the restaurant industry are laggards, they don’t buy technology unless they have to,” said Strashek. “We saw them get into that area with near field communication and tap and pay. But tapping my credit card is not so different from tapping my phone, so why should venders go and invest so much money in it?”

Customer value and profit margin are two important aspects that dining companies take into consideration when purchasing new technology. What Avanti Commerce is going to add is the immediacy of fulfillment (measured in minutes) and options in priced and not-priced modifications (shaken, extra hot, etc.).

“Take your loyal customers and offer them a VIP service,” said Strashek, “that is basically like will call. Come in. Come out. You got your product. You’re gone. And [the restaurant] rewards you.”

Long lineups are always a challenge for employees and an annoyance for customers. While some companies demand that workers serve their guest faster, others believe that quality is still paramount. Regardless of the restaurant’s work ethics, Avanti Commerce believes that gradual steps away from the point-of-sales culture needs to be made.

The appetite is there for an alternative that works—fast. In July 2014, selected Subway restaurants will be teaming up with Avanti to bring customers the ultimate mobile service and satisfaction.

It’s as simple as it sounds. Log on. Order. Save. Pick up. And do it all over again when you’re hungry. Technology has changed banking, public parking and communication forever, now it’s time to see what it can do to the way we order lunch.

An Exclusive Interview with Doretta Lau, Nancy Lee, Kevin Chong, and Tom Cho

Originally published in Ricepaper Magazine

True or False:

1) Doretta Lau used to volunteer with Ricepaper Magazine.

2) Nancy Lee spent four months in France as a writer-in-residence.

3) Kevin Chong has a great attention span.

4) Tom Cho’s favourite movie is Dirty Dancing. 

Curious to know the answers? Find out in the latest interview with those four first-class authors.

 

On May 30, 2014, Doretta Lau, Nancy Lee, Kevin Chong, and Tom Cho gathered in front of a packed room at Pulpfiction Books (2422 Main Street, Vancouver) to read from their latest publication. From tax complications to threats of a nuclear apocalypse, the stories showcased the range of artistry and the calibre of writing from four of Ricepaper’s dearest friends.

 

Farm At Hand is the Modern, Technological Solution to Traditional, Antiquated Farm Organization

There is a common misconception about farmers that Farm At Hand cofounder Kim Keller wants to wipe out.

“[Farmers] are just people like everyone else,” said Keller, who grew up on a 12,000-acre farm in Saskatchewan and continues to farm to this day. “They use their phones for banking, news, Facebook and Twitter. They are on all of that everyday, because they obviously have lives outside of farming.”

Farm At Hand sprouted from the idea that farmers needed a new solution for managing their inventory, field activities, calendar, deliveries, contracts, equipment and storage. But the problem was that there wasn’t anything out there. So the farmers resulted to the primitive solution: pen and paper.

“On the farm each piece of equipment will have a notebook where the person operating it will have to write everything down,” Keller explains the complications that farmers deal with. “Chances are they didn’t write it down, or if they did write it down it doesn’t make any sense to the person who actually has to read it. Notebooks get lost, get covered in water, coffee, whatever. It’s a matter of not having information for record keeping and it ends up costing a lot of money in mistakes.”

The goal for Farm At Hand is to streamline the management process by creating a single point of data entry for the famers and a single point of access for agriculture businesses. Whether the farmers are tracking the growth of a potato or the pesticide spray in an acre of crop, the optimal results can only be reached when the work is communicated and tracked effectively.

“We have a lot of record keeping and data that comes into the program,” said Himanshu Singh, co-founder of Farm At Hand, “but actually turning it around and supplying summary of the data, providing summarized report of the end of seeding and things like that is what makes the application valuable.”

“When farming operations gets large with so many different people around, farmers need to make sure that task are completed,” added Singh. “[Farm At Hand] is just a better way of visualizing that information.”

Farming jobs change depending on the seasons and so does the way farmers use Farm At Hand features. During the growing season, the field planting and spraying features are used predominantly. Then as farmers approach the harvest season in the fall, they begin to use the storage features. In the winter, the equipment, contracts and sales features are used. Farm At Hand is built with farmer’s various workloads in mind, understanding that at any given time of the year certain jobs will shift and so must the usage of the application.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations by 2050 farmers are required to produce twice as much food to feed a growing population. It might seem like a long time from now, but the day is fast approaching. While more farmlands and farmers may seem like a plausible answer in the next 35 years, Farm At Hand believes that the real solution is in managing and organizing the system we already have for increased efficiency.

“I’m not sure if things are changing quickly,” said Keller, “or if people realize how important their food source is now, but agriculture is earning a lot of interest and farmers know they need something better.”

Ricepaper Magazine Exclusive: Poet and Musician Janice Lee

Filmed and Edited by Elliot Chan for Ricepaper Magazine. April 15, 2014

What is slam poetry and why is spoken word important to our own social understanding? 

 

Ricepaper Magazine sits down with Asian-Canadian poet, song writer and community organizer, Janice Lee at a house show in Vancouver. The Kitchener-Waterloo native discusses the power of spoken word and music, and her role in YouthCanSlam 2014 and CBC Searchlight Competition.

For more on Janice and where she may be performing next, check out her website: http://janicejolee.ca

Radium’s CRM for Small Businesses Works Seamlessly with Gmail

The key to running a sound business is good communication. It doesn’t matter if you are interacting with customers, clients or employees, staying up to date on correspondences are timely tasks added to a daily workflow.

Different companies have different ways of dealing with their CRM, some want simplicity and go for a software like Highrise that functions primarily as a glorified address book, while others prefer a software like Salesforce that creates a CRM-ecosystem with subscriptions, features and add-ons.

But Radium CRM believes there should be a CRM that works with a communication platform that many are already using: Gmail.

The product is simple: you sign up onto Radium CRM and the software syncs up with your Gmail contacts and messages. From there you can manage and track your emails, set up your pipeline and sources and help build a robust address book. To create an effective communication tool for entrepreneurs and business managers, Radium CRM have to—you guessed it—communicate.

“I’m talking to entrepreneurs everyday,” explains Sami Asikainen, founder of Radium CRM. “Those people who have built their business with their bare hands give really good suggestions, they really know what they need. If we have this, they can do that. One feature that we didn’t even think of on our own was that people wanted to add emails to deals specifically. That was a user that suggested that to us, he said ‘I want to tag this email as a part of this dealflow here.’ So we have really great suggestions.”

Radium CRM is built for small- to medium-size businesses and it functions unobtrusively, operating with a workflow that probably already exist in the company. Users don’t even really need to sign up; everything is already synced to Gmail.

“If you are a one-man show, you can do it all in Gmail. You don’t really need a CRM,” Asikainen told Techvibes. “As soon as you have two people… how do you do that? Let’s say I do the billing part of the company and the other guy does the sales, well, do I just forward my emails to him and hope he gets it all? Or do I use a task manager like Basecamp, or do I use this and that? Most of our users use Gmail, that’s what they live in. The CRM is what they need, but they don’t want to be inside the CRM 24/7. People want to use both.”

Simplicity and usability is what Radium CRM is trying to understand. The ideal tool is not one that has everything, but one that has the necessary features that doesn’t exhaust the users.

“We wanted to do voice over IP, fancy smancy database management and automatic matching of data and scrubbing and all that other stuff with contact data,” said Asikainen. “But the number one request from users when we asked them they say, ‘Make this note field easier to use’. People want to add tons of notes, they want to be able to edit it later and they want to be able to reassign it, comment on it and do mentions. ”

Radium CRM continues to learn from their users, with the objective of developing the perfect application for business management. In constant conversation, Radium CRM is bringing a new audience into their very own ecosystem.

Transitions are complicated for businesses, but when it is done effectively it can enhance the work life of the employees and the customers. In order to ease the move, Radium is learning all about the little details and the finding out what managers need and want in a world where most companies are understaffed and overworked.

Mobio INsider Offers Celebrities and Thought Leaders a Chance to Get Paid on Social Media

At a glance, Vancouver-based Mobio INsider seems to be another social media platform occupied by celebrities. But it is the business model that separates it from the likes of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram—because Mobio INsider believes that the content produced on social media deserves to be monetized.

As we all get sucked deeper and deeper into the black hole of the Internet, communication is becoming more diluted. The problem is not that people aren’t talking to each other. Those with thought-provoking ideas don’t really know who their true audiences are—and people who have questions didn’t know whom to ask.

While Mobio INsider is not a private “ask me anything” message thread, it does something that many other social media platforms don’t, and that is connecting those who have questions with those who know the answers.

“We want to help [influencers] make better content,” explains Mark Binns, CEO of Mobio INsider, to Techvibes. “If they make better content it will be consumed more, shared more, etc. It will also help them make more money. The way to make better content is to involve their fans and their followers in the process.”

Mobio INsider enables the audience to ask and then choose which questions they want the influencers to answer by the process of up-voting (likes). The influencers will see the high demand, and take the opportunity to connect with their fans and followers.

But here is the attractiveness of Mobio INsider: anybody can become an influencer and anybody can be paid for sharing ideas and content.

“There is no reason why a beauty-blogger with 20,000 followers on Twitter—that really pay attention to what she says—can’t use Mobio and get paid,” said Binns. “The time of paid social media for influencers is here.”

For those who have answered a question on Quora brilliantly or have offered incredible insight on Reddit will know that points and karma doesn’t really feel the same as money. Volunteer-work is rewarding, no doubt, but the value of compensation is something we all deserve, especially when our efforts are capable of changing someone else’s life for the better.

“If you sign up with the Get Paid Program, you are not obligated to post anything, but it is an opportunity for you to make money,” said Binns. “The more you post on Mobio, the more advertisements you can show in general.”

Mobio INsider functions with integrated ads that followers and fans will view prior to receiving the influencer’s response, not unlike those videos you watch before YouTube videos play. In addition, Mobio INsider also have banner ads that are positioned as unobtrusively as those seen on Facebook and Twitter. But it’s the fact that the content developers are receiving a portion of the funds that makes it worthwhile.

Today, audiences don’t asks generic questions and busy influencers don’t have time to sift through their Twitter to find the best ones to answer. The demand is not only for smart and astute content, but also for a simple way of recognizing followers’ needs and getting the most out of their time.

“This is now possible, people should be getting paid for their content and having better relationships with their fans,” said Binns. “It’s really working and this is quite exciting for us.”

 

FIXO Manages the Communication Between Property Managers and Their Tenants

FIXO-3

Home. It’s where our heart is—or at least it’s where our things are.

Regardless, it’s pretty important. So it only makes sense that the care for the house and the livability aspect is something that property owners, private landlords and tenants should be able to communicate without having to play cat and mouse.

FIXO, a new communication app designated for residential property managers and their tenants is eliminating the lost messages and the neglected bulletin board postings of a bygone time. Having an accessible mobile solution to such an old relationship is proving to create many new opportunities for both parties that otherwise might have been ignored.

As a participant in The Next 36, a SFU business student, and an aspiring property manager, FIXO’s co-founder, Chantelle Buffie, wanted to take part in a project that she herself will find value in. “The biggest complaint is that tenants don’t see a resolution or their maintenance issues fixed right away,” Buffie tells Techvibes Media. “And a lot of that comes with the inefficiency of current communications tools used by property managers.”

While Buffie recognizes the complexity of being a property manager, her business partners and fellow co-founders of FIXO, Jonathan Yam and Armin Mahmoudi have seen the problems from the tenant’s perspective. It’s not easy living with a predicament, addressing it to the property manager in an email and then feeling forgotten due to a messy inbox. With no on-the-go and easily accessible tool, property managers are challenged when it comes to prioritizing issues and inquiries, in addition to organizing documents and contracts. FIXO establishes mutual respect by bringing the needs of residents and renters out of the junk folder.

But FIXO is not only a platform for tenants with “complaints”; it also works as a communication centre between a property manager and all his or her tenants. FIXO is a paperless option for building notices, a chore often left to the property managers, security guards and the friendly door guy/concierge/whatever his actual title is—whatever he’s nice.

“If something is happening in the building, you’ll want to know,” said Buffie. “That is why we are working to incorporate building notices and mass-group notices across the platform, or just general inquires. At the end of April we will be testing [FIXO] out with a student residency in Toronto. Our focus is going to be student residency first, because students live on their phones.”

Hear ye! Hear ye! As our communities grow, town crier jobs are harder and harder to get. Yet the number of communication tools will increase. Even property managers have multiple options when it comes to performing their duties: CRM software, web apps, customized portals, emails and of course, in-person communication.

“Where we see having the advantage is that a lot of them don’t focus on having a mobile application,” said Buffie. “What we want to do is have instant real time communication, where we can get Push notifications instantaneously. For instance, if there is a fire alarm testing you as a property manager can send out a quick notification in the app and it’ll get Pushed to the tenants automatically, so they won’t have to fish through their emails and they won’t have to read a notice on the door.”

Prezi Rethinks the PowerPoint with Engaging Presentations for Better Storytelling

The recruitment team at UBC understands that boring slideshows and unmemorable PowerPoints just aren’t doing it anymore. For their presenters whose goal is to engage the next generation of innovators, they need to be innovative themselves. That is why they have turned to Prezi, a cloud-based presentation platform.

Prezi captures landmarks, directing the audience from one checkpoint of knowledge to the next and then back to the central idea. In another word, instead of telling the story from a linear perspective, Prezi performs more like a tour guide leading the spectators through the presentation from one key point to the next. More like a blueprint, less like a timeline.

“What we are learning now is understanding how our brain works,” said Peter Arvai, CEO and cofounder of Prezi. “Let me illustrate this with a question to you: If I was to ask you what kitchen appliances you have in your home right now.”

Microwave, kettle, a toaster oven…

“Right,” Arvai continued, “and I guess what you just did was first imagined your kitchen, and then you imagined the counter in your kitchen. You zoomed in to your microwave. And then to remember the other things, you took a step back, you zoomed out and you looked at another part of the kitchen. And you remember the other things there.”

“Now, it’s equally important to observe what you didn’t do,” he added. “What you didn’t do is what you often see in PowerPoint slides. You didn’t have a list of words organized alphabetically or in another way.”

Prezi has figured out that people rely on landmarks to remember important information, whether it is navigation or trivial facts. Landmarks helped cavemen leave the caves to hunt and gather during the dawn of time, and now landmarks are helping presenters reach out to a wider audience. UBC have seen the value in Prezi’s ability to create landmarks and have been relying on it since to recruit new students from all around the world.

Two years ago, UBC made a conscious decision to switch from their customized Flash-based presentations to Prezi. Whether they are showcasing at high schools, community events, etc. the presentation is the main tool for the recruiters when appealing to perspective high school students.

“Depending on the group of student watching the presentation,” said Steve Taylor, prospective student marketing communications and social media specialist at UBC, “it’s really important that they have the ability to customize the presentation and tailor it a little bit for the group.”

The ability to modify on the fly is a big advantage for presenters since their audience are different every time. The cloud-base solution enables users to change aspects of the presentation on the way to the event and present it on any operational platforms. This allows for a more collaborate workflow that gives every member on the team a chance to chip in in real time. Flexibility, reliable support and visual appeal were the three aspects that made swapping over to Prezi worthwhile for the UBC recruitment team.

“The biggest thing for us is that the recruiters need to feel comfortable with the tools that they have when they are out on the road, because it is the most important thing they are bringing with them,” said Taylor. “And we feel Prezi fits that bill.”

At this moment, Prezi is currently working on features that help companies collaborate more effectively as a team, in addition to developing more seamless functionality between platforms, since users are creating presentations on tablets, smartphones, laptops, PC, etc.

“We’re deepening the user experience,” said Arvai. “We are adding important things that enable people to focus on the ideas and avoid having to spend energy on the technology.”

Foko Promotes Photo Taking at Work To Strengthen Communication and Solve Problems

Ottawa-based Foko understands that photographs are the new quick, text-free way to communicate.

Whether it’s sharing our vacation photos, showcasing our accomplishments or taking a quick pic of our afternoon snack, our pictures can tell a story worth a thousand—maybe—more words. And that experience should not be withheld in the workplace.

Communication within an organization is paramount to the workforce, but recent trends have shown that internal communication platforms such as Intranets garner little traction. “There is around 10% [of employees at a given company using Intranets],” said Foko’s cofounder and CEO, Eric Sauve. “If you get 20% you are a hero. I came to a conclusion that companies are really missing out on connecting their employees.”

Simplicity became Foko’s focus as they tried to understand the barriers of communication in an enterprise environment. The result is a familiar Instagram-like app that enables workers, employers and all other members of the company to recognize each other through a medium that is easy to use.

“We came to photos,” said Sauve, “because you don’t need to know English and you don’t need to be a good writer; you just need a [camera] phone and you can participate. Photo sharing is the consumer Internet, from web apps (Pintrest and Imgur) to social networks to new services—the ones that are growing the most are photo centric—like Instagram and SnapChat. So let’s bring it to companies in a way that they can get everyone involved.”

Entering an ecosystem with so many different photo-sharing platforms, Foko finds its uniqueness in terms of privacy, security, and exclusivity. In another words, Foko caters to a corporate-audience. Ones that understands that when dealing with the behind the scenes photography of Fortune 100 companies, a few potential problems need to be addressed, such as HR problems, IT leaks issues, etc. Foko builds the community around the workers; only allowing those associated with the company the ability to view activities within.

This internal communication enables stores and offices in different geographical areas to work together to strengthen merchandise sales, etc., and colleagues with different schedules to catch up and discuss the happenings at work. In addition, Foko also helps enterprises share and promote events and occasions that stems from the workplace, such as charity events, volunteer opportunities, conferences and company parties. Photos are also a friendly way of introduction and acknowledgement, especially in big companies where workers seldom see each other. The ability to welcome a new employee or to acknowledge an old one is something every company, large or small, should have the capability to do.

The use of social media and other consumer platforms are often frowned upon at workplace. If you spend your time posting pictures on Instagram at work, you are probably wasting time, but if you post something on Foko while working, you are building workplace cohesion.

“It’s all in how you used the social media,” said Sauve. “It’s the fact that it’s private that makes all the difference. If you take a picture at work and share it on Instagram: are you sharing secrets, are you sharing embarrassing stuff about the store and does it meet with the branding guidelines of how we interact with the public? But if you share it internally, nobody cares about that stuff.” Sauve added, “Sharing within a constrained group really changes the nature of social media.”

In the upcoming week, Foko is also introducing the private messaging feature to their application, enabling workers to communicate with individuals in the company. Instead of sending a photo to the entire company, you can select the co-workers you would like to receive the picture and reach out to them privately. Say, they forgot their mints at work, well what better way to notify and reassure them that it’s still there—untouched— than with a fresh picture of it?