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Five Ways the Print Industry Uses AI from Xerox

If you take an interest in annual industry predictions you’ll have noticed artificial intelligence (AI) tops nearly every reputable 2018 list. Amidst the sensationalist claims of robots stealing human jobs and societal concerns about AI spinning out of control, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) was on hand to ground the AI conversation firmly in the present. In its 2018 AI Predictions, PwC stated that 2018 is the year that “AI will come down to earth – and get to work.” PwC predicts that in 2018 AI will finally start doing things, yet not necessarily in ways which set the world alight per certain overzealous media headlines. For AI to come down to earth, it needs to function at its most basic level and this boils down to automating processes – something the print industry has talked about for some time. Here’s how Xerox puts artificial intelligence to work for the print industry right now The four types of artificial intelligence Before I discuss how the print industry uses AI from Xerox today, let’s agree on some terms and concepts. The definition of AI is generally accepted to mean the ability of a machine to imitate intelligent human behavior. Admittedly, this definition is an umbrella term for a broad spectrum of technology so the industry coined four types of AI: Reactive machines. The most basic functionality of AI where the machine can only react to current scenarios, with no ability to use experience to inform decisions. Limited memory. The machine can make observations about its environment to inform a decision i.e. the technology behind self-driving cars. Theory of mind. At this point, AI becomes more futuristic. To fall into this category, AI must have the ability to understand thoughts and emotions and use this to react to the world around it. Self-aware AI. The most advanced type of AI and requires the machine to have its own consciousness, something that does not exist — yet. 5 examples of artificial intelligence for the print industry There may be a lot of hype and speculation around the latter two categories, but in reality, it’s the AI which falls into the…

How to Inspire Innovation Within Your Business

Today’s digitized and technology-influenced world demands that CEOs and managers must navigate a “new landscape of work” – one that requires a significant change in strategies for nurturing talent and inspiring creativity. Networking tools like LinkedIn, Facebook, Glassdoor, etc. enable people to easily find details about an organization’s culture at the touch of a button. This means that leaders need to up their game in ensuring that the work environment where their workers operate in inspires experimentation and creativity. Talk to psychologists, business leaders or analysts these days, and you will realize that a creative workforce is a necessity in today’s complex work environment and this is largely due to the following factors: Business organizations that are driving for growth are entering new markets and consequently, competition is coming thick and fast. Emerging technologies (think Artificial Intelligence, Big Data/Analytics, Internet of Things, Blockchain, etc.) are reinventing the nature of work. Employees are looking for more meaning and purpose in their work and being more creative helps them feel more confident and innovative. An employee will always need new skills and the ability to continuously learn and adapt to the above-mentioned conditions. To be successful in this ever-changing digital age, workers need to generate new ideas, solve tough problems, and think outside the box. Google, for instance, is a strong supporter of creativity in the workplace, and it demonstrated this by creating a “20%” program that gives its developers permission to spend 20% of their work hours on a creative project of their own. In fact, the policy works well, with some of the best products of Google such as Gmail, Google Suggest, Google News originating from the program. Creativity in the workplace is hot but often relies on a few factors, similar to a ‘block party’. Here are some of the ways that managers and CEOs can inspire creativity in the workplace. Design A Culture Fit That Inspires Creativity In order to inspire creativity among employees, leaders must ensure that the organization’s culture favours it. CEOs and managers need to understand that work culture is like a personality – it…

Should You Let Your Employees Work from Home?

Telecommuting is on the rise. Some 3.9 million U.S. employees, or 2.9% of the total U.S. workforce, work from home at least half of the time—a 115% increase since 2005—according to the 2017 State of Telecommuting in the U.S. Employee Workforce report from FlexJobs. And for every employee who currently telecommutes, there are many more who wish they could do so: just 7% of U.S. employers offer flexible workplace options for the majority of their employees. Benefits of telecommuting for small businesses Telecommuting has many benefits for telecommuters, such as better health, more job satisfaction and improved quality of life. But employees aren’t the only ones who stand to gain from telecommuting. Here are a few ways telecommuting can boost your business. Helps you attract and retain workers: Some 62% of employees have left or considered leaving a job because it didn’t have work flexibility, and 79% say flexible options make them more likely to stay with an employer. With larger businesses more than twice as likely as small ones to offer telecommuting options to employees, FlexJobs reports, offering this perk can give your small business a real edge in attracting and retaining skilled employees. Saves you money: When employees telecommute, it reduces your business’s expenses for utilities, office space, parking space, storage space and more. It’s estimated that each employee who telecommutes just half their time saves their employer $11,000 a year. Plus, employees themselves save an average of $4,000 a year—the equivalent of getting a raise without you having to increase their wages. Increases business productivity: Time saved commuting can be spent working, making telecommuters more productive than in-office employees. A two-year Stanford University study found telecommuters were more focused and productive, were less likely to stop work early or start late, took less paid time off and took shorter breaks. All told, the average telecommuter gains back the equivalent of 11 workdays per year that would otherwise be spent on the road, according to FlexJobs. Is your business ready to make the switch to telecommuting? Smallbiz expert @Rieva explains why you should and how to get started…

What Is Your Brand’s Visual Identity and Why Does It Matter?

What is a brand’s visual identity? Thinking about your business brand as a person can help you get a grip on its visual identity. If your business brand were a person, your visual identity would be its personal style. For instance, consider the following three very different visual identities: A buttoned-up banker in a custom-tailored suit, with every hair in place and an expensive briefcase A bearded hipster with a passion for craft beer, a nose ring and a full sleeve of tattoos A man with average-length mousy brown hair, khaki pants and a polo shirt As you can see from the three examples above, every brand has a visual identify—it’s just that some make a stronger impression and are more memorable than others. Key elements of your brand’s visual identity What makes up a brand’s visual identity? Here are some of the key elements: Color: From bright, vibrant colors to tasteful neutrals or high-end metallics, color says a lot about your brand. Between 62%-90% of a person’s assessment of a product is based on color alone, according to one study. Xerox Metallic Dry Inks add sparkle to your print marketing materials more affordably than using metallic paper or foil stamping. (Learn more about the various emotions that different colors can evoke in your customers and how to choose the right colors for your marketing materials.) Add a new dimension to the page, and to your print business with specialty dry ink. Fonts/typography: The style of fonts you use helps to convey your business brand. A reliable provider of business services might use a traditional serif font to convey stability; a craft brewery might choose a rugged font to convey its handmade character; a beauty brand might choose a delicate, feminine handwritten font. Logo: Your business logo should work in tandem with your business name. A logo can be based on a recognizable image (like a car or a hamburger), an abstract shape (like a triangle or spiral) or text-based (such as putting your business name in a circle). Use the logo consistently throughout your marketing materials and hopefully, it…

How to Get More Done Without Hiring More Employees

For most businesses, productivity is synonymous with return on investment (ROI). For example, the cost of an employee versus the value that they generate for the business (a difficult number to calculate in any circumstance). But what happens when the business is thriving, with new clients and new projects coming in, but the hiring budget hasn’t caught up with the workflow? Small businesses and startups face this challenge often, as the work required for growth often outstrips the personnel on hand to handle it. Handing over additional responsibilities to already busy and productive employees is a great way to find yourself with even fewer employees than you started with, as overwork is one of the most common causes of turnover. It leads to employees feeling undervalued, disrupts work-life balance, and is just generally terrible for employee morale. So, how can businesses improve productivity without hiring more employees – or overworking the ones they have? 1. Minimize Meetings and Emails Meetings and emails have the same end goal: communicate important information to multiple people as efficiently as possible. So why aren’t they more efficient? And why do we dread them so? It’s true that your business can’t do without them entirely, but there are ways to run better meetings and have fewer of them. Reducing the number of emails you grapple with daily may seem trickier, but it’s not impossible. Start from the top down. Research has shown that when leadership sends fewer emails, their employees are likely to do the same. Encourage your staff to use email efficiently (succinct, to the point copy, clear requests or assignations), and to minimize unnecessary replies. Streamline collaboration. Storing information on a shared system can reduce the need to send emails about things like project updates, problems and contingencies, or documents and files related to a project/client. Consider storing files in a central repository, like the Cloud, and enabling collaboration tools to reduce the need for individual emails. 2. Get More From Your Space Factors as simple as your office layout can have a significant impact on productivity, collaboration, and even employee satisfaction. It’s an…

Inexpensive Ways to Win at Marketing Your Small Business

Business owners wear a lot of hats. It comes with the role. And if you’re like most business owners, you love what you do, and you wouldn’t have it any other way. But there is one responsibility that even the most enthusiastic entrepreneur often faces with hesitation: marketing. Everyone wants more customers, but most entrepreneurs struggle with the how, when, where and to whom of marketing their business. Even more difficult can be deciding how to allocate your marketing dollars, especially when there aren’t many to draw from. It is possible to market effectively even on a small budget if you have the right strategy. Here are four simple, affordable ways to get started. Get Social It should come as no surprise that social marketing is a must for every business. It’s also one of the most inexpensive ways to give your product or service the exposure it needs. While paid social – paying to boost a post on sites like Facebook – can be effective, it isn’t always the most efficient use of your marketing dollar. Before you consider paid social, take the time to clearly define your brand, create focused content that is relevant to your audience, and of course, make sure you’re meeting your audience where they are. Sound overwhelming? Read our post on 7 Keys to Hard Hitting Social Media for Business to help you get started. Once you’ve defined your brand and selected which platforms you’ll participate in, be sure you’re starting with a strong profile. It may seem simple, but it’s an important element that too many businesses overlook. What does an optimized profile look like? We’ve got that covered, too. Read on to find out how to optimize your LinkedIn and Twitter profiles for maximum reach and engagement. If you’re already hitting it hard on social media, make sure you’re getting the best return on investment for your efforts. Maximize Your Website Most businesses create a website and then don’t give it much thought until it’s time for a refresh. Consequently, most websites aren’t doing the work they should be in terms of…

6 Easy Ways to Minimize Painful Employee Turnover

Replacing an employee is a headache no manager wants. It’s costly, slows down production, and let’s face it, is just a huge inconvenience we could all do without (just the thought of reading through hundreds of resumes is probably enough to make your head hurt). No business owner or manager enters the role expecting that every employee they hire will be with them for the long haul. Life happens, people move, needs change. Those are obstacles that no business owner can prevent. But there are common factors that can drive employees away, and avoiding those missteps is preventable. We’ve gathered six tips that can help you reduce employee turnover and build a strong – and lasting – office team. 1. Culture first, CV second You’ve probably invested considerable time and energy into creating the job listing you’ve just posted. You thought about the skills needed, carefully worded the responsibilities expected. But how much consideration have you given to your corporate culture – the vision, values, practices, people, stories and physical space that go beyond your products or services to define your business? Salary and benefits alone simply aren’t enough to keep someone happy for the long haul. They must also enjoy being part of your team, and fit in well with the way you do business. Knowing what your company is all about and finding people who fit in with your business values and mentality is equally important as finding someone who can handle the job duties required. Every candidate has different expectations from an office environment, and if you can find someone whose expectations meet your reality, you’re much more likely to find yourself a long-term team member who will be fully engaged, productive and satisfied. Here are a few tips to help you determine whether the candidate you’re meeting with is a good fit for your office: Ask the Right Questions. Going beyond work experience to learn about the sort of characteristics they’re looking for in a boss, or what management style makes them the most effective is a good way to learn about the culture your candidate…

Space Saving Technology For Work And Home Offices

You have heard the mantra: increase productivity to increase profits. There are hundreds of books that discuss how to increase productivity, but did you know that by implementing a few space saving technologies for both a work and a home office, you reap the benefits of a more productive office space and hence, a more profitable work environment? A survey of a little more than 2,000 professionals discovered a strong relationship between the design of a work space and employee productivity. Professionals that had a say in the design of a work space and made the decision to maximize the amount of space used to perform work-related tasks were more satisfied with their work environments. Other studies have linked worker satisfaction to improved business performance. Let’s look at a few simple ways to incorporate design and electronic technology into the creation of space saving work and home offices The Move to Open Space Plans Forget placing corridors and dividers to separate office spaces. Instead, embrace the trend of creating open office space plans that foster collaboration and enhance communication. According to research performed by Kahler Slater, about 75% of offices located in the United States have introduced some type of open office space design. In 2014, real estate brokerage company CBRE got rid of desks and instead, placed couches and sofas inside a large space to create a work “neighborhood. The trend towards adding open office space plans has not translated to the same concept at home, where most offices continue to operate behind closed doors. Since telecommuting has become an integral part of our work routine, the same open plan for work offices should be the norm for home offices moving forward. When it comes to both work and home office spaces, the mantra for the future will be “less is more.” Smallbiz expert @RamonRay explains why. Out with PCs, In with Notepads The traditional office typically contained a large personal computer that required a monitor, keyboard, speakers, and an assortment of additional space clogging electronic devices. Advanced technology has made it practical to connect a notepad or a…

Six Ways to Growth by Thinking Differently about Your Business

In the age of digital disruption, every company needs to think differently about their business – both to grow beyond their core markets, and to head off competition from new entrants. But often the exact skills that helped companies succeed in the past prevent them from finding success in the future. At Xerox, we have reinvented the company multiple times as technologies and markets change over time. While today’s chapter in our history is still being written, we have found several ways to think differently about our business. These six insights may be helpful to other companies with a similar need to transform and grow beyond their core business. Focus on what your customers want, not what you make Your customers buy from you for a variety of reasons, the most important is that you help them achieve the outcomes they want. But it’s all too easy to lose sight of that, and focus only on improving your product or service to keep up with competitors. This tunnel vision can prevent you from helping your customers achieve their outcomes in new and better ways, and exposes you to new entrants that have figured this out. With this mindset, you focus on how to deliver your core value to your customers in new ways. For instance, auto manufacturers will still be around in the future, but they are starting to define themselves as “mobility services companies.” They will increasingly deliver transportation as a service that meets the needs of young people who have little interest in car ownership. When you think about Xerox, it’s not wrong to think “Xerox makes printers.” But Xerox is not just a printer company. Fundamentally Xerox has always helped customers with work – using or inventing the best technologies of each age. Printing, scanning, and managing documents are key components of work, but only a subset of all the activities that define work. It is critical for us to understand how our customers define work. Our office customers don’t just want to print; they want to automate workflows and accelerate decisions and revenue. So we created…

4 Things Your Remote Teams Wish You Knew

Innovation isn’t always about the tools we use at work. Just as often, it’s about the way we work. As more and more businesses begin to appreciate the benefits of enabling their employees to work remotely, the size of the remote workforce is approaching record numbers. It’s easy to understand why. The idea of breaking free from the 9-to-5 mold is the goal of many an office worker. Being able to work where, and in many cases, when they want makes for a happier and more satisfied worker. Millennials, in particular, are embracing this change to the status quo, so it makes sense to consider this option when recruiting them (and you should definitely be recruiting them). But with rapid growth like this comes an inevitable learning curve. There is no handbook for how a remote office should operate; no precise guideline for what percentage of the team should work this way, or for what percentage of the workweek. Business owners who embrace flexible and remote work options are pioneering a new way to work. Due to the innovative nature of remote offices, best practices for managing remote teams effectively are constantly evolving. At Xerox, we spend our days talking to business owners, managers and employees just like you. Don’t you forget about me! Here’s the innovative technology you need to stay connected to your virtual teams & provide a full in-office experience from anywhere Here are the top four things your remote workers want their teammates to know: It’s Any Time, Not All the Time The flexibility of working remotely is one of the largest draws for most employees. But their in-office counterparts would do well to remember that simply because today’s mobile work tools make it possible to work from anywhere, at any time, doesn’t mean that virtual employees don’t struggle to balance work and home life just like anyone else. It makes sense that they want the same freedom as other employees to say no to meetings, phone calls or emails that take place well outside normal working hours. They also have the reasonable expectation of being able…

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