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We changed our name! After 14 years of creating award-winning digital products & services, it’s time for a new identity that better reflects the human insights-driven, digital customer experiences we create.
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AIAIO: Our Blog

AIAIO: Our Blog

The pulse and reviews of Alexander Interactive

Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

Our 10 Favorite Insurance Tweeters Right Now

Getting to know the ins and outs of the industries our clients are a part of is something that is extremely important to us at Ai. One of those particular verticals is insurance. So here are TEN of our favorite insurance experts on Twitter right now in no particular order.

V8W8DIIaName: Shifting Gears – @shiftinggearsio

Followers: 783

Why you should follow them: Shifting Gears is a blog that provides insight on changes to the insurance landscape, innovations in product development, emerging technologies and the world of actuaries. They tweet their own posts along with articles from reputable 3rd party sources like Fortune, TechCrunch and Insurance Thought Leadership among others.

Best Recent Tweet: PSA: You are no longer an insurance agent ‪http://insurancethoughtleadership.com/no-longer-insurance-agent/ … ‪#insurance ‪#innovation

Runner-up: Why Google could be a major force in insurance – insurers should take notes ‪http://insurancethoughtleadership.com/what-i-learned-at-google/ … ‪#insuretech

 

aRMJySEYName: Jonathan Swift – @InsuranceSwifty

Followers: 3,754

Why you should follow him: Jonathan is the director of content for Incisive Media’s insurance division. He has been writing about insurance since 1998 and truly knows the industry inside and out.

Best Recent Tweet: Millennials are key to ‪#insuretech success ‪http://tinyurl.com/j8xwkgm ‪#wakeupinsurance ‪#sta

Runner-up: My list of #insurtech #startup firms who could make waves in 2016 http://tinyurl.com/hfsbfal #wakeupinsurance

 

LtMyFkYm_400x400Name: Deb Smallwood – @dmsmallwood

Followers: 1,178

Why You Should Follow Her: Deb is the founder of Strategy Meets Action, which is a leading research and advisory service firm strictly aimed at the insurance industry. She makes it her business to know the industry inside and out – and it shows on the newsfeed. Some of her best content is

Best Recent Tweet: RT @Insurancethough: How to insure the sharing economy. ‪@monhess ‪#ITL ‪#connected ‪#sharingeconomy ‪http://insurancethoughtleadership.com/how-to-insure-the-sharing-economy/ …

Runner-up: “Want to understand insurance technology priorities and plans for 2016? ” by @dmsmallwood on ‪@LinkedIn ‪https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/want-understand-insurance-technology-priorities-plans-smallwood …

 

SofNxKAFName: Mairi Mallon – @Reinsurancegirl

Followers: 7,714

Why you should follow her: Mairi is a public relations pro who specializes in insurance and risk on a global scale. She engages with people throughout the agency, shares industry articles and promotes events and meet-ups.

Best Recent Tweet: ‪#reinsurance‪ #insurance #ils tweet up in New York – please spread the word and come along! February 25 http://www.rein4ce.co.uk/blog/2016/02/start-spreading-the-news-there-is-a-tweet-up-in-new-york/ … cc@ilsdiva

Runner-Up: RT Global ‪#Reinsurance Outlook “Negative” – Life Reinsurance “Stable” Says ‪@AMBestCo See why ‪@WRINtv ‪http://shrd.by/Cesx3K

 

bW9gd0SjName: Jim Peavy – @ThePeav

Followers: 5,969

Why You Should Follow Him: Jim is a PR/social media/media relations pro in the insurance and reinsurance sectors. He offers interesting commentary on the latest industry trends as well as touching on tech and social media.

Best Recent Tweet: Troubled energy market impacts ‪#insurance via ‪@reutersCarolynC ‪@Noor_ZainabHuss ‪@JGouldReuters ‪@ReutersRachel ‪reut.rs/1TSoXtR ‪ via @Reuters

Runner-up: ‪#Canada‪’s largest life insurer takes C$250 million charge on #oil #investments by @katiadmi #insurance ‪bloom.bg/23YDUPm

 

blog4_big_400x400Name: Emmanuel Kenning – @BrokingBod

Followers: 2,267

Why You Should Follow Him: Emmanuel is the editor of Insurance Age magazine. He covers a lot of insider news about the industry.

Best Recent Tweet: RT @BrokingIda Smaller brokers pushed out of the market because of regulation, says Craig Tracey MP ‪http://tinyurl.com/zvx94ad  ‪#insurance ‪#insurancebroking

Runner-up: Drum roll please… the winner of 2015 ‪#brokerapprentice has been revealed ‪http://tinyurl.com/brokerappwin  check it out here ‪#insurance ‪#broking

 

DVXGZ2E2Name: LearnVest – @LearnVest

Followers: 38.1 K

Summary: While LearnVest focuses on financial planning and making it more affordable as a whole, they spend considerable time on insurance and offer plenty of great insurance resources about the industry as a whole.

Best Recent Tweet: 20 of the best company benefits and perks, rated: ‪http://ow.ly/XUiUU  via ‪@FastCompany

Runner-up: 3 steps to getting the most out of your health plan: ‪http://ow.ly/XJsth  via ‪@MONEY

 

twitterJMName: Jamie Macgregor – @JamieMacgregorC

Followers: 466

Summary: Jamie is an insurance tech and IT strategy specialist out of London. His tweets are informative, interesting and conversational.

Best Recent Tweet: Ouch. Never underestimate the power of regulatory compliance. A lesson for ‪#insurance tech startups from Zenefits?

‪http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/df3caa5e-ceca-11e5-92a1-c5e23ef99c77.html#axzz3zYwtUrvH …

Runner-up: A whopping 43 vendors to choose from in Celent’s latest ‪#insurance PAS report for P&C in EMEA from ‪@cgbeattie. ‪https://lnkd.in/eDjWvcA

 

PC360-no-tag-leftName: Property Casualty 360 – @PC_360

Followers: 20.5k

Summary: PC360 provides total coverage of the P&C insurance market. They tweet often and their content covers

Best Recent Tweet: Why a good ‪#insurance claims experience is so important ‪http://ow.ly/YmlT8  ‪#customerservice

Runner-up: 5 ‪#liability issues restaurant, bar and tavern owner needs to watch out for ‪http://ow.ly/YtGy4  ‪#insurance

 

5efe29807983554210cd2c91e37d06b3Name: Emily Delbridge – @CarInsReview

Followers: 1,156

Summary: Emily writes as an Auto Insurance expert for About.com and Michigan Insurance Review with the purpose of making insurance fun and easy. While her specialty is auto insurance and all that it entails, she also

Best Recent Tweet: Do you have to pay for your own pipes in a frozen pipe home insurance claim? Find out now. ‪http://bit.ly/1dnDLrm  ‪#frozen ‪#home ‪#claims

Runner-up: Curious what is considered to be car insurance fraud? Check it out now! ‪http://abt.cm/1mbTz5g  ‪#insurance ‪#fraud

Business

New Manager Tools

This article leans slightly towards Technology Management but is applicable across disciplines

You've been a great senior resource, you've lead a team or a project, and you've made the decision, along with your manager to transition to some kind of management role. If you are still thinking about it, or wondering what it will be like, start here: This 90-Day Plan Turns Engineers into Remarkable Managers. This article will give you all of the thought starters your need to decide if management is something you want to pursue.

Below are some required reading to add to your utility belt. Start taking a read through these, and make sure you block off the appropriate amount of time each week to continue your learning! This list is meant to be a starting point for new managers, not an all inclusive list of manager resources

Books

  • Managing Right for the First Time – This book is intended as a field guide for first time managers, or for managers who want to begin doing a better job. David Baker worked closely with 600+ companies and interviewed more than 10,000 employees, then summarized the findings in an interesting and eminently readable form. Read this book and you're likely to understand management and leadership like you never have before, but also learn very practical steps toward becoming a better manager and leader.
  • Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free ProductivityNote: I'm not advocating for using the GTD system. Use what works for you. However, the first half of this book is a gold mine for how to think about planning, resources, and managing your own and other's tasks. I personally do use GTD, but the lessons, and the way of thinking that this book opens up is transferable to any system. It got me thinking about planning and delegating in different and exciting ways. Read the introduction and I guarantee that you'll see scenarios you recognize and want to scream YES, YES I DEAL WITH THIS. I HATE IT! HOW DO I FIX IT?
  • The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business – This book is, but isn't about MBA. It's a toolkit of how to handle various situations and grow your skill set. It's not meant to be read cover to cover, but peruse the table of contents you'll see things you want to read.
  • Emotional Intelligence for Project Managers: The People Skills You Need to Achieve Outstanding Results – Great book on emotional intelligence

Articles to read

Websites to subscribe to

Listening

  • Manager Tools Podcast – A huge library of how to deal with any situation. Skim the list, there will be something in there you want to learn about. Don't forget to subscribe!

If you have anything that should be on this starter list, let me know!

You can follow Tim on twitter.

Business

Presentation Tips: 15 ways to calm your nerves before your next presentation

aiu-presentation-tips-julia-sosa-1160

Our Creative Director, Julia Sosa, kicked off our AiU 2015 season with a fantastic session where she shared some pre-presentation coping strategies that she’s adopted over the years. It was too good not to share publicly. Deck and written version below. Enjoy!

— (Transcript)

I hate the word hamburger.
I spent 3 years in speech therapy because of this stupid word, and many other words I couldn’t pronounce. At 6 years old I already hated the sound of my own words.

I hate “R”s too.
I hated the letter “R” and many words with “R”s, and avoided them at all costs. Rrrrrrrrrr……

Fucking R’s.
The anxiety of getting this nasty letter out of my mouth — is still with me, buried deep in my psyche.

Enter Hell.
I started working in advertising — the industry that is the single largest employer of people who love to hear themselves talk. But I wasn’t one of them.

Hell x 2.
And to top that off my first job was at an agency where one of the premier clients was (god help me) BURGER KING . R’s and the word hamburger were proving unavoidable.

Time to buck up, Buttercup.
It was time to face my fears, and start building an arsenal of coping techniques.

Here are a few of the tips and tools I’ve been stockpiling along the way.

Before we start, remember…
“Ready” ain’t a thing. The first step in preparing for any presentation is realizing you will never be fully prepared. Get over it.

Okay, let’s really do this…

Tip 1: Study yourself.

Take notes of physical symptoms during your next meeting or presentation. Write down the dumbest thing you said.

Now go ask someone who was there if they noticed anything of those things.

Boo, you so crazy. Guess what? No one noticed that shit! And if they did, it wasn’t half as bad as you think…

Now let’s talk about preparing for your NEXT presentation…

Tip 2. Finish Early

24 hours before ideally. Know when to cut bait. At a certain point, getting the material you have in a good place is better than just creating more content.

Tweaking a deck at 4am won’t make it better. It will make you feel like shit the next day.

Tip 3. Get comfy.

Make sure you’re comfortable with what you are presenting, and if you aren’t change it or just say so.

Ask your tech bestie to cover the crazy technical questions. Ask your budget buddy to speak to the numbers and dollars slide.

Tip 4. Have props.

Give yourself visuals, quotes, cultural references on slides — they can be a crutch or safety blanket to make you more comfortable.

Tip 5. Educate yo’ self

Identify anything you think you will just be “reading” and try to learn it. Ask questions, get someone else to tell you what it means to them, how they’d say it.

Tip 6. Bite-size points.

Write as much as you need to think through but then capture in short bullets and sound bites so you can speak naturally to it. Turn them into your cheat.

Tip 7. Plan your “segways.”

Focus on your opening line and setting up the ‘theme”– that’s the toughest part and sets tone, cadence, comfort. Plan transitions to and from other presenters.

Okay, you are so ready for the big meeting! What now?

Tip 8. For f*cks sake, sleep!

Don’t be stupid. Ain’t no slide, fancy transition, pie chart that matters more than this.

No Ray Donovan marathons. No League of Legends midnight missions. No last minute, mad dash deck cray, you crazy buggers.

Tip 9. Three hours before…

Take a walk. Pin kittens. Call your mom. Do other work. Just forget about the presentation.

Avoid other stressors or intense meetings. Say no if you have to.

People get it, and they want you to do your best!

Tip 10. Fifteen minutes before…

Glance over bullets. Harness your inner spirit animal. Head in.
You got this. We love you.
Carpe f*ckin’ diem.

Tip 11. Settle in, say hi.

Say anything to anyone in the room about anything unrelated to the meeting. Fancy a carrot? Ye ol’ weather banter, whatevs’. A single interaction before a meeting will help you be less presentation-y and more real with peeps in the room.

Tip 12. Find Soul Mates

Don’t just feel compelled to speak “to” the person or client you think you should. Speak to everyone or anyone you can engage. Feed off the nods or smiles.

BONUS TIP! Screw the grumpy cats!

Positive energy in a room is contagious. You can always circle back to a furrowed brow when you have a comfortable stopping point, but don’t cater to the haters if it’s going to throw you off your game.

Tip 13. Stand up, paws out.

Speak with your hands. Get them moving. Imagine you are a kitten with a ball of string. Even on the phone! Stand if you can if it’s large conference room. It seems scarier but it will help get your energy up and out.

Tip 14. Be yo’ self.

You are not Joel Osteen or Don Draper. You are a normal person talking to normal people. Authenticity, sincerity and conviction IS compelling.

Tip 15. Now, stop! 

You’re done, don’t feel compelled to keep talking. And know your closer. Asking people “What are your thoughts on xyz” is a lot smoother than “The End” or “That’s all I got folks.”

Praise Yeezus, It’s Over.

kanye

“I’m like the vessel. And God has chosen me to be the voice and the connector.”

You’ll get better with each presentation, and each will be less painful. Find your swagger, your own style — and own it.

Have other tips to share? Questions?I’d love to hear them! Comment or holla’ anytime.

Business

Ai Hosts a Design Roundtable with SheSays New York.

SheSays

On May 28, Ai hosted a Design Roundtable Event in partnership with SheSays .  SheSays is an award-winning, global creative network that organizes events and provides mentoring and recruitment services to enable top females in the industry help others navigate and advance in their careers.

The topic last Wednesday was one near and dear to everyone at Ai: BALANCING SPEED, EFFICIENCY AND DESIGN INTEGRITY.  It was an honor to moderate the discussion and hear from our impressive panel of speakers including Jenine Lurie (Found of Disruptive Experience), Jaclyn Burgan (Senior Interaction Designer at Turner Broadcasting) and our very own Design Lead, Christina Goldschmidt.

A special thanks to Amanda Jaskiewicz and Alessandra Lariu of SheSays! The energy, enthusiasm and perspective shared was incredible– and we met a lot of talented new friends too.

Ai

Come see us at IR Focus Design+Mobile!

What’s the most exciting thing to do in Orlando? Duh! Visiting Ai’s booth at the IR Focus Design + Mobile Conference!

We are at booth #300 — stop by, say hi, and talk about all things digital, Disney, or whatever else is on your mind.

Booth#300

While you’re at it, check out our founders Josh Levine and Alex Schmelkin and attend their talks on Monday. Josh gives you the rundown on the good, the bad, and the ugly in Ecommerce design and Alex teams up with Sharon Rodriguez, VP, Strategy at MetLife, to discuss the central role mobile plays in the now and future of MetLife’s consumer offerings.

Have fun, be safe, and always use the buddy system.

Ai

wEbVOLUTION Timeline

A history lesson and evolution timeline brought to you by Ai…

1993

The World Wide Web debuted to the public, for free, 20 years ago today. Yup, only 20 years ago. Here was the first website, which has been re-released by CERN for this occasion:

First WWW web site

1996

Our founder, Alex Schmelkin, made his first website for Hofstra University 17 years ago. Check it out:

Alex's first web site

2002

The year Ai’s created its VERY FIRST WEBSITE. The lucky client? DonorsChoose.org

Ai's very first web site

2003

We developed our first ecommerce website for FragranceNet.com. FragranceNet.com is ranked 153 on the Internet Retailer Top 500.

FragranceNet.com

2013

That’s now! This month we launched MyRingPop.com, with e-commerce and custom product configuration. Voila!

MyRingPop.com

Any guesses what websites will look like and what technologies will be important in another 20 years?

Ai

Everyone is “the business”

For technologists who spend much of their time eyes-deep in the tools, platforms, and architectural drivers that great solutions require, it can be easy to feel isolated from the surrounding business. The business goals of the project and the financial context that surrounds and constrains it become, through the necessary processes of business analysis and project planning, several layers removed from the technology team’s internal representation of the project. Components to be built, system and application architectures, UML diagrams, task tickets, and burn down lists may be necessary constructs to run a development project, but they retain little to no understanding of the business context.

Just as the syntax of programming languages by and large lacks the ability to communicate the system architecture, the artifacts of project management and development planning lack the crucial ability to communicate the business context.

This is why the business and technology teams so often feel like separate factions, each harboring gripes about how the other lacks the context to understand the decisions that need to be made. (One beautiful and refreshing aspect of Ai’s culture is that it has the opposite character: we are pretty cozy here, despite our spacious office, and our size helps us to manage and minimize these divides.)

And here’s one big reason why “technical debt” has become a hot topic: it’s a concept that can do wonders to bridge the communication gap that often develops between technology and business teams over the course of a project.

This gap is itself a project risk, and as with all risks, we need to find the right tools to understand and mitigate it. Thus the (justified) popularity of “technical debt”.

But just as “technical debt” is a useful term for mitigating this risk, other terms can broaden or enforce the border around an IT team. One, a term more pervasive in larger organizations, is “the business”. This is how IT project managers often refer to that shadowy side of the organization that issues commands from its isolated realm, dictates that the IT group must translate into actions and project plans.

“The business” will place constraints of budget, schedule, platform on the project. (All too often, these get delivered to us via another unfortunate neologism: “the ask”. “Ask” is a verb. It just is. It’s a verb. When someone drops “the ask” on the meeting table, they’re presenting a hard object with no creator: “the ask” has arrived, ineluctable and undebatable.)

“The business” will make midstream decisions seemingly ignorant of implications to the project’s technological commitments. “The business” also, of course, writes the checks, so we feel we have no absolute leverage.

It is in dealing with these constraints from “the business” that we regularly incur technical debt: to meet a deadline, or to facilitate a sudden change in requirements, we commit to compromises in the code or architecture that we know we’ll need to fix someday. (“Someday”: as with financial debt, technical debt is a tool at your disposal; but you have to fix a date to this payment to keep your debt from ballooning.)

The key lesson here is that we can’t conceive of these decisions as technology decisions. As Steve McConnell notes, “At the end of the day, all [technical] decisions made in this context are business decisions.” The business and technology teams are partners in the success of a project. Business decisions must take technology into account, and vice versa.

We can take it a step further, in fact: there is no “the business”. Each one of us is The Business.

Considering ourselves, the technologists, to be The Business means internalizing that each line of code we write, each component we build, each compromise we make affects the business context of the project, and ultimately the success of the wider organization. What’s the business value of documenting this code? What’s the business value of building this test script? There’s no reason why QA engineers and developers should labor in the absence of this notion of business value. Knowing the business context helps us make intelligent decisions, spend our time and energy wisely to focus on value, not problems or minutiae.

If we erase this construct of a separate “business”, we give the project a huge leg up: now, project direction needs to include business and technological context. Now, we are forced to have cross-disciplinary conversation around difficult decisions. Now, when a high-value and very difficult requirement becomes an architectural driver for the technology team, we can understand and plan around this big hurdle in the context of its overall importance.

The interest in recent years in managing technical debt is just this: an increasing interest in fostering common understanding around difficult technical decisions, and in providing institutional memory of debt incurred so that the organization can agree, and remember, to pay down that debt in the future.

Business

Redefining the Post-Mortem Meeting

Thinking back to my first time seeing the meeting subject title ‘Post Mortem for (insert project name that went horribly awry)’ pop up in my Inbox …I remember hitting ‘Accept’ somewhat reluctantly. My mind quickly concocted a visual of a mock funeral for said project, the people there didn’t really like the project, but they attended anyway…out of respect. Afterward they talked about a few good qualities, but mostly complained about it before going back to business as usual.

Yes, a little strange maybe, but that odd visual story in my head proved to be accurate for most Post-Mortem meetings attended in the years that followed. Different agencies, different projects, but they all usually played out in the same way. Typically, one of these meetings would be scheduled only after a project that was riddled with issues, blown budgets & missed deadlines. As for projects that went tremendously well? No need for a Post-Mortem, we’re awesome, go team!

Changing the Perception

Unfortunately, these after-the-fact meetings usually have a negative connotation attached to them. People attend with their backs up, ready to defend their role on the project, air grievances, and place blame elsewhere. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be this way. When it comes down to it, team members want the projects they take part in to be successful. Changing the perception of how a Post-Mortem is perceived is crucial to future success on projects with that specific client, and your company’s process as a whole. Enacting this change is done by focusing on the holistic view of how your company evolves its process over time, not just what they should have done in hindsight on that one project.

Below are the tenants that should always be top of mind for anyone planning on conducting a Post-Mortem successfully. If you stay true to these items, your team will start to view these meetings as a beneficial aspect of the project and you will see the improvements in future endeavors.

1) Keep the meeting structure simple

There are quite a few meeting outlines that exist out there, but they all really break down into five main components. At Ai, the following structure for Post-Mortem meetings has proven very successful.

• What has been working?
• What has not been working?
• What was painful but necessary?
• What did you learn about working with this particular client?
• Any recommendations that we should implement into future processes?

This breakdown requires the team to begin with positive aspects of the project, and end with forward-thinking process improvement ideas to help set an optimistic tone and shift the perception away from the negative. It’s tempting to gloss over everything but that pesky second bullet, but it is so important to make sure all aspects – good and bad – are discussed.

2) Ensure the attendees are prepared ahead of time

By nature, Project & Account Managers are organized. Keeping the client happy, the projects successful, and the team working efficiently is par for the course. This includes getting your Post-Mortem meeting outline in order. But these goals are not always the main focus of the team members executing the deliverables. They are focused on their daily tasks at hand, whether it involves getting a Strategy Recommendation out the door, or the third revision of creative done in time to hand off to Technology. Basically, people are busy and this could fall low on their list of things to get done.

To sidestep any probable delay in receiving feedback, send out a list of questions to the staff at least one week before the meeting. Put a reminder on their calendar, asking them to send responses by a specific date. This forces team members to really think about the answers. If you ask people to physically type out their feedback, you will find the content will be more pointed & specific. People will instinctively recognize in their bulleted list what is legitimate, and what is just whiny.

3) Time It!

The recommended time for a Post-Mortem is no longer than 1.5 hours. Sometimes this can be difficult, especially if there are too many missteps to count. The organizer can sidestep this by identifying overlapping problem areas received in the initial feedback and integrating them into one focus point. Each bullet point has a specified time allotted and, once you reach the maximum time for that item, assess whether it is necessary to schedule a follow-up meeting.

4) Introduce the Mini-Mortem

A few months ago, a PM was trying to see what she could do to correct a list of growing issues on a hectic project…then a light bulb went off. Why wait until after a project has come to an end to course correct issues and highlight achievements? By placing a ‘Mini-Mortem’ at the halfway point of the project, the team as a whole was able to identify problem areas and pain points before the project is over. By providing them a means to voice these concerns and call out things they feel are working well, it allows the Account Managers ample time to refocus efforts where needed. Again, it’s important not to ignore the positive aspects, this is a great time to leverage what has been working well and build upon it.

5) Apply Lessons Learned To the Next Project

When Post-Mortem meetings occur after a project, often times whatever learnings are captured tend to be quickly forgotten. The information shared between coworkers during these meetings is on some level remembered, and corrections of previous issues happen organically, but this isn’t enough. At some point people will roll off and new members will transition onto a piece of client business. If tangible steps aren’t taken to capture the valuable information shared during a Post-Mortem, the ever important ‘Next Steps’ will never be implemented. When mistakes aren’t corrected, these meetings tend to be viewed as a time-suck. Why bother meeting if management isn’t going to fix it the next time around?

When a new piece of work gets underway, make sure there is time allotted to review the previous Post-Mortem notes along with the Next Steps from that meeting. Below is an example of one item that showed up on the whiteboard of a Post-Mortem, and it’s Next Step:

Issue:
“ Having multiple work-in-progress meetings scheduled with the client each week was great in that we got buy in on our ideas throughout the process, but towards the end of the project we needed less meetings and more time to focus.”

Next Step:
PM to check in with the creative team each Monday, at this time we will assess what WIP’s are needed that week. We will also shift the 9:00am scheduled time to 5:30pm to allow creative to be ready.

A Happier Team

By implementing the steps above, you will begin to shift the overall attitude around how the Post-Mortem meeting is perceived by your coworkers. So start changing the perception, assign next steps and hold the team accountable. Next time a new piece of work rolls around, reserve a slot of time to refer back to the items that came up in the last Post-Mortem. Make sure to highlight the good and bad, although correcting mistakes is crucial…touching upon what the team excelled at will boost morale and remind everyone that ‘it wasn’t all bad’.

And lastly…can we please change the name of this meeting?

Business

Stop & Stor Goes Mobile!

Earlier this summer and on the tails of a full-site redesign, Ai Emerge launched a mobile site for Stop & Stor.

After the launch of the full-site redesign, mobile accounted for 25% of site traffic and was trending up. This was the perfect opportunity to mobilize!

The new mobile engagement included discovery, user experience, design, and development work. The discovery and user experience phase was crucial in providing a strong baseline to begin the project. Our strategy was to look at the quantitative data to help drive our recommendation, but to also get in mindset of the end-user: busy people searching for storage in a big city. In doing so, we were able to identify the most useful features to include in the mobile site. These features included simple and straightforward search options, easy ways to contact locations, and pay bills on the go.

In the design phase, we aimed to uphold the brand identity while effectively translating it to a mobile platform. We optimized graphics to target not just the iPhone but other popular mobile devices like the Android, as well as tablet. We designed graphics to load quickly and degrade gracefully on older devices.

During the development phase, we leveraged and optimized the existing CMS so the business had a streamlined process to make site updates across both full-site and mobile platforms. This helped to minimize overhead for updating content. We also ensured that the interface behaved just as efficiently for the end-user. We implemented mobile best practices such as using advanced device detection so the site would load properly on any device, while including the option for the user to toggle their interactive experience from desktop to mobile.  In addition, we used mobile-specific fields, forms and interactions to enhance accessibility and usability across devices.

Since the site launched in July 2012, mobile traffic has already improved! Time spent on the site along with usage of the reservation system has increased resulting in a -21% change in bounce rates, a 13% increase in average visit duration, and a 93% increase in utilization of the online reservation system.  Because of the improved mobile user experience, increased usage of site functions and time spent has shown that users are much more engaged than before.

We are so excited about this result and look forward to continuing our partnership with Stop & Stor.

Ai

Ai ranks among 50 Most Engaged Workplaces™

Achievers has announced this year’s 50 Most Engaged Workplaces™– the award aims to inspire enhancements to the workplace by championing the growth of employee-centric organizations. Ai is thrilled to be ranked among the top US organizations.

The judges read, re-read and compare survey questions related to the Eight Elements of Employee Engagement™: Leadership, Communication, Culture, Rewards & Recognition, Professional & Personal Growth, Accountability & Performance and Vision & Values.  Forms are filled out without any company names so submissions can be judged with as much anonymity as possible.

We are delighted to have made the cut!

To Achievers-we love what you stand for. We agree employees are a company’s greatest asset; when companies empower them to succeed and recognize performance, not presence, the employees and the business both reap the benefits. Thank you– we are honored to be among the 2012 50 Most Engaged Workplaces™.

Ai