Archive for the "Content Marketing" Category


MIT Researchers: The Good Jobs of the Future Belong to the Supply Chain Economy

MIT Researchers: The Good Jobs of the Future Belong to the Supply Chain Economy

New research backs up what we already know: the supply chain economy is a hotbed of innovation, and that opens up immense professional opportunities.


Highlights:

  • New research assigns some numbers to two facts that every Supply Chain professional knows: the sector is full of opportunity for professionals and it is a hotbed for innovation.
  • Supply Chain industry innovations have a tendency to reverberate and cascade throughout the wider economy as they filter from suppliers, to the companies they supply, and finally to the consumer.
  • People who are able to harness and drive supply chain innovation have some of the brightest job prospects in tomorrow’s economy.

This guest post comes to us from Argentus Supply Chain Recruiting, a boutique recruitment firm specializing in Supply Chain Management and Procurement.

A new Harvard Business Review article lays out some striking research out of MIT about the role of Supply Chain Management within the broader economy. Written by Mercedes Delgado and Karen Mills, the study seeks to better define what constitutes the “Supply Chain” part of the economy, and what doesn’t. The goal? To better define Supply Chain Management’s place in the broader economy, and the role it plays in terms of innovation.

The researchers define “Supply Chain” industries as any industries that sell upstream to businesses and government entities. It excludes industries selling direct to consumer (B2C). It’s a bit of a curious definition – what about the B2C companies with strong supply chain and distribution networks? – but we’ll roll with it.

In short, the research assigns some numbers to two facts that every Supply Chain professional knows: the sector is full of opportunity for professionals. It’s also a hotbed for innovation which has a tendency to filter into other sectors of the economy.

The MIT researchers studied the historical role that these Supply Chain companies have played in American innovation. For example, Intel’s semiconductors and Microsoft’s enterprise software are innovations with their roots in the supply chain – supplying to companies – that are almost unparalleled in terms of their downstream effect on the overall economy, as well as the daily experience of the average person.

The researchers make an interesting point: compared to “B2C” industries, Supply Chain industry innovations have a tendency to reverberate and cascade throughout the wider economy as they filter from suppliers, to the companies they supply, and finally to the consumer. Technologies like cloud computing –which is now sold to 90% of industries – have their roots in the Supply Chain, which helps them diffuse across industries as they spread downstream and become integral to the economy. In Delgado and Mills’ estimation, this “trickling down” gives these innovations a multiplying effect that isn’t found in more consumer-facing industries.

Put aside the fact that the most successful consumer-facing companies of the past several decades have been tremendously innovative (Apple and Amazon, for example) – in part because of their Supply Chain practices – and it’s an intriguing idea. The fact is, Supply Chain management drives innovation, and the people who drive that innovation have some of the brightest job prospects out of anyone in the economy.

People in Supply Chain are more likely to be in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) than the wider economy. They’re also better compensated – perhaps as an indirect result of their contributions to innovation.

Here are a few of the most interesting – and exciting – top-level stats from the research:

  • In the U.S. – which the study examined – 44 million jobs are in Supply Chain, or 37% of the overall economy.
  • The average wage of Supply Chain-related jobs was much higher than average, at $61,700 – compared to $39,200 for non-Supply Chain jobs.
  • 4% of Supply Chain jobs were STEM-related jobs – considered a predictor of innovation – compared to only 2.1% of non-Supply Chain jobs.
  • 6% of new patents in the U.S. evolve from the Supply Chain sector.

The researchers chart another interesting distinction and trend, towards the importance of Supply Chain Services from traditional manufacturing. Supply Chain services jobs – including logistics, engineering, cloud computing, and others – have grown massively to encompass 80% of jobs in the sector, but most still consider Supply Chain to mean traditional manufacturing jobs such as metal stamping or injection molding operators.

Supply Chain Services workers have the highest STEM intensity out of everyone in the economy (19%), which also coincides with the highest wages ($80,800 a year, on average). This tracks with a trend in the wider economy towards services and away from traditional manufacturing, and shows what we know to be the case: despite panic about automation, Supply Chain professionals who can innovate are in very high demand.

Whether you agree or disagree with Mills and Delgado’s definitions and findings, it’s clear to anyone paying attention that the Supply Chain is a force-multiplier for innovation to the economy. It’s truer now than it’s ever been, and people who are able to harness and drive that innovation have some of the brightest job prospects in tomorrow’s economy.

Do you agree with the authors’ definition of Supply Chain? Is it too broad, not broad enough, or is it right on the money? We’re curious to hear anything else you might have to add about the importance of Supply Chain for innovation in the wider economy!

In the meantime, we encourage everyone to check out the HBR article as well as the authors’ original study, which has some fascinating insights about the role Supply Chains play in innovation.

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Archive for the "Content Marketing" Category


Will Artificial Intelligence Replace Manual Content Creation?

Will Artificial Intelligence Replace Manual Content Creation?

Artificial intelligence is reshaping the way we live and do business. But can robots replace humans when it comes to content creation?


Highlights

  • Artificial intelligence is already creating content.
  • Some analysts predict that human writers will become obsolete in time.
  • At least for now, there are aspects of human-generated content that robots can’t replicate.

What used to be a light-hearted, science-fiction version of the future — in which menial jobs would increasingly be performed by robots — has increasingly become a reality. We’ve seen how automation has shaped the supply chain and logistics industries in the past decade. But as artificial intelligence (AI) continues to evolve and reach new levels of sophistication, will something as complex as content creation no longer require human input?

AI is already creating content

In 2016, McKinsey Quarterly predicted that “while automation will eliminate very few occupations entirely in the next decade, it will affect portions of almost all jobs to a greater or lesser degree, depending on the type of work they entail.” Of course, there are jobs that require empathic functions or advanced social skills, which are less subject to replacement by machine learning. But content creation, though it does require original thought and synthesis of complex ideas, is in a greyer area.

The fact is, AI-generated content is already a reality. It shouldn’t come entirely as a surprise. After all, we’ve been writing about marketing automation for a while now, including, for example, chatbots or computer programs that simulate human conversation. According to Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, “In 10 years, the majority of content will be generated by software. In 20 years, humans will wonder why we wasted so much time on content creation.”

In a notable example of AI creating content, the Washington Post developed “Heliograf,” a bot capable of generating short reports for readers, to aid in the coverage of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. When it was first developed, Heliograf could update readers on game outcomes, including when medals were awarded. Since then, it has written over 850 articles, including updates on high school football games and automated earnings coverage. Even now, the Washington Post uses Heliograf to supplement the work of its human writers — and has no intention of replacing them.

Natural language generation

Before we get further into the nitty-gritty of whether human content writers are doomed to obsolescence, let’s take a step back and take a look at the main function of AI when it comes to content creation. Natural language generation (NLG) is how we describe AI that can produce logical, coherent text.

“Natural language generation is a software process that automatically turns data into human-friendly prose,” writes Laura Pressman of Automated Insights. It’s important to recognize that while NLG can create content, it can’t do so without being fed data and a templated format. Essentially, when given data and a format, NLG can output content that reads as if it was written by a human.

Why we still need humans

It’s staggering what AI can produce when it comes to convincing, effective content. But even as technology becomes smarter and more sophisticated at creating content, humans haven’t been replaced just yet.

While it’s true that content marketing should be data-driven, studies are also increasingly showing the value of intangible creativity — the kind that can’t be generated by an algorithm — in the marketing sector and beyond. Click To Tweet

Proponents of fully AI-driven marketing argue that the kind of creativity required to produce effective content marketing can all be boiled down to numbers. While it’s true that content marketing should be data-driven, studies are also increasingly showing the value of intangible creativity — the kind that can’t be generated by an algorithm — in the marketing sector and beyond.

The memories, emotions, preferences, and frailties of human writers allow for the possibility of creativity and connection that AI can’t replicate. Yes, content marketing is about data. But there’s no substitute for the way a human brain can create language and ideas that connect and resonate with another human brain.

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5 Tips to Improve Your Visual Content

5 Tips to Improve Your Visual Content

As the purchasing landscape increasingly skews younger, you need to think about how to improve your visual content to satisfy buyers’ preferences.


Highlights:

  • Audiences increasingly prefer visual content.
  • Optimize visual content for search engines by including text.
  • Use graphics to make data pop.

Digital natives, who make up the majority of today’s B2B purchasing landscape, are highly steeped in online content. And, it may come as no surprise, they overwhelmingly prefer visual presentation, whether in video, infographic, animation, or gif format. What does this mean? Supply chain marketers need to adapt or be left behind.

Good content marketing is all about presenting information in a story format. Great content marketing also packs emotional resonance. Click To Tweet

While this doesn’t mean that text-based marketing is a thing of the past, it does mean that all your branded content — from blog posts to infographics to case studies to video — needs to be design-minded and visually appealing. These five suggestions will help improve your visual content game.

5 ways to improve your visual content

1)      Optimize for search engines.

The biggest downside to visual content such as videos and infographics is that they aren’t searchable in the way that text-based content is. But this doesn’t mean that you need to lose out on the SEO benefits when publishing this type of content.

First off, it pays to post a text transcript with video or accompanying explanatory text with infographics and images. It’s also important for you to categorize and organize your visual content, which means labeling visual assets like logos and images with relevant keywords. When publishing them, be sure to tag images with keywords.

2)      Make data interesting.

Common sense tells us that reading a bunch of numbers is far less compelling than seeing numerical data presented graphically. B2B marketers are in a prime position to make use of attractive data presentation, such as charts, graphs, animated images, or other formats to display your numerical data.

3)      Create reusable graphics.

If you’re investing in visual content creation, it pays to consider how it can be reused. For example, when creating an infographic, consider how you can break it up into multiple graphics, each containing a set of statistics or other information. This way, you can add these smaller graphics to other pieces of text content, boosting engagement and adding visual appeal.

Additionally, keep in mind that visual snippets are ideal for posting on social media, as teasers, or even self-contained Instagram or Facebook Stories.

4)      Keep your branding consistent.

A key point with visual content creation is consistent branding. Your brand’s visual presentation includes fonts, colors, font sizes, image styles, and anything else that is a visual indicator of your identity.

The first step to consistent branding is to document visual guidelines clearly and to distribute them to all content creators, along with samples for their use. Each time you publish visual content, make checking against the guidelines part of your editorial process.

5)      Use visual content to tell a story.

Good content marketing is all about presenting information in a story format. Great content marketing also packs emotional resonance. When creating visual content, start with the idea of telling a story. Ideally, you’re presenting data in a way that communicates a feeling and elicits an emotional response from the viewer. If your data is impactful, your viewers will forge an emotional connection with your brand.

How are you trying to improve your visual content?

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Quantifying the Impact of Automation in Manufacturing and Distribution: Video Short

Quantifying the Impact of Automation in Manufacturing and Distribution: Video Short

A McKinsey & Company report studied the impact of automation in manufacturing driven by rapid advances in robotics, AI, and machine learning.


Highlights:

  • New robotics technologies are cheaper, faster, and smarter than before.
  • 87% of hours workers spend in production could be automated with existing technologies.
  • Learn what four factors to consider when making decisions about automation.

Since the industrial revolution, automation has been a major disruptor in manufacturing. Once again, a new generation of robotics and related technologies is reshaping the face of the manufacturing and distribution industries. In fact, American manufacturing has made a recent comeback, thanks in large part to the widespread use of automation and robotics.

Automation technologies that were once cost-prohibitive are now more achievable — and the return on investment is greater than ever before. The new generation of robots are not only far less expensive than their ancestors, but they are also more versatile, flexible, and able to learn new tasks, even those that were far too difficult for machines just a few short years ago.

The new generation of robots are not only far less expensive than their ancestors, but they are also more versatile, flexible, and able to learn new tasks, even those that were far too difficult for machines just a few short years ago. Click To Tweet

Robots are now capable of, for example, “picking and packing irregularly spaced objects, and resolving wiring conflicts in large-scale projects in, for example, the aerospace industry,” according to a recent report from McKinsey & Company. Not only that, artificial intelligence is leveling the playing field between human and machine, and “increasing the potential for automating work activities in many industries. In one recent test, for example, computers were able to read lips far more accurately than professionals.”

Quantifying the impact of automation on manufacturing

McKinsey’s study, which covered 46 countries and about 80% of the global workforce, determined that a tremendous amount of working hours could be eliminated or repurposed by automation with technology that is already here.

The study found that “87% of the hours spent on activities performed by workers in production occupations are automatable — the most of any manufacturing occupation.”

And it doesn’t stop there. “Even among other occupations in manufacturing (for example, engineering, maintenance, materials movement, management, and administration), however, there is still significant opportunity, with approximately 45 percent of these working hours automatable as well.”

The cost and logistics of automating

In general, the study found that automation allowed wages to increase globally and profits to grow. The authors emphasize the fact that in order to capture long-term value from automation, manufacturers’ best bet is to implement technologies in phases, capturing value at each phase, allowing for future investment.

Many complex factors come into play when it comes to meeting the challenges associated with automation, deciding what to automate, and when to implement technologies to best capture long-term value. Cost is just one element, albeit an important one.

McKinsey suggests considering the following four factors when making decisions about what to automate:

  1. Technical feasibility
  2. Cost associated with developing and deploying necessary hardware and software
  3. Cost of labor and resultant “supply-and-demand dynamics”
  4. Benefits beyond labor substitution, such as increased output and quality, and fewer errors

An American manufacturing renaissance

The Association for Advancing Automation has predicted that “American manufacturing’s embrace of robotics will ensure a new manufacturing renaissance in this country.” Already, we’re seeing a steady trickle of companies reversing outsourcing trends, as it’s becoming profitable again for manufacturing to take place in the United States, rather than relying on cheap labor abroad.

As more operations embrace automation — and as we continue to witness rapid advances in robotics, AI, and machine learning — American manufacturers won’t be the only ones to reap the benefits. Many experts are predicting that automation in manufacturing will create new, better paying jobs.

Optimists include our own CEO Frank Cavallaro, who recently wrote: “From what I see now … I still feel optimistic that AI and automation will create leaner, more efficient operations that will, in turn, create new (even if different) jobs. To me, it still looks like the ones winning from the increasing technological advances in the manufacturing industry are, in fact, we humans.”

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Chatbots: No Longer Just a Buzzword

Chatbots: No Longer Just a Buzzword

Chatbots are a must-have lead generation and customer service tool for supply chain businesses in 2019.

The newest generation of B2B buyers is increasingly dominating the two-way conversation between marketers and buyers. They prefer to gather purchasing information on their own — overwhelmingly via online searches, vendor websites, and peers and colleagues — rather than talking to sales representatives. They are unsubscribing from marketing emails at alarming rates, citing over-communication as the number-one reason why. And they are using messaging platforms to speak directly with brands when they have questions or problems.

At the same time, buyers are demanding more personalized communications, faster response times, and an improved, cohesive user experience on all of a vendor’s digital channels.

All these factors are driving the growing popularity of chatbots as a lead generation and customer service tool. But, at Fronetics, we think it’s time to stop viewing them as a trendy communication mechanism and more as a necessary part of a supply chain operation’s marketing strategy.

Chatbot applications for the supply chain

I’ve written before about the impressive implications that automation has for supply chain marketing & sales efforts. (HubSpot reports that businesses using marketing automation receive a 451% increase in qualified leads.) At Fronetics, we’re seeing chatbots as one of the most successful and easy-to-implement marketing automation tools in the current marketplace.

Chatbots are relatively inexpensive, inherently low-maintenance, and surprisingly user-friendly — to both the buyers interacting with them and the vendors setting them up. They help website visitors find the information they need quickly, while gathering user data that is useful in marketing and sales efforts, all without taxing human resources. In fact, Chatbots Life reports that businesses can save up to 30% of costs associated with servicing customer requests by using a chatbot.

Millennials, in particular, appreciate the quick, easy, and unobtrusive communication option that chatbots offer. And, as we all know, this generation comprises an increasing percentage of the B2B purchasing landscape. In a crowded marketplace, vendors that offer a pleasing user experience will have the competitive edge when it comes to winning business and growing a base of loyal customers.

A real-life example

We are recommending chatbots to clients because we have seen firsthand how effective they can be. I’ll give you an example from our own experience at Fronetics.

We recently implemented a chatbot on our website that we synced with my calendar, allowing users to schedule a time to speak with me about our services. I am not exaggerating when I say that within 24 hours, we had a lead come through the bot. I spoke with that lead at the time he scheduled, the next morning, and delivered a proposal to him the next day.

Chatbots are here — in a big way. If you’re not using one, your competitors certainly are (or will be soon). Having a chat mechanism on your website will soon be the difference between winning more business and missing out… if it’s not already.

This post originally appeared on EBN Online.

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Video: SEO and Video Posts – What You Need to Know

Video: SEO and Video Posts – What You Need to Know

Video is cost effective and easy to produce, but with growing popularity, it’s harder to get ranked on search results. Here’s what marketers need to know about SEO and video posts.


Highlights:

  • When choosing your video hosting platform, it’s important to consider the reasons why you want your videos to rank, such as lead generation or brand awareness.
  • Spend time crafting an engaging video title and description and make sure to use keywords audiences are actually searching for.
  • Don’t solely rely on optimizing your video to receive placement on search engines. It’s just as important that the rest of the page is optimized for SEO.

Video transcript:

I’m Ulrika Gerth and I’m the Content Writer and Strategist at Fronetics. Today I’m going to talk about what you need to know about SEO and video posts.

So video SEO is simply optimizing your video to be indexed and rank on the search engine results pages, like Google.

In the last few years, video marketing has become more and more popular among businesses and it’s easy to see why. It’s cost effective and easy to produce. But with the explosion of video, it’s also become much harder to get ranked on universal search results.

Here are a few ways to optimize your videos.

1. Pick the best platform.

When choosing your video hosting platform, you need to consider the reasons why you want your videos to rank. Are you optimizing your video to gain traffic and generate leads? Or are you more interested in thought leadership and brand awareness?

2. Make the Video Engaging

The video thumbnail is what searchers will see when your video is indexed, and therefore it plays an important role in whether they will click on your video.

3. Pay Attention to the Title and Description of Your Video

Just like they do for a blog post, the title and description play a role in ranking videos. Spend time crafting an engaging video title and description. Make sure you do keyword research so you use keywords people are actually searching for.

4. Ensure the Rest of Your Page Is Relevant to the Video and Optimized for SEO

You can’t rely only on optimizing your video to receive placement on search engines. It’s just as important that the rest of the page is optimized for SEO, or the search engines won’t bother to crawl it in the first place.

For more information, visit fronetics.com.

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