How Technology Is Shortening the Road to Fame

How Technology Is Shortening the Road to Fame

How Technology Is Shortening the Road to Fame

access_time Aug/10/2017

It wasn't that long ago that Justin Bieber was discovered on YouTube by Usher. Katy Perry, Macklemore, Psy and Lana Del Rey are others who used this online video platform to get noticed when music industry executives wouldn't pay attention to them. Thanks to this social media platform and mobile technologies, the road to fame has changed and helped many artists, including musicians and voice-over talent, get the attention they deserve while winning a fan base in the process.

Apps that find gigs.

Voice-over actors now don't have to rely on jobs coming to them or hoping an agent lines up gigs. Saving time and money on not having to race to various in-person gigs means these talented individuals can locate more voice-over work and carve out a career they define. Previously, they had to depend on agencies and share their earnings in exchange.

The actors are now using available apps much like those used by other types of freelancers for locating work. Voices.com is one example of how digitizing the voice-over industry is removing layers of paperwork and putting the talent in contact with gigs directly. Voicebunny is another site where talent is able to conveniently find work while various types of companies can also be assured they will connect with the talent they seek.

In fact, it has led many in the voice-over industry to create their own at-home recording studios to take these jobs, offering a great new lifestyle that balances work and life while delivering considerably more money.

Related: Lessons Learned in Entertainment That Can Benefit Every CEO

Apps that "discover" talent.

Seeing what YouTube has been able to accomplish led to the idea that a special platform could be created that would help aspiring singers make much more polished and professional videos that improve their chances of getting noticed. StarMaker has become the largest online talent network in the world with over 45 million users. The platform works with the major record labels, publishers, agents, and agencies to also connect this talent with those forces in the music industry who can help to make them famous.

Recently, StarMaker partnered with the new season of American Idol, set to launch in 2018 on ABC, to develop a contest that gives 10 talented individuals a front-of-the-line pass to go directly to an audition with the producers of the show. This platform and app company recognizes that this approach not only helps artists get discovered, but it also assists the music industry in finding fresh talent that may otherwise take considerably more resources to uncover.

The platform also has licensed one of the largest collections of songs that talent can use to perform in their videos, adding another unique way of packaging the performance. Of course, singers can also use their own original music to showcase their abilities. The result has been fame for many singers already, which has prompted even more talent to sign up for the platform.

Related: Meet the Business Strategists Behind the Careers of Today's Biggest YouTube Stars

Platforms that fund bands.

Musicians have also discovered that crowdfunding is something that can work for them so they can independently produce their own music and make it available for sale rather than hoping to convince a music label to sign them. All types of bands have done successful campaigns on sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo among others, building a fan base and giving them direct access.

They also have shared rewards through these campaigns that further publicity like stickers, shirts, hats and more. Bands realized that the viral nature of crowdfunding and the social media used to fuel the campaigns can help them get noticed and finance the start of their fame.

Related: These Are the 18 Most Popular YouTube Stars in the World -- and Some are Making Millions

Platforms that engage with fans.

Even up-in-coming musicians have fans that follow their every move and share their love with their social circles. That's why it's technology like social media platforms that have changed how fans get to interact with their favorite singers and bands. With a shift away from buying records or CDs and toward downloading, there is not the same tangible feel to the music fans access now, which means that the performers have to find other ways to connect with their audiences. Live video streaming and photos with fans as well as the ability to comment and talk to bands or singers through their social media pages are preferred by today's fans that like the accessibility they get to the performers they admire.

Platforms like Instagram and Facebook have shifted the power away from the recording industry and back into the hands of the performers, helping them use these channels to develop their own fan base over using corporate marketing efforts that are not authentic ways of communicating with the audience.

Technology continues evolving entertainment.

For actors, musicians, and performers, technology will continue to provide a world stage for their talents and give them control over their careers. At the same time, technology will also advance what's possible in the entertainment industry, offering new ways to get noticed and engaged with fans. For performers, that means staying attuned to these shifts so that they can leverage them for even greater success.

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Chatbots for Enterprise Customer Service

Chatbots have proven to be an extremely versatile tool. They're currently being used by a huge number of companies that operate within different industries. Not only this, these automated assistants are also used for an array of purposes, some of which include collecting information, providing assistance with various issues, being used as marketing tools, assisting sales teams, and much more.

Organizations of all sizes have implemented both internal- and external-facing enterprise chatbots that help their team members; in other words, they create chatbots that specialize in either helping their customers or their employees. External-facing assistants, also called customer service chatbots, are the most common types of enterprise bots. They help customer care teams handle the large volume of inquiries they receive every day.

Related: Top 10 Best Chatbot Platform Tools to Build Chatbots for Your Business

Not only do enterprises handle a large quantity of customer service inquiries, they also provide help for a huge variety of different issues. These are often spread throughout different departments, and not all customers end up speaking to the right representatives. Enterprise chatbots work extremely well as filters that can either solve problems that don't require human assistance or allow a human to jump in and take control when necessary.

One of the main disadvantages enterprises have is making their customers feel like they're receiving their undivided attention. Even if this is possible through live support, it’s neither cost-effective nor productive to dedicate so many team members to helping clients. Artificial intelligence-powered enterprise bots offer a great option that can hold conversations with current and future customers, making them feel more appreciated.

While chatbots are a great option for enterprises, finding the right combination requires hard work and time investment. With feedback from customers of ChattyPeople, I've put together a list of characteristics that make an effective chatbot for enterprise customer service.

Related: Enterprise Chatbots Platforms and the Future of Work

Creating a Customer Service Chatbot for Your Enterprise

Before selecting any features, you have to find a reliable chatbot-building platform that is dependable.

Now you can start thinking about the features you want your bot to have. This is one of the most critical parts in the success of your chatbot, so think about your target audience and decide on what they deem as important. You need to consider details about your target audience, such as:

  • Age range
  • Location
  • Social status
  • Gender
  • Any details that will help set tone of voice and personality

Remember, the first edition of your chatbot will probably not be your final version. You should integrate your chatbot with tracking tools so you can measure the performance of your virtual assistant. You can then make changes based on the information gathered to improve user experience and increase efficiency.

Related: Enterprise Chatbots and the Conversational Commerce Revolutionizing Business

Characteristics of an Efficient Customer Service Chatbot

Customer care is one of the most important aspects of any enterprise, regardless of the industry in which it operates. Supporting current and future customers by addressing their issues will help earn your company a reputation for quality and reliability.

There are certain features that most effective customer care chatbots have in common. Keep in mind that enterprises have slightly different needs than smaller organizations. The sheer volume of requests can be overwhelming, so keep these features in mind when creating your enterprise chatbot.

Related: How to Create a Facebook Messenger Chatbot For Free Without Coding

The Ability to Understand Natural Language

Chatbots have come a long way since they were first developed. In the early stages, chatbots could only respond to specific commands and weren't able to understand different variations. Now, AI-powered bots can understand natural language and can fulfill requests without depending on a specific command line.

Proactivity

Keep in mind that AI assistants are fairly new, and most users have never interacted with them. Encourage your target audience to use your chatbot by making it proactive. When users open a text window to talk to your bot, it should automatically introduce itself and provide a list of options from which they can choose.

Related: Make Chats With Chatbots Work

Integration with E-commerce Platforms

Chatbots are very versatile, to the point where they can take orders through Facebook Messenger and comments. Integrating your bot to e-commerce platforms can help you monetize your social media pages easily and efficiently.

A Defined Set of Features

Chatbots can have a huge number of features, but your best bet is to start simple, with a well-defined set of options. This will allow you to tweak your bot to perfection while giving it time to learn and adjust to its responsibilities. Once it has mastered easy tasks, you can give it the capacity of fulfilling more complex operations.

Optimum Functionality

From a user's point of view, there's nothing more frustrating than a chatbot that says it can do something when it really can't. Make sure your bot is able to carry out all tasks you advertise; that way, your audience will never be disappointed with your virtual helper.

Related: The How-To: Using Chatbots As A Tool For Customer Service

Logical Structure

It's important to think about how users will navigate through your bot and figure out a logical design. Presenting all features at once will overwhelm your users, so you have to present just a few at a time. Your bot should be able to ask questions and follow a logical sequence in order to present the adequate options to address the issue at hand.

User Experience Facilitators

Remember that bots are there to help your customers, so implement anything you think will help users solve their issues. Buttons, links, and the ability to be transferred to a human are good examples of features that facilitate user experience.

Predictive Capabilities

AI-powered chatbots have the ability to learn from each interaction. Besides gathering information for advertising purposes, these bots also learn to become predictive and offer a solution before the user brings up any issues.

A Touch of Personality

It's always tricky to give bots personality, especially enterprise ones. Giving a chatbot a little likeability can encourage your team to interact with it and even become a healthy office mood-setter. Remember that your chatbot's personality should always represent your brand's overall tone.

Regular Updates and Optimization

I mentioned before that chatbots should be connected to tracking tools so you can review their statistics. You should use these to make adjustments and fine tune your bot to improve user experience and productivity over time.

Finally...

Although enterprises have different requirements than other organizations, chatbots still provide a great solution to their customer service needs. Gone are the days where your current and future customers have to call in during office hours for some assistance. Enterprise chatbots can now answer questions, serve as a self-serving tool, and even provide specific information about your products and services on demand. Use the tips I outlined above to create an enterprise bot that helps you build a lasting relationship with your audience.

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Panasonic Uses AI to Keep Drowsy Drivers Awake

When fully-autonomous vehicles become the norm, the former human driver can sleep as much as they like behind the wheel. But until that happens, falling asleep while driving poses a serious and potentially deadly risk. The advice we always hear is if you feel tired, pull over. Panasonic believes it has a better solution: use AI to keep the driver comfortably awake at all times.

According to Panasonic, there's actually five levels of drowsiness: not drowsy at all, slightly drowsy, drowsy, very drowsy and seriously drowsy. The Japanese company developed an in-car system that monitors and detects driver drowsiness before it happens and reacts to it.

The system works through a combination of a camera and sensors which constantly monitor the driver. It can accurately measure blinking features, facial expressions, heat loss from the body and illuminance. This is combined with information gathered about the in-vehicle environment. The sensor and environment data is then processed using artificial intelligence and a judgement made on how drowsy the driver is.

The system is accurate enough to detect shallow drowsiness long before the driver can perceive it. The transitioning of drowsiness level can also be predicted. Such accurate measurements allow the system time to react and adjust the driver's environment to keep them "comfortably awake."

The key to keeping a driver awake is thermal sensation. Typically, people get drowsy when they are too warm, and that is made worse when the environment is dim. So by predicting the drowsiness state, Panasonic can adjust the thermal sensation of the driver using airflow within the vehicle. Changing the air flow and general temperature combined with adjusting the brightness of the environment can counteract the oncoming drowsiness.

Of course, Panasonic's system can only do so much. If a person is driving in a very tired state then no environment changes will maintain a wakeful state. Panasonic has this covered too, by detecting the higher levels of drowsiness. If such a detection is made, an alarm is sounded and a command to rest issued.

What sets Panasonic's system apart from existing detection systems is its silent operation and ability to predict the driver's state. Most of the time the driver will have no idea they are being monitored and the environment around them is adjusting. They will most likely just feel more awake for the entire journey.

Panasonic expects to have the system available to test by vehicle manufacturers in October. If they like what they see then we could see new vehicles incorporating it next year.


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Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg Are Arguing About AI -- But They're Both Missing the Point

In Silicon Valley this week, a debate about the potential dangers (or lack thereof) when it comes to artificial intelligence has flared up between two tech billionaires.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg thinks that AI is going to “make our lives better in the future,” while SpaceX CEO Elon Musk believes that AI a “fundamental risk to the existence of human civilization.”

Who’s right?

Related: Elon Musk Says Mark Zuckerberg's Understanding of AI Is 'Limited' After the Facebook CEO Called His Warnings 'Irresponsible'

They’re both right, but they’re also both missing the point. The dangerous aspect of AI will always come from people and their use of it, not from the technology itself. Similar to advances in nuclear fusion, almost any kind of technological developments can be weaponized and used to cause damage if in the wrong hands. The regulation of machine intelligence advancements will play a central role in whether Musk’s doomsday prediction becomes a reality.

It would be wrong to say that Musk is hesitant to embrace the technology since all of this companies are direct beneficiaries of the advances in machine learning. Take Tesla for example, where self-driving capability is one of the biggest value adds for its cars. Musk himself even believes that one day it will be safer to populate roads with AI drivers rather than human ones, though publicly he hopes that society will not ban human drivers in the future in an effort to save us from human error.

What Musk is really pushing for here by being wary of AI technology is a more advanced hypothetical framework that we as a society should use to have more awareness regarding the threats that AI brings. Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), the kind that will make decisions on its own without any interference or guidance from humans, is still very far away from how things work today. The AGI that we see in the movies where robots take over the planet and destroy humanity is very different from the narrow AI that we use and iterate on within the industry now. In Zuckerberg’s view, the doomsday conversation that Musk has sparked is a very exaggerated way of projecting how the future of our technology advancements would look like.

Related: The Future of Productivity: AI and Machine Learning

While there is not much discussion in our government about apocalypse scenarios, there is definitely a conversation happening about preventing the potentially harmful impacts on society from artificial intelligence. White House recently released a couple of reports on the future of artificial intelligence and on the economic effects it causes. The focus of these reports is on the future of work, job markets and research on increasing inequality that machine intelligence may bring.

There is also an attempt to tackle a very important issue of “explainability” when it comes to understanding actions that machine intelligence does and decisions it presents to us. For example, DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), an agency within the U.S. Department of Defense, is funneling billions of dollars into projects that would pilot vehicles and aircraft, identify targets and even eliminate them on autopilot. If you thought the use of drone warfare was controversial, AI warfare will be even more so. That’s why here it’s even more important, maybe even more than in any other field, to be mindful of the results AI presents.

Explainable AI (XAI), the initiative funded by DARPA, aims to create a suite of machine learning techniques that produce more explainable results to human operators and still maintain a high level of learning performance. The other goal of XAI is to enable human users to understand, appropriately trust and effectively manage the emerging generation of artificially intelligent partners.

Related: Would You Fly on an AI-Backed Plane Without a Pilot?

The XAI initiative can also help the government tackle the problem of ethics with more transparency. Sometimes developers of software have conscious or unconscious biases that eventually are built into an algorithm -- the way Nikon camera became internet famous for detecting “someone blinking” when pointed at the face of an Asian person or HP computers were proclaimed racist for not detecting black faces on the camera. Even developers with the best intentions can inadvertently produce systems with biased results, which is why, as the White House report states, “AI needs good data. If the data is incomplete or biased, AI can exacerbate problems of bias.”

Even with the positive use cases, the data bias can cause a lot of serious harm to society. Take China’s recent initiative to use machine intelligence to predict and prevent crime. Of course, it makes sense to deploy complex algorithms that can spot a terrorist and prevent crime, but a lot of bad scenarios can happen if there is an existing bias in the training data for those algorithms.

It important to note that most of these risks already exist in our lives in some form or another, like when patients are misdiagnosed with cancer and not treated accordingly by doctors or when police officers make intuitive decisions under chaotic conditions. The scale and lack of explainability of machine intelligence will magnify our exposure to these risks and raise a lot of uncomfortable ethical questions like, who is responsible for a wrong prescription by an automated diagnosing AI? A doctor? A developer? Training data provider? This is why complex regulation will be needed to help navigate these issues and provide a framework for resolving the uncomfortable scenarios that AI will inevitably bring into society.

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Why This Old School Activity Is Beneficial to Your Brain

In a constantly connected world, it may seem like there is no need to handwrite anything anymore. But despite living in a time where a legitimate summer movie offering is about the inner lives of emoji, it would appear that cursive is thriving after an extended hiatus.

In early July, a law mandating the teaching of cursive in Louisiana in public schools went into effect, following a similar law passed in Arkansas in 2016. California, Florida, Virginia and Texas are also among several other states who have comparable laws on the books.

Virginia Berninger, a professor of educational psychology at the University of Washington who focuses on human development, told The Washington Post that in her research, “what we found was that children until about grade six were writing more words, writing faster and expressing more ideas if they could use handwriting -- printing or cursive -- than if they used the keyboard.”

Related: For a Memory Boost, Ditch the Laptop and Write It Down by Hand

And young kids just learning how to write isn’t the only group that the activity benefits. Studies have shown that in a college setting, those students that took notes by hand were able to absorb and remember more than those who used their computers.

The act of physically writing things down doesn’t only improve your memory. Dave Kohl, professor emeritus at Virginia Tech who taught business and economics, found in his research that people who make it a regular practice to write down their goals earn nine times more over their careers than people who don’t.

So your memory, your creativity and your paycheck might be three good reasons why you should give yourself a break from typing and texting.

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Trouble Scaling? Examine How You Approach Digital Transformation.

Innovation pays off -- and if you’re not regularly investing in it, your company’s growth may be suffering. Seamless collaboration and automation yield bigger savings, greater operational efficiency, more strategically aligned decisions and, ultimately, better business outcomes. In today’s digital world, the only way to achieve this is through innovative technology. 

While effective technology is the clear way of the future (and indeed, the future is now), many organizations still aren’t up to speed. In fact, new research from Harvard Business Review Analytics Services (HBR), in partnership with Scout RFP, found that a large number of companies are lagging in the use of advanced digital technologies for non-customer-facing operating activities. One of the most prominent areas where digital transformation lacks is sourcing and procurement -- which is especially problematic due to increased pressure on businesses to increase efficiency, strategic thinking and collaboration.

Related: 6 Must-Have Tech Tools to Close More Sales

Organizations that have yet to prioritize digital transformation are hobbling their success and hindering their scaling efforts. A sourcing executive interviewed for HBR’s research paper drove home the crucial contributions of technology: “At a company growing as quickly as ours, technology has been essential to our ability to scale. We needed to scale up without asking for a huge investment, which meant we needed to automate.” Greg Tennyson, CPO of VSP Global, echoed this sentiment: “Automation allows all parties to get things done as quickly as possible without a lot of fanfare or oversight.”

So, this begs the question: Why aren’t businesses adopting technology to automate critical business functions as quickly as they should?

Related: 4 Ways Technology Improves the Human Resources (and Human) Experience

Top reasons, according to HBR research, include the inability to experiment quickly, legacy systems, the inability to work across silos, a risk-averse culture and a lack of corporate vision for digital. Take a 1-2-3 approach to mitigate these roadblocks:

  1. Appreciate: Understand how the right technology can transform your business -- and all the benefits it can unleash.
  2. Educate: Shift the mindset of your company -- all the way up to the top executive level -- to one that embraces and paves the way for a digital transformation.
  3. Automate: Research your options and select the technology that makes most sense for you. Ensure high adoption rates through a comprehensive adoption process.

Owens Corning, a global manufacturer of insulation, roofing and fiberglass composites, took this approach. As Gregg Focht, global indirect sourcing operations leader, noted in HBR’s research paper, “It’s our annual ritual to establish goals for value creation. They’re generally stretch goals, and we’re constantly looking for new and creative ways to meet them.” For the sourcing team, this entailed finding a technology that could meet their needs. “Because our team is global, we needed an easier way to collaborate, a way the older legacy systems could not provide. To address this disconnect, we adopted an automated and cloud-based solution so that the team, the business and suppliers could collaborate in real time.”

Related: Why Fintech Startups Need Smart Analytics

For Owens Corning, these efforts paid off handsomely. In 2016, the sourcing team contributed millions of dollars of hard savings, which helped helped the company achieve record levels of adjusted EBIT and free cash flow.

This is just one example of how the digital transformation can impact companies of all sizes and, ultimately, lead to better outcomes and a bigger business impact. Ready to embrace the potential of effective technology in your own organization? It’s as simple as 1-2-3.

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