Experiment proves future drones may not need batteries


On a single charge, the average consumer drone only nets about eight to 10 minutes of flight time. The solution is obvious: stuff a bigger battery into it. Problem is, the solution adds weight, which decreases flight time. It’s the ultimate catch-22. Dr. Samer Aldhaher of the Imperial College London thinks he has the answer, kinda. Aldhaher created a prototype of a lightweight, battery-less drone that hovers in place and sucks power from a transmitter below. The drone is only capable of hovering and making small side-to-side movements, but the prototype proves the utility of wireless power technology. As drones take to the skies in record numbers, a handful…

This story continues at The Next Web


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Updating your C-suite: Here’s why you need a chief customer officer

customer care

GUEST:

The customer always comes first. It’s a saying companies throw around a lot, but they rarely live and breathe it the way they should. It can be easy to forget what’s most important when you’re juggling finances, logistics, investors, and beyond. But there’s a way to keep your customer top of mind no matter what: Make an addition to your C-Suite by empowering a chief customer officer.

It’s a move many of America’s largest companies have made over the last couple of years, driven by the need to differentiate. To boil it down, the chief customer officer (CCO) serves as a top executive with the responsibility of designing, orchestrating, and improving customer experience in a way that impacts all levels of your brand. Progressive companies across a range of industries — from Dunkin Donuts to PNC Bank — have empowered CCOs to build an organization that puts the customer first. At its core, this means dedicating your business to ensuring the voice of the customer is heard and acted upon across the organization.

In an era of heightened customer expectations — in which every customer is also a broadcaster — having a CCO is essential. As with any new role within your company, it’s important to establish responsibilities for your CCO and empower them to hit the ground running.

Here are the top five responsibilities your chief customer officer should take on:

1. Establish a clear vision for customer experience

First and foremost, your CCO will be responsible for establishing a clear vision for customer experience. Striving for great customer experiences isn’t enough anymore. It’s too vague, says little about your company and, counter-intuitively, often leads to muddled, less than great experiences. Your CCO will be able to unpack what great customer experiences actually look like for your business, establishing an authentic company voice and setting clear standards for engaging with customers.

With an understanding of what customer experience looks like for your particular brand, your CCO should set aspirational goals and a roadmap to execute against.

2. Pick an organizational model that can be successful in your business

There are three types of organizational models that businesses typically put in place to support the CCO. In the first model, the CCO directly manages the people, programs, and budget for all customer-focused initiatives. In the second model, the CCO is an evangelist/change agent within the company and makes changes through influence and alliance with teams, particularly when it comes to budget and program authority. The third model is a hybrid of the first two, with the CCO being part of a function (typically marketing or operations) but working across a wider range of teams.

Any of the above models can be successful, depending on how they are implemented. The key is for the CCO to show enterprise results in the areas of loyalty, satisfaction, and profitability.

3. Give customers a voice in all company initiatives

For employees that don’t engage with customers on a regular basis, it can be difficult to grasp how customer feedback plays a role in everything from daily tasks to large projects. But the truth is, customer experience should be top of mind for all departments — from finance and billing to marketing and sales. That’s where your chief customer officer comes in.

CCOs can come from different walks of life — there is no specific career path that CCOs need to have followed to be successful. Many come from an operational background, often earlier in their careers, working in customer-facing roles in sales, support, or regional operational management roles. Others come from marketing and/or insights roles, helping companies qualify and quantify the voice of the customer.

Whoever takes on the role of chief customer officer should be prepared to bring customer feedback to the table, prioritizing initiatives to improve the customer experience, and clearly explaining how customer insights relate to each individual department. Your CCO should aggregate insights from multiple sources — social platforms, call centers, forums — to create a comprehensive overview of customer feedback and how each department impacts those statistics.

Once each department has a clear understanding of its role in customer experience, your CCO should work with each department on initiatives and act as a customer representative in all matters. Ultimately, the CCO is responsible for driving a new way of thinking from the C-suite to the frontline and back-office employees, always giving the customer a seat at the table for every new initiative.

4. Be proactive

It is the responsibility of the chief customer officer to bring a proactive approach to customer experience management. CCOs need to help their teams get in front of issues by instating simple guidelines for engaging with customers. With a CCO in your arsenal and a broader customer experience management team to back them up, your team will be able to proactively communicate with customers about new products, policies, and processes.

Service recovery should be less of a priority as customer insights are used to create and innovate better solutions before they cause issues. In other words, your CCO will be able to mitigate potential issues before they arise by incorporating customer feedback at all levels of business.

5. Share results with the entire company

Most importantly, the chief customer officer is responsible for educating their peers and the rest of the organization on the value of being a customer-centric company. As your CCO and customer engagement management team bring their customer experience roadmap to life, they’ll share successes, failures, and everything in between. It’s important that the entire company have a clear understanding of what the CCO hopes to accomplish and that updates on progress are given on a regular basis. Seeing is believing, which is why the CCO will need to share insights and achievements as often as possible.

With such an increased focus on customer experience, the CCO role will likely become more and more common. In the meantime, early adopters — those who truly understand the importance and power of the customer — will lead the charge in shaping this new C-suite role and will, no doubt, have a leg up on the competition.

Sid Banerjee is executive chairman of Clarabridge.

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Robotics tipping point: What business leaders and entrepreneurs need to know NOW (webinar)

robots

VB WEBINAR:

Join us for this live webinar on Friday, September 25 at 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern. Register here for free. 

Silicon Valley is at the center of the perfect storm of robotics.

It’s at the center of the talent, the investment and the research, the center of the software and hardware industries — all key ecosystem components to build the robotics companies that need to rise to serve the world’s future.

But the event horizon to make that happen is something that needs to be considered in terms of decades, not the typical start-up timelines of a few months to a few years, according to Andra Keay. Keay is managing director of Silicon Valley Robotics, and one of the panelists in this upcoming webinar that will be shedding light on what businesses need to know now to take advantage of the evolution that’s reaching a tipping point.

“Robotics moves slowly but it’s been around a long time,” she says. “The industry has done a great job over the last 50 years of helping us to envision what uses we could make of robots and what that could mean to the quality of our life and our economy. Yet, few of those promises have yet been met.”

The problem, according to Keay is that our expectation of robotics has been inflated.

“We did it wrong. We’ve created this situation where we look at robots as humanoid,” Keay says. “There’s no way that robots have anything like the capability of a person. It’s just absolutely impossible in this century for a robot to replace a human in anything.”

That’s not to say that robotics technology isn’t already very much a part of our lives, or that now isn’t the right time for the industry to become more established and scale.

“Five years ago in the industry we said, OK, the time is right,” Keay says. “It’s clear that robotics is at a point where it’s time to move into new areas. Out of industry, out of research labs, into the service industry and into the home.”

Robotics technologies are well engrained in certain industries, like automotive. It’s just that, for the average person, it doesn’t feel like something that’s particularly close to home. For this reason, it’s easy for people to dismiss robotics as science fiction because it seems so far away and the tipping point moments so elusive.

Understanding what that future may actually look like comes back to understanding the technological and economic drivers that are making robotics peek right now.

Don’t miss out!  Learn more about Andra Keay’s vision for the future of robotics by tuning-in for the webinar “How robotics will change everything, including your business.”

Register here for free.

“In many cases it will be taking this ubiquitous connectivity that mobility computing delivers and making a gradual transition to products that are just that much more powerful and versatile,” Keay says. “It’s not going to be a disruption, but once in a while one of those devices will change in how we use it and that will lead to other changes. I think that, with time, robotics will account for the same kind of seismic shift that the internet and computers had in the 20th century.”

One popular belief is that the growth of robotic technology will inevitably equate to the loss of human jobs. But Keay says there is good reason to believe that the opposite will be true.

“Everywhere I look there are industries that have increased the number of robots that they employ. They’ve also increased the number of people that they employ,” she says. “An exciting vision of the future is that of the skilled mobile tradesperson. They’ll still drive a pickup or an SUV but instead of a leaf blower, or a power tool, they’re working with smarter tools that are used in applications to take care of robots.”

Keay sees a correlation between this future of robot builders and technicians and the opportunity to create small, regional pockets of highly-specialized, entrepreneurial manufacturers and service providers of a variety of stripes to support niche industrial and commercial requirements for robotic technology. “Robots increase the number of jobs that are needed and they also increase the productivity of a company that allow it to expand and create even more jobs,” she says. “That will create opportunities for a new class of entrepreneurs.”

Ultimately, the future of robotic technology means creating machines that augment, not replace, humans and socializing the idea that people can work with robots in an integrated fashion.

“Some of those fences are starting to come down as computing power and intelligent algorithms lead us to a better understanding of how people can work alongside robots,” Keay says. “To make a significant impact on our economy, we need to build a lot of robots because there are not that many out there today.”

“People need to build them and people need to maintain them and the only way we can do that is to create opportunities for the industry to grow in Silicon Valley and elsewhere.”

What you’ll learn:

  • The key consumer and commercial applications of robots and drones
  • The role robots will play in societies and economies
  • How smartphone technologies will pave the way to robotics’ future
  • How cognitive technologies will transform our lives and business
  • The foundation of many IoT applications in shaping the way to robotics

Speakers:

Jim McGregor, Principal Analyst, Tirias Research
Andra Keay, Managing Director of Silicon Valley Robotics
Anthony Lewis, Senior Director of Technology, Qualcomm
Maged Zaki, Director of Technical Marketing, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.

This webinar is sponsored by Qualcomm.


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