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Filipino-founded audio company finds growth globally amid a pandemic

H-Audio Technologies is an audio tech company founded in 2017 by a Filipino American whose primary purpose was to sell sports headsets to raise money for the troubled, underprivileged Filipino youth.

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The coronavirus pandemic has been a nightmare for millions of businesses in every sector; most especially with the audio industry. There has been nothing but losses for huge companies such as Danish brand Bang & Olufsen who saw over one year’s worth of losses every single quarter, and Bose closing over a hundred stores this past 2020. With millions of loyal customers jobless, manufacturing services and shipping costs at ridiculous prices, and cashflow drying up, many wonder how they will survive.

But amid all the unfortunate circumstances, some companies were lucky enough to strategically build their business model canvas to survive an economic crisis.

H-Audio Technologies is an audio tech company founded in 2017 by a Filipino American whose primary purpose was to sell sports headsets to raise money for the troubled, underprivileged Filipino youth.

“I was a troubled kid and a nutcase growing up, so I pretty much know what these kids are going through on a day-to-day basis, and why they make the bad choices that they choose,” says founder Marcelle Marcelino, a veteran radio broadcaster and music industry veteran in the Philippines.

“I tried the white labeling route where I would ask get an already made product and stamp my logo on it, but unfortunately being a DJ and studio sound engineer for over two decades, I was never satisfied with the outcome. So I did what most would not do, fly around various cities, meet with manufacturing plants, and source every part that I needed to create a pretty solid product in terms of sound and durability.”

Going on its fourth year this June, H-Audio has already collaborated with major brands and companies such as Coca-Cola, Huawei, Philippine Airlines, and even the likes of Kobe Bryant who needed their own audio components and products manufactured for them.

On the other side of the spectrum, H-Audio currently has their own products in major retail stores such as Urban Gadgets, Power Mac Center, The Listening Room, and many others nationwide, such as the PH3, a Filipino designed active noise cancelling headphone whose majority proceeds (60%) goes towards animal welfare & programs to help the troubled Filipino youth.

They also are not stopping there with growth and expansion as their primary driver, H-Audio has been very busy the past year forming a solid partnership with a US-based company, The Four Pillars Company; a service supplier for multi-family, hospitality, and healthcare buildings. Some of their biggest current projects together this 2021 is innovating student housing projects and hotels with their customized audio mirrors, multimedia tables, and other products specifically made for their current on-going projects in Florida, Utah, and Alabama.

“The Four Pillars Company is proud to partner with H- Audio. The most valuable part of our partnership with H-Audio is their vision of infusing technology and audiophile-quality sound into everyday products. H-Audio has an eye for detail and design that creates excellent user interfaces for our clients.  Lastly, their vision to produce products that aren’t available from other manufacturers keeps us several steps ahead of our competition,” says J. Ryan Barrett, President and CEO of The Four Pillars Company.

Taking more giant leaps, H-Audio has also been in negotiations with a certain Brazilian company to open H-Audio Brazil by the end of 2021, along with its current trajectory to expand operations in Australia; all for the goal of having more people worldwide experience high quality audio products at a very fair price.

Definitely something a lot of us who have to stick to budgeting our expenses during what seems to be a never ending pandemic, really need.

For more information on H-Audio Technologies, head to the company’s Facebook page; Instagram account; and YouTube channel.

Tech & Innovation

5 Tech trends that will shape businesses in 2022

Here are the tech trends that businesses need to look out for this 2022 as listed by SAP SE. 

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Over the last two years, organizations of different sizes and industries have realized, even more, the critical role technology and innovation play in business and society. The latest developments in technology provided more ways to ensure more connected enterprises, enabling them to survive and thrive amid the ‘never normal.’

However, these advancements in technology have just begun. As organizations prepare for the post-pandemic world, technologies that have been introduced in recent years are expected to continue evolving. The latest advances will also further transform how people interact and work. 

Here are the tech trends that businesses need to look out for this 2022 as listed by SAP SE

Embracing Digital Transformation

Since the pandemic started, the speed at which digital transformation is fundamentally changing the business landscape has dramatically increased. The developments that could have happened in a decade or so were made possible overnight in many industries.

In the Philippines, the digital sector contributes significantly to its economy. This reality indicates that organizations in the private and public sectors will continue strengthening their digital transformation initiatives. Backed by strong government support, these transformations can unlock PhP5 trillion worth of economic value by 2030, according to a recent AlphaBeta and Google report.

Nurturing Sustainability

Nowadays, embracing sustainability has become an integral part of organizations, with business leaders considering it a strategic priority. Aside from top and bottom-line, forward-looking organizations add sustainability and even purpose as dimensions to driving business success. 

Among these organizations is Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC). As a leading infrastructure investment company, MPIC commits to contribute to the achievement of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 9, which seeks to ‘build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and foster innovation.’

Recently, MPIC strengthened its digital core as it embraced cloud solutions that can help consolidate, modernize, and standardize its enterprise resource (ERP) systems on a single platform. The integration into the cloud is part of the group’s sustainability philosophy of integrating business and environmental stewardship into their investment strategies. It helps improve its operations and augment sustainability initiatives, especially since SAP, MPIC’s technology partner, embeds sustainability into its core business processes.

Meanwhile, consumers are making apparent shifts to more sustainable products and services. According to a Kantar report, 75 percent of Filipino consumers seek out brands that offer ways to alleviate impacts to the environment. Even employees now make career choices based on their employer’s responsibility towards the planet. Thus, it is now even more integral to invest in innovation that considers environmental welfare while fostering economic and social development.

Integrating Decision Intelligence, Hyper-automation

In the Philippines, the Department of Trade and Industry noted that Artificial Intelligence (AI) adoption can increase the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 12 percent or equivalent to $92 billion by 2030.

Digital tools like AI, including augmented analytics and simulations, make “Decision Intelligence” a realistic approach to improve organizational decision-making. Each choice or decision in such a system result from multiple process iterations, refined with the help of analytics and data intelligence. With these digital tools, decision intelligence may support and enhance human decision-making and potentially automate it, hence augmenting organizational processes to be more efficient.

Meanwhile, scalability, remote operation, and business model disruption are also becoming possible with the use of Hyper-automation. Before the pandemic, businesses have been automating many processes through technologies like Robotic Process Automation (RPA). This trend will continue to grow for automating business and IT activities using a disciplined, business-driven approach. 

Rising Low-Code, No-Code Tech 

As content creation becomes even more relevant, graphic and website designs have been streamlined so users can simply “drag” and “drop” elements to create engaging content. This trend will extend to no-code AI, where users can create systems by simply “dragging” and “dropping” ready-made modules, removing the “programming language” barrier through simple interfaces. Consequently, it will allow users to create complex and robust AI systems.

Ensuring Total Experience (TX) 

Due to the pandemic, organizations needed to have an excellent Total Experience (TX) strategy or a holistic program that combines customer, user, and employee experiences. With this strategy in place, organizations can help enhance customer satisfaction and employee productivity. 

Organizations need to focus on weaving in these experiences instead of working on them individually to help ensure that they will be more satisfied as teams that work as an integrated unit. This trend is expected to continue as businesses eliminate communication and process silos and emphasize providing unified experiences to their employees remotely working while interacting with customers.

Collaborating with a Technology Partner

As these trends arise, organizations need a technology partner to help them achieve their business goals this year and beyond. For SAP, embracing technology means ensuring that the organization becomes an intelligent enterprise. 

As a technology partner for businesses in the country, SAP helps make it easier by offering solutions like Rise with SAP, an intelligent enterprise framework to help kickstart businesses’ digital transformation journey. In the Philippines, MPIC is the first organization to adopt this cloud technology through this Business Transformation as a Service (BTaaS), offering consolidated solutions and services needed for business transformation in one package.

Rise with SAP also includes SAP and its whole ecosystem of partners assisting organizations in changing at their own terms and pace to be an intelligent and sustainable enterprise by simplifying engagement and providing a guided journey.

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Strategies

Bad news? Send an AI. Good news? Send a human

For a marketer who is about to deliver bad news to a customer, an AI representative will improve that customer’s response. This would be the best approach for negative situations such as unexpectedly high price offers, cancellations, delays, negative evaluations, status changes, product defects, rejections, service failures, and stockouts. However, good news is best delivered by a human.

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Photo by Alex Knight from Unsplash.com

Researchers from University of Kentucky, University of Technology Sydney, and University of Illinois-Chicago published a new paper in the Journal of Marketing that examines the customer response and satisfaction implications of using AI agents versus human agents.

The study, appearing in the Journal of Marketing, is titled “Bad News? Send an AI. Good News? Send a Human” and is authored by Aaron Garvey, TaeWoo Kim, Adam Duhachek.

Are we more forgiving of an artificial intelligence (AI) agent than a human when we are let down? Less appreciative of an AI bot than a human when we are helped? New research examines these questions and discovers that consumers respond differently to favorable and unfavorable treatment at the hands of an AI agent versus another human.

Consumers and marketing managers currently are in a period of technological transition where AI agents are increasingly replacing human representatives. AI agents have been adopted across a broad range of consumer domains to handle customer transactions, including traditional retail, travel, ride and residence sharing, and even legal and medical services. Given AI agents’ advanced information processing capabilities and labor cost advantages, the transition away from human representatives for administering product and services is expected to continue. However, what are the implications for customer response and satisfaction? 

The researchers find that when a product or service offer is worse than expected, consumers respond better when dealing with an AI agent. In contrast, for an offer that is better than expected, consumers respond more favorably to a human agent. Garvey explains that “This happens because AI agents, compared to human agents, are perceived to have weaker personal intentions when making decisions. That is, since an AI agent is a non-human machine, consumers typically do not believe that an AI agent’s behavior is driven by underlying selfishness or kindness.” As a result, consumers believe that AI agents lack selfish intentions (which would typically be punished) in the case of an unfavorable offer and lack benevolent intentions (which would typically be rewarded) in the case of a favorable offer. 

Designing an AI agent to appear more humanlike can change consumer response. For example, a service robot that appears more humanlike (e.g., with human body structure and facial features) elicits more favorable responses to a better-than-expected offer than a more machinelike AI agent without human features. This occurs because AI agents that are more humanlike are perceived to have stronger intentions when making the offer. 

What does this mean for marketing managers? Kim says, “For a marketer who is about to deliver bad news to a customer, an AI representative will improve that customer’s response. This would be the best approach for negative situations such as unexpectedly high price offers, cancellations, delays, negative evaluations, status changes, product defects, rejections, service failures, and stockouts. However, good news is best delivered by a human. Unexpectedly positive outcomes could include expedited deliveries, rebates, upgrades, service bundles, exclusive offers, loyalty rewards and customer promotions.”

Managers can apply our findings to prioritize (vs. postpone) human to AI role transitions in situations where negative (vs. positive) interactions are more frequent. Moreover, even when a role transition is not entirely passed to an AI agent, the selective recruitment of an AI agent to disclose certain negative information could still be advantageous. Firms that have already transitioned to consumer-facing AI agents, including the multitude of online and mobile applications that use AI-based algorithms to create and administer offers, also stand to benefit from our findings. Our research reveals that AI agents should be selectively made to appear more or less humanlike depending upon the situation. 

For consumers, these findings reveal a “blind spot” when dealing with AI agents, particularly when considering offers that fall short of expectations. Indeed, the research reveals an ethical dilemma around the use of AI agents – is it appropriate to use AI to bypass consumer resistance to poor offers?

“We hope that making consumers aware of this phenomenon will improve their decision quality when dealing with AI agents, while also providing marketing managers techniques, such as making AI more humanlike in certain contexts, for managing this dilemma,” says Duhachek.

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Strategies

GoDaddy shares web design trends and tools for your business in 2022

With this new year, GoDaddy, the company empowering entrepreneurs worldwide, shares some website trends and tools for 2022, to help entrepreneurs and small businesses stand out online. 

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With more digital space being taken up by entrepreneurs and creatives, it has also become increasingly challenging to cut through the online noise. Having a business website, once just enough to help a business stand out from the competition, needs to now become a business home on the internet with engaging and impactful web design features designed to capture and sustain the attention of a more active and discerning online audience. This moves engaging and impactful web design from a nice-to-have to a must-to-have for online businesses. 

With this new year, GoDaddy, the company empowering entrepreneurs worldwide, shares some website trends and tools for 2022, to help entrepreneurs and small businesses stand out online. 

Trend 1: Mini-Max Principle

While minimalism could be summarized as “less is more,” sticking exclusively to its core elements, such as clean lines and muted colors, could seem repetitive or even boring. 

However, using this principle, along with pops of color to help stand up and bring attention to areas of your website,  can be a welcome addition on a website. Experimenting with text, image and content sizes could also prove beneficial.  For example, attention to mall details such as bigger buttons, could go a long way in terms of user experience and making your business website more navigable and easier to use. Another detail that sometimes gets taken for granted is typography. Larger text in some sections for emphasis or for visual-break purposes, can help in making your website more unique and for some, easier to read. 

Trend 2: Have a Hero Visual 

Selecting a singular, strong image for your hero section, or the first page of your website that website users will see, can help you more quickly stand out. A key visual that evokes focus, as well as displaying your brand’s values and offerings, versus a clutter of images to fill up a web page, often will resonate better with your viewing audience. 

Image selection is crucial with using those images that feature and support your brand.  Integrating an appreciation for nature and the outdoors are also emerging as a top trend option for images. Influenced by a yearning for travel, or for being outdoors in general, lifestyle shots showing people engaged in activities or those evoking a sense of place, are becoming more popular and appreciated by audiences.  

Trend 3: Leverage a Little Throwback 

Trends come and never really go. Case in point: the staying power of the ‘90s in fashion. The same is true for web design, where we’ll see references that are retro in nature, with websites having helpful information and showcasing a business’ products and services in easy to find spots on a website, never really goes out of style. Be creative and on the lookout for elements that can harken back to times when the Internet as we know it was only beginning to take shape, when people were trying a variety of ideas and innovation in terms of web design, content, and web layout. Try a few web design ideas to see what works best for your business and your brand and engages with your customers.

Consider mixing in modern aspects with retro features, such as serif fonts and smoother textures for your website, along with white spaces, so as to mix modern and retro aspects to further engage with your audiences and tell the story of your business and your brand. 

Choose the Right Website Creator Tool

Using a robust website creator tool can help a business reflect current design trends into their design templates. GoDaddy for example, offers its GoDaddy Website Builder, an easy-to-use web-based tool that gets entrepreneurs and creatives started with a template they could choose from thousands of free options, along with high-quality images available. This tool also comes with a dashboard to manage everything website-related from one place, on a variety of devices, to keep your business running. 

“At GoDaddy, we offer an integrated suite of online tools to help empower entrepreneurs at every stage of their entrepreneurship journey online, helping turn their website into prime digital real estate. When it comes to staying current with trends, our tools are both easy to use, and have options to allow your business website to have a seamless user experience, whether you’re going for a contemporary, retro,  trendy, or some other look and feel that best matches your business and your audience’s preferences,” said Tina Shieh, Marketing Director for Southeast Asia, GoDaddy. 

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