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Innovating Retail Sustainability with Startups leveraging SAP.iO

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This week at the SAP Digital NRF Experience Chantal Emmanuel, CTO and Co-founder of Limeloop, and Kange Kaneene, Vice President SAP.iO Foundries North America sat down with Megan Meany to discuss how Limeloop is innovating to save waste from packages associated with online shopping via reusable packaging paired with a shipping platform that provides reverse logistics, security and more.

Catch the interview here!

Alternative Data: Why You Need it & Where to Start

Today’s most critical asset in helping companies make better strategic decisions? Data. And in order to be a successful data-driven company with a competitive edge, internal data just won’t cut it. Companies must incorporate alternative data sources into the mix in order to take advantage of data-based insights, identify microtrends before they become exponential, and to successfully make key strategic business decisions. A perfect example of an alternative data source to tap into? Insights generated by SAP Partner NWO.ai whose solution harnesses machine learning techniques and human metadata to identify global cultural shifts early and throughout the lifecycle of trends.

The biggest challenges facing the alternative data era

As the complexity of companies and their source systems are growing at a rapid pace, business leaders are facing extreme difficulty in effectively managing these expanding systems of data. The complicated and time-consuming onboarding of data is simply not an option for organizations that need to operate efficiently and with agility. Organizations need a seamless and simple solution for accessing and onboarding data, while simultaneously preparing their systems for the cloud.

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Sustainable Retail Business Solutions from SAP Showcased During NRF 2022

The retail industry’s $3.9 trillion contribution to the U.S. annual GDP makes it the nation’s leading industry for private sector employment and uniquely positioned to address climate change.

As recently as the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) meetings, the National Retail Federation (NRF) stated, “Retailers will continue inventing and implementing pragmatic climate change solutions because the needs identified at COP26 demand nothing less.”

To help retailers digitally transform to make their businesses sustainable, SAP is featuring a number of offerings, including these:

  • The new SAP Intelligent Returns Management solution was built to optimize the returns process for the retail industry. The solution uses routing and dispositioning decisions driven by artificial intelligence (AI) to guide products from customers’ hands to the final dispositioning steps, ultimately maximizing customer experience and company margins while also mitigating waste.
  • The recently updated SAP Assortment Planning application now offers advanced category management capabilities. It uses customer data science, assortment strategies, business rules and AI to plan space-aware, localized assortments with a user experience designed for the needs of today’s category manager. Customer-centric, relevant assortments increase customer loyalty, boost profitability and support a more sustainable supply chain.
  • The SAP.iO Foundries program is a network of startup companies with integrations to SAP solutions, including:
    • Algramooffering a circular platform that encourages consumers to buy in a more convenient, affordable way with zero waste and connects people, brands and retailers in an engaging way to change consumption habits
    • EcoCarthelping thousands of e-commerce brands offer carbon-neutral products
    • Everledgerleveraging blockchain and the Internet of Things to offer transparency into supply chains for clarity on quality, origin, sustainability footprint and compliance standards
    • EVRYTHNGhelping customers run their businesses differently with real-time data intelligence from each of their products end to end, from factory to consumer and beyond
    • Inspectoriowith a dynamic and risk-assessment-based quality compliance program that provides digitalization, automation, transparency and traceability
    • LimeLoop, offering a platform for sustainable shipping including reusable packaging, real-time tracking and predictive analytics
    • Specright, providing a purpose-built platform for specification management that fundamentally changes how brands, suppliers, manufacturers and retailers manage data and collaborate to bring products to market

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Crosschq Sweeps the Table and Named a Leader Overall in the G2 Reference Check Software Winter 2022 Report

Crosschq, pioneers of the Talent Intelligence Cloud powering a revolution in data-driven hiring and people analytics, announced it has been named a Leader in the G2 Reference Check Software Winter 2022 Report. Crosschq beat out all of its competitors in the Momentum category for Reference Check Software, the Relationship Reference Check Index and the Implementation Index. Additionally, Crosschq’s customers have ranked the company best for ease of use and quality of support.

“Crosschq provides bias-free, data-driven insights and predictive analytics to quantifiably improve Quality of Hire,” said Mike Fitzsimmons, CEO and Crosschq. “This is the second year in a row where we’ve led in the reference check category. These latest G2 scores validate our mission to help the world build diverse, winning teams, as well as our commitment to empowering strategic talent leaders to make objective, data-driven hiring decisions that support and optimize business outcomes.”

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London’s learning management system Looop acquired by 360Learning for $20 million

arisian collaborative learning platform 360Learning has acquired Looop for $20 million in a mix of cash and shares. 360Learning received a strong vote of confidence last October when it announced a $200 million investment round co-led by Sumeru, SoftBank, and Silver Lake Waterman, and M&A activities were specifically mentioned. The Looop acquisition marks a first for the company, with presumably more announcements in the future.

Having had a front-row seat to the damage that substandard learning and development programmes can have on business, staff morale, and productivity, in 2014 Ben Muzzell and Dan Gray set out to build a better mousetrap. Employing a series of automations, Looop is a learning management system that eschews the repetitive manual work from the process, resulting in an embedded process that allows teams to create resources with as much, or as little, content as desired, sourced from any input, and delivered when needed.

In doing so, that mousetrap has struck a chord, as Looop reports consistently achieving outstanding satisfaction ratings on eLearning platforms including Capterra (4.9/5), G2 (4.9/5), and eLearning Industry (97%), and has become the defacto L&D provider to companies including Klarna, Monzo, Cazoo, and ASOS. If the credentials don’t already speak for themselves, Looop reports an annual growth rate of 100%, all while being cash flow positive.

From 360Learning’s perspective, the acquisition couldn’t happen at a better time. As the effects of the pandemic continue to play out, companies around the globe are beginning to see the Great Resignation kicking into gear and are pumping huge amounts of capital into talent retention, least of which, learning and development programmes. How much capital? According to Market and Markets, over the next four years, corporate spending on L&D will surge from the $15.8 billion seen in 2021 to a robust $37.9 billion by 2026.

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LiLz uses computer vision to read gauges and dials where humans prefer not to tread

No one wants to be the maintenance worker who has to hike through half a mile of damp hallways just to check the pressure gauge on a valve somewhere. LiLz makes it possible to keep an eye on such inconvenient physical interfaces remotely with a clever and practical application of machine learning.

The Japanese (specifically Okinawan) startup has been around for a little while — in fact our colleagues at TC JP have written them up. But despite the seemingly obvious value of its service, it hasn’t quite hit the big time yet. LiLz participated in CES as part of the country’s trade group, along with a bunch more companies listed here.

LiLz’s device looks a bit like a chubby tablet without a screen. It’s essentially a camera, light and processing and communications chips packed in with a big battery — enough power to last up to three years.

You mount the device so it can see the gauge or dial in question. After confirming picture and signal, you configure it in the app to interpret what it’s pointed at; it can read circular, semicircular and linear gauges, digital and rolling or analog digit displays, or things like colored warning lights.

Once it’s set up, it’ll send readings live or at intervals to a central dashboard, or make them available via API so they can be queried or recorded elsewhere. The data goes out via LTE or Bluetooth.

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‘Paradox’ startup company becomes unicorn with ‘Olivia’ investment

Paradox, the startup that developed Olivia – a digital recruiter that communicates with job applicants, completed a $200 million round of funding at a value of $1.5 billion and has become a unicorn, due to the company’s investment in the digital recruiter.
Olivia, Paradox’s core product, is a virtual personal assistant that joins human recruitment teams and helps them automate all recruitment processes. For example, the software checks and screens the suitability of a resume for relevant jobs, carries out automatic interview scheduling, reminds the candidate to fill out forms and provides information that would be accessible to recruitment teams and other candidates. It can also send job offers automatically to possible candidates.
Over the past year, Olivia has conducted 30 million job interviews for hundreds of companies in some 50 countries and has independently scheduled 3.1 million interviews. Paradox began operating in Israel in early 2021 after acquiring the startup Spetz, whose workers integrated with the company.

Augmented Reality Boosts Online Shopping Sales up to 200%

For shoppers who’ve yearned for an immersive, personalized experience that’s open 24/7, mobile augmented reality (AR) technology is the real-time deal of the next era. Bangalore-based startup Adloid is leading the charge with a platform that turns two-dimensional search and discovery into a full-fledged 3D experience, whether someone is in the market for automobiles or bikes, household furniture, consumer electronics, or personal lifestyle products.

“Our AR platform gives consumers and companies personalized virtual shopping and training experiences, expanding the horizon of what AR can do for any brand or company,” said Kanav Singla, founder and CEO of Adloid. “We’re making the benefits of this technology more accessible and contextual to create an immersive experience for customers or employees on an e-commerce Website or within applications, directly from someone’s mobile device.”

Unlike earlier AR tech that relied on clunky headsets with varied compatibility, Adloid’s AR platform runs on any smartphone, allowing customers to experience products at scale, in context. Once the online shopper logs in through their phone, the device’s camera scans their real-world surroundings and virtually mirrors the retailer’s or manufacturer’s product.

“People can see how a new sofa or chair would fit into their home or apartment with a click of their smartphone,” said Singla. “Consumers can virtually try on jewelry, makeup, and other products. Remote workers can see if that laptop, screen, and desk configuration will fit in their home office. It’s as if the actual products are in front of you.”

He added that manufacturers were interested in using the AR platform within training modules for industrial machinery service technicians, providing them with hands-on learning in a virtual setting.

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Offering Bespoke One-On-One Mentoring To Employees Helps Retain Workers

What keeps CEOs up at night is worrying about how to attract, recruit and retain workers. The job market is so challenging that Apple is awarding bonuses up to $180,000 to keep software engineers from being poached by rivals like Meta, Amazon and Google. Deskless people who work in warehouses, fulfillment centers, restaurants, bars and department stores are being offered sign-on bonuses, wage increases, flexible schedules and free college tuition.

Innovative startups are seeking out new creative ways to help businesses mentor, upskill, cross-train and help employees succeed, so that the odds will increase that people will stick around. GrowthSpace, an Israeli-based tech company, offers a clever way to help CEOs fight attrition by offering personalized learning and development programs (L&D), driven by an artificial intelligence data-driven platform.

The startup connects workers with an appropriate mentor. The employee will have one-on-one, personalized programs that match each employee’s challenge with the right expert, coach or mentor. In addition to specifically tailored advice and guidance, based on the employee’s needs, managers receive feedback simultaneously that measures progress to ensure the plan is efficient and effective.

On a Mission to Build the Next Generation of HR and Recruiting Software through Conversational AI, Paradox Raises $200M Series C

Paradox, the conversational recruiting platform built to give every recruiter, hiring manager, and talent professional an assistant to get work done, announced a $200M Series C investment. The round was led by Stripes, Sapphire, and Thoma Bravo, and included participation from Workday Ventures, Willoughby Capital, Twilio Ventures, Blue Cloud Ventures, Geodesic, Principia Growth, DLA Piper Venture Fund and current investor Brighton Park Capital.

Paradox’s vision is embodied by Olivia — the conversational AI assistant helping companies like Unilever, Nestle, McDonald’s, CVS Health, and General Motors automate tasks like candidate screening, interview scheduling, onboarding, and more through smart, simple, mobile-first experiences. In just five years, Olivia has helped 500+ global clients save millions of hours of manual work — freeing their teams up to spend time with people, not software.

“When we created Paradox, we saw a future where software became invisible — driven by conversations that untether people from their desktop through an assistant who gets work done for them. That vision is now taking hold in some of the biggest companies in the world and we couldn’t be prouder of that accomplishment,” said Paradox founder and CEO, Aaron Matos.

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Sounding Board, Inc. Named Bronze Winner in the 2021 Brandon Hall Group Excellence in Technology Awards

Sounding Board, Inc, the first customizable leadership coaching platform that combines technology and coaching to drive measurable business impact, was recognized with a coveted Brandon Hall Group bronze award for tech excellence in the Best Advance in Online Coaching Tools category. Sounding Board’s award was announced earlier this month on the heels of the company’s recent news of its Series B fund.

“It is exciting to see the industry recognize the breadth and depth of our solution at Sounding Board – 54% of companies plan to increase their use of internal and external coaching to deliver coaching and Sounding Board will be the technology platform to enable that at scale,” Christine Tao, Co-founder & CEO of Sounding Board.

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Gtmhub’s $120 Million Series C Financing

Gtmhub, an objectives and key results (OKR) platform, announced its $120 million Series C financing led by Index Ventures. The company’s OKR management software is designed to help fast-growing companies combine goal management and data integration to support human decision-making. The new capital will be put toward hiring and product expansion.

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Automation Anywhere expands into process discovery with FortressIQ acquisition

Automation Anywhere, which is best known for its robotic process automation (RPA) software, plans to expand the platform. The company announced that it intends to acquire process discovery startup FortressIQ. The companies did not reveal the purchase price. FortressIQ gives Automation Anywhere this missing process discovery component, which enables AI-fueled software to map internal processes in an automated way, replacing high-priced consultants.

“Together, Automation Anywhere and FortressIQ will reshape the future of automation, changing the way our customers automate, adapt, and accelerate as they pursue digital transformation initiatives,” Automation Anywhere CEO and co-founder Mihir Shukla said in a statement.

While there is more than a hint of executive bombast in that statement, the acquisition does expand the company’s capabilities. Consider that FortressIQ raised $46 million since its founding in 2017, according to PitchBook data. We covered the $12 million Series A in 2018 and $30 million Series B last year.

But compare that with Celonis, the market leader, which has attracted $1.4 billion in investment, according to Crunchbase data, including a massive $1 billion Series B on an $11 billion valuation in June. That followed a significant agreement with IBM in April to help sell its services inside large organizations.

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South Korean Payments Firm CHAI Pockets US$45 Million in Series B+ Fundraise

South Korean payments startup CHAI raised US$45 million during a Series B+ funding round that was co-led by SoftBank Ventures Asia (SBVA) and Nyca Partners.

SBVA’s participation in this funding round marks their second Series B investment into CHAI.

The round also received additional participation from investors such as KT Investment, Conductive Ventures, Nordstar Capital, Samsung NEXT and B Capital.

CHAI said that it will use this funding to expand its footprint in Southeast Asia and develop a fully automated end-to-end payment infrastructure for digital merchants throughout Asia.

Founded in 2019, CHAI aims to bridge the payments gap in Asian markets by providing a unified payment orchestration solution for local merchants through a single application programming interface (API).

Through CHAI Port, merchants can activate and offer over 30 payment options such as credit cards, digital wallets, bank transfers and cross-border payments to their customers in under an hour.

CHAI currently processes more than US$6 billion on behalf of over 2,2 00 merchants and had launched CHAI Port in Vietnam and Thailand

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This CEO’s speech impediment led him to rethink virtual recruiting

As employers revamp their recruiting processes and continue to rebuild an ever-changing workforce, how can they be sure they’re allowing all candidates to be their genuine selves?

This is a common roadblock for people with speech impediments, says Jahanzaib Ansari, CEO of Knockri, a video recruiting platform. An estimated 3 million Americans struggle with stuttering, according to the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders. These speech impairments may impact a person’s ability to navigate high-pressure situations like a job interview, a challenge Ansari has faced throughout his career.

But the perceptions — and misconceptions — around this disability are often more damaging than the speech impediment itself, Ansari says.

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