The Ascent Podcast – LaaS: Leadership as a Service

In episode six of the Ascent podcast, Andrew Tarvin speaks with Vanessa Liu, Vice President of SAP.iO Foundries North America. They discuss topics including diversity and inclusion in the start-up community, habits of successful entrepreneurs, and Vanessa’s experience working with founders at SAP’s accelerator. Andrew and Vanessa also discuss thoughts on their outlook for 2021 and the changing nature of the start-up community.

Listen in here…

Adverity Is Number One in 2021 g2 Winter Report for Big Data Integration Platform

Adverity, a leading marketing data intelligence platform, has ranked number one in the Momentum Grid Report for Big Data Integration in the G2 Winter 2021 Report. It also continues to be recognised as a momentum leader across four other categories – Marketing Analytics Software, Data Visualization Software, E-commerce Data Integration and ETL Tools.

Top for product satisfaction in the Big Data Integration category with a score of 96%, Adverity also holds second place in the ETL Tools category; boasting a higher product satisfaction score than the category leader. 

It maintains third position in the E-commerce Data Integration category, while solidifying its status in the top five Data Visualizations products and remaining in the top ten Marketing Analytics Software products.

G2 rankings are based on data provided by verified users that share their experiences and feedback on software. The platform has more than one million independent user reviews and is read by over four million users each month. Every quarter, G2 Crowd publishes its Grid report, ranking software by extracting data from multiple online sources to determine market presence, satisfaction scores from customers, and market leadership.

The latest recognition follows a positive year for Adverity where it was previously named a Momentum Leader for ETL tools in the G2 Summer 2020 and Fall 2020 reports respectively. During this period it also moved into, and remained, in the Grid Report for Marketing Analytics top ten.

Read More…

Every Return Saved Is a Win for Consumers, Brands, and the Planet

If the CEO of Presize has his way, clothing returns will be a relic of the past, and online retail brands will not sacrifice business for the sake of the environment.

The startup’s cloud-based app uses artificial intelligence (AI) to calculate clothing sizes for individual online shoppers. Much more than welcome relief for anyone who has ever hesitated to buy clothing online because they were uncertain of their size, the tool reduces size-related product returns by 50% on average.

“Sustainability is core to our mission,” said Leon Szeli, co-founder and CEO. “Every product return we save is a win for the consumer, the brand, and the planet. Every item of clothing that consumers scan using our app means fewer returns. This contributes to a lower carbon footprint for the planet, less time wasted for shoppers, and greater cost-savings for retail brands.”

Sustainability Is the Perfect Fit for Online Shopping

Based in Germany, Presize serves well-known clothing apparel brands in that country and throughout Western Europe. Its online sizing tool has provided half a million recommendations to delighted consumers. Instead of second-guessing ambiguous size charts, shoppers simply click on the “find my size” button, answer basic questions that include their height, weight, and gender, upload a video of themselves if they choose, and then the algorithm provides their best size for that product. Behind the scenes, AI-fueled algorithms learn from dynamic data analyses.

“We constantly train the algorithm using data from hundreds of thousands of human shapes and other variables, plus stock-keeping units (SKUs) from clothing manufacturers, and layer that with product return information,” Szeli said. “Once someone saves their size ID, it can be applied to any brand that uses the Presize app, making shopping much easier. Shoppers can even share their size information with family and friends.”

According to Szeli, online retailers that use the Presize app on their website have increased conversion rates, meaning consumer sales, by up to 25%. As with any AI-based tool, user adoption is critical for calculation accuracy. Szeli said that approximately 10% of shoppers use the tool when it is available on a brand’s site.

“A big part of sizing uncertainty is the diversity between brands, Szeli explained. “Every product is different, and we want to help consumers regardless of what brand of clothing they buy.”

Digital Insights for Sustainable Results

Presize is the culmination of Szeli’s two major career passions: conducting research and having a positive impact on the world. As a university student in the U.S. and the UK, he focused on human trust in AI-based technology. However, he quickly realized that he wanted to accomplish much more than producing papers for niche audiences. When he met his co-founders, who were working with computer vision and AI, they embarked on a journey to literally change the world – beginning with online shopping.

“I wanted to do something entrepreneurial that would have a much wider impact and change people’s lives for the better,” Szeli said. “I saw the problem of product returns as a sustainability issue that wasted environmental resources, as well as time and money for businesses and their customers.”

Read More…

Paradox Acquires Israeli Chatbot Spetz.io To Accelerate Innovation And Expand Global Client Service Capabilities

Paradox, the leading conversational AI platform helping global talent acquisition teams automate recruiting tasks like screening, interview scheduling, and candidate communications, announced today the acquisition of Spetz.io, an Israeli startup helping clients like EY and Sodastream modernize candidate communications.

Founded in Tel Aviv in 2017, Spetz has quickly developed a reputation as a product-led, client-centric startup in Israel — a country with a rich history of building world-class AI and machine learning technologies.

The acquisition highlights Paradox’s strategic investment in global innovation and world-class client services, said Paradox founder and CEO Aaron Matos. But it wasn’t just about creating another R&D center. Just as important, Matos said the Spetz team’s vision, mission, and values closely aligned with Paradox.

Read More…

Q&A With Cogniac | SAP.iO Interview Series

Rheaply’s VP of External Affairs, Tom Fecarotta, met with Vahan Tchakerian of Cogniac to discuss their organization’s mission and involvement in the SAP.iO Foundry Cohort.

This is Part 1 of 3 in Rheaply’s discussions with other SAP.iO cohort members. Stay tuned for future Q&A’s with Wise Systems and Ivaldi.

Cogniac Q&A

Tom: I’m going to steal this first question from an investor who asked us this. Give me the high school version of the boilerplate and the version for a college student who maybe knows a little bit about AI.

Vahan: I always try to simplify things down. So we know our business, right, but when we introduce it to a new set of people, it’s always like, “what is AI?” Because AI is so universally used — everything is about AI today. For our purposes, we offer an AI platform — a software platform — where we’re working with a combination of neural networks and a deep learning component to automate visual inspection tasks. So anybody doing any sort of inspection is a candidate to use our solution. What’s really beneficial about what we do and how we do it is we’re offering a superhuman level of accuracy in work. In today’s world, inspections and products are super complex — at this rate, humans are missing stuff. We’re not only able to catch these things but catch them quickly, so we are really preventing any sort of downstream failures, etc. — that’s one of the benefits, along with more efficiency.

Tom: James, anything to add to that?

James: No, as Vahan mentioned, it’s going above and beyond what a human is currently capable of — that superhuman aspect is one that we tend to focus on. It’s a game-changer in the visual inspection world because it’s doing so much more at such a high level and operating at such a high degree of accuracy that it’s going to fundamentally change visual inspection and the AI industry within the manufacturing verticals we work in.

Tom: Yeah, that’s really interesting. Talk to me a little more about the application itself. Walk me through the use case for an end user and what that experience looks like.
Vahan: Sure. What we’ve tried to do is make the engagement super simple, to the point that there are no data scientists required — it’s literally technician-level work. Let’s say I’m talking to a potential customer — they have a subject matter expert on a given use case, and what the subject matter expert would need to do is label a few images. In traditional machine vision, somebody would be required to label tens of thousands of images, if not hundreds of thousands; in our case, it’s a few hundred images in what we call established ground truth. Everything we do is teaching with examples, right, in the simplest form. 

Let’s say we’re looking at a cast part — there’s a good part and a bad part. We have to have enough examples of a good part and a few more of a bad part to establish the ground truth of what that looks like. Then we upload that in our platform and the platform starts to make predictions against that data. So consistent labeling is key, and also key is having enough of a dataset of images where you establish ground truth to get the engine running through what we call AI creating AI. So then we look at these predictions, and the subject matter expert says, “You know what, this is kind of close, this is not close,” and so forth. Then there’s some fine-tuning back and forth between the subject matter expert and our platform, and within a couple weeks you’re looking at 95, 98, 100% model accuracy. So that’s the benefit of getting there really quickly, and if you’ve gone down the wrong path, it’s really easy to re-establish yourself and how you do your labeling.

Tom: Is this set into a maintenance system or some kind of internal system that can tell users about the health of item within a warehouse? What does the integration set look like?

Vahan: When we find something that is outside of the norm or there’s an issue, we would send an alert in any way the customer would want to see. Our platform is cloud-based or can be on-prem. Most of our customers are in the cloud. With a cloud solution in a manufacturing environment where someone needs super fast response, alerts — under a second, for example — then you would incorporate what we call an edge appliance. This edge appliance is basically doing the processing of the application at the edge — and if it finds something that’s outside the norm, it can send an alert to any user in any form that’s needed.

Tom: Wow, that’s really cool. I think we’re similar in the respect of wanting to make the process of finding things and understanding their utility easier, and in your case, you’re also working to determine what is potentially needed to improve a particular asset for people. And I think that’s really interesting.

This is a perfect segue into sustainability. Read More….

BigID Raises $70M to Become New York’s Newest Unicorn

’s estimated that the total amount of data is expected to reach 59 zettabytes this year with 90% of that data created in the last two years alone. With such an exponential increase in data, companies are racing to protect the data they maintain and regulatory initiatives like GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act are formalizing standards.  BigID is the data intelligence platform that leverages advanced machine learning and automation to allow customers to seamlessly protect sensitive data, be compliant will data privacy laws, and ensure compliance with data sharing requirements.   The company offers a foundation product that provides companies with visibility of all their data across the data landscape and additional apps provide added intelligence and specialized insight into privacy, protection, and perspective.

AlleyWatch caught up with Cofounder and CEO Dimitri Sirota to learn more about the data protection ecosystem the company has built, its future plans, and recent round of funding, which comes at a $1B valuation and brings the total funding raised to $216.1M for the company founded in 2016.

Who were your investors and how much did you raise?

This was our Series D round. Salesforce Ventures and Tiger Global co-led the round with participation from Glynn Capital and existing investors Bessemer Venture Partners, Scale Venture Partners, and Boldstart Ventures.

Tell us about the product or service that BigID offers.

BigID’s data intelligence platform enables organizations to know their enterprise data and take action for privacy, protection, and perspective.  Customers deploy our product to proactively discover, manage, protect, and get more value from their regulated, sensitive, and personal data across their data landscape. Our ML-based data discovery foundation helps organizations know their data across their entire data landscape (from mainframe to cloud to on-prem), and our app framework lets you action that data – we have apps for privacy, security, and governance that range from a data risk app to a data retention app to a data remediation app and more.

Read More…

Fresh from Demo Day: the technology that wants to overpower your air conditioner and the system that will connect to almost any drone

The most interesting graduate from the latest cycle of SAP.io – the accelerator from SAP Global – is Trendemon. At Trendemon they have created a platform for companies designed to improve their ability to understand and accelerate the impact of their marketing efforts on sales. Trendemon has developed a platform that maps the customer’s journeys, ranks the impact of the company’s various content on business goals and personalizes the content on the site.

Read More…

SAP Among the World’s Top 25 Startup-Friendly Companies and Winner of Corporate Startup Accelerator Award

WALLDORF — SAP SE (NYSE: SAP) today announced it has been recognized with a Corporate Startup Stars Award as one of the Top 25 most active companies to encourage open innovation with startups.

SAP also received a Corporate Startup Accelerator Award for its acceleration efforts and identifying worldwide best practices in corporate-startup collaboration. The announcement was made at the digital award ceremony hosted by open innovation advisory firm Mind the Bridge and the International Chamber of Commerce, on December 15.

Engaging with early stage startups is an important aspect of SAP’s holistic open innovation approach to remain agile and resilient in today’s global marketplace. This includes dedicated programs within SAP’s early stage venture arm SAP.iO to scout and accelerate new ideas and talent inside and outside of the company.

“At SAP, we know that we can mutually benefit from outside-in perspectives to inspire innovation and drive business impact for our customers,” said Juergen Mueller, chief technology officer and member of the Executive Board of SAP SE. “Since 2017, we have helped scale more than 270 promising startups across all lines of business and industries in nine locations across the globe. Providing them with the access and resources they need to build on SAP solutions complements our portfolio and internal innovation efforts, which enables our customers to gain even more value from their SAP investments.”

For the fifth year, startups have been asked to nominate the companies that are most active and friendly in working with small businesses. Started in 2016 under the European Commission’s Startup Europe Partnership initiative, the Corporate Startup Stars Awards have been scaled to include corporations and startups worldwide through the partnership between Mind the Bridge and the International Chamber of Commerce.

“SAP has consistently proven to be one of the most startup-friendly corporations worldwide by engaging with startups in multiple modes, ranging from acceleration and partnerships to investments and acquisitions,” said Alberto Onetti, chairman, Mind the Bridge. “We appreciate the approach SAP.iO has taken and its recent evolution. The combination of startup and employee-driven innovation and the renewed focus on scaling companies makes SAP.iO a benchmark globally for rethinking and optimizing the corporate accelerator model.”

To learn more about how SAP is helping innovators inside and outside of SAP build products, find customers and change industries, please visit SAP.iO.

Visit the SAP News Center. Follow SAP on Twitter at @SAPNews.

Media Contact:
Lesa Beber, +1 (650) 390-1629, lesa.beber@sap.com, ET
SAP Press Roompress@sap.com

What the Rockefeller Center Tree Means for Last-Mile Deliveries

The celebrated Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree arrived in New York recently, ready to take its place as the epicenter of the 2020 holidays. This perennial centerpiece of millions of photos and family memories is a sparkly, over-the-top reminder that while many aspects of our lives are different this year, certain institutions and traditions will not be disrupted. But, where many look at the arrival of the tree and reflect on the pandemic’s impact on beloved holiday traditions, the last-mile delivery industry has a different view.

Last-mile professionals—networks of dispatchers and drivers that get goods and parcels from warehouses and distribution centers to retailers, businesses, and residential doorsteps—make it possible for so many people to stay safely home and receive the goods they need. But, even before the pandemic and the 2020 holiday season, the industry was already struggling to meet its efficiency and customer service goals while using legacy technologies.

Then, virtually overnight, COVID-19 accelerated customers’ willingness to shop online, adding volume to already stressed systems—e-commerce surpassed expectations and grew by over 30% this year. So instead of a measured, steady progression that last-mile teams could gradually absorb, the long-promised changes in customer behavior arrived at lightspeed. This condensed adaptation offered last-mile operations precious little time to match customer behavior or implement more modern, dynamic infrastructure.

Customer behavior has been massively influenced by the pandemic, reducing overall spending and changing purchasing plans. The Deloitte State of the Consumer survey offers a fascinating window into current consumer attitudes and concerns, including shopping intent, with grim implications for the retail sector, which has already seen several notable brands declare bankruptcy. For this year’s holiday shopping, many are expected to forgo Black Friday and crowded malls for the safety and efficiency of their nearest screen. They’ll rely on complex-yet-invisible processes to get purchases from their digital shopping basket to their doorsteps. And retailers are bracing for an expected surge to already high online sales. But exactly how do items get to the customer?

Once an order is complete, items are picked and packed at the local retailer or retailer’s warehouse. From there, packages are sent to a regional distribution center where they’re sorted, routed, and delivered by a driver. That last leg of the relay from the distribution center to the customer’s doorstep—the “last mile”—is an incredibly challenging and fast-moving industry. The logistics industry estimates the last-mile can account for up to 40% of total transportation cost. It’s where things can come together beautifully to deliver on a brand’s promise, or fall apart spectacularly, tarnishing reputations and customers’ goodwill.

So why is last-mile delivery so complicated? Mathematically, it’s one of the most complex problems to solve—how to efficiently route many vehicles with multiple stops and numerous other variables and constraints. In academic circles, it’s known as the Traveling Salesman Problem or TSP. It has applications ranging from logistics to DNA sequencing to chip design. In the real world, it’s a mix of mathematical and human factors.

Read More…

How VNTANA Is Helping Save Retail With Augmented Reality

In mere months, COVID-19 propelled us five years into the future when it comes to digital adoption, according to global consulting firm McKinsey.

You can see this playing out across industries. Restaurants are improving online ordering and delivery capabilities. Telehealth is increasingly available for patients who need it. Online learning has become a mandatory option for students of all ages. On and on and on.

“Digital trends were already picking up steam,” said Ashley Crowder, CEO and cofounder of VNTANA. “But COVID-19 has brought everything to the fore now. What used to be a nice-to-have is now a must-have.”

Read More…

Paradox Takes Home Gold and Silver in Brandon Hall Group’s 2020 Excellence in Technology Awards

Paradox, the leading Assistive Intelligence platform for talent experience, announced today that it was recognized with two Brandon Hall Group Excellence in Technology awards, including the Gold award for Best Advance in AI for Business Impact — a new award introduced for 2020 in the Future of Work category. Paradox also won Silver in Best Advancement in Talent Acquisition Technology for the second consecutive year.

“With the help of our clients, Paradox has been fortunate to create new opportunities and accelerate innovative solutions to allow these organizations to stay agile during some of the most challenging times most of us have ever experienced,” said Aaron Matos, Paradox’s founder and CEO. “It’s always been our mission to make best-in-class products that solve real problems for our clients, and we’re grateful to have been able to deliver on those promises and help them adapt to 2020’s many obstacles.”

Brandon Hall Group is a globally renowned research and analyst firm with more than 10,000 clients and 25 years experience delivering research-based solutions. The Excellence Awards recognize the best organizations that have successfully deployed programs, strategies, processes, systems, and tools that have achieved measurable results. The program attracts entrants from leading companies around the world, as well as mid-market and smaller firms.

Read More…

Exploring AI in Logistics and Last Mile Delivery, Innovation in Customer Experience, and A Rebel’s Story of Normalizing Hijabi for Women in Stem w/ Layla Shaikley of Wise Systems

This is a story that is unique and one that needs to be evangelized. Layla Shaikley, co-founder of a tech start-up that has seen explosive growth in logistics tech and AI-driven optimization within last mile stumbled into supply chain. She actually has a background in architecture and design. As an Iraqi woman, she wanted to make mobility safe during the most recent Iraqi war. It was during an elective class in the media lab at MIT (while she was getting her 2nd masters degree) that a seemingly small class project – “how to change 1 billion lives with technology” – would change the course of her life forever.

Besides from being absolutely brilliant and an advocate for women in STEM, Layla is passionate about normalizing Hijabi in our domain and helping college graduates and millennials land the job of their dreams. She has a massive TikTok and Instagram following with millions of views (username @laylool). Layla believes that drivers have a really HARD job and so many focus on the last mile, but what about the last 100 feet?

Layla believes that the future of work is still human and the driver’s experience IS the customer experience in many ways. In Episode 48, you’ll learn about Layla’s passion in customer service and solving wicked problems in logistics, problems that are relevant when we imagine the future of work, autonomous supply chains, drones, and autonomous delivery. She shares outcomes from customer stories of dramatic effects realized in CO2 reduction when using Wise Systems’ AI-enabled optimization.

The expectation for enterprise applications is that they are as seamless like in the consumer world. Layla unpacks Dominos and Zappos examples where customer loyalty comes from good customer experience. She also describes diversity as a business imperative and insights as an SAP.iO foundry superstar (shout out to John Licata)! We have a huge industry with rapidly evolving needs. Where do you stand on innovation and embracing diversity for better product design and customer outcomes.

Listen Here…

Moments of Opportunity and Innovation in the Consumer Products Industry

With the support of the latest startup innovations, consumer products companies are thriving and exceeding consumer expectations in moments of opportunity, now detailed in a new report by SAP.

The consumer products industry has had to move quickly to respond to the various implications of the COVID-19 pandemic. The digital transformation of all industries has been accelerated due to challenges such as radical demand shifts, supply chain reconfiguration, seasonal workforce interruptions, and the repurposing of manufacturing capacity.

The cascade of new trends from within the consumer products industry, coupled with the need to rethink consumer engagement, strengthens the need for consumer products companies to cultivate innovation coming from startups and new technologies.

New Wave in Consumer Products

Five key trends are fueling a new wave of innovation in the consumer products industry.

  1. There has been an increase in venture capital funding for consumer products companies, where disruptive companies are entering the market at a rapid pace, leading established players to question old operating models.
  2. More and more consumers – specifically Millennials and Generation Z – are emphasizing the importance of reducing the environmental impact of their consumption habits and are willing to pay more for organic and all-natural products.
  3. There has been a shift in which types of companies are dominating the market. Whereas previous industry leaders were companies with the most resources and highest manufacturing capacity, today the companies with the most innovative ideas and talent are entering and leading the market at an unprecedented pace.
  4. There has been a sharp decline in the cost of resources in various categories, eliminating the cost-based barriers to market entry and allowing companies to scale like never before.
  5. Consumer products companies no longer think in terms of “moments of truth,” where there is a linear path to purchase with well-defined touch points to influence a purchase. Rather, in order to succeed, consumer products companies need to meet consumers in moments of opportunity, in which they can orchestrate an ecosystem to deliver personalized and unique experiences in service of achieving an outcome.

Read More…