3 ways HR teams leverage technology for success

A global health crisis and economic downturn have left nearly half of the US population hunting for a new job. This wave of candidates is greatly affecting HR teams who may have had to adjust to their own layoffs as well as many other challenges.

A recent Bloomberg article shared: 

Tech companies’ HR workers have been faced with far bigger and more complicated jobs since March. They’ve had to help people navigate the shift to remote work, and walk foreign employees through increasingly precarious visa processes. They’re handling pandemic-related communications, including about job cuts and furloughs, in the middle of an economic crisis. And they’ve been tasked with adapting corporate culture and etiquette to weird new conditions, like a workplace that exists mainly on video chat. 

Here’s how HR teams are leveraging technology to meet these challenges and successfully promote inclusion, improve efficiency and hire best-fit candidates.

Promote inclusion 

No matter the job or the industry, most candidates will go through an interview process. While some candidates thrive in social settings, many others lack social soft skills. These candidates should not be thrown aside, but rather can help develop neurodiverse teams. In a recent Q&A with TecHR Series, Nina Cofer, product marketing manager, Breezy HR, explained, “Neurodiverse teams are just as productive and competent — if not more so — than their neurotypical counterparts.”

Rather than rely on an interview, companies are leveraging assessment solutions to glean information from neurodiverse candidates. By accommodating these candidates, neurodiverse teams can potentially see a 30% increase in productivity compared to their team counterparts. 

Improve efficiency 

Juggling multiple tasks, including hiring, recruiting and updating policies, among other things, requires efficiency from HR teams. With so many moving parts, this can prove difficult at times when HR teams need assistance from their coworkers and other departments to complete tasks. 

When it comes to updating policies, HR teams must update documents quickly and efficiently to keep employees up to speed. Brian Powers, CEO, PactSafe recommends HR teams leverage their company’s intranet hosting. Powers shares in HR Daily Advisor his belief that email can work, “but a legal center on your company intranet hosting (updated) policies is better. That way, employees can quickly, remotely and centrally access new and returning policies” like employee agreements or modified work schedules.

Identify best-fit candidates 

The number of individuals searching for work means companies have a large pool of highly qualified candidates. Sifting through countless resumes not only takes time but also increases the chances of HR teams missing the perfect candidate. By leveraging data pulled from science-based personality assessments, companies can feel confident when selecting a candidate. With advanced degrees in psychology and statistics, Dr. Heather Myers, chief psychology officer at Traitify, explains how HR teams can leverage science-based personality assessments to hire for fit with data, not your gut

Utilizing personality data can help identify which candidates are likely to thrive in an organization. Taking a data-driven approach to understanding applicants will produce benefits for both the candidates and the company. 

HR teams will always play a vital role in a company’s success. Technology provides the assistance these teams need to do their job efficiently and effectively. Taking into consideration the tips above, companies should take the time now to put in place solutions that can help speed up processes, promote inclusion, and identify best-fit candidates. In doing so, they’ll be better prepared for the incoming wave of candidates. 
Is there a way your technology is being leveraged to improve the HR experience? Contact Lindsey Groepper to find out how BLASTmedia can help you share your solution with others.

3 Creative Ways SaaS Companies Position Marketing and Advertising For Growth

While it has been more than ten years since the U.S. was embroiled in a recession, it can be easy to forget the destruction it entailed. In recent months, COVID-19 has caused distress and confusion, leading many to believe we are entering another economic recession. Businesses fear slipping revenue, one of the many factors that can trigger a domino effect of economic collapse within the business landscape. 

As businesses reprioritize their remaining 2020 budget, advertising and marketing are typically the first on the chopping block. This is because they’re often viewed as non-essential costs, and when times get tough, businesses pick salaries and benefits over marketing. Yet, marketing and advertising hold the key to long-term growth — it just requires creative approaches to succeed.

Here are three ways SaaS companies are positioning themselves to thrive in the current market:

1. Do More With Less

Creating a tailored message at scale can be intimidating, especially when companies consider the impact it can have on their advertising and marketing budgets. What slows down brands, however, is that they create the concept of an ad and then pass the template to other markets to replicate the design at a local level. This can create excessive duplicate work, which in turn, increases hours and costs. 

Anna Luo, VP of Customer Innovation and Engagement for Jivox, believes Dynamic Creative Optimization (DCO) can help brands automatically generate all types of ad formats faster than humans can manage, maximizing the customer experience through personalized ads. In a world where things are very uncertain, brands can turn to DCO to continue catering to customer needs, even with a reduced budget. 

2. Implement Interactive Experiential Content 

The phrases “the new normal” and “in this uncertain time” have become a part of daily conversations in both our professional and personal lives, says Ryan Brown, head of brand strategy at Ceros. While these messages are top of mind, digital marketers are struggling to cut through the noise and reach their audience.

Research from PwC found 59% of global consumers felt companies had lost touch with the human element of customer experience. In a recent article for 60 Second Marketer, Brown discusses how brands can create memorable experiences for their customers by leveraging experiential content to improve overall engagement while using visually-compelling components like graphics, interactive content and videos. 

3. Utilize Emerging Critical Technologies

The current economic distress isn’t entirely preventing investors from evaluating new opportunities. Instead, they are seeking out what they think will be requisite technologies once the world emerges from the pandemic. President of Audio OOH and CSO at Vibenomics Paul Brenner recently announced a $6 million Series A funding round, with plans to use the capital to expand beyond retail stores and into essential businesses such as convenience and grocery stores. Once the pandemic abates, Vibenomics plans to continue utilizing Audio OOH within these verticals and connecting with customers in locations where they shop and are ready to spend. 

For more information on how SaaS companies are responding to the current pandemic, please visit our BLASTmedia COVID-19 resources page.

Media Connections with Travis Bernard, Extra Crunch

BLASTmedia has been running this media connections series for about six months now, and we’ve yet to explore paywalls. That’s exactly why I wanted to do a Q&A with Travis Bernard, Senior Director, Membership at TechCrunch. 

I first worked with Travis back in 2016 on a Crosley turntable review. These days, he oversees the business side of Extra Crunch, TechCrunch’s subscription product. Below, he hits on: using analytics to guide editorial decisions, the value of exclusivity in news, the future of paywalled journalism and much, much more.

GRACE: You work in subscriptions and audience insights at TechCrunch — what exactly does that mean? What does your day-to-day look like? 

TRAVIS: I run the business and marketing side of TechCrunch’s membership product, Extra Crunch (part of Verizon Media). The product launched in February of 2019, and it’s targeting founders, entrepreneurs, startup teams, investors, and business school students. The primary benefits are access to a series of exclusive articles, a dedicated newsletter, no banner ads on our site, discounts on TechCrunch events, and more. The content includes weekly investor surveys, how-tos and interviews on building your company, IPO and late-stage analysis, and other exclusive articles delivered daily.

My day-to-day is about making the product better and figuring out ways to reach the right readers. It involves meeting with our product and editorial teams to ensure that we’re making the product better and meeting the needs of our readers, ideating on the product roadmap, improving design and organization of content for the community, and launching larger marketing initiatives. There’s a lot of work happening on marketing operations, be it price testing, newsletter distribution, website promotional units, social media, new country launches, activation at our events, and more. I also spend a lot of time diving into analytics, reporting, and customer feedback surveys. We’re always trying to make the product better. 

GRACE: You helped launch Extra Crunch — TechCrunch’s subscription product — about a year ago. What was the impetus for creating Extra Crunch? 

TRAVIS: About 2-3 years ago, we had a big meeting with the key players at TechCrunch to decide what was next to scale the business and meet the needs of our customers. Instead of going bigger and broader with our audience to help drive up advertising impressions and dollars, we decided to double down on a smaller subset of our audience that was interested in startups and building companies. This audience is much more valuable to us because they are highly engaged. This includes startup teams, entrepreneurs, founders, investors, and business school students. This was always the DNA of our core audience for TechCrunch, and it’s also the same types of readers that attend our events like Disrupt SF.   

Building a product that could help startup teams and investors was the goal, and from there we came up with the idea for Extra Crunch. We wanted to make sure that all of the existing content on TechCrunch remained free, so we decided to make the Extra Crunch articles differentiated and offered as an additional service. The “freemium” model made a lot of sense when we launched, and so far the product is having great success. The reception has been positive and growth continues to scale.

GRACE: What is a misconception most consumers have about subscription products from major media outlets? And, what is your response to that misconception? 

TRAVIS: I often hear that news is ubiquitous, so it’s not worth paying for a subscription to it. My response is that subscription news services aren’t for every type of news reader, but the quality of news and information you will get from a paid service will be more trusted, of higher quality, and most likely exclusive reporting. In our case, a lot of the value is the analysis and exclusivity. Many news stories might be ubiquitous, but what the story means and why it’s important is another layer. There’s also value in reading a story you can’t find anywhere else. That extra layer is why it’s worth the money.

GRACE: What was your biggest hurdle in growing Extra Crunch over the past year? 

TRAVIS: International expansion is challenging, especially in a day and age where every country has different rules and regulations with data policies and online subscription services.

It was also challenging to shift how our newsroom thought about analytics with a subscription. Many of the metrics you use for traditional audience development might not make sense in the context of a subscription product. 

GRACE: Extra Crunch is focused on serving the startup audience, providing in-depth, how-to articles for founders. How did you use data from top-performing articles on TechCrunch to drive that decision? 

TRAVIS: What generates the most traffic on TechCrunch isn’t necessarily what will generate the most membership sign-ups or reads by members. Sometimes there are overlaps, but it requires a shift in thinking for analytics. You need to start paying more attention to article conversion rates, how articles produce in the short term and long term, what current paying members are reading, what article topics members are reading, and how much time paying members are spending on articles. 

GRACE: How do the topics covered on Extra Crunch differ from the rest of TechCrunch — and why?

TRAVIS: Content on Extra Crunch falls into one of three categories: investor surveys, how-tos and interviews on company building, and analysis on IPOs and late-stage companies. 

Investor surveys allow our readers to find out where startup investors plan to write their next checks. The how-tos and interviews help startup teams build their companies better with features from experts on fundraising, growth, monetization and other key work topics. You can also learn about the best startups through our IPO analysis, late-stage deep dives, and other exclusive reporting delivered daily.

Traditional TechCrunch content seeks to explain what happened whereas Extra Crunch content seeks to explain why and how things happen. For example – you might see news on TechCrunch about a startup going public. Extra Crunch would dive into what that means for similar startups in the space. Similarly, TechCrunch would cover the funding of a new startup, whereas Extra Crunch might do an interview with the founder on how he or she built the team using remote employees or what he or she found to be the keys to monetization.  

GRACE: Assuming the paying audience is more engaged than the general public, how do you measure the success of an article on Extra Crunch? Are there different measures for Extra Crunch & the rest of TechCrunch?

TRAVIS: There are some different measures, but there are also some similarities.

Both Extra Crunch and TechCrunch care about the impact the story has. With Extra Crunch, the impact might be to a smaller subset of users but we still care about how much impact it has. If it doesn’t have impact, why write it? 

With TechCrunch, we use traditional publisher metrics like unique visitors and engagement time. With Extra Crunch, there’s an added layer of conversions, conversion rates, reads by subscribers, and engagement time for subscribers. Since the Extra Crunch product is still relatively new, we’re still evolving our approach to analytics.

GRACE: Can you speak to the importance of paywalls to the future of journalism?

TRAVIS: I think there’s room for both paywalled journalism and non-paywalled journalism. But when you are talking about niche topics, I think paywalls are the way things have to be. It’s better for the business and it’s better for the consumer.

It’s better for the consumer because their experience with the product must be great or they won’t keep paying. It’s better for the business because it forces the business to put the customer experience first and not make sacrifices with advertising or privacy or UI. It’s also better for the business because revenue is more predictable: There aren’t as many ebbs and flows with advertising impressions due to traffic shifts.  

It will be challenging for a small or niche publication to run a successful digital advertising business at scale because it won’t have that big of an audience compared to the digital behemoths. It’s tough to compete. Small and medium-sized publications can “win” by building a paid relationship with the reader and focus on improving things that meet the needs of the reader (UI, remove ads, build niche features, etc.).  

GRACE: If you could be a fly on the wall in the boardroom of any tech company, which would it be and why? 

TRAVIS: Facebook — the company grew incredibly fast over the past decade, but it has had missteps the last few years. I’m curious to see how Facebook evolves at a time when perceptions of privacy and digital addiction are changing.  

SaaS Leaders Weigh in on the Future of AI in the Workplace

With its rapid growth partnered with powerful capabilities, artificial intelligence — also known as AI — can be divisive. Some fear a not-so-distant takeover with robots replacing human workers, driving up unemployment or driving down wages. On the contrary, many CIOs and other business leaders recognize the need for AI applications to assist with more technical projects and to keep pace with competitors. According to Gartner, the number of enterprises implementing artificial intelligence grew 270 percent in the past four years and tripled in the past year.

SaaS Leaders See Benefits of Implementing AI

While AI has presented some significant challenges for business leaders, it has also opened the door to a lot of opportunities. Story-mining sessions with our B2B SaaS clients uncovered a number of ways that AI is adding to — not hindering — human productivity and automating mundane tasks. Using our clients’ expertise, our team secured coverage in media outlets including Forbes and VentureBeat.

Here are few benefits SaaS leaders anticipate businesses will see from implementing AI technology:

1. Improved Software Testing Efficiency

As Tamas Cser, CEO of Functionize shared in an interview with VentureBeat, “software testing has endured … a ‘QA winter’. This means developers and testers still maintain tests the same way as they did in the early ages of the internet.” Functionize aims to change that. The SaaS solution integrates with DevOps platforms. It then uses virtual machines to execute tests across operating systems to reduce test time creation and maintenance.

2. More Time for IT Professionals to Strategize

Moogsoft CEO, Phil Tee also sees AI as an opportunity for improved efficiency. As Tee shared with Forbes, “when AI works in tandem with the human mind, a new type of proactive work is possible—one in which professionals have dedicated time to strategically improve products and drive the business forward.”

3. A More Human Sales Process

It may sound counterintuitive, but Chorus.ai co-founder Micha Breakstone insists there are ways that AI can help humanize the sales process — ultimately making sales more human. In a recent piece for Forbes, Breakstone focuses on the conversational aspects of salesmanship, explaining that when you use AI to “deconstruct a conversation into its core semantic and prosodic building blocks, interesting patterns begin to emerge.” Those patterns, according to Breakstone, can be used to improve the sales process.

Do you have a perspective that you would like to share about artificial intelligence? Reach out to Lindsey Groepper to find out how BLASTmedia can help you join the conversation.

The Future of BPM is a Complete Platform

The increasing emphasis on implementing new technology into the workplace isn’t necessarily making work any easier. While companies initially looked to business process management (BPM) software to streamline workflows, the industry is growing — taking a holistic approach to work management. In other words, the future of BPM doesn’t lie in point SaaS solutions, but complete platforms.

Increasing organizational productivity is key to remaining competitive. Today, every organization leverages some form of workplace technology, from project management platforms like Basecamp and Asana to team collaboration tools like Slack and Flowdock. The goal is often to help employees work more efficiently. Yet, productivity is lost with disparate tools. For BPM software to hold the ability to optimize workflows and improve productivity, these tools must be able to handle more than just process management.

Thought leaders explore the future of workplace technology

As new workplace software continues to emerge, there is a growing discussion in the world of technology surrounding the need for solutions that improve employee productivity. A number of our B2B SaaS clients are experts in the space and recently used media coverage shed light on the shifting paradigm of workplace tools:

  • Kissflow CEO shares his thoughts on the need for a digital workplace platform with CMSWire.
  • Ontario Systems offers tactics to improve productivity in the revenue cycle management process for Healthcare Business & Technology.
  • The CEO of Formstack breaks down how to successfully cultivate a remote work culture for HR Technologist.
  • Director of product management at Ontario Systems highlights how data insights make healthcare agents more productive in a My Tech Decisions piece.
  • Kissflow discusses the golden opportunity for work management with IT Toolbox readers.

Do you have an interest in joining the conversation about the transformation of workplace technology? Contact Lindsey Groepper to find out how BLASTmedia can leverage your expertise.