Softvision Holds First Annual Pod Challenge
Top ideas chosen from hundreds of innovative ideas
26 March 2018
Latest posts by Softvision Team
OAKLAND, CA, March 2018: Several months ago, Softvision challenged our team members to dream up experiences and new technology that could have an impact on their client’s business. This past February, over 110 innovative ideas poured in. Thirteen of the best ideas moved on to pitch their concepts via live global conference and were judged by our executive team and lead sales representatives. From there, the top three teams moved on to the final phase and toward the possibility of making their ideas come to life.
THE TOP 13
Three Softvision team members developed a creative digital solution for the Fintech market. As of 2016, Millennials are the largest age group in the workforce; by 2025, they will constitute 70% of the workforce, making them the new target market for investment firms.
With this in mind, the “Smart Investing” team developed the concept of “Ruby”, an AI Chatbot that would provide a one-stop solution to learn, track, plan & invest. Their app would aim to visualize money matters in a simple way to get younger people to invest early in an easy and effective way. Investing in financial literacy with the latest technology would pave the way to penetrating younger generations, thereby creating loyal customers and receiving more investments.
Two-thirds of online shoppers today fail to complete their transaction due to obstacles encountered during checkouts, such as items out of stock, high price, shipping charges, delivery time, and the like. From those shoppers, a whopping 43% of consumers will then go to a competitor’s site on failed checkout.
Several Softvision experts combined forces to develop the concept of an Online-POS Integration middleware tool that would provide good service to customers who failed to purchase online. For instance, through synchronizing online and POS databases, a consumer who is near a store could receive push notifications via their phone for products they previously searched for online, wish listed, added to cart, and the like. This could have a significant positive impact on the customer experience journey, and the merchant’s bottom line.
Did that mannequin just talk to me?
Two Softvision team members wanted to create technology that would “bring more digital” to the in-store experience, increase customer engagement and appeal to the younger generations.
After putting their heads together, they developed the concept of bringing mannequins to life. By using Augmented Reality, 3D, animations, and gamification, store mannequins would be able to tell a story to motivate shoppers to action. These mannequins could describe the products they are wearing, share product variations, check local inventory, reveal where items could be found in-store, and allow click-thru buying on a user’s mobile device.
By creating this unique and memorable in-store experience, retail stores would have increased the opportunity to drive sales, personalization and emotional connection with shoppers.
Intelligent Assortment Optimizer
The Intelligent Assortment Optimizer (IAO) is a tool for the merchandise planner to get the recommended number of items (SKUs) for a given period in an assortment plan. Conceptualized by a group of Softvision experts, the IAO is an ML enabled engine which would provide recommendations of items and styles with consideration of current fashion trends. IAO applies an algorithm on an allocation table (the ranking of stores based on performance) and sales pattern data, combined with the target units for a specific period to generate the recommended assortment.
With IAO, planners would be able to easily create proper assortment plans, effectively matching targets with assortments, and create the proper distribution of assortments among stores. IAO would improve the accuracy of predictions, thereby improving operational efficiency, and help lead to increased revenue generation.
Innovation by Design in the Retail Environment
Online retailers like Amazon have shown us that purchasing and returns can be made efficient. Customers today expect a seamless in-store purchase and return experience, but are often deterred by time-consuming line-ups and returns. In fact, 75% of retailers report losing customers due to wait-related issues, such as checkout lines and taking too long to find items.
As online purchasing and returns become more and more streamlined, customers will expect the same level of efficiency from their in-store retail experiences. Two Softvisioners set out to answer the question, can we also innovate and improve upon the in-store purchase and return experience?
The Softvision teammates worked together to develop the concept of Scan-to-Pay/Scan-to-Return. Scan-to-Pay is a mobile app feature that would allow customers to easily purchase products in-store by scanning the product barcode from the app to purchase directly from their device. Scan-to-Return is a process that allows customers to seamlessly return products in-store by scanning their product and dropping off the item. Scan-to-Pay also allows retailers to collect data on customers and upsell with customized offers.
With innovative technology like Scan-to-Pay and Scan-to-Return, retailers can build a successful buyer-seller relationship. Reducing customer risk and increasing customer satisfaction, across purchases
and returns, increases the number of future purchases. Through Scan-to-Pay and Scan-to-Return, brick and mortar retailers can maintain their competitive advantage in the retail game.
The Shoppers Guide
The Shoppers Guide app concept was created by a Softvision team member to give customers more accurate product information and enhance their in-store experience. The Shoppers Guide app would be able to scan and read merchandise, giving complete information about the product to the shopper. By giving such accurate information to customers, shoppers would be better equipped to make purchase decisions.
The app would also be a data collection point and feed to analytics. Suppliers would be able to get feedback and send out of stock information to a local store. By providing up-to-the-minute, accurate information about store products, the Shoppers Guide would also help build the store brand by building consumer confidence, while also elevating the store to become known as tech-savvy.
Earn While You Sweat
Sticking to a fitness schedule can be difficult. It requires hard work, pain and sometimes even sacrificing our favorite food. That’s why three Softvisioners set out to develop the idea of the “Earn while you sweat” program. Fitness enthusiasts could use this reward-based smartwatch app to earn points toward discounted fitness products, coupons of partnered brands, fitness subscription discounts, donations, and tickets to events. Besides being rewarded for their hard work, users would also have a weekly goal that would incentivize them and keep them focused. Users would be motivated to achieve their fitness goals and would have a sense of accomplishment that would lead to loyalty.
SOFIA: Smart Optimizer For Intelligent Alerting
Retail Operations and Technical Support Departments fall behind on hundreds of their consumers’ messages, questions and comments, leading to loss of credibility and business from shoppers.
The existing system of customer support is time-consuming, as support team members must consult a playbook for answers, and elevate concerns they cannot address to a different level of the support team. This also allows for human error and inconsistency.
Several Softvision teammates set out to fix these issues. They conceptualized SOFIA, the Smart Optimizer For Intelligent Alerting. SOFIA leverages Machine Learning to offer real-time monitoring, analyzing and dispatching alerts and alarms. SOFIA could prioritize messages received from customers and automatically suggest solutions from playbooks. This system would reduce the amount of alerts a support employee receives at a time, and would direct the messages to the correct level of support staff, even for the most difficult cases. SOFIA would also prevent system crashes through preventive maintenance of systems and services.
It’s easy to see how SOFIA would help Operations and Technical Support staff and improve on customer relations, but SOFIA would also help Sales team members by preventing sales loss due to unresolved system outages. Sales employees would also be able to more easily gain new clients and take care of customers’ needs.
Breadcrumb: Future Experience
Breadcrumb is a Point of Sale application that would be used for maintaining a restaurant. With this app, a restaurant owner could set up an interface with the restaurant’s zones and tables and could configure menus, items, prices, and taxes.
As an extension on existing restaurant management platforms, Breadcrumb’s Machine Learning technology would impose a high-tech image for the venue, provide more administrative perks, such as reports of sales and help in making resource calculations, and assure a better customer experience. In addition, Breadcrumb could also help expand the business by bringing in more customers with a unique and easy to use e-menu. Through AI and facial recognition, restaurant goers could quickly order from their favorite restaurant.
With Breadcrumb, restaurant clients would be impressed by the futuristic interface provided with their menu, with the Face authentication, as well as with additional features like a vocal greeting, fast review, allergy warnings, and much more. Restaurants owners will be happy with their new and returning client base, and will benefit from the admin assistance Breadcrumb would provide.
Accounting departments are under increasing pressure to streamline the closing process, maintain the reporting and keep control of how this activity was performed. Significant time and effort is consumed by accountants during the “close” period to manually do reconciliations, identify the financial discrepancies and track and attach supporting documents.
Several Softvisioners brought together the benefits of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to create the idea of Alchemist. Alchemist would be a cognitive system for use with existing accounting software. Alchemist would recognize patterns, understand uploaded documents and use them in the reconciliation process.
Currently, the preparer needs to add documents and also manually input data from the uploaded document to the accounting software system. The Alchemist would take the uploaded documents and fill in the data in the system if the document type is known or suggest new actions based on the document data to create a certain item type. The system would learn from previous interaction with similar documents and suggest what to do next. In addition, this system could identify trends and weak points in the process, being able to report and suggest improvements using predictive analytics based on user behavior.
The Alchemist would leverage the advantages provided by cutting-edge technology to auto-learn new rules, create new records to improve the speed and efficiency overall. Accountants would have more time for validation, analysis, and expert decisions.
AI Home: A More Intelligent House
Three Softvision experts set out to find ways to improve home security technology to give security companies a competitive advantage. They came up with the idea of AI Home, a Machine Learning system with “AI” behavior that would gather data for a better understanding of customer needs. AI Home would learn about security system customers’ day-by-day routines, to then use that information to better serve them. For instance, AI Home could notify a customer only when important events happen and could suggest and control actions. The system could take care of all the automation around the house via the “take care of things for me” function in the app, but customers would also still have the option to just receive suggestions or to control things themselves.
By incorporating AI Home, home security companies could lead the innovation trend, increase their sales and their customers, as well as retain current clients.
Automation testing can be time-consuming, as testers can discover multiple failures and painstakingly analyze each error. With an automation solution that “thinks digital,” testers would save time in their workflow and be able to focus on other aspects of the business. Enter the Autobot (Automation + Robot). Conceptualized by several Softvisioners, the Autobot would not only ease the life of Automation Testers but would help companies reduce costs. Companies using the Autobot would enjoy top-of-the-line service with the technology’s continual self-maintenance and learning and would keep a tight sprint schedule.
…AND THE WINNERS ARE
Softvision’s first annual Pod Challenge produced many impressive, innovative ideas. Our winners represent the best in product insight, business change, and overall big picture.
Product Insight Award: Online-POS Integration & IAO
The Pod Challenge Product Insight Award went to one team for two amazing ideas: Online-POS Integration and IAO (Intelligent Assortment Optimizer). The team used their in-depth knowledge of their client’s business to develop detailed concepts for innovative technologies.
Big Picture Award: AI Home
Our “Big Picture Award” went to AI Home for the most creative and detailed demonstration of how Softvision can think big for our clients.
Business Insight Award: Innovation by Design
The “Business Insight” Award went to the Innovation by Design in the Retail Environment. Their ideas were directly relevant to a client’s business problem and could positively impact revenues, growth, and the client’s industry at large.
We look forward to continuing our annual Pod Challenge, and can’t wait to see what our Softvision teammates come up with next!