Success for the technology industry in 2012 will hinge on one thing — making connections — reports Joe Mullich in today’s “Enterprise Technology” special section in The Wall Street Journal. Advances in technology will affect how consumers interact with companies, speak different languages to communicate and uncover the hidden meanings in “big data.”
Mullich spoke with numerous industry leaders to define important trends for the new year. Among the most critical: Removing language barriers is becoming more important than ever, according to Louis F. Provenzano Jr., president and CEO of Language Line Services, the largest over-the-phone interpretation services company in the world. One in five legal American residents speaks a language other than English at home, he states in the article. His company recently announced a deal with AT&T to provide live mobile interpretations.
Other trends in 2012 will include major growth in the digital signage market, an increasing shift to cloud computing, greater usage of mobile payment platforms and a shift to virtual call assistance features. Mullich notes that IT departments will become more useful than ever in helping companies ramp up innovation.
Louis F. Provenzano Jr. is President and CEO of Language Line Services.
When it comes to marketing and advertising in foreign languages, paying attention to nuance has always been imperative (case in point: the Ford Pinto not translating well in Brazil). While these concerns used to be limited to marketing in other countries, “Now they apply inside the United States as more than 60 million people — about one in five legal residents — speak a language other than English at home,” says Louis F. Provenzano Jr., President and CEO of Language Line Services.
In a recent column in MediaPost’s MarketingDaily blog, Provenzano states there are almost 200 languages now spoken nationwide by legal residents. That’s a daunting statistic for marketing and advertising executives trying to reach these audiences but a tremendous opportunity, he explains.
“Studies show that people are four times more likely to purchase goods and services when presented with buying opportunities ‘in-language’,” Provenzano states in the article.
Every year, Ernst & Young professionals participate in a one-day community outreach project called EY Connect in an effort to give back to the communities where they work. This year, the San Diego office sent 120 tax professionals to the Armed Services YMCA to build bikes for the children of 100 military service members and present them with new helmets and bike locks.
“San Diego has a definite military influence. When you think about the kinds of lives these people live and the sacrifices they make, it just felt like the right thing to do to help these people who have given up so much,” Mark Stephens, managing partner of Ernst & Young’s San Diego office, told KUSI NEWS. “Organizers commented that this was their way of showing appreciation for our nation’s military in time for the holidays.
Jewelry stores have struggled for several years due to a weak economy, high gold and silver prices, and competition from cheaper Asian manufacturers. Chamilia, a designer and manufacturer of personalized accessory jewelry, has positioned itself as a savior to jewelry stores, reports the Star Tribune. The company has experienced 70 percent year-over-year growth and annual sales exceed $100 million thanks to jewelry stores like Bergstrom, who have added Chamilia’s products to their mix of traditional gold and diamond jewelry.
Chamilia’s products have increased foot traffic to the store by more than 20 percent. According to Steve Moore, a partner with consumer private equity firm Brentwood Associates, “While a traditional shopper might only visit a store once, maybe twice a year to buy one high-ticket item, fans of companies like Chamilia and Pandora will frequently return to buy more beads and charms for their bracelets and necklaces. Chamilia gives customers a real reason to build on the product.”
Brentwood Associates is a major investor in Chamilia. Just recently, Austria-based retailer Swarovski bought a stake in the company and is rolling out Chamilia merchandise throughout its stores to help boost its lagging sales, and it seems to be working. “We’re quite happy with the results,” says Sandro Brodbeck, vice president of business development for Swarovski.
In an open letter to employees and stakeholders, Louis F. Provenzano Jr., CEO and president of Language Line Services, today announced a partnership with AT&T to put mobile interpretation services in the hands of emergency responders to better serve the nation’s growing population of limited English proficient people.
The language solution will be accessible by businesses that sign up for the add-on feature to their cell phones and will connect users directly to a qualified Language Line Services interpreter in over 170 languages by dialing *4. According to the open letter, this is the first “anytime, anywhere” mobile offering to place interpretation services at virtually anyone’s fingertips.
Language Line Services is the global leader in interpretation and translation services. It serves clients numerous fields including the government, healthcare, and telecommunications sectors in more than 170 spoken languages.
For the last 20 years, a company called The Great Courses has sold recorded lectures to an adult audience eager to brush up on humanities and sciences. Originally called The Teaching Company, Tom Rollins started the company on the idea of finding the most charismatic college professors and having them tape college-level courses for the adult-education market.
The customer demographic is made up of mostly older professionals with successful careers who see the liberal arts as a life-changing experience. The company markets deftly to that hunger and claims to have identified the very best of the country’s more than half-million college professors.
According to a recent article in the City Journal, “Company recruiters sit in on classes of professors who have won awards or been recognized for their teaching; the most promising are invited to the Great Courses headquarters to record an audition lecture. That recording then goes to the company’s most valued customers. If enough of them like it, the company asks the professor to create a lecture course.”
Brentwood Associates, a leading consumer brand private equity firm based in Los Angeles, acquired a majority stake of the Great Courses in 2006, spotting a thriving company with huge growth potential. “The foundation that Rollins created was unlike anything we’d seen,” says Brentwood Associates partner Eric Reiter. “He was a brilliant entrepreneur, building the company brick by brick through rigorous testing. Few businesses have such a passionate customer base. Nine out of ten people on the street have never heard of it, but nine of out ten, upon learning about the product, want it.”
Profits for the Great Courses have doubled since 2006, thanks to major investments in advertising. Forbes magazing recently reported the company’s annual sales as $110 million.
In the spirit of the holiday season, Ortho Mattress will donate a free, made-in-Los Angeles pet bed for every cat or dog adopted from a number of participating shelters. To kick off the Holiday Adopt-a-Thon campaign, Ortho Mattress will host a pet adoption on Friday, December 9 at its 8161 Beverly Boulevard store from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The larger campaign will run in conjunction with LA County, the city of Los Angeles Animal Services and Found Animals. On December 17, 16 shelters will participate in Whisker Wonderland, and more than 200 animals are expected to be adopted.
In total, more than 400 beds will be given away over the three week program.
Even though foreclosures have plunged since 2010, short sales are still thriving and now make up more than 20 percent of all home sales, reports the Los Angeles Business Journal.
“We have a lot more competition than we used to, but there’s no business tougher than short sales. And I don’t think there’s many people who know more about it than I do,” Peak Corporate Network‘s Eli Tene told the business journal. Tene’s company closed just under 1,000 short sales last year and describes his operation as an assembly line.
While Tene and his business partner, Gil Priel, have founded other real estate companies dealing with everything from escrow services to loan modifications, short sales are currently Peak Corporate Network’s biggest money maker. New legislation such as SB 458 will only help companies like Peak increase their volume of short sales during the downturn.
Franchisers have stepped up incentive programs to help entice would-be entrepreneurs in a down economy, reports The Los Angeles Times in a recent article. But longtime franchisees caution that success, if it comes, will take time.
For example, entrepreneurs may have trouble franchising or getting a loan for just one restaurant, according to Brentwood Associates managing director Rahul Aggarwal. The consumer brand private equity firm’s portfolio has companies that own Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and KFC franchises, among others.
“More companies, particularly those who want to grow aggressively, are wanting to get in bed with experienced developers who have a lot of cash, and can open multiple restaurants as opposed to one-off deals,” Aggarwal says in the LA Times article.
Content marketing and online publishing isn’t just left to PR and marketing experts in today’s business world, according to Sarah Sherik, vice president of social media for PR Newswire.
Sherik argues that coordination and a shared understanding of a company’s overall goals are fundamental to succeeding in social media. Even further, having a solid understanding of your site’s analytics and search engine optimization (SEO) will enable your company to run a proactive campaign.
In her recent blog post on ProfNet Connect, Sherik delves into the most common analytic mistakes companies make:
- No links
- Too many links
- Irrelevant links
- Ponderously long headlines
- Use of jargon
- Too many stories in one release
- Over-optimization of content