Q&A with Ed Breault, Chief Marketing Officer at Aprimo

Q&A with Ed Breault, Chief Marketing Officer at Aprimo
Ed Breault, Chief Marketing Officer at Aprimo is a marketer with over 18 years of industry experience. At Aprimo, Ed is responsible for the global brand and growth which includes all Paid/Owned/Earned media, Brand Experience, Product Marketing, Industry Marketing, Influencer Marketing, Strategic Communications, Content Marketing, Analyst Relations, Alliance Marketing, Public Relations, Events, Demand Generation and Account-Based Marketing.

MEDIA 7: What’s your superpower?
ED BREAULT:
 I would say it’s applying the full spectrum of art and science that is required in marketing today. Not just left or right brained, but whole-brained strategy. Being human yet data-driven and really understanding numbers and (the right) metrics to make connections to business drivers. Add storytelling to that, so I can effectively communicate to my team, the CEO and CFO as well as my Board of Directors on those metrics, and connecting all that we are doing in marketing to the mission of the business. Then quickly shifting gears to the art and creative aspects of marketing that are required to engage an audience and tell great commercial stories that take complex concepts and craft them in a way that is interesting for people to pay attention to. I have to be the ultimate point of truth for the brand.

M7: At Aprimo, how have marketing leadership roles and responsibilities evolved over the past few years?
EB:
There are so many dimensions needed by marketing leaders today. There are several elements driving this evolution, it’s the new experience battlefront that is emerging and also marketers themselves driving changes. From a market perspective, there is a clear appetite for disruption and consumers are wanting more experiential elements to their buying experience and interactions with brands. Take a few direct to consumer disruptions like trialing products in-home, purchasing directly from a brand or even wanting to ensure that the producer’s trade practices are in line with the buyer’s or even a regulator’s for that matter. Then we want to try before we buy, and we emotionally care about the supply chain of products. Do we TRUST this brand to do business with them? Behind all of this is a story that needs to be told, and it is those marketers who know their audience well and make connections that will win the commercial game.

Back to the marketer, there are so many diverse backgrounds that marketers bring now and I’m really intrigued by those who have unconventional backgrounds because they contribute something uniquely new to the field. I love hearing about the marketer’s journey.


"Content is a massive investment for brands and Aprimo Digital Asset Management acts as a true hub of an organization's content management and experience lifecycle."

M7: Could you tell us about Aprimo’s creative ideation tool ‘Idea Lab’? How does it help marketers to move through the creative process from ideation to distribution of higher quality content?
EB:
 Aprimo Idea Lab is a place for early-stage ideation and there just haven’t been pure systems for ideas mixed with strategic planning so we filled in that whitespace for the market. This includes ideas from a strategic and tactical standpoint that is a bit of “safe” place to brainstorm in a highly collaborative workplace. Output is a new experience building block, a full campaign concept or brief, allowing the marketer and experience leader to think backwards from a great customer or content experience and purposefully architect it. This is all before you make financial commitments or commercial agreements with agencies or suppliers, and it feeds directly into financial scenario planning, so you can build the financial lens to your new breakthrough idea. It’s literally brainstorming brought to life and then connected to marketing production activities. So, if marketing is a ten-step process, this is step zero, and steps one and two. I’m in it every day. For me, the majority of my ideas hit me when I least expect it, so I immediately put them in Idea Lab and it functions as a “backlog” for thought-starters, then my team can collaboratively go run with it.

M7: What are some of the ways you optimize AI for your client base, when it comes to content development?
EB: 
We actually have artificial intelligence powering not just the production of content but the content creation process itself. We have machines creating content today, and one of the very specific use cases on that is what’s called a learnable AI. So basically, we have an artificial intelligence that can learn the context of a brand’s business. And, what it can then do is learn over time and it would know things like the proper focal points within an image.

Let’s say for example, there are three focal points in a piece of content or an image. Let’s say there is a model and she is sipping a coffee, she’s on her phone and she’s wearing a scarf. If you are in the business of selling and marketing scarfs, it would know that’s the focal point. If you’re in the business of marketing and selling coffee, it would know that’s the focal point. So, then it can make recommendations of what the right type of images, the form factor of the image, and knowing what creative resources would potentially do with that, the machine does for you. Since it’s able to learn your business, and let’s say you’re in the business of shoes, it would know the difference between a high-top and a high-heel learning over time with great accuracy.

Some of our early tests were showing 98% recognition and accuracy once it’s learned. Truly powerful. Also from a productivity standpoint, there are just some things AI handles better than humans like monitoring patterns, observing and making educated predictions about the future of projects. AI picks up on overlooked habits of team members and frees up a new era of project management to focus more on the complex processes behind a management strategy. Oh yeah, and unlike humans, doesn’t lose focus, fatigue, go on vacation or lose productivity while entertaining themselves with funny cat memes at work.


"AI picks up on overlooked habits of team members and frees up a new era of project management to focus more on the complex processes behind a management strategy."

M7: Could you elaborate on Aprimo’s Digital Asset Management (DAM) solution that helps deliver personalized experiences at scale and as a service?
EB: 
Yes! Content is a massive investment for brands and Aprimo Digital Asset Management acts as a true hub of an organization's content management and experience lifecycle. As I discussed earlier with Idea Lab, you eventually need content to action those ideas to deliver great experiences. And then workflows, to move along to create the content whether that’s AR, VR or even text and other types of multimedia or images. Regardless of the content type, the digital asset management system can store that content and make it highly searchable, it can make sure that once the ingestion process happens, it conforms to the metadata and taxonomy standards across an enterprise.

They can capture things like licensing agreements on that content when that content needs to expire. It can trigger approvals or re-approvals if the content is bound by any certain dates of when you can use the content. And what we want to make sure is that content does not get wasted or is created and parked somewhere.

Content truly powers experience channels like an ecommerce platform, a website, a great experience through a mobile device, and the delivery and distribution of content for downstream channels whether that is your reseller network or the content needs to be taken from a web to a print stage of its lifecycle. Generally, it is about having full management of a piece of content whether that’s the full digital asset or the components that make up the digital asset. This also manages the individual units of content that make up the asset we like to call “experience building blocks”. It’s all about finding, reusing and remixing content, staying compliant and delivering the best personalized experience possible.


"Content truly powers experience channels like an ecommerce platform, a website, a great experience through a mobile device, and the delivery and distribution of content for downstream channels."

M7: How does the Digital Asset Management help in maximizing content ROI?
EB:
 Definitely, it has to do with number one, the findability of the content so that the content can be used and it’s not wasted and then the enrichment processes that are built-in add data to the digital asset. From there, you can see a piece of content and metrics like consumption of that content, where that content piece was used in terms of different campaigns, geographies, etc. If that content was localized, if that content was used to drive whatever the marketing outcome or experience outcome is, which could be conversions on digital properties or transactions on an ecommerce platform, and all that rich data then comes back to the asset, and you are able to see how well it performed. This data is then served up very beautifully in a dashboard connected to the business outcomes you were driving. There are so many questions now we can answer about our content if this strategic approach is taken.

M7: What marketing channels do you use and which ones do you see as the most promising given your target customers?
EB:
 I think the magic is using all the channels in a very well-coordinated way. My primary channel strategies involve a mix of inbound and outbound in a very targeted fashion hence content marketing is core to my strategy. Content drives the pull-through in Aprimo’s digital properties, all of our owned digital properties, this includes the web channel as well as when we syndicate content to third-parties. That’s really important for us to create great content that is helpful, useful and then drives traffic back to aprimo.com. That’s where our inbound strategy balances the outbound efforts in a very targeted way. I use predictive demand capabilities showing me where and who is in market, so then I can go out and reach them and find them in what we like to call the “dark funnel”. I like to think of this strategy as there is someone lost out there looking for solutions to their challenges and it is my job to go find them, meet them and help them along their path. From there email for us has completely been reimagined. We are using video and conversational marketing from an outbound standpoint to connect. We are “humanizing” communications as much as possible, over the phone for voice, broadcast, media buying within different properties like LinkedIn, you name it. I think it’s a drive to strike a balance to create the complete experience for my audience.

M7: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
EB:
 As a child, I wanted to be an athlete. I was very much involved in sports so I looked at my heroes, those I aspired to be like were athletes at that time.

ABOUT APRIMO

Aprimo provides technology solutions for content, operations, and performance that enable enterprises to optimize their brand experiences and the resources they use to deliver them. Our platform gives enterprises the advantage by streamlining and governing all the behind-the-scenes activities – from ideation to distribution – involved in delivering exceptional brand experiences.

More C-Suite on deck

'Having strong guidelines and a well-defined strategy is essential,' believes Gabriela Giorgio

July 11, 2023

Gabriela Giorgio is an experienced digital advertising specialist with more than ten years of experience. She is very skilled at content generation, creativity, strategy, and platform analysis. She is passionate about business consulting and digital solutions, and she values personal growth, creativity, and empathy. Gabriela's dedication to lifelong learning guarantees that she thrives in the ever-changing digital scene, consistently providing exceptional results.

Read More

'Biggest challenge for small businesses is how to leverage small successes into larger ones,' says Herby Duverne

Media 7 | June 6, 2022

Herby Duverne, CEO of Windwalker Group, discusses the best practices for developing strategic partnerships, brand awareness strategies, the best way businesses can tackle challenges, and more. Continue reading to find out more about Human Capital Development via Corporate and Government Training.

Read More

Q&A with Andy Brown, CEO at Engage

Media 7 | May 28, 2020

Andy Brown, Chief Executive Officer at ENGAGE has worked in the research and consulting industry for 25 years. He was previously a Partner at Mercer Consulting, a Global Practice Leader at The Empower Group (the strategic consulting division of Manpower), Managing Director of YouGov Consulting and Head of Research at The Gallup Organization. Andy co-founded ENGAGE and has worked for the company since 2008 and, in 2013, co-led an MBO of the firm. He works with CEOs, boards and executive teams in FTSE 100 and Fortune 500 firms, as well as with a range of fast-growing entrepreneurial start-ups. MEDIA 7: What are you most passionate about? ANDY BROWN: I’m passionate about four key things: helping organisations improve their performance; helping leaders to be as effective as possible; helping employees to feel a sense of purpose in their work; and, of course, my family!

Read More

'Having strong guidelines and a well-defined strategy is essential,' believes Gabriela Giorgio

July 11, 2023

Gabriela Giorgio is an experienced digital advertising specialist with more than ten years of experience. She is very skilled at content generation, creativity, strategy, and platform analysis. She is passionate about business consulting and digital solutions, and she values personal growth, creativity, and empathy. Gabriela's dedication to lifelong learning guarantees that she thrives in the ever-changing digital scene, consistently providing exceptional results.

Read More

'Biggest challenge for small businesses is how to leverage small successes into larger ones,' says Herby Duverne

Media 7 | June 6, 2022

Herby Duverne, CEO of Windwalker Group, discusses the best practices for developing strategic partnerships, brand awareness strategies, the best way businesses can tackle challenges, and more. Continue reading to find out more about Human Capital Development via Corporate and Government Training.

Read More

Q&A with Andy Brown, CEO at Engage

Media 7 | May 28, 2020

Andy Brown, Chief Executive Officer at ENGAGE has worked in the research and consulting industry for 25 years. He was previously a Partner at Mercer Consulting, a Global Practice Leader at The Empower Group (the strategic consulting division of Manpower), Managing Director of YouGov Consulting and Head of Research at The Gallup Organization. Andy co-founded ENGAGE and has worked for the company since 2008 and, in 2013, co-led an MBO of the firm. He works with CEOs, boards and executive teams in FTSE 100 and Fortune 500 firms, as well as with a range of fast-growing entrepreneurial start-ups. MEDIA 7: What are you most passionate about? ANDY BROWN: I’m passionate about four key things: helping organisations improve their performance; helping leaders to be as effective as possible; helping employees to feel a sense of purpose in their work; and, of course, my family!

Read More

Related News

FINANCE

DREAMSPRING AND WOODFOREST NATIONAL BANK COLLABORATE TO STRENGTHEN SMALL BUSINESS LENDING AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP ACROSS THE U.S.

PR Newswire | January 10, 2024

DreamSpring, a nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) and Small Business Administration (SBA) lender, and Woodforest National Bank® (Woodforest), a national bank with over 760 branches across 17 states, are working together to provide access to $1.5 million in debt capital to low- and moderate-income (LMI) small business entrepreneurs. The influx of lending capital from Woodforest to DreamSpring is a milestone in their shared commitment to spur community development and job creation through expanding peer networks and increasing access to capital. "Our collaboration with Woodforest widens the path for entrepreneurs to access much-needed capital and business resources," said Anne Haines, President and CEO of DreamSpring. "With Woodforest at our side, DreamSpring continues to expand our capacity to help small business owners realize their dreams and build stronger, more resilient communities through entrepreneurship." Daniel Galindo, Senior Vice President & Director of the CRA Program & Strategic Initiatives at Woodforest National Bank added, "Working with a strong CDFI like DreamSpring combines both organizations' financial strengths to provide access to LMI small business owners who struggle to get the funds they need to run and grow their business which is a key focus for our team." Both financial institutions share a commitment to empowering communities through entrepreneurship. The term loan agreement will allow DreamSpring to provide microloans to small business owners and LMI entrepreneurs as they start or grow their businesses across 10 shared states in DreamSpring and Woodforest's national footprints: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, New York, South Carolina, and Texas. The agreement between DreamSpring and Woodforest also strengthens the teams' vision to expand peer networks across their shared footprint to provide more resources for small business owners. For instance, in South Dallas, both organizations have embraced the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency's (OCC) acclaimed Dallas REACh initiative, aimed at increasing LMI access to capital. Woodforest facilitated DreamSpring's connection to the monthly Dallas REACh roundtable, bringing together banks, CDFIs, and community stakeholders and leaders. This collaboration has resulted in a greater network of support in South Dallas, enriching the local small business ecosystem. One South Dallas-based small business owner who has felt the life-changing impact of capital is Taylor Symoné. Her small day spa business offers beauty and hair treatments, therapeutic post-operative care, massages, and facials. When she was first getting started, Taylor remembers calling about 15 financial institutions and feeling frustrated every time by the paperwork needed for a small loan, as well as rigid requirements for only helping businesses with at least two years of operational history. DreamSpring was different. Taylor has since repaid three DreamSpring loans to fuel her business growth and create even more opportunities for her family. "I'm really big on generational wealth," says Taylor. "I like to teach my kids about being their own boss, being the star of their own show, and learning and understanding that you can create your own passageway — you just have to want to." For 30 years, DreamSpring has developed small business training and a range of loan products to meet the needs of entrepreneurs like Taylor. Today, DreamSpring offers credit-building small business loans, lines of credit, SBA 7(a) loans, and commercial real estate loans in 27 states to level the playing field by bridging credit and knowledge gaps that hinder economic mobility. About DreamSpring DreamSpring is a nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) and U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) lender dedicated to accelerating the economic inclusion and strength of underserved communities. Founded in 1994, the organization provides rapid access to capital and customized wrap-around support to the most vulnerable small business owners in 27 states, focusing on communities including people of color, women, low- to moderate-income earners, people with disabilities, and start-ups. To date, DreamSpring has issued more than 48,796 loans totaling over $538 million to small businesses that support an estimated 65,138 jobs. About Woodforest National Bank Celebrating over 40 years of community banking service, Woodforest National Bank has successfully stood among the strongest community banks in the nation, proudly offering outstanding customer service since 1980. Woodforest currently operates over 760 branches in 17 states across the United States and is an Outstanding CRA rated institution.

Read More

TECHNOLOGY

Alibaba.com Introduces New AI-Powered Feature at CES to Boost Efficiency and Growth for SMEs and Entrepreneurs in 2024

PR Newswire | January 10, 2024

Alibaba.com, a leading platform for global business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce and part of Alibaba International Digital Commerce Group (AIDC), will launch its latest Smart Assistant features powered by artificial intelligence (AI) at CES in Las Vegas, NV from January 9-12, 2024. The Smart Assistant, an AI-powered global sourcing tool, caters to both newcomers and seasoned entrepreneurs in the dynamic world of global commerce. As a one-stop B2B sourcing platform, Alibaba.com remains committed to delivering innovative solutions to help buyers and suppliers streamline operations to more efficiently reach their goals and continue to grow. The Smart Assistant updates unveiled at CES will help business owners adeptly enhance their supply chain and solve complex sourcing needs and challenges as they seek to stand out in today's competitive marketplace. "Today's small businesses face a variety of headwinds, but with the right technology and support, they can feel confident that they will overcome obstacles and help their business thrive, which is why we're expanding the features of our new Smart Assistant tool to better serve today's entrepreneurs," said Chris Lu, General Manager at Alibaba.com North America. "With advances in AI, we are ushering in the next generation of sourcing and empowering small businesses to succeed with our Smart Assistant at their side." The Smart Assistant: Shaping the Future of Sourcing Alibaba.com developed the Smart Assistant as an AI-powered, intuitive personal guide to sourcing that helps small business owners discover new opportunities, stay up-to-date on trends, seamlessly track orders and more in a single, efficient touchpoint. First announced at CES and coming soon to the Alibaba.com Smart Assistant is the Instant Help feature, which leverages an AI-powered chatbot to answer basic inquiries and offer real-time insights and resources, regardless of time zones or language barriers. The Instant Help feature provides buyers with essential knowledge and industry insights about a variety of verticals and product types, as well as offer tips to elevate their communications with suppliers. It will help ensure small businesses can increase efficiency, purchase smart and keep up with trends by leveraging AI to increase competitive advantages. Since their launch in September 2023, the first two features of the Smart Assistant – Upgraded Image Search and Smart Request for Quotation (RFQ) – have already provided significant benefit to entrepreneurs using the Alibaba.com desktop platform. Based on Alibaba.com's internal study since September 2023, buyers using the Upgraded Image Search have seen a 28% higher deal closing rate than those only using traditional text search. Buyers who used the Smart RFQ tool saw 29% more quotes from suppliers, while suppliers saw a 21% increase in buyer responses to quotes as compared to the original RFQ process. "Developed from buyer-supplier feedback and embedded with profound industry knowledge, we are excited to demonstrate how the Smart Assistant rapidly and accurately produces product requests and images aligning with buyer needs," Lu said. "Smart Assistant helps buyers embrace their creativity, improve the efficiency of matching buyers and sellers, while making sourcing more accessible for all." Alibaba.com will provide a showcase of Smart Assistant features at their booth on Wednesday, January 10, 2024 at 11:00 AM PT, hosted by smart sourcing expert Stella Shenshen. The Alibaba.com booth is located at the Las Vegas Convention Center's Tech East in the AI and Robotics section in North Hall's Grand Lobby on level 1, Booth 9017. Visitors to the booth will also have the opportunity to network and connect with 20 top-rated suppliers in-person, personally experiencing the ways Alibaba.com offers buyers advanced sourcing solutions and AI-powered tools to take their business to the next level. Tech and AI Power the Future of Businesses, E-commerce and Sourcing In addition to announcing new Smart Assistant features at CES, Alibaba.com leadership will discuss the evolution of e-commerce and sourcing, as well as how sourcing has been influenced and improved by AI and other technological innovations. Going "Entreprenuts" to Support Small Business Innovation To complement its presence at CES, Alibaba.com is also debuting a new campaign celebrating entrepreneurial spirit and innovation. The Entreprenuts campaign highlights how entrepreneurs are willing to bet big, as well as maintain persistence and boundless creativity, against daunting odds. In other words, they can go a little "entreprenuts" to achieve their dreams and create new products – just like the products showcased each year at CES. Throughout the Entreprenuts campaign, which will run from January 8 through February 8, 2024, Alibaba.com will encourage buyers to share stories of their craziest entrepreneurial moments, utilizing the most "nuts'' stories in a video highlight to showcase what it means to be an Entreprenut. Buyers can also earn their Entreprenut badge and profile by answering a questionnaire that will determine their unique Entreprenut characteristic. At the end of each quiz, buyers will be provided with exclusive tools and services to help them achieve their goals as they kickstart 2024. "This campaign demonstrates Alibaba.com's continued support of small and medium-sized businesses in the United States and helping them realize their entrepreneurial dreams and push beyond what others might believe possible," said Rah Mahtani, Head of Marketing for North America at Alibaba.com. "As buyers share their experiences, Alibaba.com will offer innovative new resources and products to help these 'Entreprenuts' succeed on their journey." The campaign debuts at a key crossroads for small business owners. The US has seen a surge in the number of newly registered businesses, which hit record highs in both 2021 (5.4 million) and 2022 (5.1 million). Sadly, 20% of these new businesses face failure within the first two years, and a staggering 45% of startups do not surpass the five-year mark due to challenges such as market volatility, supply chain disruption, shifting consumer demands, and inventory management. This makes the tools and capabilities Alibaba.com offers, which are designed to help entrepreneurs level up their sourcing and supply chain operations in the increasingly competitive small business arena, more valuable than ever. About Alibaba.com Launched in 1999, Alibaba.com is a leading platform for global business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce that serves buyers and suppliers from over 200 countries and regions around the world. It is engaged in services covering all aspects of commerce, including providing businesses with tools that help them reach a global audience for their products and helping buyers discover products, find suppliers and place orders online fast and efficiently. Alibaba.com is part of Alibaba International Digital Commerce Group.

Read More

TECHNOLOGY

Sovos Acquires Aatrix Software, Expanding Solution and Service Capabilities for SMBs

Business Wire | January 12, 2024

Global compliance technology solutions and services provider Sovos announced today it has acquired North Dakota-based Aatrix Software, a leader in payroll tax forms, extending our leadership in compliance with enhanced capabilities across e-Filing for 1099 and ACA 1095 reporting and W2/payroll reporting – increasing our local, state and federal coverage. This acquisition brings together two companies with significant experience and expertise in helping small and medium-sized businesses navigate the complexity of tax and regulatory compliance. As the regulatory landscape continues to evolve and electronic filing thresholds are lowered, it’s important that SMBs have access to the technology solutions and services they need to ensure proper and timely tax filings to maintain compliance. Together, Sovos and Aatrix will better inform users about changing mandates and provide them easy access to the tools and support they need. Between our two companies, we bring to bear extensive reach in terms of existing partnerships and configurations to work with nearly any platform or systems provider. “The continued digitization of tax compliance affects businesses of every size, and this is especially true for SMBs,” said Kevin Akeroyd, CEO, Sovos. “Small businesses really are the backbone of the U.S. and we have made a commitment at Sovos to provide them with the technology and support they need. We believe that Aatrix shares these same principles and fits perfectly into our existing portfolio, we are excited to welcome them into the fold.” Aatrix occupies a strong segment of the market and offers customers a deep level of form functionality as well as a flexible solution that can adapt to their various software offerings. Primarily focused on serving customers through integrations with ERP and payroll providers, Aatrix has been able to leverage its critical business functionality, embedded relationships with payroll partners, and high customer satisfaction to create a highly sticky solution. Its ‘sweet spot’ is primarily mid-sized companies with geographic scale to require multiple tax forms, however the solution has broad appeal across market segments and industries. “Aatrix has been a leader in helping small and mid-sized businesses meet their compliance obligations for nearly four decades and we are extremely proud of the work we’ve done and the partnerships we’ve created,” said Steve Lunseth, CEO, Aatrix. “I believe that the timing is right for us to bring our solutions portfolio under the Sovos umbrella to create even stronger opportunities for our customers, partners and employees. Our combined expertise and reach will assure that any business that wants to streamline their filing process will have access to the best people and solutions on the market.” The terms of the deal were not disclosed. Sovos is owned by Hg, the London-based specialist private equity investor focused on software and service businesses, and TA Associates. Holland & Hart LLP served as legal advisor to Sovos. About Sovos Sovos is a global provider of tax, compliance and trust solutions and services that enable businesses to navigate an increasingly regulated world with true confidence. Purpose-built for always-on compliance capabilities, our scalable IT-driven solutions meet the demands of an evolving and complex global regulatory landscape. Sovos’ cloud-based software platform provides an unparalleled level of integration with business applications and government compliance processes. More than 100,000 customers in 100+ countries – including half the Fortune 500 – trust Sovos for their compliance needs. Sovos annually processes more than three billion transactions across 19,000 global tax jurisdictions. Bolstered by a robust partner program more than 400 strong, Sovos brings to bear an unrivaled global network for companies across industries and geographies. Founded in 1979, Sovos has operations across the Americas and Europe, and is owned by Hg and TA Associates. About Aatrix Aatrix Software is a leading provider of W2, 1099 and ACA reporting solutions servicing over 300,000 businesses. Aatrix has been developing innovative accounting software solutions since 1986. Aatrix' finance software has received numerous awards, including Software Digests highest overall rating and Home Office Computing Editors Pick. Today, the Aatrix Electronic Forms Division is one of the nation's premier payroll reporting specialists.

Read More

FINANCE

DREAMSPRING AND WOODFOREST NATIONAL BANK COLLABORATE TO STRENGTHEN SMALL BUSINESS LENDING AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP ACROSS THE U.S.

PR Newswire | January 10, 2024

DreamSpring, a nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) and Small Business Administration (SBA) lender, and Woodforest National Bank® (Woodforest), a national bank with over 760 branches across 17 states, are working together to provide access to $1.5 million in debt capital to low- and moderate-income (LMI) small business entrepreneurs. The influx of lending capital from Woodforest to DreamSpring is a milestone in their shared commitment to spur community development and job creation through expanding peer networks and increasing access to capital. "Our collaboration with Woodforest widens the path for entrepreneurs to access much-needed capital and business resources," said Anne Haines, President and CEO of DreamSpring. "With Woodforest at our side, DreamSpring continues to expand our capacity to help small business owners realize their dreams and build stronger, more resilient communities through entrepreneurship." Daniel Galindo, Senior Vice President & Director of the CRA Program & Strategic Initiatives at Woodforest National Bank added, "Working with a strong CDFI like DreamSpring combines both organizations' financial strengths to provide access to LMI small business owners who struggle to get the funds they need to run and grow their business which is a key focus for our team." Both financial institutions share a commitment to empowering communities through entrepreneurship. The term loan agreement will allow DreamSpring to provide microloans to small business owners and LMI entrepreneurs as they start or grow their businesses across 10 shared states in DreamSpring and Woodforest's national footprints: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, New York, South Carolina, and Texas. The agreement between DreamSpring and Woodforest also strengthens the teams' vision to expand peer networks across their shared footprint to provide more resources for small business owners. For instance, in South Dallas, both organizations have embraced the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency's (OCC) acclaimed Dallas REACh initiative, aimed at increasing LMI access to capital. Woodforest facilitated DreamSpring's connection to the monthly Dallas REACh roundtable, bringing together banks, CDFIs, and community stakeholders and leaders. This collaboration has resulted in a greater network of support in South Dallas, enriching the local small business ecosystem. One South Dallas-based small business owner who has felt the life-changing impact of capital is Taylor Symoné. Her small day spa business offers beauty and hair treatments, therapeutic post-operative care, massages, and facials. When she was first getting started, Taylor remembers calling about 15 financial institutions and feeling frustrated every time by the paperwork needed for a small loan, as well as rigid requirements for only helping businesses with at least two years of operational history. DreamSpring was different. Taylor has since repaid three DreamSpring loans to fuel her business growth and create even more opportunities for her family. "I'm really big on generational wealth," says Taylor. "I like to teach my kids about being their own boss, being the star of their own show, and learning and understanding that you can create your own passageway — you just have to want to." For 30 years, DreamSpring has developed small business training and a range of loan products to meet the needs of entrepreneurs like Taylor. Today, DreamSpring offers credit-building small business loans, lines of credit, SBA 7(a) loans, and commercial real estate loans in 27 states to level the playing field by bridging credit and knowledge gaps that hinder economic mobility. About DreamSpring DreamSpring is a nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) and U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) lender dedicated to accelerating the economic inclusion and strength of underserved communities. Founded in 1994, the organization provides rapid access to capital and customized wrap-around support to the most vulnerable small business owners in 27 states, focusing on communities including people of color, women, low- to moderate-income earners, people with disabilities, and start-ups. To date, DreamSpring has issued more than 48,796 loans totaling over $538 million to small businesses that support an estimated 65,138 jobs. About Woodforest National Bank Celebrating over 40 years of community banking service, Woodforest National Bank has successfully stood among the strongest community banks in the nation, proudly offering outstanding customer service since 1980. Woodforest currently operates over 760 branches in 17 states across the United States and is an Outstanding CRA rated institution.

Read More

TECHNOLOGY

Alibaba.com Introduces New AI-Powered Feature at CES to Boost Efficiency and Growth for SMEs and Entrepreneurs in 2024

PR Newswire | January 10, 2024

Alibaba.com, a leading platform for global business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce and part of Alibaba International Digital Commerce Group (AIDC), will launch its latest Smart Assistant features powered by artificial intelligence (AI) at CES in Las Vegas, NV from January 9-12, 2024. The Smart Assistant, an AI-powered global sourcing tool, caters to both newcomers and seasoned entrepreneurs in the dynamic world of global commerce. As a one-stop B2B sourcing platform, Alibaba.com remains committed to delivering innovative solutions to help buyers and suppliers streamline operations to more efficiently reach their goals and continue to grow. The Smart Assistant updates unveiled at CES will help business owners adeptly enhance their supply chain and solve complex sourcing needs and challenges as they seek to stand out in today's competitive marketplace. "Today's small businesses face a variety of headwinds, but with the right technology and support, they can feel confident that they will overcome obstacles and help their business thrive, which is why we're expanding the features of our new Smart Assistant tool to better serve today's entrepreneurs," said Chris Lu, General Manager at Alibaba.com North America. "With advances in AI, we are ushering in the next generation of sourcing and empowering small businesses to succeed with our Smart Assistant at their side." The Smart Assistant: Shaping the Future of Sourcing Alibaba.com developed the Smart Assistant as an AI-powered, intuitive personal guide to sourcing that helps small business owners discover new opportunities, stay up-to-date on trends, seamlessly track orders and more in a single, efficient touchpoint. First announced at CES and coming soon to the Alibaba.com Smart Assistant is the Instant Help feature, which leverages an AI-powered chatbot to answer basic inquiries and offer real-time insights and resources, regardless of time zones or language barriers. The Instant Help feature provides buyers with essential knowledge and industry insights about a variety of verticals and product types, as well as offer tips to elevate their communications with suppliers. It will help ensure small businesses can increase efficiency, purchase smart and keep up with trends by leveraging AI to increase competitive advantages. Since their launch in September 2023, the first two features of the Smart Assistant – Upgraded Image Search and Smart Request for Quotation (RFQ) – have already provided significant benefit to entrepreneurs using the Alibaba.com desktop platform. Based on Alibaba.com's internal study since September 2023, buyers using the Upgraded Image Search have seen a 28% higher deal closing rate than those only using traditional text search. Buyers who used the Smart RFQ tool saw 29% more quotes from suppliers, while suppliers saw a 21% increase in buyer responses to quotes as compared to the original RFQ process. "Developed from buyer-supplier feedback and embedded with profound industry knowledge, we are excited to demonstrate how the Smart Assistant rapidly and accurately produces product requests and images aligning with buyer needs," Lu said. "Smart Assistant helps buyers embrace their creativity, improve the efficiency of matching buyers and sellers, while making sourcing more accessible for all." Alibaba.com will provide a showcase of Smart Assistant features at their booth on Wednesday, January 10, 2024 at 11:00 AM PT, hosted by smart sourcing expert Stella Shenshen. The Alibaba.com booth is located at the Las Vegas Convention Center's Tech East in the AI and Robotics section in North Hall's Grand Lobby on level 1, Booth 9017. Visitors to the booth will also have the opportunity to network and connect with 20 top-rated suppliers in-person, personally experiencing the ways Alibaba.com offers buyers advanced sourcing solutions and AI-powered tools to take their business to the next level. Tech and AI Power the Future of Businesses, E-commerce and Sourcing In addition to announcing new Smart Assistant features at CES, Alibaba.com leadership will discuss the evolution of e-commerce and sourcing, as well as how sourcing has been influenced and improved by AI and other technological innovations. Going "Entreprenuts" to Support Small Business Innovation To complement its presence at CES, Alibaba.com is also debuting a new campaign celebrating entrepreneurial spirit and innovation. The Entreprenuts campaign highlights how entrepreneurs are willing to bet big, as well as maintain persistence and boundless creativity, against daunting odds. In other words, they can go a little "entreprenuts" to achieve their dreams and create new products – just like the products showcased each year at CES. Throughout the Entreprenuts campaign, which will run from January 8 through February 8, 2024, Alibaba.com will encourage buyers to share stories of their craziest entrepreneurial moments, utilizing the most "nuts'' stories in a video highlight to showcase what it means to be an Entreprenut. Buyers can also earn their Entreprenut badge and profile by answering a questionnaire that will determine their unique Entreprenut characteristic. At the end of each quiz, buyers will be provided with exclusive tools and services to help them achieve their goals as they kickstart 2024. "This campaign demonstrates Alibaba.com's continued support of small and medium-sized businesses in the United States and helping them realize their entrepreneurial dreams and push beyond what others might believe possible," said Rah Mahtani, Head of Marketing for North America at Alibaba.com. "As buyers share their experiences, Alibaba.com will offer innovative new resources and products to help these 'Entreprenuts' succeed on their journey." The campaign debuts at a key crossroads for small business owners. The US has seen a surge in the number of newly registered businesses, which hit record highs in both 2021 (5.4 million) and 2022 (5.1 million). Sadly, 20% of these new businesses face failure within the first two years, and a staggering 45% of startups do not surpass the five-year mark due to challenges such as market volatility, supply chain disruption, shifting consumer demands, and inventory management. This makes the tools and capabilities Alibaba.com offers, which are designed to help entrepreneurs level up their sourcing and supply chain operations in the increasingly competitive small business arena, more valuable than ever. About Alibaba.com Launched in 1999, Alibaba.com is a leading platform for global business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce that serves buyers and suppliers from over 200 countries and regions around the world. It is engaged in services covering all aspects of commerce, including providing businesses with tools that help them reach a global audience for their products and helping buyers discover products, find suppliers and place orders online fast and efficiently. Alibaba.com is part of Alibaba International Digital Commerce Group.

Read More

TECHNOLOGY

Sovos Acquires Aatrix Software, Expanding Solution and Service Capabilities for SMBs

Business Wire | January 12, 2024

Global compliance technology solutions and services provider Sovos announced today it has acquired North Dakota-based Aatrix Software, a leader in payroll tax forms, extending our leadership in compliance with enhanced capabilities across e-Filing for 1099 and ACA 1095 reporting and W2/payroll reporting – increasing our local, state and federal coverage. This acquisition brings together two companies with significant experience and expertise in helping small and medium-sized businesses navigate the complexity of tax and regulatory compliance. As the regulatory landscape continues to evolve and electronic filing thresholds are lowered, it’s important that SMBs have access to the technology solutions and services they need to ensure proper and timely tax filings to maintain compliance. Together, Sovos and Aatrix will better inform users about changing mandates and provide them easy access to the tools and support they need. Between our two companies, we bring to bear extensive reach in terms of existing partnerships and configurations to work with nearly any platform or systems provider. “The continued digitization of tax compliance affects businesses of every size, and this is especially true for SMBs,” said Kevin Akeroyd, CEO, Sovos. “Small businesses really are the backbone of the U.S. and we have made a commitment at Sovos to provide them with the technology and support they need. We believe that Aatrix shares these same principles and fits perfectly into our existing portfolio, we are excited to welcome them into the fold.” Aatrix occupies a strong segment of the market and offers customers a deep level of form functionality as well as a flexible solution that can adapt to their various software offerings. Primarily focused on serving customers through integrations with ERP and payroll providers, Aatrix has been able to leverage its critical business functionality, embedded relationships with payroll partners, and high customer satisfaction to create a highly sticky solution. Its ‘sweet spot’ is primarily mid-sized companies with geographic scale to require multiple tax forms, however the solution has broad appeal across market segments and industries. “Aatrix has been a leader in helping small and mid-sized businesses meet their compliance obligations for nearly four decades and we are extremely proud of the work we’ve done and the partnerships we’ve created,” said Steve Lunseth, CEO, Aatrix. “I believe that the timing is right for us to bring our solutions portfolio under the Sovos umbrella to create even stronger opportunities for our customers, partners and employees. Our combined expertise and reach will assure that any business that wants to streamline their filing process will have access to the best people and solutions on the market.” The terms of the deal were not disclosed. Sovos is owned by Hg, the London-based specialist private equity investor focused on software and service businesses, and TA Associates. Holland & Hart LLP served as legal advisor to Sovos. About Sovos Sovos is a global provider of tax, compliance and trust solutions and services that enable businesses to navigate an increasingly regulated world with true confidence. Purpose-built for always-on compliance capabilities, our scalable IT-driven solutions meet the demands of an evolving and complex global regulatory landscape. Sovos’ cloud-based software platform provides an unparalleled level of integration with business applications and government compliance processes. More than 100,000 customers in 100+ countries – including half the Fortune 500 – trust Sovos for their compliance needs. Sovos annually processes more than three billion transactions across 19,000 global tax jurisdictions. Bolstered by a robust partner program more than 400 strong, Sovos brings to bear an unrivaled global network for companies across industries and geographies. Founded in 1979, Sovos has operations across the Americas and Europe, and is owned by Hg and TA Associates. About Aatrix Aatrix Software is a leading provider of W2, 1099 and ACA reporting solutions servicing over 300,000 businesses. Aatrix has been developing innovative accounting software solutions since 1986. Aatrix' finance software has received numerous awards, including Software Digests highest overall rating and Home Office Computing Editors Pick. Today, the Aatrix Electronic Forms Division is one of the nation's premier payroll reporting specialists.

Read More

Spotlight

Aprimo

Aprimo

Aprimo provides technology solutions for content, operations, and performance that enable enterprises to optimize their brand experiences and the resources they use to deliver them. Our platform gives enterprises the advantage by streamlining and governing all the behind-the-scenes activities – from...

Events

Resources