Want To Learn Coding? Check Out These Resources Recommended By Tech Experts

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Nearly everywhere you look—from business management, to customer engagement, to product development—technology plays a massive role. As such, tech-related skills—and coding in particular—are excellent additions to nearly any professional’s resume.

A variety of books, apps and websites make it easy for even busy professionals to get a start on learning the fundamentals of coding. But which entry-level resources are the most effective? Below, 13 experts from Forbes Technology Council share their recommendations for beginners interested in learning coding.

1. Code Complete

The single best cornerstone book on good software development is Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction by Steve McConnell. Oftentimes new developers will get hung up on “The new technology X book,” which is a mistake. You need to understand the fundamentals before jumping into the details. While this book has code examples, it focuses more on patterns and practices. – Matt KruczekTallan

2. Lightbot

For the very young or those who have not yet had any experience with procedural abstraction, I would recommend the Lightbot site/app/game. This learning tool is fun and can identify problems with abstract thought processes. It is an excellent first attempt at understanding programming concepts without having to worry about language/syntax and all the other elements of a programming toolchain. – Chris Kirby, Retired

For the complete article, continue on to Forbes.

Rapper Residente partners with scientists to create music with brain patterns

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Rapper Residente sitting on couch dresed in black and baseball cap

Grammy-winning rapper Residente has some new collaborators on his upcoming album: scientists. The Puerto Rican performer said he studied intensely with professors at Yale University and New York University to read brain patterns in worms, mice, monkeys, fruit flies and even hitmaker Bad Bunny to create his second solo project.

“(The album is) going to be about everything that I have inside of my head … because of that I kept brainstorming and I said, ‘Oh I have to study my brain, and then I have to study other people’s brains, and then I have to study animals’ brains,'” he said.

Daniel Alfonso Colón-Ramos, an associate professor of neuroscience at Yale, said Residente spent days at the school doing research.

“We were joking that we should give him a diploma,” said Colón-Ramos.

On campus, they used electroencephalogram (EEG) tests on worms to track and record brain wave patterns.

“Without harming the animals we can actually see as the animal is thinking, as it’s moving, as it’s exploring its environment, we can see individual cells talking into each other. It turns out when these cells, when these neurons talk to each other they’re using rhythms to communicate — we call it rhythms of activity. But, at the end of the day, those rhythms can be turned into music,” Colón-Ramos said.

The untitled album will be released in November. Residente, born René Juan Pérez Joglar, worked with Suzanne Dikker, a senior research scientist in NYU’s Department of Psychology, to use EEG tests on himself and Bad Bunny to produce the album’s first single, “Bellacoso.”

Continue on to NBC News to read the complete article.

CBS Saturday Morning Debuts “Mission Unstoppable,” a New Weekly Series Executive Produced by Geena Davis and Miranda Cosgrove Who Also Serves as Host

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Miranda Cosgrove poses for Mission Unstoppable poster

CBS announced today that new series Mission Unstoppable, featuring female STEM superstars, is joining the Saturday morning block “The CBS Dream Team, It’s Epic!,” which returns for its seventh season Saturday, Sept. 28th (9:00-12:00 ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.

Each week, host and Executive Producer Miranda Cosgrove (iCarly) and an all-female leadership team showcase women on the cutting edge of science – including zoologists, engineers, astronauts, codebreakers, and oceanographers. Viewers will be inspired by female STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) superstars in leading fields including social media, entertainment, animals, design, and the internet – all categories key to the teen experience.

“Girls need to see themselves on and off the screen as STEM professionals, and as I always say, ‘If they can see it, they can be it.’ This new series strives to empower young women and showcase the many ways they can impact the world through careers in STEM.”

Academy-Award winning actor and advocate Geena Davis serves as co-executive producer of the series, bringing her passion for creating change in the portrayal of strong female characters in entertainment and media that positively influences young viewers.

“Strong female role models are essential to breaking down barriers and educating the next generation of leaders about gender equality,” said Geena Davis, Executive Producer, Mission Unstoppable. “Girls need to see themselves on and off the screen as STEM professionals, and as I always say, ‘If they can see it, they can be it.’ This new series strives to empower young women and showcase the many ways they can impact the world through careers in STEM.”

Serving as Showrunner is Anna Wenger, four-time Emmy-nominated producer for Billy on The Street, Between Two Ferns, and Sarah Silverman: We Are Miracles. Wenger’s expertise in narrative television and sketch comedy television series will provide Mission Unstoppable with its core intent to bring fun and science to life for young viewers.

Continue on to Businesswire to read the complete article.

Mexican Scientist Creates Biodegradable Plastic Straw From Cactus

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Sandra Ortiz stands in kitchen behind table filled with vaiations of her new plastic

Researchers from the University of Valle de Atemajac in Zapopan, Mexico have created a biodegradable plastic from the juice of the prickly pear cactus.

The new material begins to break down after sitting in the soil for a month and when left in water, it breaks down in a matter of days. Plus, it doesn’t require crude oil like traditional plastics.

“There were some publications that spoke of different materials with which biodegradable plastics could be made, including some plants,” Sandra Pascoe Ortiz, the research professor who developed the material, told Forbes.

“In this case the nopal cactus has certain chemical characteristics with which I thought it could be feasible to obtain a polymer, that if it was combined with some other substances, all of them natural, a non-toxic biodegradable plastic would be obtained. The process is a mixture of compounds whose base is the nopal. It’s totally non-toxic, all the materials we use could be ingested both by animals or humans and they wouldn’t cause any harm.”

This means that even if any of this material made its way into the ocean, it will safely dissolve. It’s estimated that between 1.15 million to 2.41 million tonnes of plastic are entering the ocean each year from rivers. Last month, divers found a plastic KFC bag from the 1970s during an ocean clean-up off the waters off Bulcock Beach in Queensland, Australia and earlier this year, during a dive to the bottom of the Mariana Trench – the deepest point in the ocean – a plastic bag was found.

According to Ortiz, the project was born in a science Fair of the The nopal cactus sitting on table with blender in the backgroundDepartment of Exact Sciences and Engineering, in the chemistry class with industrial engineering students of the career. They began to make some attempts to obtain a plastic using cactus as raw material.

“From that I decided to start a research project in a formal way. Currently in the project collaborate researchers from the University of Guadalajara in conjunction with the University of Valle de Atemajac.”

Continue on to Forbes to read the complete article.

Luis “Danny” Bathen of HENAAC: Becoming a Successful Engineer

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Luis "Danny" Bathen headshot

Being an engineer is like being that curious cat. The curious cat knows his or her curiosity may be the end of him or her, but he or she still needs to know how something works.

Without knowing how something works, we may not be able fix it, improve it, or simply innovate a new solution that makes that thing we think is cool obsolete.

Engineers built irrigation systems, engineers built castles, engineers got man to space, engineers built the world-wide web. Engineers are the reason we can see our loved ones across the sea in real time.

Engineers are the reason we can take selfies on a plane—flying across the sea, sharing them with millions of people while sipping our favorite drink thousands of feet up in the sky.

I became an engineer because I am a curious cat—I need to know how something works. I need to know how to build things from scratch. I need to know how to build more efficient things that will make my life and the life of people I care for easier. Being an engineer is rewarding, and also demanding.

It requires a lot of hard work. The cliché of “hard work pays” is indeed true, but to be a good engineer, you need to not only “work hard” but also “work smart.” Working smarter and more efficiently will help you complete tasks much faster. If I can write a computer program to automate a task that will help me work faster, I will. If I can build an Artificial Intelligence system that can automate most of my tasks, it will free my time to do more pressing matters. Artificial Intelligence is a hot and controversial topic today; there is a lot of excitement and fear. I am personally excited about it, because Artificial Intelligence is here to stay, it is in our future, and my job as an engineer is to make sure I help engineers and Artificial Intelligence, which will be good for me, my kids, and humanity.

In short, being an engineer is like being a curious cat who will work hard and work smart to make sure the next innovation he or she builds is an innovation for good rather than an innovation that may cause his or her doom.

How do we become good and successful engineers? Well, for starters, we must persevere.

Perseverance is perhaps one of the best traits to have. As engineers, we will fail—we will fail many times. It is not about failing—failure is inevitable—it is about how we deal with failure. The old “fail fast, recover fast” saying is true. We want to be able to fail, learn, and resume our work. Some days will feel like there is no solution, so we need to take a breather, sleep on it, and get back at it the next day. When we try different approaches and learn from our failures, we are bound to find a solution, or at least a partial solution that will help us move along.

Complacency is our enemy. As an engineer, we cannot, and should not, fall into the trap of complacency with our everyday tasks. As an engineer, if you reach a point where you stop trying to improve things, you are not being a good engineer. A good and successful engineer will look at better ways of doing things, improving on existing processes, and innovating.

Finally, to become a successful engineer, you must have a strong and positive attitude. You must not keep quiet when you see something is not quite right, when you feel something will not work, or something may endanger yourself or others. You must be strong and accept criticism— take it as an opportunity to learn rather than take it personally. We have all been criticized at some point in our lives for our work. Criticism is an opportunity to come back stronger and show that we can improve our work. However, do not let criticism get you down. And always give good feedback and positive criticism, because like you, others will also need that opportunity to learn from their mistakes. Be proactive, help when you can, and ask for help when you need it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Some people say to let our work speak for us, this is true, but you must also be your own marketing department. Good engineers will do great work, as good or better than yours. It is your responsibility to showcase your work, push your work, and market your work, so that others appreciate it and it does not fall on deaf ears. Yes, good work speaks volumes, but there is nothing wrong with adding amplifiers.

So, be a curious cat, be an innovator, be a creator, persevere, never be complacent, and have a great attitude. Don’t just be an engineer, be an awesome engineer!

Luis “Danny” Bathen was awarded HENAAC’s 2018 Most Promising Engineer Advanced Degree – Ph.D.

Online Networking Rules for Your Job Search

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diverse group of people networking

By Mary Lorenz

As you’ve probably heard by now, professional networking is an essential skill—some might call it a “necessary evil”—that can help you further your career. The people you meet through networking can point you to your next career move, act as references for jobs you’re applying for and mentor you in ways you never thought possible.

But networking itself tends to get a bad rap. It takes effort to introduce yourself to new people and the interactions can feel awkward or forced. They’re the blind dates of the working world.

Fortunately, with the ubiquity of social networking and mobile technology, networking has changed significantly in recent years. Thanks to LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and countless other social networking sites, it’s easier than ever to connect with like-minded professionals and industry experts—many of whom you may have never met otherwise.

But much like in-person networking, online networking has its own rules of etiquette. Consider the following tips when building your network online.

Put the “pro” in profile. When you extend an invitation to connect, the person will inevitably check out your various social media profiles. Do the necessary prep work to make your social media profiles as polished and professional-looking as possible. This doesn’t mean you should scrape your social media profiles of any personality whatsoever. Just make sure there’s nothing on there you wouldn’t want a potential boss to see.

Don’t be a weirdo. Perhaps you met at a networking event and want to stay in touch. Maybe you have a connection in common or work in the same industry. Perhaps you simply admire this person’s work. Whatever the reason you want to connect, introduce yourself—or re-introduce yourself, if the case may be—and include a quick sentence or two explaining why you want to connect. This may seem obvious, but you would be surprised how many people send invitations to connect without so much as a simple “Hi, my name is…” Not only is it lazy to not introduce yourself and your reason for wanting to connect, but it can be borderline creepy.

Don’t be generic. Copying and pasting the same tired, impersonal message into your emails or invitations to connect? You might as well not even bother. Generic messages are easy to spot and hard to forgive. They give the impression you’re just mass-messaging anyone and everyone to build your network and are only looking out for yourself.

Be patient. U.S. News Money writer Ritika Trikha sums up networking perfectly when she says, “Networking isn’t about immediate results. It’s about building mutually beneficial relationships.” Be willing and able to put the time into building your relationships and building trust. What does that mean? Keep reading…

Nurture your network. Show your online connections some social media love and participate in the conversation. Start by sharing, liking or commenting on something they posted online, endorsing them for skills on LinkedIn or mentioning them in a #FollowFriday tweet, just to name a few tactics. The more you interact with them online, the more likely they are to reciprocate. Not only will this increase your visibility—not to mention up your social media street cred—but it will also help build a rapport and develop relationships with others outside of social media.

Try to connect IRL. Connecting online is great, but nothing beats meeting face to face when it comes to growing your relationship. If there’s someone you’ve connected with online whom you want to get to know better, suggest going to coffee, lunch or meeting up for happy hour—and cover the bill.

Know when to move on. If someone is unresponsive, it’s okay to follow up once or twice, but don’t hassle the person. No one owes you anything, and trying to pester someone into connecting with you will only get you blocked. Move on to the next person who might be more responsive.

Pay it forward. Take advantage of opportunities to help others, unprompted. Is there a job at your company you know someone would be perfect for? Reach out to them and offer to be a reference. Helping others isn’t just good karma, it can also pay off later if you ever need a favor of them.

Source: CareerBuilder

9 Non-Clinical Healthcare Careers to Consider

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Media assistants sitting a table together

It’s hard to ignore the healthcare field if you’re searching for a stable career. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the healthcare field is expected to add 2.4 million new jobs from 2016 to 2026—which is more than any other occupational group!

There’s no denying that there are plenty of opportunities waiting for you in healthcare. But what if you don’t see yourself working in direct patient care? Luckily you don’t have to work in a clinical setting to take advantage of a career in the booming healthcare industry.

The healthcare field revolves around caring for people, but it takes more than just doctors and nurses to make it happen. High-quality healthcare gets plenty of support from non-clinical workers who take care of administrative tasks, coordinate care efforts, manage technology and more.

These non-clinical healthcare occupations are a valued part of the medical field and play an important part in keeping the healthcare industry running smoothly. Explore these non-clinical healthcare career descriptions to find the one that’s the best fit for you.

  1. Medical coder

In a sense, medical coders are the translators of the healthcare industry. They convert patients’ medical records and physicians’ notes into specially designed codes so insurance companies can accurately bill for the services patients receive. Because these healthcare professionals have access to sensitive patient information, they also need to be well-versed in government regulations surrounding healthcare privacy and electronic health records.

This role may sound simple, but it keeps a healthcare provider’s financial records in tip-top shape.

  1. Health information technician

Technology is changing the way the healthcare industry works, especially where electronic health records (EHRs) are involved. Health information technicians (HITs) ensure that a patient’s EHRs are accurate and secure. They also analyze data on patient outcomes.

Like medical coders, HIT professionals are expected to stay current with regulations about patient privacy.

  1. Healthcare manager

Healthcare managers oversee the day-to-day operations of a medical department. They set and monitor budgets, train new staff members to their team and look for ways to increase efficiency and quality of care.

Healthcare managers set the tone for their department and their team, so their leadership influences every patient who walks through a facility’s doors.

  1. Medical administrative assistants

Medical administrative assistants, sometimes called medical secretaries, are often the smiling faces you see when you first enter a medical facility. These administrative experts greet patients and provide customer service, schedule appointments, enter insurance information and work with patient billing.

Medical administrative assistants keep a healthcare facility running smoothly behind the scenes, and they make patients feel welcome and cared for.

  1. Healthcare administrator

Healthcare administrators are the leaders of their medical facility. They set financial goals for their facility, create policies that benefit patient care and ensure that their facility stays in compliance with healthcare regulations.

Healthcare administrators might seem far removed from patient care, but their work directly impacts the quality of care a facility is able to provide.

  1. Community health worker

Community health workers focus on improving the well-being of the people in a particular area or region. Their tasks include educating community members on important health issues, reaching out to at-risk populations to improve their health and assisting with disaster preparedness. These healthcare workers are in the unique position to impact individuals’ general well-being on a large scale.

  1. Human service assistants

Human service assistants work with patients to help them arrange the medical care and other services they need. Their work varies depending on the population they serve. Human service assistants who focus on the elderly might help patients arrange transportation to the doctor, set up a meal delivery service or navigate Medicare. Those who work with people with disabilities might help them arrange personal care services or find a job that accommodates their disability.

Human service assistants spend their days making it easier for patients to navigate a complex healthcare system so they can live their lives to the fullest.

  1. Corporate wellness coordinator

Corporate wellness coordinators work at the intersection of healthcare and business. These healthcare pros bring wellness programs to corporations to help their employees improve their overall health—which in turn gives a boost to the company’s bottom line. They often run fitness initiatives and evaluate individuals for health risks.

This healthcare career puts the spotlight on wellness so individuals can be aware of their risk factors and take control of their health.

  1. Patient advocate

It can be easy for patients to feel overwhelmed in a medical setting, especially if they’re experiencing health issues. Patient advocates help bridge this gap by explaining medical terms and procedures to patients, ensuring they have access to the treatments they need and helping them understand their treatment plan. Patient advocates also communicate a patient’s concerns to doctors or nurses.

Patient advocates dedicate themselves to making sure patients feel heard. They’re the ones patients can turn to if they need support and aren’t sure what to do.

About Rasmussen College

Rasmussen College is a regionally accredited private college that is dedicated to changing lives and the communities it serves through high-demand and flexible educational programs. Since 1900, the College has been committed to academic innovation and empowering students to pursue a college degree. Rasmussen College offers certificate and diploma programs through associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in seven schools of study including business, health sciences, nursing, technology, design, education and justice studies.

Author-Ashley Brooks

Source: rasmussen.edu

Yes, tech companies may listen when you talk to your virtual assistant. Here’s why that’s not likely to stop

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alexa machine sitting on a counter

Big tech companies don’t like to talk about it. And when users find out it’s happening, they’re often surprised — and disturbed. Yes, if you talk to a virtual assistant, such as Amazon’s Alexa, a human may listen to a recording of your chatter.

Recent reports have highlighted what is actually a longstanding practice meant largely to improve the artificial intelligence that underpins the virtual assistant-powered gadgets and services that are popping up throughout people’s homes and lives.

The practice raises privacy concerns for smart-speaker users in particular, who might have known that Amazon, Google, and Apple create recordings each time you speak to Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri, respectively, but not that people might review them.

The companies have said only a small percentage of recordings are listened to by humans. Still, Google and Apple have temporarily halted human reviews of their recordings, while Amazon recently changed its settings to make it easier for people to avoid such review at all.

Last week, Facebook said it, too, had paused human review of some users’ audio clips, such as those sent as audio messages via the social network’s Messenger app. Facebook had been using humans to listen in, as part of an AI-transcription feature.

Lost in the shuffle of these revelations is whether people are truly needed to make these AI-dependent systems work, and how much companies should tell users about this process.

Continue on to CNN to read the complete article.

Race car driver Jessi Combs, known as the ‘fastest woman on four wheels,’ dies while trying to beat record

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Jessie Combs seated in race car before a race

Race car driver Jessi Combs, who earned the title of the “fastest woman on four wheels” after she set a record with a jet-powered car, died Tuesday while trying to beat a land speed record, officials said.

Combs died Tuesday in Alvord Desert in southeast Oregon, the Harney County Sheriff’s Office said. She was 39.

“She was a brilliant & to[p]-notch builder, engineer, driver, fabricator, and science communicator, & strove everyday to encourage others by her prodigious example,” said Adam Savage, former co-host of the TV show “Mythbusters.”

Combs appeared in multiple episodes of the show, while host Kari Byron was on maternity leave. She also appeared as a host in shows such as “All Girls Garage” and “Overhaulin’.”

Combs became the fastest woman on four wheels in 2013 at the North American Eagle Supersonic Speed Challenger, when she set a record of 398 mph.

In October, Combs set a new top speed of 483.2 mph in a shakedown run.

On Tuesday, she was attempting to go faster when she crashed.

“On August 27, 2019 at approximately 4:00PM the Harney County 911 Center received a call reporting that a jet car attempting to break a land speed record on the Alvord Desert had crashed leading to one fatality,” the sheriff’s office said.

Her resume was full of firsts: the first woman to place at any Ultra4 event; the first woman to compete in The Race of Gentlemen event.

Savage also tweeted “I’m so so sad, Jessi Combs has been killed in a crash. She was a brilliant & too-notch builder, engineer, driver, fabricator, and science communicator, & strove everyday to encourage others by her prodigious example. She was also a colleague, and we are lesser for her absence.”

Her dedication to women’s empowerment in the automotive industry was also significant. She has a line of women’s welding gear with Lincoln Electric, as well as an online collaborative dedicated to empowering and educating women through industrial skills, called the RealDeal.

Continue on to CNN News to read the complete article.

A Giant Leap for Womankind

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NASA Earth Science Division Deputy Director Sandra Cauffman speaks during the Celebrating Women’s History Month – Getting Excited About STEM event at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, Tuesday, March 28, 2017 in Washington, DC.

For the first time in NASA’s history, women are in charge of three out of four science divisions at the agency. Earth Science, Heliophysics and Planetary Science divisions now all have women at the helm.

Each hails from a different country and brings unique expertise to NASA’s exploration efforts. One of them is Sandra Cauffman, along with Lori Glaze, director of the Planetary Science division, and Nicola Fox, director of the Heliophysics division.

“We have an extraordinary group of women responsible for the success of dozens of NASA space missions and research programs, revealing new insights about our planet, Sun and solar system,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters. “They are inspiring the next generation of women to become leaders in space exploration as we move forward to put the first woman on the Moon.”

Cauffman, acting director of the Earth Science division, leads the agency’s efforts to understand the intricacies of our home planet—the only one where we know life can survive. Her journey to NASA has been one full of determination and persistence.

As a child in Costa Rica, Cauffman loved reading science fiction books, such as Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon, and Isaac Asimov’s novels. Her mother, whom Cauffman considers her hero and inspiration, constantly struggled to make ends meet for her children but maintained an upbeat attitude.

“Even when we didn’t have anything, even when we got kicked out of places, even when we ended up living in an office because we had no place to go, she was always positive,” Cauffman said. Her mother told her: “You can do anything that you want, you just have to put your mind to it.”

Because the family had no television, they went to a neighbor’s house to watch the Apollo 11 landing in 1969. “I just remember telling Mom I wanted to go to the Moon,” Cauffman said.

Fascinated by physics in high school, Cauffman wanted to continue her studies in college. She worked in a hardware store to help pay for her undergraduate education in physics and electrical engineering at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. As a native Spanish speaker, she struggled daily with English—first learning words like “hammer,” “nail” and “bolt” through her job at the shop. She barely passed her test of English as a second language. But she kept going, eventually earning a master’s in electrical engineering.

She joined NASA in February 1991 as the Ground Systems Manager for the Satellite Servicing Project at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. She worked on Hubble’s first servicing mission, the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite, the Explorer Platform/Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer and others. After 25 years at Goddard, she moved to NASA Headquarters in 2016 and became deputy director for the Earth Science Division in the Science Mission Directorate. This year, upon the retirement of Michael Freilich, she was named Acting Director of the Earth Science Division.

In her early NASA career, she was often the only woman or one of very few in the room and developed the courage to speak up for herself. These days, with many more women contributing to NASA, Cauffman looks for opportunities to make sure everyone’s voice is heard.

Though she had a brief foray into Mars missions, Earth is Cauffman’s favorite planet. And she enjoys knowing that Earth science has real benefits to society.

“What we do in observing Earth as a system gives us the additional benefit of helping humans here on Earth survive hurricanes, tornadoes, pollution, fires, and help public health,” she said. “Understanding the oceans, the algae blooms—all of those things help humans right here on Earth.”

Her message to young people who aspire to a career like hers reflects her mother’s message to her: “Don’t give up at the first ‘no.’ With determination and perseverance, we can become what we dream we can become.”

Source: NASA

How technology is changing the face of retail

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Group of women shopping

The concept of “retail tech” might bring to mind a Jetsons-like shopping experience of glowing screens, biometric scanners, and robotic personal assistants. But the reality is more along the lines of traffic-tracking sensors, radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags, handheld scanners, and heat maps, all technology designed to provide a real-time snapshot of how the modern consumer is shopping. This wealth of data unlocks an understanding of the in-store customer journey that’s deeper and more insightful than ever, and retailers that can successfully leverage this information are the ones that will thrive.

Still, none of this technological wizardry matters if retailers don’t get the basics right. “We have all of these [great] technologies,” says Bjoern Petersen, president of Sensormatic Solutions, the global leader in enabling smart and connected shopper engagement. “But the No. 1 rule is: Don’t destroy the shopping experience.”

For Petersen, that starts with inventory accuracy, which is essential to getting shoppers to come back. “If I am coming in to buy or pick up something and it’s not there, that’s a terrible experience,” he says. “Yet almost all retailers have issues with inventory.”

RFID eliminates manual inventorying by electronically accounting for items packed inside shipping cartons, which are scanned upon arrival. Here’s how yoga-workout outfitter Lululemon puts the RFID-based TrueVUE technology to work: When a customer pays for a shirt, it triggers software that calls for a replacement to be pulled from the store’s back room. If the item is in stock, it will quickly appear on the floor.

“That’s a great customer experience,” Petersen says. “And the retailer can sell down to the last unit at full price because they know where every item is. If you don’t have that kind of deep visibility, you end up doing unnecessary markdowns—and when your store is full of racks of discounted items, the feel is very different.”

Not every retailer leverages RFID or other technology to create this deep inventory knowledge. Petersen says those brands will fall behind, particularly with services like Buy Online, Pickup In Store (BOPIS) on the rise. Petersen points out that more than 10% of BOPIS items are unavailable when customers arrive to pick them up, leading to order cancellation. “The percentage is unnecessarily high,” he says.

ACHIEVING A SEAMLESS SHOPPING EXPERIENCE

Almost all retailers try to optimize costs, often through labor. But Petersen warns that cutting too much here runs the risk of losing the “all-important customer experience.” No shopper wants to wander the aisles in search of assistance, though retailers don’t want to pay for associates to stand around during slow periods.

So how does one staff the right amount of sales associates at the right time? The answer lies in technology that analyzes foot traffic, tracks transactions, and optimizes the ratio of staffers serving customers compared to those conducting replenishment tasks.

Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.