July 30, 2018No Comments

Why Supporting Black Arts is Important

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of attending the National Black Arts Festival (NBAF) Gala: What Makes A Legend event. The NBAF is dedicated to advancing the arts and the contributions of artists of African descent, and to celebrate its 30-year anniversary as the oldest multidisciplinary arts organization in the country, the nonprofit organized a stellar event including, great food, music, and, of course, art by distinguished local Atlanta Artists for guests to bid on.

As a leader within our People and Culture Department at Dragon Army, I felt privileged to represent our company and support an organization that is in-line with our corporate values of Celebrating Diversity and Doing Good.

Judy Hanenkrat, who oversees Special Events and Fundraising at the NBAF, said something that really resonated with me, “The NBAF isn’t just for Black people, it’s for all of us.” This nugget of truth is incredibly important because all human progress is driven by creativity, which is one of the many reasons Dragon Army is proud to support an organization that celebrates the successes that come with advancing the arts and contributions of artists of African descent. Below I’ve outlined the top reasons the NBAF is for everyone: 

Solidarity and Support

Vikki Millender-Morrow, CEO of NBAF, said it best, “It’s 2018 and there is still a very small percentage of artist of African descent that are able to make a living as an artist.” In addition to this, there are still racial and socioeconomic disparities within art education and funding. To address these inequalities, the NBAF promotes diversity by supporting young artists. Its school-based education programs provide artistic and professional development for public school students to improve their academic success and open pathways to higher education. The NBAF Festival, Gala and other events celebrate champions of Black culture and provide a much-needed space for solidarity in turbulent sociopolitical times. Why is this important? It is important because unity is strength and when faced with adversity, it is necessary to realize our connectedness. This realization also allows us to understand how our actions and inactions impact those around us.  

Celebration of Culture

The NBAF understands that celebrating culture and diversity isn’t ignoring differences, but truly allowing people with differing perspectives to have their voices be heard and stories told. The NBAF offers performances, commissioned works, visual arts programs and arts education, as well as, public programs to local, national and international audiences.

Transcension and Progress

Progress begins when you start asking the right questions. At the end of the What Makes a Legend event, Vikki Millender-Morrow did just that by asking, “How do we have art across sectors? How do we merge art with education? How do we use art to better health outcomes? How do we use art to really increase the economic vitality of the city of Atlanta? How do we use art to cross cultures... to cross generations?” These are the types of questions that excite and motivate our Dragons. When we are able to challenge ourselves as well as others within our community, we are able to truly use our privilege and power to create equitable communities.

Dragon Army strives to Inspire Happiness as a company, and partnering with organizations like the NBAF is one way we’re making a positive impact on our local community.

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By: Khadijah Hall, Operations Coordinator at Dragon Army

June 21, 2018Comments are off for this post.

Ways for Starbucks to Level Up Their Rewards Program

Starbucks is a consistent staple for many of us. Be it our stomping ground for a daily caffeine injection, escape for a tasty treat or a go-to gift card dispensary, a lot of us spend large portions of time and money with the company.

The coffee giant has spent time refining its rewards program over the years. Regardless of how the masses initially reacted when they changed from a “rewards per visit” to a “rewards per dollar” system a few years ago, the change has ultimately seen success. The primary goal of the rewards program is to incentivize the buyer to reach a set number of stars (125 stars at the current time of writing) to get a free item. At a base level, this works for daily spenders who have a consistent rhythm getting their fix at the chain. But does this straight spend-to-get-free stuff model work on a cognitive level for everyone?

Dragon Army is greatly interested in the use of game mechanics in non-game applications, so much so that we developed our own framework around it coined Applied Game Theory™. Naturally, we couldn’t help but take a deeper look at the mechanics and measures Starbucks is currently employing in its own rewards program. Here’s our take on what is working, what’s not and how Starbucks can push its program to the next level.

What’s working...

Social Pressure

   

Starbucks does a good job of making you feel like you’re missing out if you don’t jump on the rewards bandwagon. My closest store has no less than three large signs that make sure I’m aware of this fact. Social pressure can be used as a great psychological tactic in order to coerce participation.

Points

The entire points (Stars) system is easy to understand. You get 2 stars for every $1 spent, and you get a redeemable reward at 125 stars (approx. $61 spent). There is no real mystery to this, and nearly everything inside the program/app is based on this purchase relationship. Very easy to follow.

Challenges/Quests

  

The rewards program has some interesting missions you can complete once you are eligible for bonus stars. These are well designed and sometimes have multiple thresholds, so you can partially complete the mission and still collect a portion of points. These also include Limited Timed Events, which are a great component to get users hooked into constantly checking the program.

What’s not working...

Progression/Levels

The biggest place the Starbucks Reward program suffers is the requirement of earning 300 stars before you are ELIGIBLE to earn rewards. Given the structure of the current program, that means spending $150 before you can actually participate and earn free drinks that are only available to Gold Level members. The Green Level is basically a glorified paywall.

This stifles the incredibly important mechanic of progression. If a new user doesn’t see any tangible results until they've invested $150 (on coffee, no less), then the odds of retaining their attention and cultivating return to the program is going to be a tough sell.  

In contrast, Dunkin' Donuts DD Perks program starts users with a tangible reward from the outset. There is never a period where your purchases aren’t earning rewards. This new member experience is instantly more appealing because the reciprocity of gifting vs. reward bonds a better initial impression of the brand. Because Dunkin' Donuts is giving from the start and doesn't keep users from initially earning on the program, guests are more easily positioned to spend their dollars with the company.

Loss Aversion

On top of the initial requirement of spending $150 to be eligible to earn rewards, a member has only three months to reach that spend threshold — or they don’t qualify for the Gold Level. This is also an effort in loss aversion, but it doesn’t have near the effectiveness because users don’t have anything to really lose at this point.

Loss aversion works, but only when guests can cash in for an actual, tangible reward. Loss aversion, in this case, leaves a sour taste in the mouth because the threshold to enter is too costly and participation is unrewarding.

Let’s look at Best Buy Rewards. They have multiple membership tiers like Starbucks such as Standard, Elite, and ElitePlus. Both Elite and ElitePlus also have spending thresholds you need to reach within a time frame, but for UPGRADED benefits. You aren’t required to reach a certain threshold before getting access to basic standard benefits. This ensures there is always value in purchasing from Best Buy. This is the ideal use of loss aversion for membership features — to retain high value features not available in the lower tiers.

Lack of Social…anything

For being a business where tons of hangouts, talks, meetings and more happen, there is a curious lack of social initiatives. This is not only a missed opportunity but is a major drawback that users can’t interact with their peers to further engage with the program. Teamwork, competition, status and networking are all tactics that are missing, yet are totally capable of being included. Those mechanics also have the benefit of drawing more engagement out of a user over time, as well as driving organic growth due to the group dynamics.

For example, Tarte Cosmetics uses some base level social engagement, rewarding their users for performing social actions like retweeting and using specific hashtags. Shoe and clothing company Adidas uses the same tactics but does it on their retail store level. Buffalo Wild Wings incentivizes users to dine with friends, letting you cash in on your entire groups' rewards if everyone checks in together.

How to Level Up...

So, we have some things that are working and some things that aren’t so much. Where is the practical application? Glad you asked.

First, fix the stuff that isn’t working

Focus on the low hanging fruit by fixing the basic mechanics that are being improperly utilized. I've listed a few ideas below:

  • Fix progression and leveling by giving new members reason to spend and engage from the beginning
  • Fix unneeded loss aversion on the basic tier by removing it and allowing users to reach Gold Level at their own pace
Add more ways to engage besides spending money

Currently, everything in the Starbucks Rewards program is purely economic — you get points for purchase — but there is a huge opportunity to engage users outside of a purchase life cycle, which can increase brand recall and allow users to begin looking at Starbucks through more than one lens, such as:

  • Give members the opportunity to taste test a new beverage for free the first time
  • Give users minimal amounts of points for checking the app each day
  • Reward users for spending time in Starbucks stores
  • Reward users for visiting multiple locations
Meet people in the midst of their habits

Many of the offers in the Starbucks app are “buy # lattes for rewards” or “get a Frappuccino for $3”. This is fine if you usually buy those specific items, but many people are habitual when it comes to their coffee selections, and these kinds of offers fall completely flat. Given the fact that Starbucks tracks your purchases in-app, this info could be used more effectively to personalize your offers, and even deliver them at the times the app knows you like to get beverages.

For instance, the black coffee drinker (totally not referring to myself) might benefit more from a nudge to upgrade to a larger size or try the iced version, rather than trying to have me purchase a sugary Frappe.

Successful rewards programs sit nice and transparently in the midst of normal user behavior instead of requiring actions the user isn’t accustomed to. Let a user do their own thing and get offers and rewards the way they want to.

Leverage community and social

Having frequently and rabidly visited storefronts means that there is ripe opportunity to capitalize on group dynamics. Starbucks has countless options to engage their members in a community aspect, for instance:

  • Give bonus rewards for multiple members checking in at the same time
  • “King of the Hill” for certain actions, such as in-store visits, most "X" purchases, etc.
  • Bonus stars for two or more drinks on one card to encourage friendly purchases
  • Sharing favorite drinks/recipes with the community

Starbucks has a well-known and loved product set, great store environments and a forward-thinking brand positioning. They have so much potential to innovate and really push their rewards program forward. They just need to look beyond the simple implementation of how it currently exists.

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By: Jesse Wallace, Sr. UX Designer at Dragon Army, @jesse_wallace

 

May 29, 2018Comments are off for this post.

Dragon Army Named Most Highly Recommended B2B Service Providers in Atlanta

Dragon Army is honored to announce our recent inclusion in Clutch’s press release of industry leaders in the Atlanta area! In this annual report, we have been highlighted by Clutch as one of the top app developers in Atlanta, top android app developers in Atlanta, top iPhone developers in Atlanta, and top digital marketing agencies in Atlanta. This is very exciting news as Clutch, a Washington, D.C. based ratings, research, and reviews firm, analyzed hundreds of firms in order to determine the leaders and placed Dragon Army among the top three companies within several of the segments.

Clutch determines their industry leaders through a combination of client reviews, primarily obtained through interview-style phone calls, and individual ranking and research methods. Not only was Dragon Army featured on Clutch, but we were also featured on Clutch’s sister website, The Manifest, as a top mobile app developer in Atlanta as well!

Additionally, we are proud to share that we have received a perfect 5-star rating from our clients, and we’ve compiled a list of our favorite reviews below. Not only are we flattered by the kind words, but we believe this is a good representation of our commitment to our partners.

“They’ve taken the extra step to understand what makes us unique and provide solutions that reflect that.”

"Their aptitude for technology is really on the leading edge. They seem to be very well versed in all the emerging trends and technologies, which they’re able to bring to us as insight and help inform better decisions.”

"They’re good at coming up with creative ways to solve technical issues and they have great strategists."

Make sure to check out all of our reviews on Clutch’s website!

 

May 2, 2018No Comments

5 Awesome Tools You May Not Be Using

I’ll admit it, I’m an addict.

My new browser tab is the Product Hunt daily feed. I check the App Store and Google Play homepages way more than I care to confess. I obsessively rabbit hole down the “apps you might also like” suggestions.

So, it’s true. And I’m not ashamed to admit it. I’m addicted to digital products.

But more specifically, I love the “tools” category of those products because they are designed to increase productivity, make tasks easier or change up the way we think about doing a process. And, since I comb through tons of tools on a regular basis, I thought I’d share a few that have made it on the regular rotation of my software repertoire.

Dropbox Paper

Most everyone is familiar with Dropbox, but you might not know that it houses an incredibly useful productivity tool called Paper. Built as a collaborative document format, Paper seems like Google Docs on the surface, but it has all sorts of great features tucked under its hood.

Need to create product documentation? Paper has great editing tools, folder organization and version history to boot. You can invite your team for free and edit in a live space. As a designer, I love that I can embed prototypes directly from Invision or Marvel.

Need to compile screenshots and show them in an organized fashion? Drag and drop directly into the document, and separate with headers to create a table of contents (this is particularity awesome).

Need to write a blog post? Paper is a great, distraction-free tool for writing, and you can add others in to give feedback, help make edits and easily lay out your post.

And that’s just the beginning. Paper does so much more! It can also be used to create presentations or collect meeting notes. I can’t recommend it enough.

Wavebox

Wavebox is a more recent discovery, and I was sold on upgrading to their Pro license after only one day of use. Wavebox is a container for all of the web apps you use during your day, yet it does some nifty things to set itself apart from being a glorified set of browser tabs, such as:

  • Wavebox sleeps your inactive apps after a set amount of time, which keeps them from continuing to drain memory on your system. If you use a lot of apps, you’ll DEFINITELY notice an improvement.
  • Wavebox keeps you signed in so you don’t have to put in account credentials every time you restart or clear your cache.
  • Wavebox groups parent accounts, such as Google, and then houses your most used individual products inside that group. Instead of having Docs, Slides, Drive and Hangouts open in tabs, all you need is the Google tab. Very cool.

I love that Wavebox allows me to easily separate productivity from general browsing in a functional and thoughtful manner. I dedicate Wavebox to services and tools, and that way Chrome can be used for all the other browsing I do.

Pulse SMS

If you are an iPhone and Mac user, then you know how awesome and useful it is being able to use Messages on your Mac. Android users actually have a few options to do the same, but in my opinion, there is one clear winner — Pulse SMS.

Pulse is an alternative SMS client for your Android device which does all of the typical texting stuff. The true power in Pulse, though, is the ability to use it cross-platform. Unlike Messages, which is Apple only, you can use Pulse on any platform for every device, including:

  • Native apps for Windows, OSX and Linux
  • Optimized versions for Android phones, tablets, watches and TVs
  • Extensions for Chrome and Firefox
  • Web apps for use on iOS

I’m a Mac user, but I currently use an Android phone. I have the Pulse app installed on my Mac, and it works beautifully, just like Messages. I can also text from my iPad via the web app. It also doesn’t hurt that the native Android app is a pretty stellar texting app, as well.

Pablo

Pablo is a cool tool that helps you quickly create beautiful marketing images. It’s so quick and easy to build out a great graphic for a blog post, social post or newsletter.

You simply choose a photo, type out and position your text and then choose your graphic export size. Because of the formatting options, Pablo limits you to making better graphic and typography choices, which lead to stellar results. You can honestly get a fantastic looking image out of it in about 20-to-30 seconds.

Pablo also hooks into a couple of free stock library sites, so you have access to over half a million images at no cost. If you need a quick way to make an image and don’t want to hop into a graphics editor or pay someone to do it, Pablo may be the right app for the job.

WorkFlowy

WorkFlowy, at its most distilled, is simply a list tool. But it’s the way in which you build and navigate those lists that make it more useful than its counterparts. Where WorkFlowy really displays its value is when you want to break large lists into smaller lists — and so on, and so on and so on. WorkFlowy has an infinite depth, and you can drill into any item at any time to focus on it.

It’s an extremely focused tool that doesn’t need formatting or the ability to upload media, and that’s the beauty of it, it’s so efficient and perfectly tailored to what it does that it makes something usually boring and mundane like creating lists a much more pleasurable experience.

There is also a light share feature that you can use with a few people to manage task lists or projects, but don’t expect lots of collaboration options. I use it mostly for stuff I need to do around the house, and it is PERFECT for those cases.

Hopefully, I’ve shown you a few new tools that will make your work and life a bit easier. Are any of these options a favorite of yours, or do you have other great tools? Let us know in the comments below!

 

April 30, 2018No Comments

AMA Atlanta Launches New White Paper: Storytelling 2020

ATLANTA, GA, April 25, 2018— The Atlanta Chapter of the American Marketing Association (AMA) announced today the launch of its new white paper, Storytelling 2020: What You Need to Know About Storytelling in Marketing. Produced by members of AMA Atlanta’s Executive Advisory Board, the paper explores the past, present and future of brand storytelling.

“Our goal is to elevate the field of marketing by producing thought leadership that both educates and inspires informed action,” said Jana Ferguson, President of AMA Atlanta and Chief Client Officer at DRUM Agency.

Despite the increasingly fragmented media landscape, consumers continue to expect seamless, personalized experiences. Storytelling 2020 gives marketers the tools they need to foster engagement in ways that inspire customers to act.

“To be memorable, there is a growing need for relevance in brand storytelling,” said Troy Brown, SVP, Digital, Social and Mobile at MSL Atlanta. “It’s important that we, as marketers, continue to share key insights and foster growth in our communities.”

AMA Atlanta will host a panel luncheon on Wednesday, May 16th from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. at Maggiano’s Buckhead to further explore the paper. The luncheon will feature guest moderator, Moira Vetter, Founder and CEO of Modo Modo Agency and panelists from AMA Atlanta’s Executive Advisory Board: Georgia-Pacific, Georgia State University, DRUM Agency, Highwire, HoneyBaked Ham, Dragon Army, Dagger, Heirloomed and United Way.

Tickets to the luncheon can be purchased at AMA Atlanta’s Eventbrite page through May 11th.

The Storytelling 2020 white paper is available for download.

 

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About AMA Atlanta (AMA ATL)

AMA Atlanta is the go-to source for marketing knowledge, events, resources and networking in Atlanta. At 750+ members strong, we are the largest marketing organization in the city and the third largest AMA chapter nationwide. That means AMA Atlanta members have access not only to an incredible amount of local talent, but also to the international reach of the entire AMA organization.

Our members include professionals across a spectrum of disciplines: research, non-profit, public relations, advertising, branding, direct marketing, interactive, creative, multicultural and so much more.

For more information on AMA Atlanta, visit us at ama-atlanta.com.

About American Marketing Association (AMA)

The AMA is trusted by nearly a million marketing and sales professionals a year worldwide. It has more than 70 professional chapters and over 350 collegiate chapters throughout North America and select international locations. The American Marketing Association (AMA) is the largest marketing association in the world. AMA serves organizations and individuals who practice, teach and study marketing across the globe. It serves as a forum for connecting like-minded individuals to foster knowledge sharing and relationship building; to be a trusted resource for marketing information, tools, education and training; and to advance marketing practice and thought leadership. For more information about the AMA, visit www.ama.org or follow the latest AMA news at @AMA_Marketing.

If you would like more information about this topic, please call Jessica Carruth at 770.313.5784, or email jcarruth@dragonarmy.com.

April 19, 2018No Comments

How Augmented Reality is Changing Retail

In 2018, it feels as though we have finally landed in the “future” as detailed in our favorite sci-fi plots. Disruptive technology has allowed us to become a truly connected world, and social media has facilitated the need for people to feel constantly connected. This need to feel connected has not only allowed us to explore the exciting technologies of smart homes, digital assistants, and wearable technology created to make our lives easier, but it has also allowed us to explore how to truly integrate new tech into our daily lives.

Now more than ever, consumers have a heightened awareness of the need for updated tech integrations, beyond just creating cool wearable accessories. As technology rules the modern consumer’s life, retailers are not only expected to be digital-first to succeed, but they now need to ensure users are engaged throughout the entire process. This, in turn, has completely flipped consumers’ expectations when it comes to shopping. With eCommerce giants like Amazon setting the standard for instant gratification with fast shipping and allowing users to dictate their shopping experience via the app, online, or in-person, e-retailers and traditional retailers alike need to step their game up across multiple touchpoints to even be considered competition.

“The modern shopper’s comfort with digital channels and content has changed the consumer purchase journey from a traditional linear model to a complex journey across online and offline touchpoints. But regardless of touchpoint, consumers expect a consistent brand experience at all times.” (The Business of Fashion)

We believe the solution to the modern retailer’s dilemma is simple: make user-experience the focus instead of an afterthought, with in-store digital innovations and customer-focused apps to drive sales.

Jose Neves, founder of multi-billion dollar online luxury fashion retailer FarFetch, stated “Where tech can help is not with gimmicks but making the experience more human.” (Vogue)

So the question remains, how can retailers create digital experiences that feel more human?

Retail brands like Reformation and Rebecca Minkoff saw after they introduced digital-fitting rooms that allow users to control lighting, play music, and request different sizes all from the touch of a button within the room, customers “buy on average three times more apparel than in a regular dressing room.” (NBC) In eCommerce, retailers rely on personalization and artificial intelligence to adapt to consumers’ purchasing behaviors. Online fast-fashion retailer ASOS took personalization and AI to the next level by introducing the Style Match feature in their app, a reverse image finder where “users can tap the camera icon in the search box to upload a screenshot from Instagram, a photo taken from a magazine, or to take a picture right from the app, and get results of shoppable items.” (The Verge) ASOS was able to create a digital connection between their customers that felt both innovative and human by identifying a huge gap within the process of consumer’s purchase journey, they were able to develop a digital assistant to help them find the exact clothing they want to purchase.

One of our personal favorites here at Dragon Army is incorporating augmented reality (AR) into the consumer’s retail experience. (Still getting AR and VR mixed up? Our CEO and COO Jeff and Ryan break it down in this awesome podcast.)

A great example of the power of AR in retail is the recently launched app by global fast-fashion retailer ZARA. Customers can easily download the free Z[AR]A app as they shop to bring digital innovation directly into their in-store shopping experience. The AR app cleverly showcases ZARA’s latest studio collection by encouraging customers to use the app to find surprise and delight AR moments hidden within store displays and packages from online purchases. Using the AR camera in the app, models come to life on the phone screen wearing the latest spring collection. “Customers will be able to see 12 different scenes, all of which were captured with 68 cameras on a 170 square meter stage, one of the largest productions of its kind, according to a company spokesperson.” (Next Reality) All the looks featured can be purchased instantly within the same app. Additionally, users will also be able to share their experience with AR on the social media channel of their choice.

Zara’s bold move to introduce AR to its customers not only illustrates their understanding of their client base but showcases their proactiveness to adopt new technologies. In addition to ensuring their online experience is engaging with an easy-to-use app and website, they saw an opportunity to design a completely new user-experience that supports the traditional touchpoints they already have in place. (@zara)

To be successful in this space, retailers need to embrace the power of both the consumer and new technologies, instead of relying on the traditional retail strategies that have put countless retailers out of business. Retailers need to bring disruptive technology such as AR to the forefront of their digital experiences to continue to engage and capture modern consumers, as well as adopt digital strategies that allow retailers to support consumer-driven trends.

Whether your digital solution is for brick and mortar or completely online, it’s time to rethink how you connect with your audience.

By: Veronica Miller, Account Coordinator at Dragon Army, LinkedIn

March 13, 2018Comments are off for this post.

Mobile Innovation: 5G Use Cases in the Mobile Space

Mobile innovation was a major theme at CES and Mobile World Congress this year. This comes as no surprise given the impending rise of 5G, which promises to enable a new wave of mobile advancements including mass-scale iOT, low-latency communications and enhanced event and media experiences. Outlined below are a few ways this new wave of innovation will affect the mobile industry:

How we got to 5G: A brief history of mobile wireless systems

In the 1980’s, the 1st generation of wireless cellular technology (1G) used analog radio signals. This early form of cellular technology was quickly replaced with 2G. 2G used digital radio signals to communicate with radio towers, thus allowing for more efficient wireless connectivity and communications such as SMS and MMS text messaging. 3G allowed for the birth of mobile applications and higher data transfer rates, while 4G allowed for faster interactions and network connectivity. Fast forward to the impending launch of 5G — and you’ll find a few questions on everyone’s minds: 1.) What use cases will 5G allow for? and 2.) How will it change the mobile industry?

Mass-scale iOT  

5G will be able to support a vast number of devices, as many as 50 billion, allowing for the mass-scale of iOT. Smart sensors will be implemented in virtually everything from our cities infrastructure (roads, railways and vehicles) to large-scale farms and agricultural sites, allowing for reliable more efficient connectivity and communication between machines — and between machines and humans. This means seamless interactions between humans and technology. 5G and iOT will unlock potential new ways for machines and machines and machines and humans to interact. For example, smart cars will be able to interact with traffic lights and other cars, making roads safer.

Low-latency communications

5G will allow for ultra-low-latency. This means only 1 millisecond of delay in the transfer of data between devices — a 30x improvement over 4G. The reliability of lower latency in 5G will allow for greater technological advances in autonomous driving and the remote control of critical infrastructure in healthcare, public safety, government services and manufacturing. Low-latency will affect the mobile space by improving augmented and virtual reality and 360 immersive experiences, making them faster and more accessible to users. These domains will see major improvements with low-latency and the efficient connectivity of 5G.

Enhanced event and media experiences

5G will change how users experience events and other forms of media. 5G will facilitate greater broadband access in crowded areas such as sporting events and concerts. Users will be able to download 4k movies in seconds without a wifi connection. Furthermore, 5G will enable ultra-hi-fidelity immersive AR and VR experiences. Imagine putting the user in the heart of an action film or at a sporting event. Not only will 5G facilitate high-quality immersive user experiences, it will allow for scale with the ability to reach millions of users at a lower cost.

5G has the potential to generate and facilitate numerous use cases in the mobile space. Industries such as healthcare, automotive and professional sports, as well as other forms of media platforms will be greatly impacted. Not to mention, living in a truly connected world will become more of a reality.

Looking forward to experiencing all that 5G has to offer in 2018 and beyond.

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By: Carolyn McGuire, UX Architect at Dragon Army, @crlynux

Image by: Carolyn McGuire

 

 

March 8, 2018Comments are off for this post.

Solving Gender Inequality In The Workplace

“We cannot all succeed if half of us are held back.”

Malala Yousafzal

How did we get here? It’s a question I ask myself often. Perhaps, it’s because I’m a believer in knowing where you’ve come from to know where you're going, or maybe it’s the philosophical side of me that loves to question all the “so-called” societal norms. Whatever the reason, as I sit here preparing to celebrate International Women’s Day this question keeps swirling inside my head — and it’s followed by a stronger question. How do we solve the issue of gender inequality in the workplace?

International Women's Day is a global day that celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, and it also marks a call to action for accelerating gender equality. Fortunately for us in the West, females now enjoy more choice, rights and freedom than many of our female ancestors — but we still have a long way to go. I find it interesting that all of mankind pops into this world as blank slates, and then through the course of life we’re conditioned to accept certain beliefs. These beliefs include a number of unconscious limiting thoughts, but for today’s purpose, let’s focus on the ideas of masculinity and femininity.  

According to a study published in the journal Science, until a few thousand years BC, women and men were seen and treated as equals — but with the advent of agriculture and the rise of the industrial era, a patriarchal society evolved. In this new male-dominated culture, feminine qualities were repressed and seen as weak. What had previously been a dynamic duo between men and women, suddenly became unbalanced. Men were seen as leaders and “masculine” qualities like ambition, assertiveness and physical strength were highlighted over “feminine” qualities like understanding, softness and listening.

Flash forward a few millennia, and the struggle continues. In order to bring balance into the workforce, we must first break the current system that was set-up for the industrial era, where men went to work and women stayed home. This system no longer serves society, nor does it promote equality. This system is out of balance, and it’s been out of balance for far too long.

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending Conscious Company Media’s World-Changing Women’s Summit, and during the summit we discussed this topic in depth. The issue was brought to life through lectures, panels and workshops, all led by female entrepreneurs. These world-changing women are making moves, making money and fighting for a better world in the process. Below I’ve outlined a few action items that can be used to create gender equality in the workplace. We need to...

  • Free women and men of their gender roles. We must embrace feminine qualities as strengths, not weaknesses and, in doing so, give power to a new global process that supports inclusivity of all living things.
  • Empower female leadership. Our economy needs more females in leadership positions, and they can continue the movement by educating, supporting and empowering other world-changing women.
  • Provide more global funding to female entrepreneurs. While venture capitalists invested more than $58 billion in startups last year, women only received 2 percent of that money. If we want to see change, we need to invest more consciously.
  • Have difficult conversations. In a world where societal norms uphold that women “should be” pleasing, soft and passive, we need to create a safe space for women to speak their truth and challenge status quo.
  • Change the traditional nine-to-five system. Women and men alike are not looking to work less, they’re looking to work differently. Most households today are dual income where both parties work, so more flexible schedules are needed.

I could write entire blogs on each of the above points, but for today’s purpose — and in honor of the 2018 International Women’s Day — I want to answer the question I posed at the beginning of this essay. How do we solve the issue of gender inequality in the workplace? Let’s start by having open and honest conversations with our work families. If things are out of balance, take action today to change policy, empower more female leaders and break old systems that no longer serve society.

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By: Jessica Carruth, Director of Marketing at Dragon Army, @JessicaCarruth

March 5, 2018Comments are off for this post.

Dragon Download: #MWC18

The 2018 Mobile World Congress (MWC) conference was held last week. I did not get to travel to beautiful Barcelona this year, but I was eagerly following along at home — and I’m excited to share some of the popular trends coming out of the forum. If you’re not familiar with MWC, it’s the world’s largest mobile exhibition, hosted by the GSMA. It’s been running for 30+ years and has over 100,000 attendees annually.

One of the main themes from this year’s event was "The Network," which meant lots of conversations about the arrival of 5G. AT&T has already established itself as a US frontrunner, with its January announcement of 5G service in 12 markets this year. Respectively, Sprint and T-Mobile used MWC as an opportunity to announce plans to have 6 and 4 markets by end of the year. Hat tip to AT&T and Sprint for including Atlanta in their initial roll out!   

In addition to network news, several phone manufacturers added new models to their lineups this past week. Samsung officially announced the new Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus. LG hawked two new phone models, the V30S ThinQ and the V30S ThinQ Plus. Both products will include updated cameras with enhanced AI technology that will allow for visual searching on platforms such as Amazon and Pinterest. The Vivo APEX FullView concept phone was another noteworthy piece. It’s almost all screen, and Vivo has some pretty interesting approaches to solve the challenges that come along with that. The front-facing camera pops up from the top when needed. The fingerprint scanner is integrated into the screen and, to improve on the X20 that they announced at CES, this one works when the user places their finger anywhere on the bottom half of the screen. Instead of a traditional speaker, they used something called Screen SoundCasting, which sends vibrations through the screen, turning the whole thing into a speaker. I love seeing how companies get creative with these types of design challenges.

Another interesting mobile technology debut came from a group of researchers at Aachen University in Germany. They showed off microchips made of graphene, which are flexible and foldable. This technology could eventually lead to foldable phones, and the researchers are suggesting that these phones could be available within the next five years.

A mobile event wouldn’t be complete without talk of AR and VR innovation, and MWC was no exception. I was excited to see a demonstration of Ghostbusters World, an augmented reality game coming from Sony, that uses Google’s new ARCore technology. Another exciting experience was an immersive VR hot air balloon ride over the Grand Canyon, using the HTC Vive. The demo included a real hot air balloon basket to ride in, a fan to simulate wind and even a heater to blast your hands with hot air when using the burner controls!

AI was another hot topic at the exhibition this year. I was pleasantly surprised to see Pepper pop up in my twitter feed as I followed along with the event. Pepper is a robot from Softbank Robotics that can recognize faces, read human emotions and interact with people. Pepper is equal parts terrifying and adorable. I speak from experience when I say this because a Pepper robot lives on the second floor of Dragon Army’s temporary office space (#downtowndragons), waiting to greet us as we come and go each day.

With so much amazing innovation coming out of the conference this year, I’m really looking forward to 2023, when I can use blazing fast 5G networks to explore the Grand Canyon and fight ghosts, before rolling up my phone, tucking it into my pocket and heading home to my very own companion robot. What were your favorite innovations coming out of MWC18?

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By: Erica Warhaftig, UX Architect at Dragon Army

February 28, 2018Comments are off for this post.

The Importance of Celebrating Black History Month

Black History Month is a time for our nation to remember the important contributions and achievements of African Americans throughout history. As the 2018 observance comes to an end, I want to take a moment to explain why I believe it’s important to celebrate diversity.

Before I dive in too deep, I want to address the elephant in the room. I’ve been struggling to write this post for a few days. If it wasn’t the 21st Century, and I still wrote with a pen and paper, I’d have a few dozen crumpled up drafts scattered in and around the trash can in my office. I talked to several people for advice and read past transcripts of great speeches to get inspired, but everything I considered seemed off.

The problem was I wanted to write a blog post about what Black History Month means to me, and to my company, Dragon Army. I wanted to show that we believe in honoring and remembering the history of our African American teammates, family, friends and community members.

I wanted to illustrate that we’re a company with heart. That we challenge the small thinking that says one group of people is better than another. That we believe diversity is a source of strength, not a weakness. And, while Black History Month may shine a light on a divisive and disgraceful part of our nation’s past, it also brings to light wonderful stories and triumphs which should be celebrated and honored.  

But…

I’m white. For this reason, I’ve learned that there is no amount of reading, listening or thinking that I can do that will allow me to appreciate — or relate to — what it means to be black. I have lived a privileged life, and I recognize that. What I can say is that I believe it’s important to acknowledge this fact.

So, what do I believe? I believe it’s important to celebrate diversity (one of Dragon Army’s core values). It’s also important to recognize that there are advantages and disadvantages in this country related to one’s skin color — while also acknowledging how very unfair that is. And, while I know there are parts of our history that we might want to erase from our minds, we should never forget.

I believe there are some things we, as a conscious company, can do. We can make it a point to ensure our organization is diverse and that it's cherished for that diversity. We can work to expose our teammates to each other’s unique and wonderful cultures. We can have tough, open and honest conversations with one another to better understand and empathize.

A tangible action Dragon Army is taking to support diversity within the workplace is our commitment to hiring one of Georgia State University’s Minority Scholarship winners for the next three years.

We can also celebrate Black History Month! And, do our part as advocates for Dr. King's vision, as Dragon Army did this year by sponsoring Hands on Atlanta MLK Day.

At Dragon Army, we’re committed to doing our part to make the world a better place, and we’re open to ideas for how this collective group of dragons can celebrate diversity and inspire a little happiness along the way. We’re ready for the conversation, and we hope you are as well.

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By: Jeff Hilimire, CEO of Dragon Army, @jeffhilimire

 

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