Recap: The Springfield Chamber of Commerce 2018 Access Business Conference “Embracing Technology”
On October 9, Lane Community College’s Center for Meeting and Learning hosted the Springfield Chamber‘s 2018 Access Business Conference on the topic of “Embracing Technology.” The event was geared towards small and growing businesses who may either be already using technology but want to know more, or are unsure of how they can put technology to use.
Following a delicious lunch catered by the Lane Community College culinary department, Robert Killen, Springfield Chamber’s director of member development, kicked off the day with an interesting observation . . . younger people in today’s world are used to seeing targeted ads. In fact, the concept that they might see online ads for products they’re not interested in is a strange one. The world has changed from simply blasting out ads on television to whoever was watching to strategically targeting advertisements based on age, location, interests and anything else that people might have made public about themselves. It’s in a business’s best interest to learn how to harness that ability.
Keynote Speech By Lauren Jerome
But first, business owners need to embrace a mindset of innovation, which is what keynote speaker Lauren Jerome spoke about. The co-founder of software design studio Mindbox Studios, Ascend app, and the group Redefining Women in Tech, Jerome’s talk was inspired by her plucking a new kind of hummus off store shelves. When the cashier saw her “unusual” flavor of cranberry walnut hummus, she remarked that she hadn’t been “brave” enough to try it. Jerome described the growth of the hummus industry in the United States and gave several examples of how the arc of adoption of hummus by American consumers mirrors that of other emerging technology. She ended her inspiring speech by reminding people to “Take a chance. It could be awesome.” That goes for new hummus flavors as well as any new business idea you might have.
Special Presentation By Google’s Carissa Saint Laurent
After that, Google trainer Carissa Saint Laurent spoke on the topic of “Succeeding in a Micro-Moments World.” While her presentation was about how to use Google’s tools to promote a small business, the context was bigger than that. 50 percent of people in the world connect to the internet and there are currently 8 billion connected devices. By 2020, in just two years, that number is expected to be 20 billion. The presentation inspired audience members to look for ways to harness those numbers by “being there,” “being valuable” and “being quick.” In other words, the business should be readily visible on Google Maps or other places where a customer might search for you. The business should present helpful information, such as business hours and special promotions. And the business should respond quickly if a customer reaches out. Saint Laurent spoke about Google tools–Google Maps, Local Search, YouTube, Google Analytics and Google Trends–and gave examples of how they might all be used.
After that were two breakout sessions. One was given by Matt Guiger, the CEO and Founder of InstaMarkt. He spoke primarily about using tools such as digital wallets to make purchasing easier and more local. James Hukill, a lead incident response investigator from Symantec, spoke about cybersecurity and the risks and possible solutions for a more interconnected world.
Guiger explained that among younger consumers, credit card usage is down and digital wallet usage is up. Consumers want simplicity and convenience, so if a tool can reduce the friction of purchases and provide a good user experience, it has the basis for being successful. He says customers want a digital wallet with a “same as cash” experience, so the challenge is designing in a way that allows for a seamless experience from selecting a product to ownership. His example of InstaMarkt was given as a tool that has been successful in achieving user adoption and also developing more robust local online markets.
The last hour of the day was given over to the Trendsetter Showcase. The audience enjoyed short presentations by four innovative business leaders.
Wendy Morgan, Treadwell Ventures
Wendy Morgan of consulting firm Treadwell Ventures spoke about her background as a teacher and how that led her to developing an immersive VR training experience to help educators identify and remove implicit bias from the classroom. In her solution, up to 15 teachers from around the country enter a virtual middle school classroom and are assigned identities as either teachers or students, and the others don’t know which is which. The classroom will be rowdy, she says, and the teachers’ requests to bring order to the classroom will be ignored. As the teachers interact with the digital avatars of students from all backgrounds, their physical reactions and verbal responses will be analyzed so they can recalibrate their motivations in the classroom. In conjunction with the University of Oregon’s Center for Equity Promotion and grants from US Ignite and Mozilla Foundation, the group will launch their pilot program in spring 2019. Morgan said that she never saw herself as a leader in using or even appreciating technology, but she also pointed out a quote from Stewart Brands that said, “as new technology rolls over the world, you can either be the steamroller or the road.” If a business owner has a vision and they know where they want to end up, it’s easier to start seeing technology as a means to that end rather than an obstacle to overcome.
Suzanne Cavanagh, Century Lighting
Suzanne Cavanagh, since 2008 a co-owner of Century Lighting, a Springfield lighting store, spoke about the movement toward human-centric lighting. She gave many examples of how the color, the intensity and the duration of lighting affects the sleep and mood of humans. Lighting technology has changed a lot over the last decade, and people are increasingly aware of how lighting choices can affect health and productivity in hospitals, workplaces and in such places as nursing homes. Lighting and sensors can connect with each other to switch to certain lighting at different times of the day or coordinate with the HVAC system. She gave a remarkable example of how the lighting in a senior home that was more natural and in line with the circadian rhythms of natural sleep and waking hours dramatically affected the mood and health of the residents. Springfield Utility Board is supporting an experiment at the Elder Health and Living Center in Springfield, where more natural lighting was installed one month ago. A study is being done on how this change in lighting affects the residents there.
Robbin Freedman, OsteoStrong
Robbin Freedman, owner of OsteoStrong, spoke about her decision to purchase this franchise. As humans age, and in particularly women, they lose bone strength at a loss of 1 percent per year. After menopause, women lose 3 to 4 percent of their muscle fibers. OsteoStrong capitalizes on compelling research that explains that the body generates new bone when bone is compressed to 4.2 times a person’s body weight. The tools at OsteoStrong provide this compression in an easy-to-use and fast format that is not based on diet, a supplement or working out at a gym. The innovative equipment provides the right amount of compression to create the body’s response known as osteogenic loading. Freedman says adults experience quick, measurable results and that the tool can even help children on the autism spectrum. These kids tend to have lax muscle strength, so they are not getting the benefit of strong bones into adulthood. Sessions with this tool can help kids experience osteogenic loading so they can have stronger bones too.
Casey Roscoe, Seneca Sawmill
Casey Roscoe is the granddaughter of Aaron Jones, the founder of the 65-year-old Seneca Sawmill. Roscoe spoke about how proud the family is to have sustainably managed the 170,000-acre tree farm. They have a plan in place for the amount of harvesting they will be able to sustainably manage for the next 50 years. Because they continually grow more than they harvest, the farm has 92 percent more stock today than it did 20 years ago. Roscoe spoke about the innovations in saw blades that allowed Jones to grow his company to great success. His thinner high-tension bandsaw blades created less sawdust, which translated to less waste of usable wood. While he didn’t patent that particular sawblade innovation (which was subsequently copied by others in the industry) he did patent 28 other inventions. The company today harvests all of their scraps, including sawdust, for a biomass plant which produces electricity which is purchased by Eugene Water and Electric Board. Today, the company uses precision cutting which can cut within the thickness of a dollar bill. As she says, this allows the company to utilize every speck of dust from every tree that comes into their mill. Next on the horizon is X-Ray machines, which can see inside a piece of wood, allowing the company to even more precisely use every bit of every tree for the greatest yield.