Leaders in the Making: A Look Behind the Curtain

Declare. Define. Decide. Create. Commit. Complete.

These are the steps to the path to get you where you want to go. Last week, the FUSION OF IDEAS leadership team set out on a two-day retreat to learn about what it takes to be game changers, difference makers and better leaders.

Led by two influential executive coaches, Setema Gali and Nate Bailey, the retreat kicked off with the FUSION OF IDEAS team meeting at the beach for a two-hour physical training to push ourselves beyond our physical and mental limits. We dunked ourselves in the ocean (multiple times), raced in teams, immersed ourselves with sand, squatted with sandbags, did planks, burpees, and jumping jacks, all in the name of learning to be vulnerable and working together as leaders.

Mike, our business development manager of applications, reflected back on the training and said, “You can always do more than you think you can.”

Back in the classroom, we set big goals and discovered practical ways to reach them. Together as leaders, we made a commitment to learn from one another, teach each other and confront obstacles. And together, we set out to define the company’s vision, build a culture where our teams can grow and thrive, and set standards for achievement.

Here are a few other takeaways:

  • “Embracing and welcoming uncomfortable situations tend to be the opportunities when we grow the most.” – Julia, business manager
  • “I was proud to see everyone’s efforts on the beach and pushing themselves to limits that we didn’t know were possible. We worked well as a team, and I loved seeing us work together in an extreme circumstance like this.”
    – Chandran, shipping and fulfillment manager
  • We all have to work together. Regardless of who is at fault, if one of us goes down, we all go down.” – Bryan, creative manager
  • “Being a leader means being bold, stepping up under any circumstance and having integrity. You do not need to have the title or role in your job to be a leader. Anyone can be a leader.” – Heather, director of communications.

A Raffle Prize Worth Putting For

The GOLFWEEK Amateur Tour, with 50 regional tournaments, was founded to give amateur golfers a chance to compete in a nationwide series of stroke-play golf tournaments. Open to men and women, young and old, the tournament – now in its 25th year – uses some of the best championship golf courses and concludes with a National Tour Championship, which awards the final winner among the top players in each flight.

In addition to a day on the greens, the winner of each flight is awarded a crystal trophy and each participant is entered into a tournament raffle. At the El Paso, Texas/Las Cruces, N.M. tournament, customized Apple AirPods served as one of the top prizes for the event raffle. As one of the hottest tech accessories, it was a highly sought-after prize for the 60+ participants of the event.

Additionally, Apple iPad Pro tablets with customized Smart Keyboard Folios were used to check the golfers in at each tournament and serve as a live score board. As we have seen in this event, and others, cohesive branding can significantly add value and experience for all attendees and participants involved.

 

5 Must-Have Features for Your Mobile Business App

As a business owner, you see the benefits of having a mobile application to help create efficiencies, cut operation costs and increase mobility.

Before you rush into the development stage, you should clearly identify your primary goals for your mobile solution and secondly, understand the features that you may want to be included in the app.

While most app features are discovered during initial conversations with the developer and discussed throughout the development process, it is still important to know and understand the elements of an effective mobile app.

To help you get started, we’ve put together the top five features of good mobile apps:

1. An Attractive User Interface

Visual design is not only about selecting the perfect images, colors, icons, fonts, but also determining how the appearance of the application impacts the user experience. The architecture and design phase is typically the first phase of every app development process, as it lays the foundation for the look and feel of the app.

2. Ease of Use

Eliminating any barriers to entry when using the app is another important element in creating an effective workplace application. You may lose users if they find your app difficult to navigate. In order to create the best user experience, it’s important to test your app with different user groups to find out how comfortable they feel while interacting with the app’s content across different platforms and environments. The journey throughout each section of the app should be smooth and seamless.

3. Fast and Reliable Performance

Have you ever used an app that loads slowly, crashes or completely shuts down while running? Understandably, most users have little patience for poor functionality and end up uninstalling or abandoning the problematic app. The most successful apps have fast response times and run continuously in the background. This is generally tested during the quality assurance phase in the app development process.

4. Simplicity

While it’s tempting to throw in fancy features on your mobile app, you lose your user when there are too many buttons and clicks in the app journey. Sometimes a simple, templated app, such as FUSION OF IDEAS’ Dynamic Content System (DCS), can be the best choice to meet your business needs.

5. Updated Content

When you have a system for pushing new or updated content and features to your app, you can continue to improve the reliability of the software. For businesses, it’s important to keep policies, sales messages and security issues up to date.

 

While understanding these qualities and features is essential to creating an effective mobile app for your business, it’s even more important to find the right partner to build your software.

The FUSION OF IDEAS dedicated in-house app development team follows a rigorous nine-step process when designing and executing a mobile application. Our number one priority is to create a custom mobile software solution that is tailored to your organization, and we are proud to have developed more than 300 mobile applications for companies of all sizes and budgets.

Contact our app development team to start a conversation about the possibilities of using technology to take your business to the next level.

Wealth Management Firm Invests in a Digital Client Experience

Wealth management group Garrison Murphy Wealth Management (GMWM) has a fiduciary duty to their clients to provide transparency in their investment and wealth management services.

One of the ways they are delivering on that promise is by engaging with their clients via iPads that securely display all aspects of their financial life. This custom-branded iPad with GMWM’s logo serves as a communication tool through which GMWM can deliver advice, content and services. Clients can view and access their financial data and important documents in real time and securely transmit, store and share documents with interested parties.

This open-architecture approach has allowed the firm to break away from traditional, time-intensive quarterly or semi-annual meetings and to foster collaboration between the firm and clients. By going digital, GMWM has seen cost savings from the elimination of printing, binding, and physical storage of paperwork.

“It has been a pleasant experience to work with FUSION OF IDEAS,” said Nickole Garrison, GMWM Vice President and Chief Client Officer. “Until we connected with them, we were unable to find a company who could do the custom etching on our clients’ iPads. FUSION OF IDEAS was not only able to do the etching, but they also helped us find a solution for the custom packaging we were in search of for the iPad boxes.”

GMWM, we are honored to be a part of your digital transformation.

The Beauty is in the Details at Viceroy Los Cabos

Photo credit: Viceroy Los Cabos
Photo credit: Viceroy Los Cabos

One of the newest resorts in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, Viceroy Los Cabos is an architectural masterpiece, wrapped by ocean water in Mexico’s Baja California peninsula. A modernist dreamscape with futuristic designs, every detail of the luxury resort is considered, from the eye-catching, bold facade to the rich textures and unique art pieces throughout the property.

As one of the first experiences at the resort, guests are greeted at the hotel lobby by receptionists using HP laptops custom-branded by FUSION OF IDEAS. The back of each laptop is wrapped with StealthArmor, our proprietary protective film, showcasing the location’s signature gold sundial design.

StealthArmor is a precisely fitted film that maintains the thin lines of the laptop while offering style and protection. Because it is heat-bonded, the film is not permanent and used as a protective cover for nearly any mobile device without adding the unnecessary bulk of traditional cases.

A growing number of brands, particularly those in the hospitality and other consumer-facing industries, are using logos or other branding elements on their business devices as a way to elevate their brand equity.

In the case of Viceroy Los Cabos, the customized laptops with the resort’s sundial design complete the look of the striking hotel lobby, where every facet is part of the experience.

Customized HP laptops that are used at the Viceroy Los Cabos guest lobby
Customized HP laptops that are used at the Viceroy Los Cabos guest lobby

Custom-Branding Beyond Phones and Tablets

Think beyond traditional mobile devices for branding. Pictured here: Fujifilm Instax Cameras

Businesses are increasingly finding value in custom-branding mobile technology. Branded technology can be used as: 

  • a marketing tactic to elevate brand equity;
  • employee rewards or as gifts to clients and vendors;
  • a theft deterrent for company devices by having the company logo printed on them.

As one of our core services, customization is our business. We have partnered with more than 2,000 brands to create customized solutions, with phones and tablets being the most popular tech devices for custom branding. In the past few years, mobile accessories – such as device cases, speakers and headphones – have gained traction, particularly during the gifting season.

Our capabilities do not stop there. With laser etching, color printing and StealthArmor (our proprietary protective film) solutions, there is no limit to what we can customize. New products present different specifications, dimensions and materials, making for an exciting challenge for our design and production teams.

As people and businesses continue to move toward mobilization and personalization, we challenge you to think beyond traditional mobile devices and see how customization can take your business to the next level.

Amazon Echo Show
Amazon Echo Show
JBL Flip 4 and Clip 3 Bluetooth speakers
JBL Flip 4 and Clip 3 Bluetooth speakers
Google Home
Google Home
YETI Hopper personal cooler and Rambler wine tumblers
Amazon Echo Dot and urBeats3 by Dr. Dre earphones
Amazon Fire TV Cube
Amazon Fire TV Cube

3 Tips for Employee Appreciation Week

Employees cannot take their jobs for granted. At the same time, employers cannot take their staff for granted. As an employer, your employees dedicate a significant portion of their time to help you succeed. With Employee Appreciation Week approaching (February 25 through March 1), how will you thank your team for their hard work and dedication?

Whether you are planning to bring a simple “thank you” lunch for your crew, or an all-employee celebration, here are three tips to keep in mind:

  1. Get involved. Leaders in the company should be involved in the planning of the celebration, no matter how big or small. Don’t leave the task to non-management employees. Employers need to celebrate their employees and show them how important they are to the whole company.
  2. Everyone is important. Avoid the temptation to spotlight certain employees. There is a right time and place to recognize top achievers. Employee Appreciation Week is an opportunity to show gratitude to the entire staff.
  3. Know what they want. If you are giving a gift, remember that your employees are worth more than a tchotchke that will end up in a drawer or be given to their children. Skip the low-quality items and give something that is valuable and memorable to them. A memorable gift doesn’t have to be expensive. There are many cool giftable gadgets that are priced fairly, such as Apple AirPods, YETI tumblers or Amazon Echo Dot.

We’ve taken to our blog in the past to showcase a growing trend of companies turning inward and giving unforgettable gifts to their employees. Here are a few more examples of businesses that have shown appreciation to staff through gifting.

Omni Technologies: Beats EP headphones with custom sleeve and gift wrap
Omni Technologies: Beats EP headphones with custom sleeve and gift wrap
FlexCare Medical Staffing: Apple Watch with custom sleeve and gift wrap 
FlexCare Medical Staffing: Apple Watch with custom sleeve and gift wrap
Nashville Healthcare Council: Amazon Echo with custom sleeve and gift wrap
Nashville Healthcare Council: Amazon Echo with custom sleeve and gift wrap

DCS Promotion Ends Jan. 31

Do any of these apply to you or your business?

*You have field employees and need a mobile solution that offers real-time, two-way communications.

*You have an e-commerce company and want to boost your online presence.

*A trade show or special event is coming up and you are seeking a user-friendly mobile application to share relevant content with attendees.

*Your business needs an app solution for information sharing that doesn’t break the bank.

 

If you said yes to any of the questions above, our Dynamic Content System (DCS) is for you. Take advantage of our half-off promotion for DCS application development. We proudly build all of our applications in-house at our Lake Forest headquarters, and when you work with us, there are never hidden charges. Contact us today to find out how this content delivery solution can enhance your business. Special pricing ends Jan. 31.

Contact us today to get started or email our app development team for a live demo.

And That’s a Wrap!

From Apple Watch and Apple gift cards to Amazon Show, Bose Quiet headphones and Yeti coolers, we saw an array of corporate gift requests come through over the holiday season. On top of brand customization, businesses opted to add extra touches such as personalized gift tags, custom set-up boxes and custom gift wrap to create a memorable unboxing experience for the recipients.

  • A custom sleeve is the most popular custom option for corporate gifts as they are precisely cut to fit snugly over the original manufacturer packaging. Sleeves are customized using our color printing process and come in various finishes, including matte, satin, UV glass or spot gloss.
  • Custom gift wrap is individualized with the company logo or artwork. Each piece of gift wrap is precisely cut to the perfect size for the gift, which is hand wrapped and finished with a matching bow.
  • And finally, custom set-up boxes have become the standard for the ultimate, executive-level gifting experience. Creating a luxurious unboxing experience for a single device or for neatly housing multiple products, each set-up box is custom designed according to the device(s) size and company brand.

Check out a few highlights from our 2018 Corporate Gifting Program:

Bowl Swag for the Books

Bowl games have a long history of making the holiday season merrier and brighter for college football fans, especially when your team is in the playoffs. For the players involved, there is a great sense of pride that comes with playing in the biggest game of the season. And of course, there is bowl swag.

The Pac-12 Conference events team partnered with FUSION OF IDEAS the last two football seasons to create memorable gifts for the Pac-12 bowl teams as a reward after a long season of hard work. Both years, the gift of choice was a customized Apple TV gift set that included a fully branded Apple TV, remote, and iTunes gift card, which were shrink-wrapped and packaged with coordinating crinkle paper inside a customized Pac-12 shipping box.

The one-of-a-kind gift, which took a popular Apple technology and made it personal with custom branding and packaging, was a unique and thoughtful way for the Pac-12 organization to show appreciation to the players.

Playing the most important game of your season is already a dream come true. Add in cool free stuff and it’s easy to see why athletes love this time of year.

In the News: Construction Today

Amazing Apps, Construction Today (Dec. 2018)

The construction industry depends on fast decision-making, attention to detail and adaptability to continuously changing information. Companies need workplace efficiencies and employee productivity to keep up with the pace of the business.

FUSION OF IDEAS CEO Russ Taylor speaks to one of the main workplace inefficiencies in the construction industry – the manual process on the job site – and how executives can overcome it. His article is featured in the December 2018 issue of Construction Today. Read the full article here.

These iPads Transform Lives

“My daughter is nonverbal and she finally has a device where we can download the app that helps her communicate with us at home. It’s the biggest blessing and an amazing gift! People take their spoken language for granted and do not realize just how hard it is for a nonverbal child. This iPad can break those verbal barriers for our family!”

These were the words from a family member of one of 57 kids who went on the Kidd’s Kids 2018 trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. Founded by late radio host and television personality, Kidd Kraddick, Kidd’s Kids provides hope and happiness by creating beautiful memories for families of children with life-altering and life-threatening conditions.

Every November, the organization sponsors a group of children and their families on an all-expense paid trip to “The Happiest Place on Earth,” where they can forget about doctor appointments and their illnesses, and enjoy a magical day with their families.

At the start of this once-in-a-lifetime trip, the kids were gifted with a personalized Apple iPad that is preloaded with all relevant and contact information for their trip.

Here are the words from another family:

“We were so grateful to have the iPad for my son’s 11-day hospital stay. He loves being able to keep in touch with family and friends using the FB Kids Messenger app. He also likes it for drawing, watching shows and playing games.”

This is the eighth year that FUSION OF IDEAS has gratefully donated our app development and customization services to this amazing cause. Together with Best Buy, we were onsite to help hand out the iPads to the kids, and see the delight on their faces when they were presented with the customized devices.

“The donation of the iPads from Best Buy and completely personalized by FUSION OF IDEAS provides entertainment, educational tools and memory-making apps the Kidd’s Kids otherwise would not have,” said Kelly Kemp, executive director of Kidd’s Kids. “We know how grateful all the kids are especially when they are back in the hospitals for days or weeks at a time. It’s a blessing and a partnership we are so very grateful to have for our Kidd’s Kids.”

For more photos from this year’s Kidd’s Kids trip, check out their album on Facebook.

Best Buy and FUSION OF IDEAS help hand out iPads at the Kidd’s Kids trip in Walt Disney World ©Kidd’s Kids
Fifty-seven Kidd’s Kids got their own customized iPads on this year’s trip ©Kidd’s Kids
The iPads are used by families after the trip for learning, therapy and communications. ©Kidd’s Kids

La Prairie Turns to DCS for Employee Training

La Prairie, a luxury skincare and cosmetic brand best known for its iconic Skin Caviar, was seeking a solution that would provide a cost-effective way to educate and train its retail beauty advisors nationwide. The Swiss company turned to an easy-to-use mobile app that allows for content to be updated regularly and pushed out to the remote team. The app model, Dynamic Content System (DCS), has become an invaluable resource for La Prairie’s education team to cut costs on travel for training.

DCS is FUSION OF IDEAS’ version of Content Management System (CMS). Essentially a templated mobile application, DCS is much like CMS in that you can easily create, display and manage content. Think of it like an user-friendly app that is customizable, yet simple.

In the case with La Prairie, the DCS app features a product catalog and embedded videos, current promotions, tutorials and the company’s history. Because La Prairie’s products are typically sold at department store cosmetic counters, its reps are on the sales floor and not behind a desk. It is important for the app to be accessible on a mobile device, such as an iPad. New content is updated and pushed out on a regular basis so La Prairie’s beauty advisors are always equipped with up-to-date information.

Limited-Time Promotion

DCS is an easy and more moderately priced app solution for e-commerce, information sharing, trade show or events, or employee onboarding and training. For the first time, FUSION OF IDEAS is offering half off the regular price of our DCS application development. This promotion will only be offered for a limited time so contact us today to see how DCS can enhance your business. Check out the La Prairie video below or email our app development team for a personal demo.

Top 5 Business Gifts Your Employees and Customers Want

The top 5 most wanted tech gifts this holiday season.

Remember the cellophane wrapped gift baskets filled with mementos and sweets you used to get every holiday? While they are still around – and still appreciated by many – technology has taken over as the preferred business gift of choice.

Technology spending for the 2018 holiday season is projected to reach a record-setting $96.1B in revenue in the U.S., a year-over-year increase of 3.4 percent, according to the Consumer Technology Association (CTA).

Businesses who choose to give a tech gift are taking it up a notch with customization. Customized tech boosts brand recognition and repeat exposure, among many other benefits. Compared to traditional advertising, corporate gifts showcasing your company brand can be a cost-effective advertising method for your business. Plus, you won’t have to worry about the recipient receiving the same gift twice!

Here at FUSION OF IDEAS, orders for holiday gifting are in full swing. Here are the five most popular tech gifts we are seeing:

  1. Apple iPad Pro – The latest iPad Pro, with an all-screen design and Face ID, is currently the most full-featured iPad on the market.
  2. Apple Pencil 2 – To go alongside the new iPad Pro, Apple revamped the Apple Pencil, an effective and accurate tool for handwriting, sketching and illustration.
  3. Beats by Dre – This popular headphone collection comes in several varieties and offers powerful audio performance.
  4. Amazon Echo Show – The new Amazon Echo Show features a vibrant 10.1” HD screen, built-in smart home hub, and improved speakers.
  5. Apple AirPods – Apple AirPods continue to be the most popular tech gift not just for the holidays but all year-round thanks to their instant setup and truly wireless features.

For more customizable corporate gift ideas, visit www.fusionofideas.com/gifting.

In the News: AGC’s Constructor Magazine

There are three main factors that drive the demand for mobile technology in the construction industry: leadership request, an increasingly mobile workforce and the growing need for real-time information. According to a recent study, more than 80 percent of construction professionals surveyed said that mobile capabilities are “very important” in improving their workflows.

Read on to get insight from our CEO, Russ Taylor, in AGC’s Constructor Magazine on how the construction industry is maximizing mobile technology to create efficiencies in the workplace, and how they are integrating technology into existing processes.  

Read full article here: Tech Brief: The iPad is the New Hammer

Does Your Retail Business Need a Mobile App?

The rapid growth of mobile technology combined with changes in modern retailing trends is making a large impact on consumer buying habits. Did you know that 80 percent of a mobile consumer’s time on his or her device is spent using apps?

Today’s retailers are not just building their marketing around the products or services they are selling, but also around customer’s interests and habits. Many have developed a mobile strategy as part of their marketing to reach consumers on their preferred platform.

A retail mobile application should go beyond just an online shopping experience. For retailers, mobile apps can shape the in-store experience, empower the purchasing process, and create interesting and dynamic ways to interact with the customer. And for B2B retailers, a mobile app can revolutionize the way your sales team shares content.

Is your brand using a mobile application? If not, here are six signs that you may need a mobile app to help boost your branding and engagement, cut costs, improve productivity, and generate new revenue. Connect with us today and let us help you find a custom solution for your business needs.

How One NBA Player Built Team Chemistry On and Off the Court

Ariza’s former Rockets teammate, Eric Gordon, with his customized Apple AirPods ©Trevor Ariza

The 2018-19 NBA season is in full swing. We are reminded of a project we did last season with professional basketball player, Trevor Ariza, that blended our proprietary color printing process with a hot Apple accessory. The outcome was a sincere gesture of team camaraderie.

Ariza, who was playing for the Houston Rockets, recognizes that true team chemistry is built both on and off the court. As a gesture of appreciation, respect and genuine friendship, Ariza wanted to give a memorable gift to his then-Rockets teammates. The team frequently used Apple AirPods during practice for motivation and focus, and they are noise-canceling and sleek in design. It was clear that the popular wireless earbuds would make the perfect gift.

To make it even more personal, Ariza worked with FUSION OF IDEAS to customize 15 sets of AirPods, one for each of his teammates. Each AirPods charging case was customized with the Rockets’ logo, the player’s last name and number, all in the Rockets’ vibrant red colorway. The result? A unique, personal gift that is symbolic of the team chemistry and skill, leading the Rockets to a victorious season that year.

In the News: MoneyInc.

Our CEO, Russ Taylor, is the newest business contributor on MoneyInc., an online business and finance outlet that covers personal finance, technology and travel. The outlet reaches 1.1M visitors on average, per month. As a regular contributor, Russ will be sharing his perspective on mobile technology, and how businesses can maximize the use of mobile devices in their organizations. Check out his first article, Top 5 Corporate Gift Ideas This Holiday Season.

 

Protect and Secure Your Company Devices

In the digital age, online identification and security have become very complicated. Businesses are using fingerprint readers or complex password requirements that most of us can never seem to remember, all in the name of protecting the user’s identity and the data inside. Here are two valuable ways to protect and secure your company devices.

1. Protect Your Devices & Prevent Theft

Taking the simple step of “putting your name on it,” a method you first learned in kindergarten, can help secure to your company devices. That’s where techniques like laser etch and custom branding come in.

The benefits of customizing devices with your company name or logo go far beyond aesthetics. Particularly beneficial for businesses with a large number of remote employees using mobile devices, branding allows for easier identification and tracking. Thieves are less likely to take something that has been permanently marked with a name or logo since they are usually hoping to sell what they steal.

2. Secure & Safeguard Your Data

Inside the device itself, additional security measures are needed to protect the data and privacy of the company and the user. When multiple devices are used in the workforce, an efficient way to manage and control the devices is through mobile device management (MDM).

Implemented and managed over the air, MDM optimizes the security of all the corporate devices from one place. Functionalities include, but are not limited to:

  • Securing emails and documents
  • Managing passwords
  • Restricting app or device usage
  • Setting up firewalls on the Internet

Additionally, if a device is lost or stolen, MDM can also remotely clear passcodes, lock the device and wipe all of its data.

Mobile devices bring incredible benefits to the workplace. Like the adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” it’s important to take appropriate measures to safeguard your mobile technology.

Contact FUSION OF IDEAS for more information about how customization and MDM can protect and secure your mobile devices.

‘Operation Rudolph’ Brings Great Cheer to Phobio Employees

Phobio is a software company that helps brands create better technology experiences for their customers. The Atlanta-based business is driven by a team of individuals who are leaders and experts in their fields. In 2017, as a way to reward employees for a successful year, Phobio partnered with FUSION OF IDEAS to help create a one-of-a-kind gift for its employees to appreciate and enjoy all year long.

In comes “Operation Rudolph.” Working in stealth mode, FUSION OF IDEAS customized 75 Apple Watches to surprise Phobio’s employees at its holiday party. The watch features a detailed design of the company logo on the dial. The exterior of the watch band is embellished with a design that represents the Phobio brand, and the inside of the band is etched with the company mantra: “Be better.”

Each watch included a personalized gift tag for the recipient and was packaged in its original box covered with a custom box sleeve. Phobio chose to pull everything together with custom gift wrap, which was designed by FUSION OF IDEAS and incorporated the company logo.  

As a company that fosters a collaborative working environment, Phobio was excited to present these personalized gifts to its employees, and the response was overwhelming.

“Our ‘Phobiosapiens’ worked very hard all year and I wanted to show them my appreciation for their great work,” said Phobio CEO Stephen Wakeling. “Operation Rudolph was a huge success and everyone was blown away after opening the gift at our annual holiday party. It’s been a great point of pride among team members. They show their friends and can tell them ‘look what my company did for us!’ It’s going to be very difficult to top that this year.”

Phobio CEO Stephen Wakeling and Chief Solutions Officer Denny Juge on stage with one of the Apple Watches customized by FUSION OF IDEAS. 2017 PWP Studio Corporate Event Photographers
Phobio employees show off their gifts at their holiday party. 2017 PWP Studio Corporate Event Photographers