360's Sales Incentives Technology Blog

Think You Need A Custom App For Your Rebate Program? Think Again.

Posted by Dave Findlay on Aug 21, 2015 10:30:00 AM

Karen_Holding_Phone_2If your company has been looking to improve the user experience for your channel or consumer incentives programs, you have likely (and correctly!) been looking at mobile as a great delivery method.

Mobile lets you meet your channel partners and consumers wherever they are physically as well as fitting perfectly with the trend in mobile usage for accessing the Web. The decision most companies face comes down to building a customized native application versus a responsive web application. To help frame up the decision, let’s start with a lightweight definition of each:time-spent-on-internet-by-device-in-us

A native application refers to software that is meant to run solely on a specific platform. Games and other applications that need to access a phone’s hardware tend to be the best examples of native applications.  Many developers will start by releasing an iPhone-only version of their game, promising “Android is in development and we’ll keep you posted.”  This means that they have launched into the marketplace with an application that has been built to run on an iPhone and will run most optimally on the phone’s most current operating system (OS) to the exclusion of other devices and operating systems.

What is a responsive web application? For our purpose of delivering a user-friendly interface (e.g., your rebate program), think of it as a modern and light way to easily develop and deliver a digital brand experience across a multitude of different devices and screens. Above all, think of responsive design as a device-agnostic way to scale the desired user experience for your application. If your goal is to make your brand universally available to your channel or end-customers, a responsive web applications is the way to go.

Global Enterprise/Global Marketplaces

Globile_Mobile_Usage_Is_Always_In_FluxGlobal brands already know that global marketplaces can vary to the point where they are often unrecognizable from one place to another.  In the case of delivering technology, it is critical for the global enterprise to remember that the devices we commonly use in North America represent only a tiny sliver of the total devices being used around the world. If you are building platform technology for a global audience, a responsive app is definitely the way to go. 

Having said all of this, the below considerations apply to every size of business.

Native apps And Total Cost of Ownership

One of the most obvious drawbacks of building a native application is the cost. Each time you deliver the application to a new platform (iOS, Android, Windows, etc) there will be a cost to build. This also drives up your cost of ongoing maintenance and upgrades as incremental improvements need to be rolled out to each platform independently. 

Think of a responsive approach this way: you don’t need to set out to build an iPhone app and then make sure that you are keeping it updated as the platform evolves.  Likewise, you don’t need to do the same in order to deploy for Android or other platforms you may want to offer.

The best feature of responsive web application is that it can be deployed across all web-enabled devices and, in the presentation layer, be coded with the logic to know what sort of device it’s on, whether it’s being held in portrait or landscape position and then render itself accordingly for that device.  By building a responsive site, you know you’ve built in the viewports to allow your interface to scale up or down appropriately to deliver the best possible user experience.

app_store_update_failService At The Speed of Updates

With a native app, if you decide to make a small update or add a new feature there is the added friction of requiring your users to update to the latest version in order to realize the incremental value.

The responsive web experience is more seamless because, even as new updates may be regularly released (our own team releases enhancements each week, for example), your users are getting the latest and greatest version of your application each time they log in to use it.

With a native app, you are building for one platform in a world that has millions of different hardware configurations and screen sizes with new ones being released constantly.

When It Makes Sense To Build A Native App

Building a native application is great when you need to access the hardware of the phone, such as the GPU or other components that are specific to a certain platform.  Keep in mind that more common hardware needs such as cameras and locations services can be accessed through most web devices and have come to be less of a consideration for this.

Consider the breadth of distribution for your application. If you need for it to be specialized and to leverage the device's hardware, then native is the way to go. If you need for your app to have a broad reach and be supported on multiple devices for a reasonable cost, then responsive will get you there more quickly and easily.

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FindlayDaveDave Findlay is the Director of Professional Services at 360incentives.

Topics: rebate programs, mobile

Engage The Channel With Non-Sales Contesting

Posted by Jason King on Mar 5, 2015 3:37:46 PM

foot-raceIf you are a field or regional sales rep and looking to build more engagement in your territory, we’ve just finished a month-long experiment that you may be able to adapt to build better connection with your brand and your programs.    

Having interviewed loads of top-performing retail sales associates (RSAs) in my line of work, I came to realize something slightly unexpected: being the top-performer in their location can lose it’s meaning for some of these folks.  Being the biggest fish in a pond of any size tends to wear off on anyone at the top of their game; that’s why we have contests such as the Olympics.   They want to know what the other elite performers are doing, but they also tend to be the types who like to be challenged continuously and in novel ways.

In recent years, we’ve seen some brands have great success by running some variation of a leaderboard within their SPIFF portal.  Data is pulled right out of the rebate/SPIFF claims and expressed in terms of which RSAs are really rocking it for their particular region.   It’s a great idea and it still connects for many of the people, much of the time.

fitbit-flex-gad-fflexBut what if you need something a bit different?

Last month, our team engaged in a challenge against four other companies.  The challenge was this: each company issued Fitbit devices to their entire team, tracked the amount of steps taken by their team for the month and then divided that by the number of total participants at their company.  The company with the highest average steps per person at the end of the month would choose the charity of their choice and the rest of the companies would make a donation in their name.  Fun, right?

The reason that we love Fitbit so much here is that with teams scattered around the USA, UK and Canada, we are always on the lookout for ways to build connection among our teams and Fitbit provides just such an engagement opportunity.   Building connectivity and engagement is a challenge that we share with many of our clients as they look to grow mindshare out in their channels. 

If any of this sounds intriguing and you think you might like to tinker with some version of it in your role, consider this: 

  • Fitbit’s site already provides the functionality you need to create your own public or private community – no special software is required.
  • Your Fitbit community contains message board capabilities.  User can start and engage in conversations on all sorts of topics.
  • Fitbit’s free mobile applications contain software for creating such challenges as the Weekend Warrior, Daily Showdown and Workweek Hustle.  You could stage store vs. store, top seller vs. top seller or whatever other challenges you can think of.
  • Helping people be more mindful of their level of activity and fitness efforts is a great thing to do that makes the world a better place.

Want to give it a shot? Feel free to email me and I’ll send you our rollout documents and deck.  If you're already a Fitbit user, use that email and flip me a challenge!

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kingjasonJason is the Content and Community guy at 360Incentives.com Connect with Jason on Twitter @JayKing71LinkedIn or Google+  360 is changing the world of incentives.  To find out how, book a call with us now! 

Topics: Engage The Channel

Top 9 Things To Do In Dallas

Posted by Jason King on Mar 3, 2015 2:26:01 PM

DallasTexas

If you travel a lot for business, there’s a good chance that you’ve found yourself in a strange city looking for a great meal, a cool place to hold a meetup or just a great spot to go for a run or bike ride.   You’re not alone – chances are that at any given moment, a member of the 360 team is on a plane in mid-flight.   

There is also a good chance that somewhere along the way, you’ve learned that not all Internet review ratings are created equal and your experience may not end up resembling the experiences shared by reviewers of an establishment.

Fear not.   We’ve collected the tribal knowledge of our team, some locals we know and some out-and-out know-it-alls to bring you a collection of carefully curated experiences for next time your travels take you to Big D.

Olivellas-Regular-Margherita-PizzaThings To Do In Dallas:

Eat

Where The Boss Eats – Our CEO, Jason Atkins is a frequent traveller to Dallas and is quick to recommend his two favourite spots.

Olivella’s is by far the best pizza I’ve had anywhere, ever,” he says.  The restaurant specializes in two distinct, authentic styles of pizza; both the Neopolitan (thin crust) and Roman (super-thin.)  House-made mozzarella and a proprietary family secret crust recipe make the pizza unique and have kept Jason heading back for years now.

Also straight from the boss’ personal list is Rock & Roll Sushi.  A family-run, family-owned operation since 1998, Rock & Roll isn’t gimmicky or even particularly unique as one might wonder based on the name. Jason loves it because he knows that they can be counted on to serve up fresh, delicious sushi every single time.

GrannyFearingsPaperBagShookChickenIf you happen to be in Dallas right around the time of Sunday brunch, you’re in luck: Granny Fearing’s delicious “paper bag shook” fried chicken is only available on the brunch menu at Fearing’s Restaurant and is reported to be some of the best fried chicken in all of the USA.  Tall claim! The rest of the time, enjoy the simple, creative approach of chef Dean Fearing’s “Elevated American Cuisine.”

CentralTexasBBQBrisketandRibsGet You Some Barbecue – Does it make sense to travel to Texas and not seek out some of the Lone Star State’s fabled barbecue? To the uninitiated, Texas-style barbecue focuses primarily on sliced brisket and pork ribs. In particular, the central Texas tradition favours spice-rubbed meats cooked slow and low using either pecan or oak wood fires.  The idea is, if the cooking process is done properly, no sauce is needed.  

Since nobody on the team has weighed in on the important matter of who makes the best barbecue in Dallas, we recommend checking out this article where the city’s top pitmasters rank the best spots in town.  Choose wisely, y'all!  (I pledge to you that I will do some on the ground research next time I’m in town and update this article accordingly!)

Meet

TravoltaAttemptsToRideElToroFor a legendary and purely Texan experience for your group while in Dallas, why not meet up at Gilley’s? Rebuilt and reimagined since the original Pasadena location was featured in the movie Urban Cowboy, this Texas entertainment landmark has been rebuilt into a honky-tonkin’ entertainment mega-complex within walking distance of the convention centre. We hear they still even have El Toro, the mechanical bull from the Travolta movie!

If you just need a space to hunker down and smash through some work tasks and want to work in a space conducive to that, check out Dallas FortWork. The co-working space is centrally located, full of energized, excited “colleagues” and is near a list of great independent coffee shops to boot!

cedar-ridge-preserve-dallasGet Moving

How many times has the landscape and environment of Texas been written about in traditional American music? Here’s your chance to get out for a hike and see it first-hand.  In the Dallas area, you can check out Cedar Ridge Preserve, a nature preserve maintained by the Audobon Society of Dallas.

If cycling is more your thing (Texas did produce that one very notable road rider from Plano, right?) then check out the fantastic Biking In Dallas blog, by a group of enthusiastic Dallasites.  The blog contains trail maps, links to bike shops and listings of all other things cycling in Dallas.  Runners, don’t feel left out, the blog also links to a running map of Dallas, in case you’re not among the folks who use Every Trail to explore new territory. 

Got your own favourite recommendations for visitors to Dallas?  Please make the world a better place by sharing them in the comment section. Happy travels!

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kingjasonJason is the Content and Community guy at 360Incentives.com Connect with Jason on Twitter @JayKing71LinkedIn or Google+  360 is changing the world of incentives.  To find out how, book a call with us now! 

If you found this handy, check out our travel guides to Las VegasSan FranciscoDetroit, Ft. Lauderdale and Chicago!

Topics: Travel Guides

9 Things To Do In Ft. Lauderdale

Posted by Jason King on Feb 17, 2015 2:42:00 PM

Ft._Lauderdale

Heading to Ft. Lauderdale on business?  Not the type of person who can spend 100% of their down-time laying on the beach?

If you travel a lot for business, there’s a good chance that you’ve found yourself in a strange city looking for a great meal, a cool place to meet up or just a great spot to go for a run or cycle.   You’re not alone – chances are that at any given moment, a member of the 360 team is on a plane in mid-flight.   

There is also a good chance that somewhere along the way, you’ve learned that not all Internet review ratings are created equal and sometimes your experience may not end up resembling the experiences shared by reviewers of an establishment.

Fear not.   We’ve collected the tribal knowledge of our team, some locals we know and some out-and-out know-it-alls to bring you a collection of carefully curated experiences for next time your travels take you to “The Venice of America”. 

Screen_Shot_2015-02-17_at_2.18.01_PMThings to do in Ft. Lauderdale

EAT:

Get Crabby – If you are a lover of seafood, it makes no sense to visit coastal Florida without sitting down to at least one oversized bucket of crab.  

If you’re looking for that bucket and a mellow, beach-y kind of vibe, check out Coconut’s.  Naturally, with its proximity to the ocean, there are plenty of spots to get oysters too, but I say eat warm water oysters at your own risk. Maybe I just haven’t tried the right ones yet?  If a big shrimp feed is more your thing, keep reading… 

Cajun Flavors - Also in keeping with the roots of the place, may we suggest bellying up to the whimsically named Shuck n’ Dive?  New Orleans-style food is served in a fun, energized spot, complete with big screen sports and a patio.

Blackbrick Chinese – When I have no idea where to start picking a dinner spot while travelling to a new town, I will often check Bon Appetit’s annual list of Top 50 Best New Restaurants In America.  A family friend who recently travelled to Miami ate at Blackbrick Chinese and simply said “words can’t do this place justice.”

But you and I need a bit more to go on than that, don’t we?

Blackbrick made BA’s Top 50 this year with the following description and information:

Noodles_at_BlackBrick_Chinese“With his thoughtful spins on classic take-out flavors (think pastrami wonton soup, kung pao chicken with rabbit instead of bird), chef Richard Hales ups the Chinese food and dim sum game in Midtown Miami. The graffitied interior (complete with hanging portraits of Chuck Norris, Keith Richards, and Bruce Lee) is playful and laid-back, but the real draw is the drop-dead, seriously delicious food. And with fresh, inventive dishes like smacked cucumber pungent with smoked garlic or lobster fried rice, it’s hard to go wrong with any of them—just pick your fire level and dive in.

What to Order: Pan-fried pork cheek dumplings; rib eye with black bean sauce and cumin tots; Sichuan twice-cooked brussels sprouts

We Love: Jenny Hales's (a.k.a. "Wife Hales" on the menu) homemade waffle fortune cookies with quirky sayings: "To truly find yourself you should play hide-and-seek alone."

At only a 30 minute drive from the Broward County Convention Center, I will be checking this place out on my next trade show mission to Ft. Lauderdale.

The Cypress Room – Looking for something a little more, well…American?  Check out The Cypress Room, a previous winner of BA’s Top 50 and also located nearby in Miami.  Their trendy, creative menu is viewable online, right HERE.

Florida_Swap_Shop_Auto_MuseumMEET:

Market & Movies – So here’s kind of a quirky combination: Florida Swap Shop is a massive indoor market with over 2000 vendors.  The swap shop also boasts a car museum and the world’s largest drive-in movie theatre. 

Meetups & Office Hours – Need a cool spot for a meeting?  Maybe you’ve had enough of working from hotel rooms and want to have a day in a bright, inspiring space with, you know…other humans?  Check out Axis Space, a co-working space loaded with amenities, technology and cool vibes.

Of course, you are in a tropical beachfront community, so outdoor terraces and patios abound if your goal is to put together a less-than-formal meetup.

Florida-Hiking-Trails_400x300GET MOVING:

Did you know that Ft. Lauderdale is far enough south that it has a full on tropical rainforest-type climate? That means that the temperature is quite stable and in the higher range for nearly the whole year.

Beachfront – Depending on where you’re coming in from, this is arguably the best place to go for a run while you’re in town.   It’s clean and spacious with beautiful views and you can hurl yourself into the ocean at any time if you start to overheat. Connect with the local running culture and get some route suggestions at the A1A Marathon website or take our SVP of Sales, John Bodolai’s advice and grab the Every Trail app for your phone.

Hikers & Bikers – If running isn’t really your speed, check out the Florida Hikes website for some scenic options with varying rates of difficulty.  Personally, I love to rent a bicycle to explore a new town, especially one in such a beautiful climate.  Being a beachfront community, Ft. Lauderdale has myriad bike rental places – just Yelp up your nearest one!

Spend Time In Nature – Florida is a state with loads of protected natural beauty.  Skip the touristy gardens and get into a state park or wildlife reserve.  Ever tried to run a meeting on fan boat?

Ft. Lauderdale isn’t just the Florida that your grandparents loved to visit; it’s a bustling lively beachfront community that’s maturing marvellously. We think Lt. Col. Lauderdale would have been proud!

Got a personal recommendation for visitors to the Ft. Lauderdale area?  Please make the world a better place by sharing in the comment section.  Happy travels!

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KingJasonJason is the Content and Community guy at 360Incentives.com Connect with Jason on Twitter @JayKing71LinkedIn or Google+  360 is changing the world of incentives.  To find out how, book a call with us now! 

 

If you found this handy, check out our travel guides to Las VegasSan FranciscoDetroit and Chicago!

Topics: Travel Guides

4 Ways To Synchronize With Your Channel & Win At Mobile

Posted by Jason King on Feb 6, 2015 3:36:49 PM

Nicholas_BoothmanMy friend Nick is, among other things, a master practitioner of neuro-linguistic programming and an expert on connecting with others.  Nick’s best-selling books describe set of behavioral principles that help people to connect more easily with other people and each book lays these principles over a separate but common challenge that many people face. For example, he has a book on how to connect in business, one on how to connect in love and so forth.

One of the most important principles described through all of Nick’s books is that people like people who appear to be like them.  “When you say ‘I like you,’ what you are really saying is “I am like you,’” he says. 

Part of the essence of marketing is the quest for points of resonance: things that make our target audience feel like our brands understand their needs and that we really “get” them. Using mobile technology to deploy our channel marketing programs presents us with a giant lever to demonstrate to the people in our channel that we understand and honor their needs.   And what is the goal of marketing to our channel, after all?  We seek to connect and to change the behaviors of our partners and resellers – to give them the tools and incentives to prefer our products over all others when it’s time for them to make a sale. 

When that happens, everyone gets what they want. 

Here are 4 ways to align your marketing with the needs and behaviors of your channel.

Align With Behaviors

I alluded to this above – “Synchronize with their body language,” advises Boothman when it comes to connecting person-to-person.   Let this principle be an overarching one which guides how your craft and roll out your mobile strategy because you are looking to synchronize behaviors by proxy.

rsz_waiting_for_coffee_thumbing_their_phonesLook around you right now. Chances are, somewhere in your field of vision there was a person engrossed in the contents of the screen of their mobile phone.  You may even be reading this on yours right now, so you’ll know what I’m getting at: the mobile phone is far from just a work tool in people’s lives, it is how many people spend any down time they have and this includes the people in your channel. 

The major objective of deploying your channel programs via mobile is so that you can meet people where they are.   Can that retail associate enter their sales SPIFF claim during a coffee break right after they’ve made the sale? Shouldn’t the field sales rep be able to check in on their claim data while waiting in the Starbucks lineup in the morning?   People expect these types of conveniences in the mobile age and understanding these behaviors will help you map out an incredible user experience.  When people enjoy engaging with your programs, you begin to get more and more of their attention and are well on the way to changing the behaviors you seek to change with your programs. 

This principle also informs the other points below along the way.

rsz_uniforms_tell_you_the_person_is_part_of_an_integrated_whole_or_teamBlurred Lines

Imagine a sporting event where the teams didn’t wear a uniform – the observer could be forgiven for having difficulty following the game.

The line between digital and traditional marketing tactics has been eroding for quite a while now and has gotten pretty blurry.   Each piece of your marketing now needs to show up clearly identifiable as being part of an integrated whole. 

Remember that as you market to your channel, all of your competitors are doing the same.   Your audience only has so much attention and focus and if your program’s touch points roll out in an erratic, non-linear fashion, you start to muddy the water.   “Is this part of the same program?”  “Did the last program end already?”   “Did I miss the cutoff date?”  When you are competing for attention, confusing your audience is going to make you lose.

rsz_small_attractive_info_snacksInfo Snacks

Mobile provides a perfect platform for delivering training to your re-sellers.  You are able to measure if the training content is being consumed, experiment with how you pace delivery on it and even measure effectiveness of different scenarios such as paying a reward for training versus not.

The key is to make the content short and easy to digest.  

It keeps getting back to understanding where the device fits into people’s lives.  Are they a sales associate in between ups on the sales floor? Is the person a field sales manager waiting for a plane?   Remember that you are trying to insert your material into their life and synchronize with their current behaviors.  When they have a few minutes down time, many people will start thumbing their phones. If they know that they can improve their selling skills or that they will receive an incentive for taking some training, they are likely to prioritize your content during that down time.

How To Motivate Salespeople Customize Offers

After a while, you will have enough data history with your partners to begin to observe significant trends. Predictive analytics applications that will help you test various promotion scenarios are going to start making this even easier.  This is where your strategy will really get into a power band – time to get creative and deploy customized offers but this is also time to refine your segmentation and refine it some more.

Right now as I write this, highly customized channel programs are a luxury.   Designing a program that you know is optimized for a particular partner is a great way to differentiate in today’s market, but customization is quickly becoming table stakes and people will tune out quickly when an offer doesn’t resonate with them. 

For example, an online retailer who I happen think does a great job of many things can’t seem to get their re-targeting right with me.   Last August I looked through their selection of lunch bags for my kids’ back to school needs.  I ended up buying three of the same model: one color for each of my boys and a zebra print one for my wife.   So why do they keep serving me re-targeting ads and emailing me offers to buy the darn things six months later? 

Use your data to learn what has moved the channel in the past, then segment and segment some more.  Make sure that your offer is something that is going to engage your target audience and move them into action. 

Ideally, your incentive management software gives you the flexibility to offer customized programs that will keep pace with your segmentation because customization is caring, caring is connection and connection drives more sales.

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kingjasonJason is the Content and Community guy at 360Incentives.com Connect with Jason on Twitter @JayKing71LinkedIn or Google+  360 is changing the world of incentives.  To find out how, book a call with us now! 

Topics: sales spiff programs, channel marketing, incentive campaigns, mobile

My Excellent Haitian Adventure Pt. 5 - Back Home Again

Posted by Travis Dutka on Feb 5, 2015 4:05:00 PM

 

 

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Travis_DutkaTravis is the People and Culture guy at 360Incentives.com Connect with Travis onTwitter or Instagram @travisdutka or “Professionally” on LinkedIn.   360 is changing the world of incentives.  Check out our careers page here!

Topics: Haiti,, Travel Guides

My Excellent Haitian Adventure Pt. 3

Posted by Travis Dutka on Feb 3, 2015 10:00:09 AM

Crosstown_Haitian_Traffic2Have you ever been right in the centre of really incredible chaos?

Driving (or rather being driven) through Haiti re-defined for me what chaos even really means.  My desktop dictionary says that chaos means "complete disorder and confusion" and however succinct and accurate those words may be, sometimes we need to truly live something in order to truly know it.  

But you know?  What seems like chaos to me could easily be someone else's version of order.  Other people who understand what's going on, live within that system and know the rules of engagement may see complete order in the very same situation.  For example, in the case of the Port-Au-Prince traffic, it kind of seemed that the spots with a police officer directing traffic were actually more chaotic because the officer was a variance being introduced into the generally accepted system.   

Port_Au_Prince_Traffic_is_self_regulating2Trying to decode the chaos made me realize that my surroundings were making me a bit uncomfortable, which in turn made me realize "good, there's something to learn here."   

Sometimes our discomfort and disappointments in life are really just a result of our current reality colliding with our own expectations.  For example, you could see the frustration some of the drivers and police were feeling: the drivers expected their usual morning drive through town, the police expected that their actions would easily bring order but both were not having the experience that they expected.  Their reality was at odds with their expectations.

This reminded me of the importance of keeping "the empty cup."   If you don't know what I mean, I'm referring to this Buddhist parable:

Once there was a university professor who went to visit with a Zen master to discuss things of a Zen nature.  While they talked, it became clear to the Zen master that the professor considered himself quite knowledgeable on the subject of Zen and Buddhism, going on and on about various related topics.  The Zen master listened, and then offered tea.  He went to fetch the tea pot and cups and set one before the professor.

The Zen master began pouring tea while the professor continued talking, but when the cup became full to the brim, the Zen master continued pouring.  Tea spilled over the edge and all over the table! 

"Stop, what are you doing?!" the professor spoke, interrupting himself.  "Can't you see that the cup is full?"

"You are like this cup," the Zen master explained.  "You are so full of information that nothing more gets in.  You came here to discuss Zen, but how can I show you what is Zen if you do not first empty your up?"

The professor thought for a moment and became silent, ready then to receive lessons from the Zen master.

Sometimes the things we think we know can stop us from learning more.  Sometimes we need to approach the situation with "the empty cup," to have empathy and to take the time to understand what is really going on.

CLICK HERE to read My Excellent Haitian Adventure Pt. 1 
CLICK HERE to read My Excellent Haitian Adventure Pt. 2 

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Travis_DutkaTravis is the People and Culture guy at 360Incentives.com Connect with Travis onTwitter or Instagram @travisdutka or “Professionally” on LinkedIn.   360 is changing the world of incentives.  Check out our careers page here!

 

Topics: Haiti,, Travel Guides

My Excellent Haitian Adventure Pt. 2

Posted by Travis Dutka on Feb 2, 2015 12:26:28 PM

Travis_Dutka_and_360_Team_HaitiWow.

The little voices in our head can really mess with us sometimes, can’t they?

My first experience on Haitian soil was a sense of paralysis.  (see video, below)

It was a simple enough problem really – the main languages they speak here are Creole and French (with a bit of English) and my main language is English - end of list.

Travis_Dutka_and_the_360_Haiti_team...Since I wasn’t actually paralyzed, I decided that it would be useful to quickly get to the root of that helpless feeling and push on from there.   It was just fear.  Fear that I didn’t understand and that I couldn’t make others understand me.  Fear that I would be stranded, unable to communicate.  Maybe even worse – maybe I couldn’t actually do the work I was here to do because I wouldn’t be able to communicate with my teammates.   As with so much fear though, once I came to grips with what was happening in my subconscious mind, my rational mind kicked in and the fear got the heck out of my way.  

What could that fear have prevented me from doing while I’m here?   For starters, it would totally have blocked me from connecting with all of the amazing people I work with down here – my purpose for being here and really part of my purpose in life.  I love connecting with people and here I was letting a simple and really very common challenge slow me down from doing what I love to do. 

Fear can be so limiting and restricting and often that fear feels like something else when it first appears in a situation.  Call it what it is, understand it and get past it.  Your solution doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to help you take the next step.

Talk to you soon.

CLICK HERE to read My Excellent Haitian Adventure Pt. 1

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Travis_DutkaTravis is the People and Culture guy at 360Incentives.com Connect with Travis onTwitter or Instagram @travisdutka or “Professionally” on LinkedIn.   360 is changing the world of incentives.  Check out our careers page here!

Topics: Haiti,, Travel Guides

My Excellent Haitian Adventure Part 1

Posted by Travis Dutka on Jan 30, 2015 2:21:44 PM

haiti-sans-souci_palaceWhere do I find the perfect balance between "awareness" and "worrying"?

Seriously - I would love to hear people's feedback on this, so please leave your thoughts in the comments.

Getting briefed by World Vision to prepare for a trip to Haiti is actually a bit distracting.  It's one of those things where I know it's for my own good, but I am really just bursting to get down there an meet these people who I have heard so much about.

My orientation briefing includes:

  1. Learning about travel into "The Red Zone."
  2. Some information about kidnapping.  
  3. An introduction to the armed former KGB agent who will be meeting us and escorting us to our hotel.

So what could go wrong, right?

My briefing from my colleagues who have already travelled to Haiti and met many Haitian people is much more energizing:

  1. "It's so beautiful there, you won't believe it!"
  2. "The people are so amazing."
  3. "Everyone works so hard and is so friendly."
  4. "Er...yeah, don't even get a little bit of the water in your mouth..."

For my part, I am really, really looking forward to meeting my 360 team mates.  In fact, I am very eager to meet as many Haitians as possible and see the way Haiti is rebuilding itself in the wake of some of the challenges they have experienced.  

That's not to say I'm not being cautious - there's a difference between being aware and being jittery, right?  But mainly, I'm looking forward to arriving in Port Au Prince, getting to CETEMOH and meeting the 360 Team!

Stay tuned for updates!

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Travis_DutkaTravis is the People and Culture guy at 360Incentives.com Connect with Travis on Twitter or Instagram @travisdutka or “Professionally” on LinkedIn.   360 is changing the world of incentives.  Check out our careers page here!

 

Topics: Travel Guides

Husband & Wife’s Incredible $600K Rebate Fraud Was Preventable

Posted by Haris Khan on Jan 30, 2015 11:28:34 AM

Gavel_Type “rebate fraud” into Google and check out the results.

A very well-known US company with a very high profile chief executive has been on the hot seat for around two years now.   His company supplies fuel to motor carriers and has been in court over a rebate scheme that actually swindled the company’s biggest customers out of millions of dollars in promised rebates.   The scheme was unsophisticated to be sure – the company kept making sales based on the rebate offer and then never paid the rebates. 

What happens when a consumer turns the table and defrauds the enterprise?  You may be thinking “sure – the odd person may defraud a rebate program for a couple hundred bucks.”   You would be wrong.

Jake_Zhao_Cashes_Fraudulent_ChecksHow about this recent case where a husband and wife team used various false identities to cheat a computer company out of nearly $600,000?  One company and one set of perpetrators.  Wow.

So, how did they do it?  

They identified weaknesses in the rebate program and took advantage of them.

Let’s use this case to have a closer look at how your company can drastically reduce your exposure.

Collect product serial numbers.

Computer_chipThis is the simplest roadblock that a brand can put in place for preventing these sorts of incidents. It's simple, and yet the rebate program in question did not have the product serial number as a requirement.  During the rebate fulfillment process, collect the unique serial number from every product sold, then bump them against a list of serial numbers that you know to be:

a)    Real serial numbers for real products

b)    A collection of serial numbers for which you know a rebate has already been claimed.

This is not a silver bullet to prevent fraud.  In fact, there are no silver bullets but in this case, this very simple step may have been enough to prevent this scheme from succeeding.

Vladimir_LevenshteinGet a little help from Vladimir Levenshtein.

Levenshtein’s distance rule is a very useful tool for building incentive fraud detection algorithms. It helps you to automate a process whereby substantially similar variations on a name or address can be detected via computer.  The couple in this case used a few fake personal and business names to receive 115 rebate checks for around $8000 - $15,000 each.  It is highly unlikely that they would have had access to 115 unique postal addresses or that they would have 115 unique business names, so a detection algorithm based on the Levenshtein rule would most likely have started flagging claims early in the process.

Track_sell_in_sell_out_dataTrack sell-in, sell-out data.

Even when fraudsters are claiming to have purchased products that they never even bought, those products need to come from somewhere.   Do you follow? In this case it may have been the company’s own outlets or at a retail partner, but each rebate claim should show where the products were purchased.  The company then only needs to measure that against what inventory they know to have entered the location.   Goods that never went to a location can’t be sold out of that location, so this would flag the claim for further investigation.

paper_mail_rebate_campaigns_are_no_longer_a_best_practiceGo digital

It sounds like in this case the defrauded company’s offer was a traditional mail-in type rebate program. Given that the fraud took place between 2002 and 2008, it was definitely more difficult to run a digitized program back then, but we’re looking at what you can do for your company now, right?

One great thing about that is…

If you run your redemption processes online, you can start to track unique digital footprints such as IP addresses.  So if this couple in question was using their home PC to submit all of these fraudulent claims, once they started to submit claims outside of the parameters of the rebate offer, the software would tell them that they had reached the limit allowable for their device and prompt a phone call to the rebate fulfillment company.   Again – this is not a stop all, this is another speed bump to reduce access for the fraudsters.

A mobile rebate redemption application tightens the net.

People love convenience and they love their phones.  There is no more convenient way to enter a rebate claim then by doing so right from the customer’s own mobile phone.  Providing the consumer with a simple redemption process adds enormous value for them and make them happy, but there’s more at work here.   Each smartphone has unique identifiers that can be tracked by your rebate redemption application.   In this way, the brand is protecting itself from a phone being used to submit more claims than are allowed by a particular program. 

E-Book Fraud Prevention and Reduction So, here we have presented six ways that these fraudsters could likely have been stopped very early in their six-year scheme.  Two of these steps, you could actually implement on your own today with some decent computing power and a workable knowledge of your spreadsheet application.

I want to leave you with two thoughts:

First, technology enables us all. That means as technology improves efficiencies in how we all do our work, it also opens up new opportunities for criminals.  This couple were a seemingly regular couple with decent jobs; they just couldn’t seem to control themselves when they discovered the opportunity presented by the vulnerability is the company’s rebate offering.  Technology could likely have dissuaded them completely from their scheme, but may have exposed an opportunity to some more sophisticated fraudsters. We must stay on top of the latest technologies to reduce our fraud exposure because it is a sure thing that criminals will be staring on top of how those same technologies can present new opportunities for them.

Secondly, sad but true, the world of incentives is a world of fraud.  The amount of fraud being attempted in every program I have audited to date is always at least 2-3 times what the company had assumed it to be.  Reducing the amount of fraudulent claims that your company pays out is a fantastic way to “find” extra money in your brand’s budget that can be put to much better use.

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KhanHarisHaris Khan is the manager of the Risk and Compliance department at 360incentives.com   Connect with Haris on Twitter at @HarisAKhan13 or on LinkedIn here. 

Topics: fraud reduction, Rebates, fraud prevention

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