All posts by Rudly Raphael

Wearable Technology on the Rise!

What is Wearable Technology?

Wearable technology encourages wearers to be more engaged in their health and lifestyle choices. In addition to being a fashionable accessory, wearables collect pertinent data that can be sent to the wearer’s physician. This market is growing at a rapid pace, with 1 in 5 Americans owning a wearable tech device. In contrast to a one-time blood pressure reading at an appointment, wearables provide data taken over a period of time, such as sleep patterns, heart rate, and activity levels. This additional data can help alert doctors to issues that wouldn’t have been apparent otherwise.

Initially, wearables such as the Fitbit gained popularity by their ability to monitor the steps a person took throughout the day, and motivate them to reach a certain goal. With obesity being a global epidemic, doctors were particularly excited by this technology because it encouraged wearers to be more active. Many companies, who have an interested stake in keeping their employees healthy in hopes of cutting healthcare and insurance costs, started offering wellness plans to employees with incentives tied to using wearables to achieve health goals. Currently, about 46% of employers offer fitness trackers as part of their wellness programs.

The wearable market has evolved from technology that merely tracks fitness to impacting how wearers with chronic diseases conduct their daily lives. Currently, almost half of all American adults have one or more chronic health condition, which often arises due to unhealthy living, poor diet, little to no exercise and stress.

For example, roughly 30 million Americans are living with diabetes, a disease which requires daily monitoring of blood sugar levels. These levels are typically monitored through daily finger stick blood tests, and adhering to this rigorous care plan is a common challenge among diabetic patients. New wearable technology on the market such as K’Track Glucose may change that. K’Track Glucose is a wearable that allows diabetics to self-monitor their glucose levels without the need for blood-based tests. Wearers are encouraged to keep it on all day so it can monitor blood glucose, particularly during exercising, when glucose levels are apt to spike. The device alerts users to potentially dangerous spikes and lulls in their levels.

Today, the wearable technology market consists of clothing, earware, wristbands, eyewear and clip-on devices, and is expected to expand even further. Now that consumers are aware of the benefits these products can provide, the industry is working to improve and enhance the wearer’s experience. According to data from the International Data Corporation, an estimated 125.5 million wearable devices will be sold this year, up 20.4% from 2016. The wearable industry is anticipating to double by 2021, with an estimated 240.1 million units to be sold.

The 7 Best (Free) Bitcoin Apps

The bitcoin craze isn’t ending any time soon, with prices expected to rise to $18,600 over the weekend. Although there are many critics of the cryptocurrency, it has reached a record value of more than $1 billion. Currently, there are an estimated 4 million active bitcoin wallet users across the world, and analysts anticipate the number to reach 200 million by 2024. We covered the cryptocurrencies monumental rise in our blog Bitcoin or Bust, and now we’re breaking down the top 7 best free mobile apps for bitcoin enthusiasts and investors.

1. Bitcoin Ticker:

The Bitcoin Ticker app helps you keep track of the Bitcoin price at all times. It displays the current price in the currency of your choosing, and you can even customize the refresh rate.

2. Spare:

Spare allows bitcoin holders to quickly and conveniently turn their bitcoin into cash, without using an ATM. Users request cash and then receive a barcode, which they take to a store. The cashier scans the code and gives the Spare user cash in exchange.

3. Coinbase:

This Android app is one of the most highly recommended apps for taking care of your bitcoin wallet. The wallet is what allows you to not only buy and sell digital currency, but also has features to help you to best manage your cryptocurrency.

4. SpectorCoin:

The SpectorCoin mobile bitcoin wallet allows you to easily trade and receive bitcoin. Another perk—99% of SpectorCoin’s digital currency is stored in protected offline storage.

5. Cointracking:

Cointracking is for serious traders who are looking for a user-friendly experience. This app creates pie charts of your portfolio and allows you to calculate metrics like realized and unrealized gains and reports for, ahem, tax declaration.

6. Blockfolio:

For a bitcoin aficionado who is looking for a financial app that will allow you to keep a close eye on your investments. This app will send notifications when bitcoin has reached a particular threshold, and keep you up to date with bitcoin news. However, it’s not ideal for day traders, as you have to enter your cryptocurrency holdings manually.

7. Xapo:

Xapo enables users to store cryptocurrency and also acts as a Bitcoin debit card. It integrates convenience with security, which makes transferring currency to others quick and easy.

How Mobile Apps are Changing Travel in 2018

Experts are predicting 2018 to be the year mobile technology officially takes over travel. Gone are the days of making blind booking arrangements and hoping for the best, or using a travel agent. Even sitting down at a desktop computer is no longer necessary. Today, 77% of Americans own smartphones and a recent Global Traveler study found that one in three travelers now books on a mobile device. Companies are using their mobile applications to reach the consumer directly, therefore eliminating the uncertainty that has existed when previously booking travel.

Mobile technology creates a completely different experience at the airport, for both the customer and airline. A good mobile app adds to the customer experience, and creates brand loyalty. Users are able to easily check in and be notified of any flight delays or gate changes. For the airline, apps make it possible to pass information to the traveler immediately, which ultimately eliminates confusion and makes the traveler’s experience less stressful. In addition to communicating with the customer, airlines use mobile apps to create an easy user experience for their customers, with the ability to manage your trips, check-in, and pay for checked baggage and flight extras such as wi-fi, all in one application. In 2018, it is expected that 79% of airports around the world will offer CRM tools in their mobile apps to help track customer behavior and improve personalization and brand loyalty, up from 30% in 2015.

Airlines are looking to extend the customer experience in 2018. They plan to evolve their apps to create a digital travel companion experience, rather than just taking the customer from point A to point B. By integrating third-party companies into their app, they can make the app a one-stop shop for customers. The recent JetBlue and Lyft partnership allows customers to earn JetBlue loyalty points when they use the ride-sharing service, and American Airlines and Grab Food partnered to provide customers with the ability to pre-order food at the airport.

Companies such as TripAdvisor, Expedia and have utilized the benefits of mobile technology, using their respective apps to notify customers of deals and flash sales. In addition to booking travel, TripAdvisor expanded its services to let customers grade and review airlines. In 2018, the focus will be on using location, previous purchase history and demographic trends to push last minute offers to travelers while they are in destination, completing the full trip lifecycle.

Industry experts predict 70% of all booking transactions will be via mobile by 2020. As technology continues to evolve, so will the way consumers and businesses interact. It’s important for companies who are serious about mobile communication with their customer to listen to their demands. And it looks like in 2018, consumers will be getting what they want—mobile.

Land of the Free and Home of the Taxed?

The call to reform the tax code was one of President Trump’s biggest promises during the 2016 presidential campaign, and after much debate and fanfare, the Senate passed the proposal, 51-49, marking the first time in 27 years the tax code has been substantially changed. The tax reform bill has been covered by every news channel and political reporter, but how do the American people feel about it? QuestionPro Audience conducted a study with our registered voter panel to get their insight and perspective on this controversial bill.

We polled 400 Americans and found that the majority of respondents are in favor of the new tax code, even though only 32% believe they will receive a tax cut in 2018. 28% opposed the bill, and 31% were unsure how they felt about it. When asked how important of a priority tax reform should be, 75% of respondents felt it is very important, while 17% did not think it was important and 7% did not think it should not be done.

Taxes can be confusing, even for the most well-versed CPA. When asked if they understand the tax reform bill, 27% understood it, but 21% did not. 45% felt they had a slight understanding of the bill, while 7% had actually read the 429-page document. No surprises here—65% of respondents think U.S. taxes are too high. One-third believe they are the correct amount, but 6% felt they were actually too low! Our panel members were asked how they voted in the 2016 presidential election—26% indicated they voted Republican, 29% voted Democrat, 24% voted Independent and a whopping 21% did not vote at all. On numerous occasions, President Trump has suggested the bill is “for the middle class and a bill for jobs”, but 56% of respondents believe it will primarily benefit the upper class, while only 21% think the middle class will profit.

Below is a preview. Download the full 16-page research report here!


The Most Wonderful Time of the Year? Black Friday Shopping Is Near

The day after Thanksgiving first became popular among shoppers in the late 1920s, when Macy’s department store advertised holiday sales during their annual Thanksgiving Day parade in New York City. This signaled the start of the holiday shopping season in the United States. Since then, it has evolved into huge sales in retailers across the country. It is an opportunity for retailers to create a sense of urgency by offering ridiculously low prices on certain items, offer special sales for limited hours during the day, or limiting the number of items available for purchase at the special price. Due to the high demand for hot “doorbuster” items, it is not uncommon for shoppers to camp out in front of their favorite stores in hopes of grabbing the coveted items.

Retailers capitalized on the increased popularity of online shopping and started marketing “Cyber Monday” deals. Cyber Monday has only been around since 2005, and legend has it, got its name because the average consumer had dial-up internet at home, and would wait to do their online shopping at work, where the internet connection was faster. While the deals on Cyber Monday might not be quite as good as those of Black Friday, more and more shoppers are taking advantage of the opportunity to stay in the comfort of their home the day after Thanksgiving. Last year, Cyber Monday surpassed Black Friday in terms of revenue—Cyber Monday sales reached $3.45 billion, up 10.2% from 2015, and just ahead of Black Friday’s $3.34 billion. This year, mobile sales are expected to make up 54% (45% smartphones and 9% tablets) of online sales, beating desktop for the first time.

Small Business Saturday, a recent addition to the holiday weekend line-up, was founded in 2010 by American Express in an attempt to support small businesses and communities around the country. While it has not yet grown into a mega success like Cyber Monday, 2.1 million small businesses and 112 million consumers participated in the event in 2016.

QuestionPro Audience conducted a study with its shopper panel to understand how consumers plan to shop over Thanksgiving weekend. Our research indicates that shoppers are looking forward to a vigorous holiday shopping season. Black Friday spending is always a good gauge on the state of the economy, and 37% of survey respondents indicated that they plan to spend between $250 and $750 this year on their Black Friday shopping. A whopping 61% are going to spend the same amount or more than they did last year, but only 19% of those surveyed plan to pay for their purchases with cash. As evidenced by recent Kmart and Sears store closings, e-commerce is taking away market share from brick and mortar stores. Online sites such as Amazon are where the majority of our respondents plan to shop. Although there have been predictions that mobile sales will be huge this year, only 11% of respondents plan to shop via mobile phone or tablet. 21% of those surveyed are looking to purchase clothing/apparel, followed by computers, TVs and cameras. Cyber Monday popularity is still going strong, with 47% of our audience planning to shop those sales as well, but only 32% plan to support Small Business Saturday. All in all, it looks like it will be a prosperous weekend for consumers and retailers alike.


iPhone X – Are Consumers Willing to Pay?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade, you’ve heard of, used, and/or own an Apple product. When Apple first debuted the iPhone in 2007, it revolutionized smartphones and changed the industry. The touchscreen was unlike anything else on the market, and with a price of $399, took some getting used to for the average consumer. However, over the past ten years, we have become accustomed to and grown to expect a higher price point for the sort of innovation Apple produces. There are now more than 700 million iPhones currently in use worldwide, and that number is expected to grow 13% over the next year.

On November 3rd, their most anticipated product was released, the iPhone X. iPhone release day has become something of a national holiday for Apple fans, and the iPhone X release was no different. In cities all over the world, eager customers camped out in hopes of purchasing the $999 phone. According to Apple’s website, the phones were sold out in Apple stores by day end in New York, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Dallas, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, San Antonio, Austin, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Washington, DC, Las Vegas, Charlotte and Raleigh, North Carolina.

Apple has earned a reputation as an industry innovator, and the iPhone X doesn’t disappoint. The iPhone X has facial recognition so you can bypass the fingerprint entry. Also, the home button has been removed, allowing for the high-resolution screen to cover almost all of the device, and Apple promises an additional two hours of battery life. Now for what all the cool kids are already talking about: Animojis. You can create animated emoji animals that mirror more than 50 different muscle movements of your face.

These features sound very cool, but we wanted to know—does any of that really matter to the average consumer when they are deciding which new phone to buy? We polled over 300 people across the United States to see if features such as the newest technology and brand name outweigh a steep price tag to the average mobile phone consumer. We found that an overwhelming 80% of respondents are most interested in a moderate price point. The newest technology is a selling point for 50% of our respondents, but only 29% feel features such as a megapixel camera are extremely important. 24% are interested in the brand name, and 84% of our audience is looking for a phone with a long battery life.

Apple has assembled a cult of followers, and they are always eager to purchase the newest model. Reception across the board for the iPhone X has been mostly positive, with many users saying this changes what we’ll look for in a phone from now on. Every few years, Apple has come up with a new product that turns the market upside down, and it sounds like the Apple X is no different. But if you’re not interested in the newest technology and features, there are many other great, conservatively-priced options on the market.

Declaration of War? North Korea & What Americans Think About Recent Threats

In July 2017, North Korea announced that it had fired the first intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting the United States’ mainland. President Trump responded by using his favorite social media platform, claiming that the North Korean leader and its government had nothing better to do. Kim Jong-Un responded by accusing Trump of exhibiting “mentally deranged behavior.” The crisis has since taken a life of its own, leaving world leaders to fear the worse possible outcome.

To understand what the general public thinks about this international crisis, QuestionPro Audience conducted a survey with more than 300 respondents from its general consumer panel. Respondents were asked a series of questions to gauge their perception and attitude towards this much critical topic.

Our research shows that the public believes in a more optimistic approach. More than 70% of the respondents agree that the US should not go to war with North Korea. In contrast, 81% fear that North Korea would use nuclear weapons to attack the US, if ever necessary, and 87% fear that North Korea would use them on both the US and its allies.

Full results can be seen in the infographic below. You can also download it here.

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The Landline Survey: An Antiquated Methodology

Back in the 1990’s, virtually every household had a landline, and people would answer the phone and talk to survey research callers. However, times have changed, even though some researchers are stubborn about admitting the change.  Landline households keep decreasing, while cell-phone only homes become the norm. To confirm the tendency (see National Center for Health Statistics1), QuestionPro Audience conducted a study with more than 350 respondents, to understand landline phone ownership and usage. We found that 92% of adults have a cell-phone, which is theoretically a great penetration for cell-phone surveys. The only challenge is that people do not answer cell phone numbers that they do not recognize. It is also against the law to dial cell phones automatically, meaning the labor costs for hand dialing is huge.

But, when talking about landline surveys, there is a clear pattern to the data. Only 48% of research participants indicated they have a landline service in the household.  Most respondents indicated that they never use a landline.   Thirty percent (30%) of respondents who have a landline stated that they use it only about once every other month, while 2% claimed that they never use it.  Moreover, what researchers find is that landline surveys skew heavily to the older population.  Finding people under 50 years of age with landlines is virtually impossible.

Young adults are more likely to have cell phones only, and it fits their mobility and technology-wise lifestyle. Our research also shows that 20% of the respondents who have a landline suggested it is part of a bundled service.  In a last-ditch effort to keep landline companies going, the cable company puts landline service as part of a “package” that phone companies offer.

At the same time, 11% have a landline as part of their home security system. In this case, the Home Security Industry is suffering the same tendency. Although they are moving into wireless systems2; having a landline is considered to be more of a safety net, as landlines typically offer a more stable connection.

Dr. Jim Kitchens, President of The Kitchens Group notes, “Phone surveys, whether landline-based or cell phone based are suffering the sample methodological problem.  The response rating has gotten so poor that it is skewing the samples.  The costs of executing the surveys are going up and the accuracy is going down.”  Researchers must address the problems caused by a changing lifestyle.  More than 90% of adults in America are online at least once a day.  While the methodological challenges of online surveys have not been completely solved, it is certainly possible to get a better cross-section of the population than with landlines.

1: National Center for Health Statistics

2: Park Associates Research. “Almost half of home security owners in the United States have a security system that connects wirelessly to sensors.”  

Why Customer Satisfaction Surveys Don’t Satisfy, and What to do About It [WEBINAR]

If you haven’t been docked in a space lab for the past 30 years, I’m sure you’ve been asked to complete a customer satisfaction survey, after a recent shopping experience, whether online or offline.  In fact, even in space, it’s probably not a stretch to assume that NASA conducted a few with their astronauts to gain feedback on behalf of their product partners. Perhaps Cottonelle or Charmin wanted to measure astronauts’ satisfaction regarding their toilet paper products in space. Ok, maybe this is not a clean (pardon the pun) example, but you get the point.

Customer satisfaction surveys are all the rage for a reason. After all, businesses want to remain competitive, increase their customer retention, provide better service and ultimately increase their profit margins to stay in business.  To achieve these goals, businesses need proper feedback from their customers. Unfortunately, customers’ attention spans are rapidly diminishing. The typical survey response rate is often below 2%, but the problems with customer satisfaction surveys don’t stop there.

The reality is that a small number of people who participate in customer satisfaction surveys are likely doing so in response to a particular product or, in most cases, a particular bad experience. In essence, the overall survey results can be largely skewed. Yes, many experts will point to their top 10 lists of possible solutions. However, the big elephant is still in the room.

So, what’s going on? A well-respected colleague and industry expert (Bill Fonvielle) suggested that at least part of the problem is that customer satisfaction is an abstraction and not a thing itself. He went on to quote the late, renowned marketing professor Richard L. Oliver who made this statement –  “Everyone knows what [satisfaction] is until asked to give a definition. Then it seems, nobody knows.”  In Bill’s view, when people say on a survey that they were satisfied, they are saying that the experience was okay, and nothing more. They are not saying that they were thrilled, excited or delighted. People are either satisfied or dissatisfied. He compares it to being pregnant. No one is a little pregnant; either you are or you are not.  He went to say that rating scales invent distinctions that may not make sense.

What is the message for businesses contemplating a customer satisfaction survey?  A better path begins with asking customers to tell you what their expectations are, and using expectations to measure, not customer satisfaction, but your performance in meeting or exceeding customer expectations.

Join us for our upcoming webinar, as Bill and I discuss why customer satisfaction surveys don’t satisfy and what to do about it.

Customer Satisfaction Survey

Driverless Cars: Are Consumers Ready?

The past few years have been a whirlwind for the autonomous automotive industry. To date, Google’s self-driving cars have driven over 2 million miles and Tesla’s 90,000 cars are equipped with AutoPilot enabling the vehicles to maintain speed, change lanes and even park without any input from the driver. What Tesla advertised as simply a driver’s assistant, is being used as much more than that. As an article on explains, “The Internet is awash in videos of people sitting in the backseat and sleeping, and ignoring Tesla’s TOS requirement that they maintain control at all times.” Videos such as these have prompted back-lash, suggesting Tesla may be moving too fast. Elon Musk, Tesla and SpaceX CEO, disagrees. Instead of slowing down, Musk continues to move forward with Tesla’s autonomous endeavors, promising that “he’ll produce a Tesla that can drive itself from Los Angeles to New York City, no human needed.” Technology that seemed fit only for movies such as I, Robot a few years ago, is closer than many people realize. Begging the question, are Americans ready for this level of automation?

It’s not only tech companies such as Google and Tesla leading the way. Uber is now knee deep in the mix and making a name for itself in the driverless car industry. As of August 2016, Uber deployed a fleet of autonomous vehicles driving the streets of Pittsburg. Bloomberg reports that “Unlike Google and Tesla, Uber has no intention of manufacturing its own cars, Kalanick says. Instead, the company will strike deals with auto manufacturers, starting with Volvo Cars, and will develop kits for other models.” For the time being the cars are being supervised by humans, but expect to be completely autonomous in the future. However, Uber’s initiatives might be premature.

On December 14th of this year Uber’s fleet of self-driving cars began shuttling passengers around the streets of San Francisco. Within a week of the launch, there were already several safety concerns. One of the vehicles apparently ran a red light and caused a near-collision. Uber claims that this incident was caused by human-error, meaning the driver behind the wheel, though witnesses dispute this fact. Additionally, these autonomous vehicles raise alarm regarding their inability to make right-hand turns without crossing into bike lanes, potentially leading to fatalities. The state of California has threatened legal action unless Uber removes its self-driving cars from the roads until the problems are addressed and the proper permits are acquired. According to an article published by The Guardian, even though Uber openly admitted to the vehicles having a problem with crossing bike lanes, they will not be pulling their cars from the roads. A statement released by Uber VP of Engineering, Anthony Levandowski, explains, “…we respectfully disagree with the California Department of Motor Vehicles legal interpretation of today’s autonomous regulations, in particular that Uber needs a testing permit to operate its self-driving cars in San Francisco.” He claims that because all their self-driving cars are still equipped with a driver and “are not capable of driving ‘without…active physical control or monitoring’” that they do not require a permit. Uber has instead informed all drivers that “they should take manual control when turning right in a street with a bike lane while engineers try to fix the vehicles’ programming.”

Uber’s current safety issues are only one of many obstacles associated with the future of driverless cars. The security risks accompanying autonomous vehicles are vast. Forbes reported that “Last year, security experts proved in a controlled test that they could use the Internet to take control of a car as it was driven down the road. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles consequently recalled 1.4 million vehicles to fix the software defect enabling hackers to control multiple vehicle functions.” It is one thing to have your computer hacked, it is another thing entirely to abruptly lose control of your 4 ton vehicle, moving at 70 mph down the highway. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are continuously working to improve cybersecurity to protect against such breaches, but it is an ever-changing environment that requires constant innovation to stay ahead of potential threats.

Even with the security and safety threats constantly being assessed and addressed, many Americans still aren’t convinced. According to the J.D. Power U.S. Automotive Emerging Technologies Study, only 1 out of every 5 consumers was interested in a fully autonomous vehicle. However, as history has shown, the advent of new technology is often met with uncertainty. The fact remains that many people enjoy getting behind the wheel. A day may come in which autonomous cars are deemed superior drivers in every sense. Therefore invalidating human’s right to even operate motorized vehicles or will at least be limited to designated locations. However, given the 130 year love-affair between Americans and their automobiles, it seems unlikely that they will let go of the wheel without a fight.

Driving a car is not only a pleasurable experience for many, it’s also a source of income. An article published by The New York Times notes that “Millions of truck and taxi drivers will be out of work, and owing to the rise of car-sharing and app-based car services. Consumers may purchase fewer vehicles, meaning automakers and their suppliers could be forced to shed jobs.” However, it’s important to remember that there was once great outrage surrounding mechanized looms and the fact that they would steal jobs from weavers. Innovation and change will continuously be met with skepticism, and may disrupt the status quo, this does not mean it won’t lead to positive outcome in the long run.

Whether society is prepared for autonomous vehicles and all that comes to follow or not, the future seems to be undeniable at this point. There will continue to be obstacles and the occasional public outcry, but driverless cars and the technology that accompanies them will continue to progress. What seemed like science fiction only a decade ago is nearing fruition. A recent article by Forbes offers a more specific timeframe, explaining that “technology proponents  are predicting autonomous vehicles will be a reality by around 2020 – just over three years from now.” So, buckle up, because the future of transportation is coming up fast.