In Category: Business Growth

Choose to Challenge: Pushing Rocks Uphill

By Cynthia Hutchison | Automation Alley | 4/21/2021

Cynthia Hutchison, Vice President of Automation Alley, discusses the unlikely and unexpected journey that helped pave the way to her success, from the mother of a child with Down syndrome to one of the most Notable Women in STEM.

Social media analytics: importance to manufacturing

By Christopher Heiden | Walsh College | 4/15/2021

Social media is a powerful and dynamic medium used for communicating. "In today’s high-tech business world, marketing is ever-changing. This is especially true of social media, where new platforms and content trends emerge on a seemingly daily basis “(15 Hot Social Media, 2019). The social media platforms are changing. The traditional social media powerhouse – Facebook – is experiencing market pressure from competing platforms (such as B2B platform LinkedIn). The content will also move to more of a “hyper-targeted content” model. Traditional business such as those in the manufacturing industry need to pay attention to social media trends.

Analytics: Driving Growth, Boosting Marketing, Personalizing Experiences

By Benjamin Smith | Clayton & McKervey | 2/10/2021

In our mission to work smarter, analytics tools provide a level of optics into data that helps manufacturing leaders predict and understand critical business trends. While “analytics” has become one of the digital buzzwords of the past few years, it’s more than just a trend. Using the right analytics software can bring many benefits to businesses.

Disruptive Technologies and Trends for Industry 4.0 in The Year Ahead

By Mike Szudarek | Marx Layne & Company | 12/2/2020

With 2021 on the horizon, a new year brings with it new levels of disruption and change. This week on the blog, Mike Szudarek of Marx Layne & Company shares with us some key trends that businesses in Industry 4.0 should anticipate and prepare to adopt in the coming year.

Financial Management: 4 Key Technology Transformations

By Ben Smith | Clayton & McKervey | 11/18/2020

The accounting industry looks a lot different these days than it did 10 years ago. From shifts towards data-driven strategy to the implementation of new technological tools, the profession has rapidly evolved. It seems like there are always changes on the horizon when it comes to the world of accounting and finance. Ben Smith of Clayton & McKervey joins us on the blog with four trends they are tracking right now and what they mean for your business.

A look at Detroit's retail market in the age of COVID

By Ron Goldstone | NAI Farbman | 11/4/2020

While the seismic economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic and related shutdowns sent shockwaves through the economy this past spring, the true long-term effects of a sustained and ongoing slowdown remain to be seen. The good news is that retailers have adapted relatively quickly to these challenging new circumstances. Upgrading online ordering, delivery and pickup options has made it easier for customers to shop safely and confidently. What does that landscape look like here in Detroit? Ron Goldstone with NAI Farbman joins us on the blog to weigh in on the state of retail in Metro Detroit.

Five trends automakers must drive to survive

By Mike Szudarek | Marx Layne & Company | 10/7/2020

Business as usual is no longer an option for OEMs. Given the unprecedented uncertainty facing the auto industry, one thing is sure: automakers must recalibrate their business strategies if they plan to survive in a COVID-19 era. To help auto leaders prepare for the “new normal,” Marx Layne has identified five trends expected to impact the market outlook and propel the industry forward in the months ahead.

The notion of shepherd within organizations was popularized by the renowned South African leader, Nelson Mandela. There is no denying that shepherd leadership is a fascinating and unexplored phenomenon in the realm of leadership models in business. We are joined on the blog by Philip L. Fioravante, Ph.D. to discuss how these action-oriented, adaptative and empathetic leaders provide cohesiveness, clarity of orientation, and reassurance.

The Workplace May Change, But It Still Matters

By Megan Robinson | NBS Commercial Interiors | 9/16/2020

The physical workplace is where connections are made, innovation is fostered and culture is grown. It’s also where employees have access to the people, tools and resources they need to collaborate and innovate most effectively. Megan Robinson of NBS Commercial Interiors joins us on the blog to discuss the changes in workspace design, process and technology that companies should be thinking about to get people back to the workplace safely in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 office planning for an uncertain future

By Andy Gutman | Farbman Group | 9/9/2020

With the COVID-19 pandemic altering the public health landscape in profound and possibly lasting ways, business decision makers have been forced to think differently about everything from the design and functionality of their office space, to the procedures, priorities and protocols that will define brick-and-mortar environments in the months and years ahead. Andy Gutman of Farbman Group joins us this week on the blog to discuss what those pandemic-driven changes will look like and preparations you can be doing right now to get ready for whatever tomorrow brings.

The Global Economic Opportunities in a Post-Pandemic World

By Noel Nevshehir | Automation Alley | 8/5/2020

This week on the blog, Noel Nevshehir, Director of International Business Services and Global Strategic Partnerships here at Automation Alley, discusses the impact of COVID-19 on the economy and the opportunities for small-to-midsize companies interested in expanding their markets overseas. The good news: There is a lot of room for them to run.

Americans are reevaluating their education options in light of the disruption COVID-19 is causing. They are looking for education that can provide immediate results. For many American workers that means earning postsecondary credentials. Adrienne Way from Edcor, a national provider of education benefits administration solutions, joins us on the blog to weigh in on the increased value of postsecondary credentials as a response to the coronavirus.

A robust process and the supporting systems for managing supplier information can create a competitive advantage for manufacturers. Large amounts of data, specifically supplier identification, qualification, and engagement information, has become overwhelming to track. William Crane, CEO of IndustryStar, shares an agile supply chain approach that will boost productivity and reduce costs in your supply chain while leaving more time for important strategic supplier meetings.

Flipping the Switch

By Michael Kalil | Farbman Group | 7/8/2020

As businesses continue to move out of the triage stage, into post-quarantine, and begin to grapple with complex operational hurdles associated with reopening, it’s apparent that the process will be neither simple nor without challenges. Michael Kalil, COO of Farbman Group, joins us to explain how to prepare properties for a safe return and increased occupancy in a post-quarantine environment.

Preparing your employees to successfully re-enter the workplace is more complex than simply preparing the workplace for their return. Many employees have spent the past several months hunkered down at home, in control of their environment, defining the “new normal” for themselves and their families. Now they’re being asked to relinquish that control and venture back to offices, warehouses and factory floors that suddenly seem unfamiliar and even dangerous.

Factory of the Future 6 Main Principles

By Andreas Hassold and Matteo Dariol | Bosch Rexroth Corporation | 6/3/2020

Andreas Hassold and Matteo Dariol of Bosch Rexroth Corporation are back on the blog to share 6 main steps or principles to guide you along your smart manufacturing journey. Learn more about how to approach the next steps towards your Factory of the Future.

COVID-19 has created uncertain conditions for individuals, families, businesses and the broader community. The stay-at-home orders and forced business closures have resulted in a drastic reduction in demand for goods and services, requiring many businesses to carefully review cash flow and financing opportunities to help survive both the COVID-19 emergency and beyond. Ben Smith, CPA, of Clayton & McKervey, joins us on the blog to discuss how data analytics can help businesses understand cash flow issues, invoicing opportunities and optimal inventory management strategies.

Using Scenario Planning To Navigate The Fog of Uncertainty

By Loch McCabe, Micheal Holzworth & Ed Holinski | Shepherd Advisors | 5/20/2020

How disruptive are COVID-19’s unexpected impacts proving to be for your business? How clear is your team’s line of sight over the next year or two? Businesses are reopening, but for many it’s too soon to discern and understand the new normal. This week on the blog, Shepherd Advisors provides an overview of scenario planning and explains how companies use this tool to navigate through profound market uncertainties.

How a brewery began changing culture and started getting things done

By Eric Davis | Automation Alley | 5/13/2020

When businesses place focus on a company culture that is deeply connected to the company's foundational purpose, it creates employees who are fueled by vision, freed by trust and focused on the same priorities. This week on the blog, Eric Davis, Automation Alley's technology investment analyst, outlines the fundamental pieces needed reach your strategic goals as a team through his experience working with a local kombucha brewery.

How to communicate with employees, customers and the media during a crisis

By Mike Szudarek | Marx Layne & Company | 4/29/2020

With COVID-19 uprooting life for businesses and employees worldwide, and no determined end date, there’s a new normal for everyone. We are all in a major crisis that affects how we work, where we work, and how we communicate. Here are some key tips for businesses on managing communication with their employees, stakeholders and customers, and the media in this unique time. These tips can also be considered best practices for future crises.

Regardless of a manufacturers’ unique experiences, they share one common unknown: how to prepare for the long-term implications of COVID-19. With an unprecedented event of this magnitude, even companies with the most robust crisis plans are grasping for models of what the future holds. Thankfully, technologists that work with data are now able to visualize and share how manufacturers are responding. Learn more this week on the blog from our contributors at Plex Systems.

How to Start Your Smart Manufacturing Journey

By Andreas Hassold and Matteo Dariol | Bosch Rexroth Corporation | 4/15/2020

We are living the Fourth Industrial Revolution; this is no buzzword anymore. Although executives across the globe have realized the importance of acting in a timely manner, defining the right path for an organization might still be a challenge. This week on the blog, Andreas Hassold and Matteo Dariol from Bosch Rexroth Corporation examine the lessons learned from their lean transformation over the past 20 years and how they apply to the digital transformation facing manufacturers today.

Designers: The Key to Business Resiliency

By Olga Stella | Design Core Detroit | 4/8/2020

Now more than ever, every business model, product and service is vulnerable. Not only are businesses impacted by new technologies, artificial intelligence, and automation, but also by new social and cultural contexts that no one could have imagined just a few weeks ago. Olga Stella of Design Core Detroit joins us on the blog to discuss how design skills and mindsets are the key to adapting business models, products and services that can function in this new context and the advantage Detroit has over other places.

Above the Coronavirus Noise: What You Need to Know Now

By Automation Alley Staff | 4/1/2020

As the North American Advanced Manufacturing Hub (AMHUB) for The World Economic Forum, Automation Alley is dedicated to continuously updating our members and stakeholders with important coronavirus information from The World Economic Forum’s global network of experts. With insights from the World Health Organization, the Forum and Automation Alley’s own leadership team, we’re striving to get beyond the noise to offer helpful information to keep you safe, healthy and in business. Read more this week on the blog.

Key Ingredients to Supply Chain Risk Management

By William Crane | IndustryStar | 3/25/2020

In today’s hyper-connected global economy, the response to supply chain risk has largely been reactive. Unmitigated risk can cause disruptions for a company’s supply chain. These are dynamic times where continuously reviewing supply chain risk is making the difference between company successes and failures. Developing a comprehensive Supply Chain Risk Assessment can help your organization identify potential failures in the supply chain. The five-step process below could prove invaluable in navigating our current two-pronged crises—the COVID-19 pandemic and 2020 recession.

4 Ways Tariffs are Impacting Your Company's Accounting

By Gregory Herbster | UHY LLP | 3/4/2020

As the U.S.-China trade war continues to evolve, Gregory Herbster, senior manager at UHY, breaks down the potential impacts tariffs may have on a company’s bottom line.

Top 10 Industry Podcasts to Listen to in 2020

By Pavan Muzumdar | Automation Alley | 1/8/2020

You can find a podcast for just about anything these days. In fact, there are over 800,000 unique podcast shows available to the public and 54 million podcast episodes, according to the latest stats from Edison Research and Triton Digital. That number will continue to grow in 2020, as the platform becomes even more popular. This week on the blog, we're helping you cut through the noise by curating an essential list of industry-specific podcasts to entertain and inspire you in the New Year.

It's Time to Move Your Business to Michigan. Here's 5 Reasons Why.

By Nicole Kampe | Automation Alley | 12/11/2019

Automation Alley recently welcomed three new tenant companies to our International Business Center, a soft-landing space located at our Troy, Mich. Headquarters. It’s one of the unique features of our facility and it’s always interesting to meet with the employees of these international companies to learn more about why they are choosing Michigan to expand their business. So, why expand your business to Michigan? These five reasons below are what we hear most often from our foreign tenants.

Recent years have seen Michigan’s economy grow consistently, with its manufacturing industry a main driver of this economic prosperity. The automotive sector has long been a cornerstone of Michigan’s economy, and to date remains the largest sector in its manufacturing industry. However, the automotive industry is experiencing rapid transformation: How can the state adapt to the Fourth Industrial Revolution and adopt the most relevant technologies at speed and scale to lead the transformation of the car industry, increase the state’s regional and global competitiveness and achieve sustainable growth?

5 Ways to Engage with the Pontiac Tech Scene

By Kayla Savale | DASI Solutions | 5/29/2019

Technology businesses have taken hold in Pontiac, Mich. After years of economic struggles, the once automotive boom town has become a haven for startups looking for modern work space and convenient location. Kayla Savale from DASI Solutions gives the rundown on what you need to know about how you can get involved with Pontiac’s growing tech scene.

AR, VR and How the Gamification of Training Can Help Disadvantaged Populations

By Cynthia Hutchison | Automation Alley | 4/17/2019

"There are many dynamic technologies that will change your business, the biggest change might just be the gamification of training, taking a calculated risk on a new training method that uses augmented or virtual reality," writes Cynthia Hutchison, Automation Alley's senior director. This week on the blog, learn more about this exciting technology and how it can be a game-changed for those with barriers and challenges to employment.

If You Design – Build It

By Doug Fura | Farbman Group | 3/27/2019

It is not difficult to understand why design-build has emerged as an increasingly popular alternative that offers an appealing way forward. The rise of design-build can be seen across all sectors and across the U.S., and design-build is projected to account for nearly half of nonresidential construction spending between 2018-2021. This week on the blog, Doug Fura of Farbman Group details how industrial tenants can maximize design-build opportunities by selecting the right partner.

Design Thinking and the Customer-Centric Organization

By Greg Heist | Gongos, Inc. | 3/20/2019

This week on the blog, Greg Heist from Gongos, dives into the challenges of understanding one of the greatest mysteries of all: the human being. This is where design thinking comes in.

6 Ways to Make Your Office "Smarter"

By Laura Gayle | | 3/6/2019

Across various industries, there is a shift in the nature of work taking place — and in the worker doing it. Technology can be attributed as the catalyst of much of the change, although some shifts are more personal and represent an evolving societal viewpoint. Full-time blogger and founder of, Laura Gayle, examines six "smarter" adjustments that can make a difference in the quality of employee output, overall efficiency, and ultimately, company bottom lines.

New Website Not Performing? Your Checklist to Help Ensure ROI

By Chris Sharkey | Smart Link Solutions | 2/27/2019

This week on the blog, Chris Sharkey of Smart Link Solutions emphasizes the importance of viewing your website as a long-term investment. Set it up for success today, and it will pay dividends in the years to come.

10 Necessary Steps to Becoming a Digital Leader

By Brent Yax | Awecomm Technologies LLC | 2/6/2019

This week on the blog, Brent Yax of Awecomm LLC explains how becoming a digital leader doesn’t have to be mysterious. It is simply understanding the role technology can play to help advance the business, and then taking the necessary steps to get the right buy-in for successful change. With the proper foundation in place any company can be the digital leader of tomorrow. Just stay focused and stay positive.

10 Trade Show Preparation Tips

By Charity Hutchison | Automation Alley | 1/30/2019

Whether you're an exhibitor or plan to walk the show floor, preparation is key to trade show success for you and the company you're representing. Here are 10 helpful tips to remember before your next trade show.

Why I Love Cold Calling and You Should Too

By Alison Trumble | Automation Alley | 10/17/2018

When you were a kid, did you dream of cold calling? Looking up all the information you can find on the internet and trying to build rapport with a stranger? Of course not. This week on the blog, Alison Trumble, Automation Alley’s newest Business Development Representative, shares her tips for making the big bucks in a role she never thought she would be in – sales.

Thinking of exporting? My First Trade Mission with Automation Alley

By Cynthia Hutchison | Automation Alley | 10/3/2018

Curious about the how Automation Alley handles the trade mission experience? Automation Alley Senior Director Cynthia Hutchison was. Fresh from our most recent trade mission to India, read why Cynthia’s takeaway from the trip - from start to finish - is “Mission Accomplished.”

Get More from Your Trade Show Marketing Efforts

By Kevin Krason | Biznet Digital Agency | 9/26/2018

Live events, predominantly trade shows, are second only to email for lead generation. Long established as a marketing staple for industry verticals, trade shows will continue to be vital for B2B manufacturers, distributors, and service providers for many years to come. This week on the blog, Kevin Krason, founder and Chief Visionary Officer of Biznet Digital Agency, explains how marketing automation can help you maximize your trade show experience, to increase your sales, and make the most of every lead.

The days are getting shorter, the vacation was great, schools are back in session. Maybe now is the time to get working on growing your business. Our region remains dominated by the vehicle industry, but when talking with the best small and medium manufacturing companies, most talk about balancing their business between automotive, defense, aerospace and other. Automotive is great for high volume, but cost reduction pressure drives the sector, and a downturn can leave your business at risk. The “other” category is often low volume and risky, in that the customers come with their own set of challenges.

10 Steps to Marketing Success: A Checklist for Small Businesses

By Nicole Kampe | Automation Alley | 8/29/2018

Creating a solid marketing and promotional campaign to accelerate your business is no easy task. Whether you’re launching a product, selling a service, or promoting an event or program within your organization, reaching your target audience has become harder than ever in the modern era of social media and automated ad technology. Between limited budgets and noise in the marketplace, how can small and medium-sized businesses break through to deliver their message in a meaningful way? This week on the blog, Nicole Kampe, Automation Alley's communications and media manager, takes you through her 10-step marketing checklist for businesses.

What’s News? A Public Relations Primer for Business

By Barbara Fornasiero | EAFocus Inc. Public Relations | 8/22/2018

What is “news?” It’s a critical question when considering whether certain information is appropriately shared in a press release. While communication vehicles have expanded over the last decade or so, Barb Fornasiero, principal and founder of EAFocus Inc. Public Relations, says what constitutes as actual news has not. Before you invest time in writing and posting and/or distributing a press release to media, determine if it fits the parameters of news. Read more on the blog.

How Can I Help? Creating a Culture of Strong Customer Service

By Kim Krutsch | Automation Alley | 8/8/2018

In any business—whether you’re selling a product, service or technology—customer service is key to success. The Internet has provided us with a nearly unlimited number of options when it comes to buying. Because of these endless options, it is up to companies selling to offer potential customers the best total experience. This week on the blog, Automation Alley's Kim Krutsch examines how a company can create a culture of strong customer service from top to bottom.

Six Business-Boosting Social Media Tips to Live By

By Rose Lasser | Automation Alley | 7/18/2018

Over the past decade, the growing popularity of social media has had an immense impact on society. Social media controls the way we view ourselves, others and the world we live in. It’s become more than a casual activity, but a way of life—and a necessary communication tool for businesses. According to 2018 statistics, there are 2.20 billion Facebook users, 330 million Twitter users, 800 million Instagram users and 250 million LinkedIn users. With all that noise, how does a business separate itself from the pack? Here are some tips to take your social media presence to the next level.

My American Dream. Realized.

By Pavan Muzumdar | Automation Alley | 6/27/2018

This Fourth of July, Automation Alley COO Pavan Muzumdar shares his American Dream story.

The Future Salesperson: Utilizing a Consultative Sales Model

By Kristin O’Neill | Automation Alley | 6/20/2018

“We live in a fast-paced world that expects immediate results with clear and actionable data. It’s tempting for a sales representative to look to technology as a way to help them sell more efficiently. But what are you sacrificing in the name of efficiency?” asks Kristin O’Neill, an Automation Alley business development representative. In today’s data-driven world, more and more companies are seeking out a different type of salesperson: the consultative sales rep. This week on the blog, Kristin takes us through the five basic steps in the consultative sales process.

From the Backyard to the Board Room: Creating Leaders in the Workplace

By Dave Bann | Leader Dogs for The Blind | 5/16/2018

Here's a staggering fact: 44 percent of 500 managers feel unprepared for their role. Additionally, 87 percent wish they'd had more training before becoming a manager. How, then, do we prepare new managers to take the lead? From automakers, to colleges, to investment firms, to manufacturers, to municipalities, the lessons taught at Leader Dogs for The Blind reign true for every person willing to practice them, explains Dave Bann, who leads Harness the Power of Leadership at Leader Dogs for The Blind. This week on the blog, Bann explains how the foundational principles taught to Leader Dogs translates to leadership, management, communication and team-building in the workplace.

5 Things We Learned at Hannover Messe

By Noel Nevshehir, Lisa Lasser & Eriola Fishman | 5/9/2018

Innovation is driving industry across the globe, and this was on full display at the recent Hannover Messe industrial trade fair in Hannover, Germany last month. This week on the blog, Automation Alley’s International Business Services team discusses what they learned at this Industry 4.0 showcase and how Michigan companies can capitalize on big opportunities ahead.

Email is Most Effective for B2B Lead Generation

By Kevin Krason | Biznet Digital | 4/18/2018

As a business leader and agency owner for over 20 years, I've tested hundreds of strategies and tactics for lead generation. When I ask my prospects how they get business, they are often quick to say that 'relationships' are the main driver. I agree. Read more on the blog from Kevin Krason, CEO and digital strategist of Biznet Digital.

Just Say Yes!

By Kim Krutsch | Automation Alley | 4/11/2018

Sometime life presents us an opportunity to grow and challenge ourselves. I like it when that happens! Seven years ago, I started working for Automation Alley in an administrative support role. I love being the “Director of First Impressions” and warmly welcoming our members and guests. I also enjoy helping my co-workers whenever possible. This past year, I was given the chance to challenge some of my beliefs about who I am, to develop and progress.

5 Reasons to do Business in India

By Noel Nevshehir | Automation Alley | 3/21/2018

This September, Automation Alley is leading a trade mission to India and is seeking Michigan companies interested in expanding their business abroad. This week on the blog, Noel Nevshehir, Automation Alley’s director of International Business Services and Industry 4.0 Strategic Partnerships, discusses why the Indian market is a promising one for Michigan companies and lays out the business opportunities available in this fast-growing economy.

Why I love our millennials

By Pavan Muzumdar | Automation Alley | 3/14/2018

As one who has the privilege of working with some of the hardest working millennials at multiple companies, I thought it was time to set the record straight. The way I see it, not only are some of the negative claims about this generation false, but they contribute to a narrative that is harmful to society and our ability to steward our future. Not to mention it’s really irritating. Read more from Automation Alley COO Pavan Muzumdar this week on the blog.

What in the World? Thinking About Expatriate Benefits

By Ann Marie Olszewski | Marsh & McLennan Agency | 3/7/2018

The challenges of an overseas assignment are potentially as great as the rewards. A well-crafted international expatriate health plan can go a long way to ensuring the employee’s success while working abroad.

Four Parts of your Sales Process that You Can Automate Today

By Kristin O’Neill | Automation Alley | 2/14/2018

Automation is more than an idea, it’s a way of life. The principles of Industry 4.0 can be applied to every aspect of your business. When done right, the results speak for themselves. Kristin O’Neill, Automation Alley business development representative, shares her secrets for success this week on the blog.

8 Reasons to Attend the Hannover Messe Fair in 2018

By Noel Nevshehir, Lisa Lasser & Eriola Fishman | Automation Alley | 1/17/2018

Automation Alley's International Business Services team shares why attending the Hannover Messe industrial trade fair this spring in Germany could be a game changer for your company. Read how this massive and unique global event will help your company learn, grow, gain visibility and earn new business.

Four Functions Every Business Needs for Long-Term Growth

By Pavan Muzumdar | Automation Alley | 1/10/2018

No matter what kind of company you run, be it a pizza shop, accounting firm, shoe shop, or manufacturing company, there are four major functions every business must strengthen: Marketing, Sales, Operations and Finance. Organizing a company in this way is particularly important for leaders facing the disruption of Industry 4.0. If functional teams work well together, then the company as a whole will be able to much better understand needs, pricing preferences, product and service configurations, and capital requirements to deliver the highest value to its customers.

Traffic to Automation Alley’s blog jumped by nearly 50 percent over the course of the last year, due in large part to some fantastic guest bloggers who have shared their insights into the world of tech and manufacturing. We’re thrilled to know our content is reaching you in the blogosphere and is being enjoyed by more business professionals than ever! This week, we’re looking back at our top 10 most popular posts of 2017.

Five Books Every Industry 4.0 CEO Should Read

By Pavan Muzumdar | Automation Alley | 12/6/2017

If you’re even somewhat active on social media, it’s common to see advice that starts with “The Six things” or “The Eight Whatevers.” And while these titles may sound tired and so last year, I can say this with certainty: If you haven’t read these five books, and you are a leader dealing with rapid technological change, you won’t waste your time reading them.

Don’t Wait Until New Year’s Eve for Your Financial Resolutions!

By Maryann Daddow | Automation Alley | 11/29/2017

As the end of the calendar year approaches, many businesses, partnerships as well as individuals, with fiscal years ending on Dec. 31, have an opportunity to plan for their year-end financials and affect their bottom line. A little time spent now can make for a much less stressful and more productive start to the new fiscal year. Here are a few steps you should consider before the clock strikes midnight on Dec. 31.

More Than Meets the Eye: Seeing the Smaller Details of the HSA

By Ann Marie Olszewski | Marsh & McLennan Agency | 10/18/2017

A health savings account (HSA) is a complex and often confusing component of health care coverage, and communicating the details to employees is always a challenge. While employers typically relate the basic eligibility guidelines, there are many aspects of the HSA that are lesser known, yet likely to affect some account holders and their dependents. Employees need a strong knowledge base in order to take full advantage of their HSAs. By bringing certain features of these accounts to employees’ attention, employers encourage increased awareness and engagement with a consumer-driven approach to health care.

10 Qualities to Look for In a Marketing Agency

By Brad Shorr | Straight North | 9/6/2017

Selecting a marketing agency is a big decision, and often a quite perplexing one, especially for tech startups. To make an informed decision and greatly improve the likelihood of successful marketing, look closely at these 10 agency attributes.

If you think your company is unaffected by Industry 4.0, think again!

By Cynthia Hutchison | Automation Alley | 8/9/2017

In the digital age, the lines are blurred between what is and isn't considered a technology company. The argument can most certainly be made that all businesses today are tech companies. In this blog post, Cynthia Hutchison, Automation Alley's director of Business Development and Government Affairs, offers up advice traditional businesses should consider on their quest to embrace new technologies.

Get Out of the Shade: Shed Some Light on Your Benefit Plans

By Ann Marie Olszewski | Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC | 7/26/2017

Depending on when your plan year renews, the summer months may be relatively quiet from a benefits perspective. Annual enrollment may have recently ended, or you may be just beginning the planning process for 2018. Take advantage of the lull by reminding your employees about the benefits available to them, and how they can be used to greater personal advantage.

Five Takeaways from the 2017 International Paris Air Show

By Eriola Fishman | Automation Alley | 7/12/2017

Automation Alley returned last week from the 2017 International Paris Air Show with a group of 10 Michigan companies, where deals were signed and relationships were built for all companies involved. The success of this mission already has us planning for the next show, and if you’re a professional working in the aeronautics and space sector, you should too! Here are five things you need to know if you plan to attend the International Paris Air Show in the future.

Legal Considerations and Best Practices When Selling to a Private Equity Firm

By Bill Rosin | Dawda, Mann, Mulcahy & Sadler, PLC | 6/14/2017

With private equity firms approaching potential sellers more frequently, transactions like the recent Kar Nut Products Co. sale to a private equity fund are on the rise. This week on the blog, Bill Rosin, managing member of Dawda, Mann, Mulcahy & Sadler, PLC, discusses the complex legal considerations and financial ramifications of such deals as this phenomenon continues to become more common.

Supply Chain and Other Hidden Tools for Outperforming the Competition

By Suman Sarkar | Three S Consulting | 5/31/2017

Technology is coming at record speed, and it’s only getting faster. How can business leaders succeed in a world of digital disruption? In this blog post, Suman Sarkar, author and partner with Three S Consulting, discusses what sets the smartest leaders apart.

It’s time to overcome the divide that still has operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT) professionals using different terminology, ranking priorities differently and focusing on different goals, says our partners at SME. This week on the blog, read about the fun and creative way they are bringing awareness to the opportunities that exist when these two camps—OT and IT—work together.

United Airlines PR disaster has roots in operations missteps

By Pavan Muzumdar | Automation Alley | 4/17/2017

After video of United Airlines passenger Dr. David Dao being violently dragged from a plane went viral recently, the national conversation surrounding the incident has characterized this as a public relations disaster. But few are talking about the root cause of this situation: a major operations blunder.

Why I Moved to Detroit from Silicon Valley (And You Should Too)

By Kristin Hope | PIXO Group | 3/15/2017

PIXO Group Marketing Strategist Kristin Hope shares why she picked up her career in tech and made the move from Silicon Valley to Detroit, and why this decision could be the right one for many Millennials who are “low on funds but big on dreams.”

Defense Sector Outlook for 2017

By John Bedz | Automation Alley | 3/8/2017

A new administration in the White House means changes are coming to the defense sector. Automation Alley Defense Consultant John Bedz discusses the outlook for the defense sector in 2017 and beyond. What can we expect both locally and nationally?

Working through barriers to Industry 4.0 adoption

By Tom Kelly | Automation Alley | 2/15/2017

This week, Automation Alley released its 2017 Technology Industry Report, highlighting that the manufacturing industry is moving rapidly to embrace Industry 4.0 technology as a critical part of its processes and plans to make new technological investments in 2017. Despite these findings, the report also found that there are many barriers to Industry 4.0 adoption.

Top 5 Things to Plan for Before an Office Move

By Janet Tyler | Red Level | 2/1/2017

Relocating your company’s offices isn’t easy. But unless and until you’ve actually gone through the process, you probably aren’t aware of just how much potential aggravation lurks within every aspect, says Janet Tyler, chief operating officer of technology consulting firm Red Level. These five factors just scratch the surface of possible considerations – but they can have a big impact on your company’s health and your sanity as you go through the relocation process.

Changes in global trade: whether you win or lose, is the choice yours?

By Jeff Jorge | Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, LLP | 1/11/2017

The choice of how to view the world in doing business globally — to find opportunity, to decide with whom to partner in conquering it, and what to do next — all start with the slant of one’s prism. And this very conflict and complexity is what drives the world to be both a hard place to do business and one that’s filled with opportunity, says Jeff Jorge, principal and international growth services practice leader at Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, LLP. Join him Jan. 23 for Automation Alley’s Global Business and Economic Outlook for 2017 and Beyond and learn how to smartly navigate the uncertainty, change and opportunity in the global marketplace.

Top 8 Podcasts You Should Be Listening To

By Pavan Muzumdar | Automation Alley | 12/21/2016

Over the past few years, there's been a significant rise in the popularity of podcasts. The way we consume media continues to evolve with new technology, and so have podcasts, which have become easily accessible blogs for our ears. Podcasts are a subject near and dear to my heart, not only because I'm an avid listener, but also because podcasts allow for a deeper dive into subject matter, a way to get you thinking differently, and to open your mind to new ideas and concepts. Whatever your interest, there is a podcast out there for you. 

As we near the end of 2016, we invite you to take a look back at some of the moments we were most proud of as an organization this year.

How Industry 4.0 Will Help Your Company Make the World a Better Place

By Pavan Muzumdar | Automation Alley | 11/30/2016

There’s always been a tension between technology and manual labor. With the rise of the fourth industrial revolution, many people fear advancements in automated technologies, artificial intelligence and smart robotics because they may one day make many human jobs obsolete. This week on the blog, Automation Alley COO Pavan Muzumdar weighs in on why we shouldn’t fear technology, and how “conscious capitalism” presents an opportunity for our society to change the world for the better.

Building a Great Company Culture

By Kris Powell | HRPro/BenePro | 11/23/2016

Great company culture is about so much more than just ping-pong tables, free snacks and nap breaks. It’s about something more, says Kris Powell, CEO and President of HRPro/BenePro. So, what are the keys to a healthy workplace? Find out in this week’s blog.

Campaign rhetoric aside, China likely to be impetus for trade pacts

By Noel Nevshehir | Automation Alley | 11/2/2016

International trade has been a focal point on the 2016 campaign trail, and now, with the U.S. presidential election less than a week away, Noel Nevshehir, Automation Alley's director of international business, discusses how the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, and the lifting of U.S. trade sanctions on Cuba might fare under a Trump or Clinton administration.

Sheryl Connelly says she can’t predict the future. Rather, her job at Ford is to help the organization prevent “strategic surprise.” To expect the unexpected. In this Q-and-A, Connelly discusses what led her down this interesting career path, the types of trends she’s forecasting, and how those trends are impacting decisions at Ford. 

You can hear more from Connelly at Automation Alley’s 16th Annual Awards Gala on Oct. 14 at the Detroit Yacht Club, where she will discuss current trends that are shaping our future. 

3 reasons startups should target customers before capital

By Tom Kelly | Automation Alley | 9/14/2016

Automation Alley’s Executive Director Tom Kelly is an expert when it comes to helping startup companies transform their ideas into commercialized, marketable technologies and services. In this blog post, Kelly discusses why it’s so important for entrepreneurs to study their customers and prove their ideas in the marketplace before they seek funding.

Four Common Mistakes that Interviewers Make, and How to Avoid Them

By Jessica Tower | Plante Moran | 9/7/2016

One bad hiring decision can cost an organization in many ways. Estimates of financial impact range from 30-90% of the person’s first year salary and benefits, depending on the level of the position. So, a bad hire in a $75,000 position might cost an organization between $29,250 and $87,750 (assuming benefit costs are 30% of salary). In addition to the financial impact, an unsuccessful hire can decrease morale, damage client relationships, and increase expenses related to overtime, lost productivity, and recruiting and training a replacement employee.  

Industry 4.0: Michigan poised to usher in new era of manufacturing

By Tom Kelly | Automation Alley | 8/24/2016

Around the world, Michigan is known as a state that makes things. And the way we make things is about to undergo a massive shift – so massive, in fact, that experts are calling it the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or Industry 4.0. Automation Alley’s new executive director, Tom Kelly, discusses Michigan’s opportunity to lead the nation as early adopters of factory automation technology and as the launching point for Industry 4.0 in America.

Thanks for the Memories!

By Ken Rogers | Automation Alley | 8/17/2016

Ken Rogers, Automation Alley’s executive director, reflects on 17 years of experiences at Automation Alley before his retirement. 

6 Reasons to consider doing business in Cuba

By Noel Nevshehir | Automation Alley | 8/10/2016

For more than 50 years, Cuba has remained an untapped market for U.S. businesses. However, recent policy changes have opened the door for U.S. companies to begin considering Cuba’s business potential. While many risks remain, Noel Nevshehir, Automation Alley’s director of International Business Services, shares six reasons why U.S. companies — and Michigan companies in particular — should familiarize themselves with new opportunities in Cuba. 

4 tips for planning a stress-free and successful corporate event

By Diane DeForest | Automation Alley | 7/27/2016

Well-planned corporate events can help strengthen your brand, increase awareness of your cause, or promote your products, services or technologies. As a corporate event planner, it’s easy to become overwhelmed when the stakes are high and your event to-do list seems never-ending. But don’t fret; these simple tips will help you better manage your time, organize your tasks and keep you sane before, during and after event day. 

We sat down with Scott Reisfield, chief marketing officer at Lighthouse Electronics Protection, to discuss how Automation Alley’s 7Cs™ entrepreneurship program has helped leverage his struggling company and take it to new heights.

Improve sales numbers with effective questioning

By Erik Meier | Sandler Training | 7/13/2016

When it comes to selling, don’t waste time, effort, and good will trying to “turn around” an objection that may not be an objection at all. Instead, use more effective questioning to get clarity on what’s really being said and watch your commission numbers improve! 

We know that manufacturers across the country are struggling to find the skilled talent they need to remain competitive. Yet, according to Automation Alley partner Tooling U-SME, 75 percent of those companies say they don’t offer a structured training program on manufacturing skills. 

How to protect yourself from hackers

By Noel Nevshehir | Automation Alley | 6/8/2016

Today, nearly every aspect of our personal and professional lives depends on a secure and stable cyberspace. Noel Nevshehir, Automation Alley director of International Business Services, shares tips for how you can take charge of defending yourself from prying eyes.

Industrial Cyber Security: What Every Manufacturer Needs To Know

By Scott Phillips | The SearchLite | 6/1/2016

When it comes to manufacturing or process automation, very few people are asking about industrial cyber security. Could it be that many don’t know what to ask?

The Right Team vs. The Team for Right Now

By Nathan Hughes | Detroit Labs | 5/25/2016

Nathan Hughes, co-founder of Detroit Labs, explains why his company ditched the resume in favor of a more inclusive and progressive hiring approach. 

How virtual reality can transform every business

By Vinh Chu | PIXO Group | 5/18/2016

Virtual reality is entering the marketplace at a rapid pace, with technological improvements driving down cost and increasing quality. The barricades to entering VR are not as monumentally expensive or difficult as one might think. 

7 tips for making the most out of industry events and conferences

By John Bedz | Automation Alley | 4/20/2016

Attending industry events and conferences can be an invaluable investment — if you do some planning ahead to prepare and dedicate a little time afterwards to follow up! Here are 7 tips you can put into practice at the upcoming Michigan Defense Expo (MDEX) and other business events and conferences you plan to attend this year. 

5 reasons to get automated

By Kris Powell | HRPro/BenePro | 4/13/2016

Smaller organizations may find it manageable to handle all HR related paperwork for their employees.  The question is, at what point does simply “managing” the paperwork get too overwhelming and cumbersome? Imagine a world where your HR processes are automated.  Where complex requirements such as Affordable Care Act compliance and EEO reporting is automatic and easy. 

6 ways your small business can rock social media

By Erin Sommerville and Nicole Kampe | Automation Alley | 4/6/2016

Social media can be a great marketing tool for small businesses looking to reach and engage existing and potential clients and customers. It’s also the perfect avenue for spreading the word about your products and services. But unless your small business employs a full-time social media manager, these efforts are easier said than done. By incorporating these six practices, your company can take your social media posts from dull to dynamic, and make them a key aspect of your overall marketing strategy. 

10 Ways to Build a Great Team

By Ken Rogers | Automation Alley | 3/16/2016

Successful businesses leaders know the value of building a great team — and keeping them happy. Here, Automation Alley’s Executive Director Ken Rogers serves up 10 tips for assembling, motivating and empowering employees. “On a day-to-day basis, the goal is always ‘team,’” he says. “A quality team will allow your business to flourish.”

3 Keys to Building Profitable Business Relationships

By Ed Potoczak | IQMS | 3/9/2016

When these three values are what your company is known for, it is easier to recruit and develop talent, win new customers, and keep the ones you want.

Southeast Michigan: The best place to grow your tech career

By Automation Alley Staff | Automation Alley | 2/24/2016

A situation at Yelp this week has shined a national spotlight on the cost of living disparity across America’s major technology hubs, and it highlights the hardships faced by many employees who are struggling to make ends meet while working and living in the country’s most expensive cities. According to Automation Alley’s 2016 Technology Industry Report, there is one major U.S. city where the technology industry is thriving, and its employees can enjoy a high standard of living: Detroit. 

Automation Alley 2015 Year in Review

By Automation Alley Staff | Automation Alley | 2/10/2016

Today we are excited to release our Annual Report to share with you our 2015 accomplishments and growth as an organization in the areas of international business, entrepreneurship, talent development, defense and advanced manufacturing. 

The Macomb-Oakland University INCubator Launches a Comprehensive Cyber Security Initiative

By Joan Carleton | Macomb-Oakland University INCubator | 2/3/2016

Joan Carleton, marketing and communications manager of the Macomb-Oakland University INCubator, discusses how businesses can utilize the Velocity Center of the Michigan Cyber Range (MCR). Mac-OU INC is managing this publicly-accessible MCR extension hub, the first of its kind connected to an incubator program targeted towards startup and emerging companies in Michigan. 

5 Defense Sector Opportunities for Business

By John Bedz | Automation Alley | 1/20/2016

A new year always allows for a fresh start, and that applies to business as well. Many ask about the defense sector and how to keep a better eye out for opportunities there. Here are a few distinct avenues for your organization to consider, each with more than one entry point.

Avoid Tax Headaches with These 5 Tips

By Automation Alley Staff | Automation Alley | 1/13/2016

The time for planning for year-end tax strategies is now.

The Key Ingredients for Marketing Success

By Kevin Krason | Biznet Digital | 12/9/2015

Kevin Krason, founder of Southfield-based digital marketing agency Biznet, discusses how to be a responsible business leader and marketer in the ever-evolving, fast-paced digital age. 

Michigan Matters: U.S. Restores Diplomatic Ties With Cuba

By Automation Alley Staff | Automation Alley | 11/25/2015

Automation Alley’s Executive Director Ken Rogers and Director of International Business Noel Nevshehir were featured on CBS Detroit’s Michigan Matters program on Sunday to discuss the restoration of diplomatic ties between the U.S. and Cuba with Dana McAllister of the Cuban Chamber of Commerce and host Carol Cain. The segment focused on new opportunities for U.S. companies looking to do business in Cuba and how Automation Alley’s trade mission to Cuba in 2016 will help Michigan companies explore this new frontier.  

​Nevshehir: Cuba is a new frontier for U.S. companies

By Noel Nevshehir | Automation Alley | 11/4/2015

In a recent Detroit News editorial, Noel Nevshehir, Automation Alley’s director of international business services, discusses the normalization of relations and restoration of diplomatic ties between the U.S. and Cuba, and what that means for U.S. companies interested in exploring business opportunities there in the future.  

11 Common Networking Mistakes

By Greg Peters | The Reluctant Networker, LLC | 10/28/2015

You've heard it before: Networking is the best way to grow your business, find a job and support your nonprofit. Unfortunately, a lot of bad techniques and misconceptions have grown up around the practice which, if followed, can severely limit the success you see in pursuing your networking goals.

Challenge VS. Outcome

By Erik Meier | EAM Consulting Group | 10/21/2015

Erik Meier is the founder and CEO of EAM Consulting Group and president of Sandler Training. This week on the blog, he discusses how to improve your prospecting efficiency by making sure your discussions focus on the outcome, not just the challenge.

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When you’re competing for funding dollars, it’s important to dot the i’s and cross the t’s when writing and submitting a grant proposal. On this week’s blog, Automation Alley Grants Manager Lisa Stief breaks down the grant writing process and offers up tips for grant writing success. 

First fix the bus!

By Pavan Muzumdar | PCS Insight | 9/9/2015

Pavan Muzumdar, founder and managing director of PCS Insight, discusses why it’s important for companies to take time in hiring the right person in his latest blog post “First fix the bus!” 

Making the grade

By Automation Alley Staff | Automation Alley | 8/31/2015

Help us spread the word that Southeast Michigan is a great place to do business! You may have received this report card in the mail recently, highlighting Automation Alley’s progress and regional economic results. It’s an indicator of our region’s overall improvement that we invite you to share on social media.

How much should I spend on digital marketing?

By Paul Chambers | Element5 Digital | 8/26/2015

As a business owner, I wear a lot of hats. One of my favorite hats to wear is my business development hat.  Not because I like selling, but because I love helping people. When I’m talking to a new prospect, I take some time to learn about their project, their specific needs and their business. My final question is, “What is your budget for this project?” This question typically yields one of three responses.

Beyond the Taco: An Intro to Business Opportunities and Culture in Mexico

By Silvia Alonso | Michigan Mexico Center | 8/10/2015

Today, we’re talking about Mexico. No, not Cancun. Not spring break. Not tacos, or sombreros, or any of the other Chi-Chi’s-inspired imagery that comes to mind when most people think of our neighbor to the south. We’re talking about meaningful opportunities for you business to expand.

5 networking tactics you haven’t tried before

By Diane DeForest | Automation Alley | 7/29/2015

Networking isn’t what it used to be. With people becoming more and more distracted by constant interaction and stimulation, the art of creating a meaningful connection is changing. And that means it’s time for you to assess your go-to strategies for those handshake-heavy evenings. I’ve been watching people network for 20 years, and that continuous observation has led me to a handful of tips that are key to any successful strategy, whether you’re a seasoned expert or a shy newcomer.

Creating an American Brand: The Story of Shinola

By Automation Alley Staff | Automation Alley | 7/1/2015

We’re all about a great business success story at Automation Alley, and Detroit bicycle and watchmaker Shinola has one for the books. It’s the kind of story that’s generated national attention because it’s the epitome of Detroit’s comeback. 

Can we 3D print talent?

By David Darbyshire | DASI Solutions | 6/24/2015

David Darbyshire, engineer and co-owner of DASI Solutions, discusses the technical skill, knowledge and methods necessary to successfully integrate and operate 3D printers for business.

​Balancing the art of being both high and low tech

By Andy Harrison | Utley Brothers Printing | 6/10/2015

Learn how one local company, Utley Brothers Printing, melds high-tech forms of printing with the nearly lost art of letterpress printing under one roof. 

Collaboration = success for area businesses

By Lee Redding | University of Michigan-Dearborn College of Business | 5/20/2015

The University of Michigan-Dearborn’s College of Business is partnering with Automation Alley this summer to introduce a workshop series aimed at advancing the business skills of individuals in our workforce and helping area organizations succeed.  

Listen: Michigan’s Lt. Gov. Brian Calley discusses doing business in South America

By Automation Alley Staff | Automation Alley | 5/12/2015

Listen to Michigan’s Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley talk with WJR’s Paul W. Smith on-air about Automation Alley’s Trade Mission to Chile and Columbia and why South America could be the next great place to do business with Michigan. 

The time to diversify is now

By Dan Raubinger | Automation Alley | 4/29/2015

The Great Recession of 2008-2009 was a major wakeup call for the business world, especially for us here in Michigan, where we saw the bankruptcy filings of auto giants General Motors and Chrysler. If we learned anything from that financial crisis it was the importance of business diversification. 

​A new way to find the right talent

By Automation Alley Staff | Automation Alley | 4/15/2015

This month, we introduced a new job board to our website called the Automation Alley Talent Exchange. Powered by WorkFountain, the Talent Exchange is not your ordinary job board. It’s an innovative new system that plays matchmaker, connecting employers and job seekers based on skills, interests and job requirements.

Watch: Navigating Automation Alley’s new 7Cs™ program

By Automation Alley Staff | Automation Alley | 3/31/2015

Tom Kelly, director of entrepreneurship for Automation Alley, shares our exciting new program for technology startups we call the Automation Alley 7Cs™.

​Understanding Financial Statements – Don’t Leave It To The Experts!

By Maryann Daddow | Automation Alley | 3/25/2015

Maryann Daddow, director of finance at Automation Alley, offers up some advice to new business owners.  

Op-Ed: Startups should target customers before capital

By Tom Kelly | Automation Alley | 2/25/2015

Tom Kelly, Automation Alley director of entrepreneurship, discusses why it’s so important for entrepreneurs to study their customers and prove their ideas in the marketplace before they seek funding. 

Mistakes, mishaps & making friends abroad: stories about going global

By Noel Nevshehir | Automation Alley | 1/28/2015

Noel Nevshehir, Automation Alley’s director of international business services, discusses Automation Alley’s trade mission program, some of the biggest mistakes companies make when stepping into exporting for the first time and how individuals can educate themselves on business customs abroad. 

​Why employ young talent?

By Automation Alley Staff | Automation Alley | 1/21/2015

A Q&A with Automation Alley’s Ken Rogers and Kelly Kozlowski

What’s Your Anti-New Year’s Resolution?

By Automation Alley Staff | Automation Alley | 1/7/2015

We’ve all made New Year’s resolutions in the past. Some last, but most fall short of our desired goal. Instead of setting yourself up for failure, why not take a different spin on this tradition?

Welcome to our blog!

By Automation Alley Staff | Automation Alley | 12/17/2014

Welcome to the new and to our new blog.

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