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In Category: Business Growth


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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
5/24/2017
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.
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.
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.”
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?
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.
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.
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.
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. 
12/14/2016
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.
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.
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.
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.
10/12/2016
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. 
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.
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.  
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.
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. 
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. 
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. 
7/20/2016
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.
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! 
7/6/2016
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. 
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.
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?
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. 
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. 
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. 
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. 
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. 
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.”
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.
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. 
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. 
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. 
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.
By Automation Alley Staff | Automation Alley | 1/13/2016
The time for planning for year-end tax strategies is now.
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. 
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.  
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.  
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.
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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By Lisa Stief | Automation Alley | 9/16/2015
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. 
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!” 
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 
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.
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. 
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.  
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. 
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. 
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.
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™.
By Maryann Daddow | Automation Alley | 3/25/2015
Maryann Daddow, director of finance at Automation Alley, offers up some advice to new business owners.  
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. 
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. 
By Automation Alley Staff | Automation Alley | 1/21/2015
A Q&A with Automation Alley’s Ken Rogers and Kelly Kozlowski
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?
By Automation Alley Staff | Automation Alley | 12/17/2014
Welcome to the new automationalley.com and to our new blog.

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