Highlights from our Journey to the 2019 Disability:IN Conference

You might not realize it, but Quester is a DOBE certified company, a designation offered by Disability:IN. We’re proud to be a for-profit business that is at least 51% owned, managed, and controlled by a person with a disability (DOBE). Being DOBE certified is a business advantage, especially since some companies have a mandate that every RFP must go to at least one diverse supplier.

This July we were happy to participate in the annual Disability:IN conference in Chicago. We joined a diverse group of 1500 other attendees of whom 43% were women, 51% were people of color, and 200 were STEM job seekers. In addition, more than 10 countries were represented.

The atmosphere over the three days was truly inspiring! The attendees reflected two parts of the business space – leaders whose primary responsibilities included financial and business success, and leaders whose responsibilities focused on accessibility in the workplace. Everyone was so committed to helping DOBE companies succeed. They were generous and open with their time, jumping into discussions and workgroups, eager to learn from each other. It felt amazing to be among people who share the same goals and ideals that we do.

As part of the Wells Fargo DOBE Accelerator related to Supply Chain, we shared an overview of the artificial intelligence landscape. After 90 minutes of incredible discussion and collaboration, people came away with the realization that they don’t have to be creators of AI or highly technical programmers and engineers. What they do have to do is start thinking about how AI can be leveraged within their own business. They know AI will change jobs and business processes, and they need to be prepared for that.

The panel discussion moderated by Emily Ladau really stuck out for me as it focused on the etiquette of one-to-one communications with people who have disabilities. Many of us are keenly focused on creating a positive work environment, a positive work culture, and a positive work-life balance. But we need to make sure those things are inclusive and accessible for people who have disabilities. A lot of disabilities are covered under the ADA but without communication, we’re probably not even aware that some people have disabilities. And sometimes, we don’t know how we can accommodate disabilities, particularly when it comes to annual reviews and learning objectives. Leaders need to think more carefully about where their company is right now and where they need to go.

One of the most exciting components of the conference for us was the Pitch Tank competition. This year, the competition received highest number of applications ever, so we were thrilled to be selected as one of only three finalists granted three minutes to pitch our idea to the entire conference and a panel of three judges from Bayer, IBM and Intel.

Our presentation focused on our Alexa integration and what the future could hold by engaging consumers in multi-term conversations, one of the current challenges of voice assistance. Right now, voice AI is built to collect specific data to generate a specific solution, but the depth of that data collection is very minimal. We’ve developed our AI to facilitate deeper conversations with consumers and incorporate multiple stages of probing and follow-up. These types of conversations are more natural for people to participate in and consequently they provide more accurate solutions for clients.

We were even more thrilled when we learned that Quester had won the Pitch Tank competition! So thank you to MGM Resorts, Shell, Capital One, and American Airlines for contributing to the prize package. And, thank you to Wells Fargo for contributing $7,500, and to Bristol Myers Squibb for contributing a one-week educational seminar to Tufts University. I’m not sure how many people can say this, but I’m really excited to be going back to school!

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 As President of Quester, Tim Hoskins leads a talented team of researchers, developers, and innovators who keep Quester at the forefront of the marketing research industry. Under his leadership, Quester has won numerous awards including an Ogilvy Award from The ARF and an EXPLOR Award from TMRE. He has been instrumental in the ongoing development of Quester’s artificial intelligence technology that enables new and unique approaches to solving client-side research objectives such as innovation, concept development, brand positioning, segmentation, and path to purchase. Tim was named a Volunteer of the Year by the Insights Association and currently serves on its board of directors. He is co-chair of the national Corporate Researchers Conference, and on the Collaborata board of advisors.

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