Wipro Steps up Local Hiring in US Amid H-1B Visa Uncertainty

Wipro Steps up Local Hiring in US Amid H-1B Visa UncertaintyWipro Ltd, India’s third-largest software services exporter, said on Wednesday that more than half its workforce in the United States consists of locals after it hired more than 1,600 people in the last six months.

The statement comes as US President Donald Trumphas asked federal agencies to review a visa program that Indian IT firms such as Wipro use to fly engineers to the United States to service clients.

A tighter visa regime could force Indian IT companies to step up local hiring in their biggest market, potentially increasing costs and hitting margins.

Wipro rival Infosys Ltd last month said it planned to hire 10,000 US workers in the next two years and open four technology centres in the United States.

Over the past couple of quarters IT clients slowed down discretionary spending, hitting growth in India’s $150 billion information technology sector.

A leading lobby group for India’s IT industry last week forecast that the sector’s export revenues would grow at 7-8 percent for the year to March, as the industry faces continued headwinds from the US market.

Wipro said on Wednesday that more than 3,000 locals joined the Bengaluru-headquartered firm in fiscal 2017, increasing its total headcount in the US to 14,000. It is also said it is working on expanding its centres in Tampa and Dallas.

“We will continue to build a strong local talent pool with diverse skill sets and make strategic investments in close proximity to our clients to serve them better,” Wipro Chief Executive Abidali Neemuchwala said.

In a regulatory filing earlier this month, Wipro said “significant developments” under the new US government could pose a risk to its business there.


Tencent Steps Up AI Push With Research Lab in Seattle

Tencent Steps Up AI Push With Research Lab in Seattle

Chinese social media and gaming giant Tencent Holdings said on Tuesday it will open an artificial intelligence (AI) research facility in Seattle in the United States, to be led by former Microsoft scientist Yu Dong.

Yu, who has been appointed as deputy head of Tencent’s AI Lab division, will run the new lab as well as spearhead research in speech recognition and natural language understanding, the company said.

Tencent, which owns the popular WeChat messaging app, is Asia’s most valuable company with a market capitalisation of nearly $300 billion (roughly Rs. 19,25,936 crores).

Shenzhen-headquartered Tencent is one of a number of Chinese technology juggernauts that are stepping up efforts in AI research. Tencent’s WeChat has more than 889 million monthly active users.

Tencent has more than 50 researchers and more than 200 engineers at its AI Lab in Shenzhen, which was established in April 2016, according to the company.
China’s “Big Three” tech firms – Tencent, Baidu Inc and Alibaba – have been competing to attract top-notch talent.

Yu, a speech recognition and deep learning expert, was the principal researcher at Microsoft Research Institute’s Speech and Dialog Group before joining Tencent.

Baidu suffered a setback to its AI ambitions after its chief scientist Andrew Ng resigned in March, shortly before Tencent announced it has poached Baidu’s former big data director Zhang Tong to head up its AI Lab.

Yu is looking to build a team of around 20 for the Seattle lab, according to Tencent.




5 Incredibly Simple Steps for a More Creative Workplace

creative workplace

Which one would you pick: A job that inspires you to dream up some new idea every single day then work and build on them? Or one that needs you to do the same mindless, repetitive task day in and day out?

That’s a no brainer. The first one, of course.

The fact is, in today’s economy, a lot of us do work in professions that need us to be creative and think out of the box regularly. However, boredom, stress and a million other excuses creep into our everyday lives making even an interesting job dry as sawdust. As an employee, you have the option of quitting an uninspiring job and moving on to the next one.

But what do you do as an employer faced with talented employees who are stuck in a creative rut? Here are some thoughts for a more creative workplace.

1. Open, Fearless Communication

One of the biggest hurdles to an inspired, creative workplace is fear. Fear of one’s ideas being ridiculed, fear of being judged as not good enough, even fear of retribution. To build a creative workplace that allows your employees to put on their thinking caps and go freewheeling with their ideas, unshackle them from the constant fear of consequences.

Encourage open communication by setting an example yourself. Speak with individual team members to get to know them and their strengths. Engage your team in discussions about important matters and ask for their inputs while making key decisions.

This sense of inclusiveness and being needed will automatically help employees shed their inhibitions and open up about their more creative ideas and thoughts.

Tony Hsieh, the fabled CEO of Zappos encourages open communication and idea generation by always being available to listen to his employees. Hsieh sends personalized email to individual employees making them feel important and valued.

The result? An eCommerce phenomenon called Zappos.

2. Inspiring Office Spaces

It’s no secret that our surroundings have a direct bearing on our moods and therefore our thought processes. Inject a little personality into your office with design that is bright and cheerful. After all, creativity stems from being inspired, not bored to death.

Create little nooks and meeting areas where teams can meet up and brainstorm new ideas. Bring down the walls and invest in an open concept workplace that lets every employee see everyone else face to face.

Simple things like color and lighting have a big impact on the creative output of your teams. Ravi Mehta and Juliet Zhu from the University of British Columbia have shown that the color blue helps in creative tasks and idea generation, while red aids tasks that require attention to detail.

A pair of researchers from Germany showed that creative thinking gets a definite boost with low lighting at workplaces while bright lights help in analytical tasks.

3. The Chill Zone

All work and no play make Jack a dull boy. This old adage is true even in the context of workplace productivity and creativity.

The most innovative companies in the world recognize their employees’ need to unwind and refresh themselves. This explains the millions of dollars they often spend on building recreational facilities where employees can take a break from work and recharge their creative batteries.

A mind-blowing office design like those belonging to, say, Google or Facebook is often out of reach for the average company, but everyone can afford to invest in the basic forms of employee recreation. Something as basic as a PlayStation, a ping-pong table, magazines or even a small room for meditation are not a tall order for most companies, but go a long way in helping employees leave their stress behind to attack work with fresh minds.

4. Lean Teams

In an interesting interview with FastCompany, Dan Satterthwaite from DreamWorks Animation shares the secrets of DreamWorks’ success. While the company employs over 1,600 people, no team ever exceeds seven members in size.

Satterthwaite explains the company discovered pretty early on that intimate groups are best to extract the best creative work from their employees. The level of trust that members of a small group have in each other vanishes in large impersonal teams. This mutual trust and comfort levels help them open up and freewheel their thoughts leading to real creative breakthroughs.

No wonder DreamWorks has racked up three Oscars, one Golden Globe Award and over a dozen nominations for both since its inception.

Moral of the story? Keep your teams small and lean. Not only will they be easier to manage, you’ll probably get your most creative output from these small teams.

5. Pets at the Workplace

Pets have been proven to be stress-busters and mood enhancers by hundreds of different studies. The numerous benefits that pets offer have led nearly 20 percent of companies in the U.S. to allowing their employees to bring pets to the workplace.

Pets help employees bond better with each other, create a more relaxed atmosphere at the workplace where creativity can flourish.

In fact, research by the University of Illinois shows that taking a break from your work every now and then — like playing with the office pet or taking it for a walk — is actually beneficial to coming up with creative new ideas.

Before you get your furry friends to the workplace, make sure everyone at your workplace is on board with the plan. While it’s a good idea to stock up on doggy treats, also have a guide at hand (PDF) for those employees who don’t have pets on how to treat their four-legged colleagues.

Your Turn: Reward Creative Thought

Finally, but most importantly, if you expect your employees to go beyond the obvious answers and come up with creative solutions to everyday problems, you need to demonstrate that you appreciate their efforts.

Recognize creativity by showcasing it prominently in your workplace. Offer rewards that your team will appreciate — a fancy dinner, extra paid time off, a paid weekend holiday — it doesn’t always have to be cash.

All the other steps are enablers of creative thought. This final one is recognition for creative thinking. While enabling employees is essential, without recognition even the most creative employees will soon lose steam and do just the bare essentials.

Why fall into that trap when it’s so simple to give your company a creative shot in the arm?

Workplace Photo via Shutterstock

More in: Motivational


7 Steps to Visual Content Marketing Productivity

snowy steps

Visual content marketing is one of the all-around best tactics you can have for marketing and branding. There are so many ways to use it, and they are applicable to every social platform. Visual content is shared more, viewed more, catches a reader’s attention, and sticks with them after they have left your site. It is the perfect medium.

The downside is that it takes a lot more time to create. Because of that, people tend to make visual content a small fraction of their overall output. This reduces the impact and so lessens their results. It is a shame, but understandable.

What if you could be more efficient in your visual content creation? These seven steps will help you to be more productive, so you can make more visual content without spending a lot of time doing it.

Step 1: Create a List Of Possible Visual Content

The first step is where so many people fall flat. Coming up with visual content ideas can be difficult, and you might feel like some aren’t up to scratch. We are going to put aside any critical thoughts you may have, and just brainstorm. Anything goes on the list, no matter how silly you may find it.

Aim for at least ten ideas to begin. Include different mediums you can use utilizing the same idea (a slideshow, a comic, an infographic, a screencast video, GIFs like Buzzfeed, etc.). This gives you a working list to start from, and at least ten pieces of content that can be tweaked and used in some way.

Here’s a quick way to explain how one idea can become various visual content assets:

Visual Content Marketing

It is also a good idea to look at examples of similar pieces of visual content that use related ideas. This is a good time to see what competitors are sharing, or just others in your niche community. It will give you insight into what is popular, what is working, and what isn’t.

Take that information and apply it to your list. How can you slightly alter those ideas to match up with what your audience is looking for? How can you replicate it while still being unique?

Step 2: Create a List of Visual Content Sources

Visual Content Marketing

There are plenty of visual content resources you can use. For years of blogging and social media content managing I’ve come up with my own trusted list. I picked the resources where (1) I can find a great image fast and (2) I can find different images: Not those everyone else is using all over the place. I like originality.

Here are my picks:

  • Unsplash is my resource #1 for stunning background photography. They add one creative photo daily and you can subscribe to updates. I love making visual quotes and Unsplash is awesome for visual inspiration!
  • Printmeposter is a great resource of original photography. I love how their search works.
  • New Old Stock provides a great resource of old black and white photography

Besides generic creative resources you want to keep an eye on niche sites that regularly post visual content. for example, to visually tweet about my industry I am using the following sites:

  • Emarketer (paid) is the best resource of marketing charts, reports and visualized surveys
  • Marketing Charts visualizes all trending marketing stats and numbers
  • SiteGeek provides visualizations for any hosting stats and uptime records
  • SearchMetrics is the most up-to-date source of search rankings changes and history

Step 3: Create Second List Building Off First

An artist is only as good as their tools. There are many that can make visual content creation a faster, more productive process, while keeping quality high.

Here are some great ones:

  1. Canva: A full feature design tool that lets anyone become a web and graphic designer in minutes.
  2. Piktochart: Make infographics, charts and full presentations, cheaply.
  3. Screencastomatic: Create quick and free recorded videos of your screen, including outside of your browser.
  4. Giphy: Find or make your own animated GIFs.

Step 4: Create Schedule For Content Creations/Publication

Having a posting schedule is one of the best ways you can improve productivity. It gives you a set timeline for publishing your content, and so removes any guesswork. You can also find the best times to post based on past successful publications, so you know when to publish on your blog, share on different social platforms, and re-share to gain the most visibility and engagement.

You may also consider creating more than one piece of visual content and scheduling it for ahead of time, so you never have to play catch up when you get sick/go on vacation/need a break.

Here’s a sample of my scheduling routine:

  • Always schedule several Twitter updates for the weekend. Weekend Twitter updates usually get more attention, surprisingly!
  • Always schedule at least one Facebook page update for each day you are away traveling or enjoying your rest
  • Always schedule thematic visual updates for upcoming holidays and days-off.

Step 5: Set Time For Uninterrupted Work

The more you are interrupted, the longer it will take you to finish anything. You should set up a time to work where you won’t be disturbed. That includes by your own inattentiveness.

Turn off your phone, put on some non-distracting music, and consider installing a tool like LeechBlock orStayFocusd to keep yourself from being tempted to social media or entertainment sites.

Visual Content Marketing

Do your best to keep your work time consistent, if you can. Even if you only work on visual content one day a week, do it on the same day and at the same time, for the same length of time. It will become a habit, and you will find yourself much more productive during that time.

Step 6: Maximize Marketing With Good Tools

Marketing is one of the most time consuming parts of the entire process. Posting on social media, alerting followers to new content, engaging with potential or current readers, and even just enhancing SEO can carve out such a huge chunk of your day.

The right tools will limit the time you spend doing it. A social dashboard like MavSocial (out of all scheduling platforms, this one is best suited for visual marketing) will simplify posting and scheduling posts, including automatically posting at the best times for your followers across multiple platforms. You can even get cross-platform analytics from a Chrome plugin with Social Analytics.

I also use Cyfe to keep an eye on all important social media channels and stats: It’s a great way to see all your visual social media networks and their progress at a glance:

Visual Content Marketing

Step 7: Repeat With New Information

Consider each time you go through this process to count as a new campaign. Over time you will begin to see patterns that will shift your focus and give you a better idea of what works and what doesn’t. From there you will just repeat with the new information.

Your visual content creation will become more and more efficient, and your marketing productivity will be enhanced.

Have any tips to share?

Snowy Steps Photo via Shutterstock

More in: Content Marketing