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Junior Achievement of Chicago-DuPage goes into schools, including elementary, middle and high schools, to teach students financial literacy and workforce readiness.
Junior Achievement of Chicago-DuPage prepares kids for solid financial futures
Posted Feb 20, 2020 1:00 AM
Have you ever made a budget or invested in the stock market and wished someone had explained to you how it all worked when you were younger? Enter Junior Achievement of Chicago-DuPage (JA), a nonprofit that helps prepare youth to thrive as adults by teaching them financial literacy, workforce readiness, how to apply entrepreneurial thinking to the workplace and how to build businesses that support their communities. “Students don’t get this education when normally going through school. We are here to fill that gap,” said Bill Werner, associate director of Junior Achievement of Chicago-DuPage. In 2019, Junior Achievement of Chicago-DuPage serviced over 80,000 students in 4,182 elementary, middle and high school classrooms. This year, over 620,000 students in the Chicago area will experience JA of Chicago programs. Local business owners, corporate partner volunteers and community volunteers head to participating schools to teach weekly traditional programs, JA in a Day programs and Career Day programs that teach children the skills they need for economic success, to plan for their future and apply what they’re learning in school to real life business challenges and opportunities. JA programs are free to schools and students. JA relies on generous donors and corporate partners to deliver curriculum. Gerald Auto Group regularly sponsors the DuPage Board of Directors Fundraiser that benefits over 80,000 JA students and operations in DuPage County. This year’s Jazz Night will be held on March 5 at Seven Bridges Golf Club and will bring together over 200 DuPage County professionals, educators, JA students and JA corporate and community volunteers. Werner is looking forward to another year of delivering JA programming in DuPage County. He said JA is always looking for business professionals, new corporate business partners and community volunteers to go into the classrooms and deliver the curriculum and encourages those interested to get involved.“It’s not the just about the material we deliver,” said Werner. “The special sauce is our volunteers going to the classroom to talk about their journeys, their careers and their real world experiences.”For more on Junior Achievement of Chicago-DuPage, visit
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Paul Sinclair
Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto: Is AI the future of HR?
Posted Feb 19, 2020 1:00 AM
Even if you didn’t grow up in the 1980s, you probably know at least some of the lyrics to the Styx classic “Mr. Roboto.” For example, you may be familiar with this line: “Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto, for doing the jobs that nobody wants to.” Dennis DeYoung, the prescient Styx songwriter, was interviewed by Billboard magazine last July about the fact that the band had recently added Mr. Roboto back into its concert play list for the first time in 35 years. DeYoung said the band had begun playing the song again because fans as young as 12 years old have been requesting it during virtually every recent concert.The same summer that Styx was adding “Mr. Roboto” back to its set list, Fast Company business magazine ran a story entitled, “How to Nail an Interview with a Chatbot.” The HR lawyer in me believes these stories are related, and they are saying something important about the direction of our culture and about HR. AI may be the future of HR, but it may not be as easy as we think to get there. If that is the case, lawyers and politicians will be to blame.According to a recent survey of more than 350 HR professionals, more than 90% said they anticipated using some form of AI in their recruiting or other functions within the next five years. At the same time, a recent survey of jobseekers indicated that nearly 60% were comfortable engaging with chatbots during the hiring process. Although Styx may not have been thinking specifically about corporate HR when they sang about robots “doing the jobs that nobody wants to,” it looks like both HR professionals and jobseekers alike are getting comfortable enough to say “thank you” for the AI that is being integrated into HR processes.Large corporate HR departments are already using AI to assist with many of the administrative tasks of recruitment, such as advertising, social media marketing, setting appointments, pre-screening application materials and providing basic Q&A information. Some companies are now also experimenting with turning over applicant interviewing to AI. New HR technology offers chatbot conversations, which use natural language processing to recognize and react to keywords from candidates. Developers claim their technologies are capable of analyzing facial expressions, gestures and word choices made by applicants to evaluate qualities as complex as honesty, reliability and professionalism. Eventually, HR departments may use bots not just for the recruiting function, but perhaps also for onboarding employees, managing pay, vacations, and leaves of absence and even handling disciplinary conversations. Imagine the complexity of the algorithm that fires people!While chatbots were science fiction in 1983, AI platforms are no longer a novelty. Whether managing administrative HR functions or conducting interviews, the business case for chatbots continues to grow as successful products arrive in the marketplace. At least 40 Fortune 500 companies currently use products from companies like Ideal, Gecko, Mya and HireVue to streamline their recruitment processes, control costs and recruit what they believe to be the best workers. These platforms claim to help identify the applicants who are the “best fit” and also eliminate from consideration those applicants who are “algorithmically” a “bad fit” for the employer.
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Disrupting B2B payments in 2020
Posted Jan 22, 2020 1:00 AM
Anyone working in a small to medium sized business knows that one of the biggest pain points is managing vendor payments. As a Treasury Management professional, our team regularly visits Accounts Payable (AP) departments only to find their AP clerks overwhelmed with paper and multiple processes to manage payments. While 2019 was the year of person to person (P2P) payment growth (think Venmo, Zelle, etc.), it’s predicted that 2020 will be a year of disruption for business to business (B2B) payments. With so much digital advancement in the recent past, AP departments are now primed to take advantage of automated solutions to streamline their processes. As the demands and complexities of corporate payments become more and more sophisticated, so does the need for a streamlined payment system. However, many companies continue to rely on manual, paper-based processes that are historically vulnerable to fraud, more costly, and downright inefficient. We knew our customers needed a solution that would help them transform their AP departments and take advantage of the innovation and technology available to them. Here are a few of their needs we identified:• Simplify B2B payments in a single file upload• Automate processes and move away from paying by check • Increase visibility into cashflow by providing online tools • Mitigate fraud in a secure and streamlined solution• Modernize the AP department to align with changing technologies.It sounds like a tall order, but with the proliferation of financial technology firms—and their partnerships with community banks—these tools are now available. Companies that have made the switch are reaping the rewards. A manufacturer in the south suburbs recognized that more and more companies were moving to electronic processes. “We were ready to leave the paper processes behind and now our AP team is free to work on more strategic projects that will really help our business grow,” their CFO commented after converting to Firnails AP, an online B2B payments platform offered by Signature Bank. With a wider acceptance of virtual cards for B2B payments, many systems are now able to automate almost any type of payment, whether it’s virtual card, ghost card, ACH, or paper check. Business owners have more visibility into their payments and cashflow and have the ability to approve payments from anywhere thanks to a digital and mobile presence. As innovations like Finrails emerge, more and more top executives will see the advantages of an automated B2B payment system—not only in their AP department—but across the bottom line. This will be the year of forward-thinking CFOs and CEOs changing their old habits of paying by check and stepping into the new decade by automating B2B payments. For more information on Finrails AP, visit • Anne Doligale is Senior Vice President of Signature Bank in Rosemont


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