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American Diabetes Association announces interim CEO

BY Raven Romero

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The American Diabetes Association announced that Suzanne Berry, MBA, CAE has been named interim CEO until a permanent CEO is appointed, effective Aug. 1, 2014. Earlier this month, current CEO Larry Hausner announced that he would be stepping down from that role effective July 31.

"Ms. Berry brings a deep background in nonprofit management and operations to our organization, and we are confident that she is the ideal candidate to lead the Association during this transition period, especially now as we enter our planning phase for 2015 and beyond," said Dwight Holing, chairman of the board of the Association.

Holing said, "We are in the final stages of retaining an executive search firm, and the process of identifying a permanent CEO has begun. We will work diligently to ensure that we find and appoint the right permanent leader for the association. In the interim, we are grateful that we have a leader of Ms. Berry's caliber to oversee our ongoing operations.”

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SmartStory Technologies deploys targeted short-form video platform to educate patients

BY Michael Johnsen

SAN MATEO, Calif. — SmartStory Technologies on Tuesday announced it has deployed its SmartStory enterprise platform, which automates the delivery of short, sequenced and personalized videos in several U.S. retail pharmacies. 
 
The service was launched last month with Monrovia, Calif.-based health solutions company Stayhealthy, which operates thousands of HealthCenter kiosks in pharmacies, grocery stores and employer locations across the country to measure customers’ health indicators, such as body composition, body mass index, hydration, weight, heart rate and blood pressure. SmartStory is now using this data, with customers’ permission, from an initial group of pharmacies to deliver personalized short-form videos (i.e., three minutes or less) to explain customers’ specific health readings on their smartphones and personal computers. 
 
This is the first deployment of SmartStory Technologies’ cloud-based customer-engagement platform, which converts big data into personalized, data-driven video storytelling that helps explain consumer products and services. The company’s sequential short-form videos enable large brick-and-mortar companies, as well as e-commerce brands to automatically deliver highly contextualized expertise on any screen at the customer’s height of interest and time of need. 
 
The SmartStory platform’s analytical capabilities can draw upon multiple streams of customer information — including real-time point-of-sale, health and biometric data — to anticipate customers’ interests and proactively deliver curated videos from the company’s library of professionally produced video content. 
 
“We’re looking forward to bringing SmartStory’s high-quality videos to users of our HealthCenter kiosks,” said Stayhealthy CEO John Collins. “Our goal is to provide a convenient, intuitive way for users to monitor and participate in their own wellness, and we expect these personalized, short videos to be a valuable tool for enhancing that process.” 
 
According to Forrester Research, Americans are 75% more likely to watch video than to read print, while 85% prefer to watch an online video about a company to reading its website content. By capitalizing on these trends with data-driven content, the SmartStory solution builds customer engagement and loyalty, and educates audiences at scale. For hospital systems and retail pharmacies, the videos can improve adherence to medications, while reducing readmissions and treatment costs. 
 
“Too much of today’s healthcare and product information is complicated, appears in small print or is irrelevant to consumers’ actual needs,” said SmartStory Technologies CEO Michael Boerner. “Our ‘video arc of engagement,’ or SmartStory, helps consumers and patients make better, more informed choices by removing the noise, while providing companies a new best practice to build long-term immersive relationships. The medium has shifted from text to video, and in today’s mobile world, customers expect to be engaged with relevant, short-form video content on every screen.” 
 
 

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Survey: Majority of parents will increase back-to-school spending

BY Raven Romero

NEW YORK — According to the Accenture Back-to-School Shopping Survey, two-thirds of parents (67%) plan to spend between $100 and $500 or more for back-to-school shopping this year.

Just more than half (52%) of the parents said they will spend more on back-to-school shopping than last year, while 37% plan to spend the same, and only 11% expect to spend less. One-third (33%) of parents spending more plan to increase their spending by $250 or more.

The survey, which polled U.S. parents of children entering kindergarten through college, shows that nearly all (89%) plan to do most of their back-to-school shopping in a physical store, though many will still use online to browse and search before going to a store to make their purchase.

Among the reasons given for the spending increase, 71% cited higher prices, and 56% cited increased school requirements. Nearly 1-in-5 parents (19%) said they will spend more in order to help their children "keep up with their friends."

 The survey also shows that while parents carry the wallet, their children carry purchasing power: more than half of parents (54%) said their children influence 50% or more of the back-to-school shopping decisions.

"Retailers should start to pay more attention to the purchasing power children have nowadays, if they're not already," said Dave Richards, managing director of Accenture's Global Retail practice. "When making their school shopping decisions, parents are feeling outside pressures and will still be very focused on pricing and promotions. However, children know what they want, and a portion of the increase in spending that we're seeing can certainly stem from them making just as many decisions for back-to-school shopping as their parents do."

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