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Understanding How Immersive Mixed Reality Will Power the Metaverse


Understanding How Immersive Mixed Reality Will Power the Metaverse

The way in which businesses, enterprises, industry leaders and consumers utilize technology for everyday tasks is set to undergo one of the most drastic evolutions ever. Just a few short years ago it was nearly impossible to think any sort of technology could have a greater impact than networked computers, the Internet or even mobile computing, but now immersive mixed reality powering the Metaverse is challenging just that.

How Companies Will Leverage “Digital Twins”

Today’s IT leaders are building the Metaverse – knowledge workers and things being represented by “digital twins” – a virtual world where people, consumers, workers all gather to communicate, collaborate, and share through a virtual presence on any device. This means companies will build immersive virtual spaces, aka metaverses, and it will allow employees to virtually collaborate using their digital twin through chats, emails, video calls and even face-to-face meetings.

Well-known companies like Microsoft, Accenture, and Facebook, which itself is now called Meta, are all paving the way toward this new reality of business, but there are companies working behind the scenes building immersive reality, modeling and simulation technologies that will ultimately power this new Metaverse.

What Companies Can Do with the Metaverse

Microsoft in particular believes individuals will engage with one another in an immersive experience once they can co-exist in a virtual setting where they exist as avatars, perhaps even one day as holograms. The company expects people to access virtual settings from its Mesh for Teams application through mixed-reality headsets like HoloLens, as well as everyday smartphones and laptops.

In one of the earlier enterprise-level buildouts, Accenture has been developing a “virtual campus” where its employees meet for coffee, parties, presentations and other virtual events. The company also leverages this virtual meeting space when onboarding new employees so they can build their virtual twins.

Modeling is at the center of powering the Metaverse

In this virtual Metaverse, digital twins based on modeling and simulation play a leading role. Simulation allows companies to take copies of the digital twin, run simulations on it and then identify optimizations that are too complex to find by monitoring the physical environment alone.

The power of simulation will be an exact game-changer for enterprises and businesses throughout the Metaverse in a variety of industries, such as optimizing production planning in the automotive sector, accelerating design in the aerospace industry, improving overall production efficiency for manufacturers, and increasing accuracy for consumer packaged goods companies, many companies are poised to leverage virtual simulation to make better business decisions and generate the greatest return on investment.

Optimum immersive reality systems are needed to support ultra-realistic, high-fidelity digital twin visuals during the modeling and simulation process; precise fusion of the virtual on real world in a multi-platform environment and the ability to demonstrate a variety of realistic environments.

Metaverse is a new kind of application which is enabled by tight integration between real and virtual worlds. Metaverse is enabled by multitude of new technologies broadly in five groups as shown below:

1. Communications and computing infrastructure:  Metaverse will need to perform large scale compute-heavy tasks, and access large databases to merge the real and virtual world.

2. Management Technology: Metaverse will need a lot of resources like energy, compute etc. This layer manages and allocates most optimum resources to run Metaverse.

3. Fundamental common technology: AI, Spatio-Temporal consistency are fundamental common technology for Metaverse.

4. Virtual Reality object connection: Metaverse will create 1:1 connection between real and virtual world objects and technologies like blockchain, and identity modeling will enable that.

5. Virtual Reality Space Convergence: Metaverse will fundamentally need a new medium to interact. AR/VR/MR, BCI, Gaming technologies will enable this.   

Immersive reality solution providers offer the following foundational technologies to run industrial enterprise Metaverse:

1: Virtual Reality Space convergence:

a: AR/VR:

Ultra-low Latency High Fidelity Rendering: Low latency is extremely critical to provide an immersive experience in Metaverse. AR/VR partners provide unparalleled realism of environments by leveraging ultra-low latency remote rendering on cloud/on premise in full fidelity and wirelessly streaming the solution to affordable commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) devices – HMD, Tablet and Desktop.

High Precision 3D Artificial Intelligence (AI) based Spatial Mapping: Uses high-fidelity remote spatial mapping with high fidelity 3D scene reconstruction, scene segmentation and 3D object recognition using 3D vision and deep learning-based AI with precise fusion of the real and virtual worlds to merge real world and virtual worlds.

Game engine: Consumer game engines have limitations that they can only handle a Metaverse that can fit in a single server. The metaverse will be ever growing as more digital twins are created to simulate real objects in the virtual world. The right AR/VR partners have created a data-centric simulation engine which scales for any complexity of metaverse.

2: Communications and computing infrastructure:

a: Cloud computing/edge computing: Industrial enterprises will always subscribe to multi-cloud, edge cloud. Depending on different factors like data sensitivity, latency, cost, different parts of the Metaverse need to be run at different clouds/edge in a distributed manner. AR/VR partners automate running the Metaverse for industrial enterprise.

b: Messaging framework: In the distributed Metaverse there is a need to update the Metaverse at global scale so users can collaborate seamlessly. AR/VR partners have messaging framework updates distributed to the Metaverse at global scale.

Fundamental common technology:

Security and privacy: Security and privacy is one of the biggest issues facing today’s world. Since Metaverse has the digital twin as an integral part, the Metaverse will have much richer data. The security and privacy in Metaverse cannot be solved by traditional security tools. AR/VR partners have built tools that handle security and privacy related to digital twins.

The Metaverse is going to be important for all businesses, enterprises and consumers. Today, people and employees can only experience the internet when they log online on their computer or mobile device, but with new connectivity, devices and technologies powered by immersive mixed, we’ll be able to experience the internet all around every single day.


About The Author: Dijam Panigrahi is Co-founder and COO of GridRaster Inc., a leading provider of cloud-based AR/VR platforms that power compelling high-quality AR/VR experiences on mobile devices for enterprises. For more information, please visit


BIS Delays Implementation of New Cybersecurity Items Interim Final Rule

In an October 21, 2021 interim final rule (“IFR”), the Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”) published long-awaited “cybersecurity items” controls in Categories 4 (Computers) and 5, Pt. 1 (Telecommunications) of the Commerce Control List (“CCL”) and followed the IFR up on November 12, 2021 with relevant FAQs. The IFR will impose new export controls on certain “cybersecurity items” that relate to “intrusion software” or “IP network communications surveillance.” The IFR, originally scheduled to become effective on January 19, 2022, will now become effective on March 7, 2022. In the January 12, 2022 notice announcing the delay, BIS stated it “may consider some modifications for the final rule” and indicated it would “provide the public with additional guidance.” Below we describe the IFR as it currently stands. We will update readers when BIS implements any additional edits to the IFR and/or updates its guidance.

The IFR establishes two (2) new export control classification numbers (“ECCNs”) and expands the control text of several additional ECCNs within the CCL. The IFR collectively defines the items falling under these CCL modifications as the “cybersecurity items.” Each “cybersecurity item” covered in the IFR will be destination-controlled for National Security (“NS”) and Anti-Terrorism (“AT”) reasons. The modifications fall under two (2) broad topics:  (i) expanded control text in Category 4 for hardware, software, and technology providing the infrastructure for managing “intrusion software”; and (ii) expanded control text in Category 5, Pt. 1 related to “IP network communications surveillance” items. The IFR also includes notes which clarify that, in the event any commodities or software which qualify as “cybersecurity items” also incorporate “information security” functionality described in any Category 5, Pt. 2 ECCNs (which will often involve encryption or cryptanalysis), then those Category 5, Pt. 2 ECCN classifications will prevail. However, those notes do not cover technology (which has a special definition under the EAR). The notes also specifically state that elements of source code implementing functionality not controlled by Category 5, Pt. 2 may still be subject to the “cybersecurity item” controls implemented by the IFR.  “Cybersecurity items” controlled for Surreptitious Listening (“SL”) reasons under pre-existing ECCNs will also remain under those ECCNs.

The new “intrusion software”-related parameters will control hardware and software specially designed or modified for the generation, command and control, or delivery of “intrusion software,” as well as technology for the “development” or “production” of that hardware or software. The EAR’s pre-existing definition of “intrusion software,” will remain. It is primarily designed to describe exploits or payloads that do not involve encryption but that are nonetheless specially designed or modified to avoid detection by ‘monitoring tools’ or to defeat ‘protective countermeasures’ for the purpose of extracting data or modifying a standard software program execution to allow the execution of externally provided instructions. Importantly, the IFR does not impose export controls on the “intrusion software” itself. “Intrusion software,” when designed for military offensive cyberspace operations, would more appropriately be considered for classification purposes under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (“ITAR”) as clarified by BIS FAQ #5.

The new “IP network communications surveillance” parameters will control telecommunications equipment capable of servicing a carrier class Internet Protocol (“IP”) network, performing application layer analysis, indexing extracted data, and being “specially designed” to execute searches based on “hard selectors” (i.e., personal data) and mapping relational networks of individuals or groups of people (hereafter referred to in this post as the “Telecommunications Surveillance Equipment”). The new and expanded control text will also control the software equivalents of the Telecommunications Surveillance Equipment as well as the test equipment, software, and technology specially designed or modified for the “development,” “production,” or “use” of the Telecommunications Surveillance Equipment.

The IFR also creates a new License Exception Authorized Cybersecurity Exports (“License Exception ACE”). Although LE ACE is similar to the EAR’s existing License Exception Encryption Commodities, Software, and Technology (“License Exception ENC”), there are some key differences between License Exceptions ACE and ENC. Exporters hoping to use the new License Exception ACE’s authorizations will need to consider the full range of U.S. export controls represented in its terms and conditions:  destination, end-user, and end-use. For instance, License Exception ACE lays out a multi-layered approach where the nature of the end-user (e.g., “U.S. subsidiary,” “non-government end user,” “government end user,” and/or “favorable treatment cybersecurity end user”) must be considered alongside the destination and any knowledge or “reason to know” of an illegitimate end-use (which, without citing the EAR definition, is what is commonly understood as black hat and/or state-sponsored “hacking”).  “Deemed” exports to Country Group D foreign nationals of any Country Group D destination are presumptively not authorized under LE ACE.  However, when an exporter can determine the end-user of the export or “deemed” export is a “non-government end user,” then License Exception ACE will provide authorization to certain Country Group D destinations for (i) exports to “favorable treatment cybersecurity end users”; (ii) exports for “vulnerability disclosure” or “cyber incident response”; and (iii) “deemed” exports to foreign nationals.

A final note on License Exception ACE, especially for those proficient in License Exception ENC, is that License Exception ACE’s definition of “government end user” is far broader than the parallel definition in License Exception ENC.

Some heightened areas of risk under the IFR will include exports and reexports to non-U.S. subsidiaries in Country Group D countries and proper due diligence to meet BIS’ “reason to know” standard for end-use restrictions in License Exception ACE.


Tony Busch is an attorney in Husch Blackwell LLP’s Washington, D.C. office and is a member of the firm’s International Trade & Supply Chain practice team.

Cortney O’Toole Morgan is a Washington D.C.-based partner with the law firm Husch Blackwell LLP. She leads the firm’s International Trade & Supply Chain group.

Grant Leach is an Omaha-based partner with the law firm Husch Blackwell LLP focusing on international trade, export controls, trade sanctions and anti-corruption compliance.


How an Algorithm is Blended in Logistics Industry

Long before the current pandemic ever existed, the nature of global business environments had already drastically changed. Many traditional business methods had been replaced with online platforms, which were more cost-effective, flexible, and efficient.

The many advancements and changes from conducting real time-digital business transactions and more regional and global e-commerce businesses led to a higher demand for logistics services. The traditional logistics offline business model will need a transformation into real time-online business transactions in order to catch up with a global digital business model. Most logistics companies (Transporters) work independently to employ their own sales, operations, finance, and marketing staff. As a result, companies are unproductive, disconcerted, have difficulties adapting to the current trends, and fail to find better business opportunities.

During my time serving the industry, I found my work schedule inefficient, with so much time being wasted waiting for price quotations from other agents or waiting for reports to issue invoice billing. The bottleneck in the logistics industry has always been the “long wait time,” which is one of the most expensive operation costs being added to shippers. For example, when our sales department receives a new work order, they need to prepare detailed instructions, reviewed and initialed by supervisor. The operation needs to wait for order instruction before operation work can be started.

Accounting is also facing the same waiting time before being able to issue the final invoice. Although the operation is finished, paperwork is still with the operation’s personnel who is only able to return documents by day’s end or tomorrow morning.

The logistics industry needs to implement a technology platform with centralized functions of operation infrastructures, financial, sales-marketing, administration. Technology with its algorithm is able to analyze business information and auto deliver information directly to other nearby companies, allowing greater flexibility and better decision making. With a self-configured algorithm, each company is able to receive collaboration and cooperation notifications of “sales opportunity or sharing space availability”, which each company can share with their consumers.

With a technology algorithm, digital logistics information is integrated, communicated, and distributed to the shipper without delay. The slow process of waiting for documents or waiting on instruction before work can be started will no longer exist. Shippers and logistics companies (Transporter) can easily review, evaluate and make a selection in real-time. Detailed digitized service requirements of schedules, location pickup and delivery, pricing structures, and other charges are automatically displayed in real-time before the shipper makes final confirmation. This will provide a new business solution that provides logistics service transparency and trust to all logistics users.

The question is, what will it take for the logistics industry to transform its offline business method into a real-time technology platform? There are complicated logistics variables that should be carefully managed properly by a developer, such as customs, financial and transportation where local regulation is varied from one country to the other. I am optimistic there will be a company that has deep knowledge in logistics and technology infrastructures able to design, develop and deliver a fresh solution to this giant industry, where each marketing-sales-operation-customer service, finance, and administration information are delivered to Shipper and Transporter without delay.

Our world is beginning to work more favorably toward a modern digital lifestyle which is simpler and more efficient than our grandfather’s times.


The 5 Common Mistakes of Online Print E-Commerce Solutions

It’s not an understatement to say that Web-To-Print solutions are a raging business to invest in. Why? Well, digitization is the latest trend, one which is going to stay for a long time. As per research, the Web-To-Print industry is expected to grow at a rate of 5.1% and will earn a revenue of $30.5 billion by 2023. Anyone investing in this field is likely to capture huge customer markets and in turn, earn high revenue.

With the entire world going digital, printers should also invest in software that offers quick-time solutions. All, including B2B and B2C customers, want a rapid-paced solution with a custom product design feature. The tedious process of going physically to a designer, sharing a concept, waiting for the design, ask for edits and then get a final draft, is outdated now.

A W2P solution helps to minimize the operational cost and production time by offering online product design, which is ready to print. As per statistics, 58% of the printing businesses that chose Web to print solutions, felt an increase in sales and 55% reported a sharp rise in profits. Therefore, owning an online print store is certainly a great bet for entrepreneurs who want to launch into a feasible and profitable money-making business.

After pondering on the positive aspects of the venture, there are certain pitfalls that must be considered before taking a plunge into buying a design tool for a printing business.

Five Mistakes to Avoid While Choosing a Web-To-Print Solution:


1. Lack of research, homework and strategic planning

New bees need to do a reality check before venturing into a business that demands the purchase of a design tool for a printing business. Just like any other business, there are chances that this one may not work out for them. As per Forbes, 90% of the Startups fail (including W2P companies) due to lack of research, inability to gauge the target audience, poor marketing and many other reasons.

While 21.5% fail in the maiden year, 34% lose their grip in the second year, 50% suffer in the fifth year of commencing the business and 70% lose the game by the tenth year. Therefore, it is important to pool in experts who perform risk-benefit analysis before the actual investment.

The next step is to check the resources, brainstorm the process, build a marketing strategy and then only venture. This will be an ideal way to set up an online print store that will see the sunlight in the long run. So, the first thing is not to rush in the purchase of print store software.

2. Investing in the wrong software

After all the research and zeroing down on the idea of investing in a Web2Print eCommerce storefront, entrepreneurs need to search for the best technical machinery for it. As technology is changing in a blink miss and new concepts are coming up every day, they need to figure out which kind of W2P software works best for their company.

It is not advisable to invest in or subscribe to outdated software. In fact, it is recommended to enroll in the latest version of the software or add plugins that keep their Web-to-Print website up-to-date.

This may seem to be a tiny pointer but is certainly worth an incisive thought as outdated technology will demand more maintenance and rework in the future. To avoid such downsides, one must choose an eCommerce print shop that offers futuristic functionality, quick online product design modules, and a completely user-friendly interface.

3. Design over function

Know the purpose before creating a design!

It is said in the digital world that ‘form follows the function’. This means the purpose of creating a certain design or template should be very clear. Technocrats must gauge their target audience, assess the reason for choosing a particular Web-To-Print software solution and hunt for their probable market. This will aid in choosing the best print store software. When purchased with such clarity, the website offers custom product design, which pleases customers and eventually ends up in increased sales.

Suppose a print store owner wants to build a company that sells trendy T-shirts with unique prints. In this case, the first thing to figure out is the target audience – whether it is kids, youth or women of different age groups. Followed by this, the team needs to brainstorm the colors, the message, the design, and the fabric. Once the audience is known, it is easy to create a custom product design, which matches the demand of the audience.

Basically, when the function or purpose is known, the design part will flow effortlessly. Therefore, it is important to prioritize the evaluation of the function (purpose) and not jump on the creative aspect or the design element of the business.

4. Slow load times are the shortest way of losing customers

A business can fail even after knowing the heart of the target audience. Reason? Low-performing technology is the prime reason for the failure of a W2P website. The biggest reason for customers to choose an eCommerce print shop is to reduce the time for publishing the material.

Suppose, customers need to print brochures for marketing a certain feature of the company. They can easily do so by simply customizing the existing template and printing as many copies of the brochure as they want.

In this case, if the template takes time to show up or custom product design UI takes time to load then it can be very disappointing. Hence, it is important to choose a quick loading software solution that performs customization in a jiffy, designs products online, and gives ready-to-print material in the shortest possible time. In a nutshell, it’s important to minimize downtime to maximize the business!

5. Poor checkout process – Another sure shot way of losing customers!

According to a report by SaleCycle, around 57.60% to 84.27% of customers withdraw from an eCommerce store during checkout, irrespective of the industry. Businesses can lose a big portion of the customers by keeping a tedious checkout process. In terms of revenue, it turns out to be a whopping amount of $18 billion, which eCommerce brands lose due to cart abandonment.

Simplifying the checkout process will give significant results. Nowadays, people want to make purchases within few steps so, focus on offering a hassle-free checkout process. Make it multi-lingual to give added comfort to customers spread across the globe.

Apart from a simple three-step checkout process, the payment part should not ask for too much information. It can annoy the customer and he/she may walk out of the cart. Reports suggest that 12% of people drop out as the site demands a lot of unnecessary information. Nearly 11% of people abandon the checkout process if the website is too slow to load.

eCommerce experts suggest that around 7% of customers are lost due to the unavailability of payment options. Apart from a secure payment gateway, it’s important to offer multiple options for plastic money so that customers can pay as per their convenience. This way, by applying checkout optimization strategies, storefront owners can curtail the chances of losing customers during checkout and even increase the conversion rate by 35.26%.

To sum up, these are some of the reasons why businesspersons miss the mark in choosing a Web-To-Print solution. Anyone planning to launch an eCommerce print shop needs to consider the above aspects to succeed in the venture. By choosing the right technology partner, entrepreneurs can cut down the operational cost, minimize risk and maximize profits!

digital transformation

The Digital Highway: How to further your company’s digital transformation through a shared digital space

As 2020 forced companies to move their employees largely from shared offices to individual home offices, the exchange of digital information became even more vital and the process of digital transformation was accelerated. Without the ability to physically interact with a printed document in a group setting, collaboration has moved to a virtual space and the digital exchange of documents, whether that be via email, remote conferencing solutions, or shared cloud solutions, is more common than ever.

When thinking about a company’s shared digital space, consider it a digital highway, with documents and information zipping around between users and being shared across two opposing directions. This framework encourages enterprising companies to think of this shift to the digital exchange of information in terms of an on-ramp and off-ramp and then determine how they are best enabling employees to get important information on and off that digital highway.

Determining employee needs

Before deciding on how to implement the digital transformation for your organization, consider how information is being shared currently. Does your sales team print out each contract for a signature and then save the hard copy? What about HR paperwork? If you have transitioned to an online onboarding solution, hard copies of W-2s might not be printed in your office anymore. Determining how your organization is currently sharing information and the pain points of that sharing will help define the best way to digitize moving forward.

Getting on the digital highway – from paper to digital

How does information get on the digital highway within an organization? While some documents are created digitally and stay digital throughout their lifecycle, others exist in the physical world on paper, such as signed documents, written notes, reports, contracts, and forms. Scanning those documents from paper to digital is the on-ramp onto the digital highway. When users can’t walk over to their colleague’s cubicle to share the document, file it away in a file cabinet, or drop the file into interoffice mail, the file must be digitized.

Digitizing physical paper makes archiving documents much more efficient, eliminating excess paper files and the need for filing cabinets or storage. For example, a doctor has endless files on all their patients and needs to be able to quickly access those files at any given moment. Having these files digitized makes it possible to find a patient’s file at the click of a button, instead of thumbing through a physical file cabinet to find a paper version. Furthermore, the doctor can also edit this file digitally, adding notes after a patient’s visit or updating their list of medications.

Getting off the digital highway – from digital to paper

Conversely, sometimes information needs to get off the digital highway. Taking an existing document that exists only digitally and making a real-world copy is an often-cited requirement for many industries. Some contracts still require a “wet signature.” Some documents can only be productively reviewed if printed. Some customers and clients may expect or even need physical delivery of paperwork. And even if it’s not a requirement, certainly hardcopy it is a preference for some. Moreover, looking at screens is a drain on the eyes and mind, while interacting with paper can be more productive in many cases.

Printed documents are still very much a part of business transactions today, and many industries still require physical copies for their records or legal reasons. Take the real estate business, for example, which utilizes both digital and physical documents. As a buyer goes through the steps of closing on their new home, they may sign paperwork digitally via applications like DocuSign. This digital paperwork allows the process to keep moving regardless of where the homeowners live in relation to the seller or real estate agent, but upon closing on the home, homeowners receive a physical copy of these documents, an important step in archiving and solidifying the process. The homeowner can then maintain a complete file with copies of all the paperwork that was signed during the transaction with the seller. Homeowners are encouraged to keep a physical copy of this paperwork for several years even after they sell this home so they can easily reference or review it, or use it in the event that they need to file a legal claim.

Choosing the right solutions

Technological advances, such as mobile print and scan apps, connect the digital and physical worlds within a company’s technological ecosystem from an easily accessible device like a cell phone. Companies that take full advantage of technology such as this can enable their employees a simple interchange between the digital and the physical worlds from a device in which every employee is already armed with. Those that started using these technologies prior to the pandemic were poised for a better transition and will continue to be in today’s changing work environments, compared to those that have focused solely on digital or solely on physical information exchange.

There are substantial benefits to both employees and employers in connecting the digital and physical worlds. For one, solutions that connect these two worlds streamline workflow in any industry, increasing the efficiency and productivity of employees. They further an organization’s digital transformation while ensuring simple solutions for employees that don’t require extensive IT knowledge. They also create business resiliency by maintaining some normalcy for employees who have different job functions and require different equipment. Increasingly we are seeing companies investing more in at-home set-ups and in the future, printing and scanning solutions could be part of that setup. And the companies that give more time and energy to their digital transformations will best be set up for the changing future of our workplaces and work environments.


Rising Trends for Companies Looking at Digital Avenues for Business

Business in the COVID Pandemic – Companies and Individuals Turning To Digital Avenues

The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the entire framework of worldwide economic and social structures. People and businesses must work out solutions for surviving in an environment where staying at home has become critical for safety and health. Technology and digital avenues are now a practical way to serve customers, manage operations, and earn profits. Working online has become a viable option for businesses and professionals alike, regardless of their size. Here’s a closer look at the survival strategies adopted during the pandemic.

How the Corporate Culture Is Adapting

Companies in different sectors and worldwide locations have adapted by focusing on the accelerated digitization of their operations by at least three to four years. In all internal and external processes ranging from organizing supply chains of raw materials to production and supplying to customers – wherever possible, larger investments are being made in automation and contactless performance.

The Stress Is More on Digitally-Enabled Products

Adapting their portfolio and offering a more comprehensive range of digital and digitally-enabled products and services to maintain their client base is another survival strategy companies have adopted. Statistics indicate an acceleration of around seven years in how products are researched, developed, and produced. Offering online and doorstep delivery is also a practical option to encourage sales and stay competitive.

Several sectors like financial services, professional services, healthcare, and pharmaceuticals report an exponential hike in demand compared to consumer packaged goods (CPG). Some excellent examples include developing channel manager apps, digital marketing and SEO services, online coursework, and educational products.

Overcoming Resistance To Change Has Become Critical for Survival

Issues with altering the existing organizational structure and integrating technology have impeded efforts to make changes before the pandemic. The reasons cited included the possibility of clients being disinterested in digitization and the higher risk of data breaches and identity theft. However, top executives not prioritizing the transition or being unwilling to allocate the necessary funding have been the primary reasons.

The pandemic has created an environment where companies must adapt or fail. Implementing the necessary changes becomes critical considering that competitors are opening up to newer and more streamlined operational techniques. It comes down to adapting or going out of business. Catering to customer demand with stress on offerings that comply with the new health and hygiene requirements has necessitated the adoption of digital avenues for conducting business.

Companies Are Offering WFH Options

Companies are now open to raising the costs of hiring trained personnel to run operations and purchasing advanced equipment to serve customers. That includes software and hardware complete with cutting-edge solutions to prevent data breaches and provide secure platforms for conducting transactions and sales. Cutting back on in-office teams and providing work-from-home options seems to be the new normal.

Organizations and the people working in them have recognized the positives of remote working options before the pandemic. From the business perspective, operational costs and overheads are lower while productivity levels are higher. Since the COVID-19 lockdowns, employees are being encouraged to work from home. Some are also provided with the necessary equipment, such as laptops and secure Wi-Fi connections to safeguard intellectual property and company data. Video conferencing and document sharing apps allow teams to coordinate efforts and keep up with their deliverables.

Hiring Remote Teams Is an Economical Work Process

Hiring the services of online freelance contractors to keep the company operational is also the way to go. Several aspects can function with the assistance of a remote notary, accountant, SEO, digital advertising and marketing specialist, bookkeeping, attorney, data analyst, and various others. In the past, executives would take up to 12 months or more to develop and implement remote working solutions, but this timeline has been cut down to as low as a couple of weeks during the pandemic.

Digitization Has Opened New Employment Opportunities.

The demand for digital services and professionals providing those services has led to more people turning to the industry to find jobs. The COVID pandemic has resulted in the loss of an estimated 114 million jobs, with close to $3.7 trillion lost in labor income. Although people are returning to work in 2021, the International Labour Organization predicts that global working hours are unlikely to return to their pre-pandemic numbers.

The workforce must look for other avenues to earn a livelihood, considering that close to 97,966 companies have closed down permanently in the US alone. Digital marketing has emerged as an industry that has the potential to absorb a large section of the newly available talent. As long as they have a computer and a fast and reliable internet connection, any person can train and start working in this sector. Not only are there lots of accredited courses available for professionals wishing to work in the digital sphere, but there are also several websites and social media platforms offering access to jobs and employment.

The New Normal and Digitization Is Here to Stay

The COVID-19 pandemic is permanently altering how companies, consumers, and employees live and work. Experts predict that even after the crises have passed, the reliance on digital avenues for conducting business and working will continue. The protocols and behavior adopted during the pandemic are likely to last, and organizations must evolve to function according to customer demand. Employing digital channels has become indispensable in providing a holistic customer experience and remaining competitive in their respective industries. Organizations may also have to overhaul their long-term visions for business strategies and objectives to accommodate digital integration.

Over time, as digital solutions advance and innovations emerge, companies may have to employ them to deliver more customer-centric products and services. Adopting suitable approaches while experimenting with new technology is critical for survival. From the individual professional’s perspective, digital avenues could prove to be a viable source of primary income or even a side hustle to make some extra money to supplement their earnings.


Emerging Industries that will Shape the Future of the Economy

One of the very few silver linings emerging from the coronavirus pandemic affected the job market is, several new job opportunities becoming available to people that are bringing unique qualifications to the market. The expert data analysts working at LinkedIn explored numerous job listings to find out that there is an increased demand for qualified specialists in diverse fields. They saw the exponential growth potential for these industries.

1. Personal protective equipment (PPE)

PPE or personal protective equipment is one of the more talked about industries during the COVID-19 pandemic. Demand for PPE has been off the charts and several countries relied on the import of the equipment from other nations such as China. These countries are facing an acute shortage of this critical equipment. In the wake of the devastating damage as a result of COVID-19, there is a sharp call for different hospitals to maintain stockpiles of the PPE in case there is another break out of the crisis in the future. Almost all PPE has an expiry date and therefore a constant supply of this equipment is needed to maintain reserves. This also means that manufacturers are going to be working on the demand continuously. There will be a demand for conventional masks as well as high-tech equipment and as a result, this industry is set to boom in the upcoming years.

2. Virtual meeting platforms

Virtual meetings have been successful in bringing a sense of normalcy to work from home lives. One company is at the forefront of this sector and that is Zoom. Zoom boomed at the time of this crisis and its stock prices surged by more than 100% within a couple of months. Google decided to make the premium features of Google Hangouts free till September. Microsoft found out that the number of daily users of its software Teams jumped by more than 30% in March alone. As many organizations are forced to adapt to work from home scenarios there are greater chances of more remote work in the future. It is expected that a quarter of the US workforce will be working from home by the end of 2021.

3. Cannabis

The cannabis industry is all set to expand onto many newer markets in 2021. This might be the right opportunity to start a new business in this space. It is easy to envisage the cannabis industry as something that requires growing the plant, refining the products, and dispensaries that sell these products. Although these elements are at the base of a huge cannabis supply chain, keep in mind that the cannabis industry is far more complex and there are many other areas involved in the business. Two broad categories classify the industry plant-touching businesses and ancillary businesses. However, there are several challenges involved in cannabis real estate development such as:

-Development of proper partnerships.

-Constantly changing rules and regulations.

-Banking, finance, and insurance challenges.

-Marketing and advertising regulations.


4. Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity was always a big business, however; a rising dependency on various digital assets such as virtual meeting platforms has meant that the company data is more susceptible than ever to hacking. The advent of COVID-19 has proved to be one of the major threats to cybersecurity as scammers around the world are taking advantage of all the uncertainty surrounding the disease. Spam email campaigns have become commonplace. For many companies, this transition of moving their services online was rushed and as a result, all the necessary steps regarding customer security are not getting followed. But there is an increasing trend to spend more on the requisite online security measures.


The COVID-19 pandemic saw the whole wide world come to a standstill. As a result of this situation, several businesses are struggling quite a bit to stay alive as the crisis rolls over. But despite this onslaught from the pandemic several industries saw their profits grow and this trend is likely to continue even post-pandemic. Other struggling industries will also begin to flourish now as the pandemic crisis comes to a close. The industries mentioned above are only some of the sectors that will grow exponentially after the pandemic. Many other sectors will thrive in the aftermath of the pandemic.

digital procurement

Is Digital Procurement Needed for Businesses to Stay Competitive?

Digital procurement is yet another avenue in which logistics businesses are moving forward, and those that have elected not to make the upgrade may find themselves left behind. When a business makes the transition to complete digital procurement, they make available a wide variety of advantages.

At its core, digital procurement automates repetitive tasks, boosts efficiency, and lowers costs. In addition to that, it produces a wealth of useful data, with real-time insights and analytics that are intuitive for users to access and make use of, and makes day-to-day operations and decision-making more informed thanks to accurate and informative data models.

Digital procurement leverages pricing, matching, and ranking algorithms across vast amounts of capacity data to efficiently distribute load opportunities to carriers. On top of that, it is extremely fast and utilizes data to more efficiently connect carriers with available freight.

Understanding traditional procurement

Procurement as a concept can be difficult to fully explain and understand. While an essential process for any business, it can often be confused with purchasing or sourcing, which while similar, are separate functions. Of the three, procurement has the broadest application and responsibility.

While purchasing is a direct process of exchanging goods for money, procurement- particularly when made digital- has the ability to serve as a platform for collaboration between buyers, suppliers, and third parties. The common wisdom at this point is not if a business should go digital in their procurement processes, but when they will need to in order to stay competitive.

Traditional procurement ultimately involves manually matching available truck capacity (usually identified through phone calls) to available freight. The process is manual for both the carrier and the brokerage rep, time-consuming, and draws on a more limited pool of carriers.

Benefits of digital procurement

As with many digital upgrades, once users have had access to the smoother experiences associated with upgraded technology, they embrace it. Digital procurement allows bots to automate and streamline processes that are routine and time-consuming.

With an interface that allows buying agents and advisors to make optimal purchasing choices, businesses receive peak value on the backend.  The myriad benefits associated with adding digital procurement to your business strategy include greater job ease and satisfaction for procurement officers, automation of tedious tasks that free up employees for better efficiency, and significant return on investment.

Adding digital procurement may be expensive upfront, but once successfully integrated, utilization creates a significant reduction in costs and an increase in profits. For businesses weathering the tumultuous markets of a post-COVID world, any opportunity for cost reduction and increased profitability is a no-brainer.

Facing the challenges

When considering what challenges businesses in this currently rapidly fluctuating market face, better forecasting models and visibility are key components in the decision-making that will allow them to remain competitive. Digital procurement has a role to play here. Digital procurement includes visibility features that give procurement officers and business owners actionable insights into their processes.

The supply chain is extremely stressed right now from high demand in the market. As a result, routing guides are failing for shippers, and price inflation from going to the spot market is eating into shippers’ budgets. Additional work and stress are being placed on transportation managers to navigate failing routing guides and insulate themselves from expensive transactional capacity.

A tech-forward approach helps solve these problems for shippers by delivering real-time rate insights and capacity. Shippers can quickly and confidently source capacity on any overflow freight in their network.

With detailed information more readily accessible and easy to understand, they are now better equipped with the tools they need to forecast potential demand paths and create action plans that will be most profitable and beneficial to the business overall. Armed with increased data and automation, businesses will find themselves much more agile and flexible in response to changing markets.

In addition, a completely digital system can be more easily updated and changes across platforms more rapidly implemented without the need to wade through a variety of piles of old-school record-keeping. Distributing information across the business becomes a simple process.

A more streamlined system

Finally, digital procurement allows for the streamlining of processes. A buzzword constantly heard in the ever-upgrading world of business processes, a streamlined system is by its very nature more efficient and less expensive. Faster results, smoother transitions and transfers of information, less time spent on tedium and repetitive processes, as well as AI accuracy that prevents costly errors prior to their occurrence. All of these aspects mean digital procurement saves time and money by streamlining.

Shippers can streamline their transportation planning process and achieve high levels of productivity with a more connected supply chain strategy. In addition, higher levels of rate control can be managed once rates are delivered into the TMS they are using instead of getting lost in emails and spreadsheets.

Recognizing the value of a digital transition as early as possible will keep your business in line with the curve, rather than behind it. While there may be some adoption reluctance, analog methods could leave your business in the dust if your competition has already taken the digital leap forward into the future.


Michael Johnson is the Executive Vice President of Strategy at Redwood Logistics. Redwood, a leading logistics platform company headquartered in Chicago, has provided solutions for moving and managing freight for more than 18 years. The company’s diverse portfolio includes digital freight brokerage, flexible freight management, and innovative platform services that simplify integrating disparate supply chain technology. Redwood Logistics connects its distinct roster of customers to the power of supply chain management, technology, and the industry’s brightest minds. For more information, please visit


Why Paper is Limiting the Supply Chain Industry

Through time, means of communication have evolved to meet the needs of those sending and receiving information. Hieroglyphics paved the way for the creation of the alphabet and pigeon carriers preceded the postal service. Paper has done the same for the current digital landscape, however, unlike the means before it, paper has a tendency to linger.

Although it has long been considered the tried and true form of communication, paper is now limiting the supply chain. Shippers, carriers, and retailers experience trials in the industry brought on by limited visibility, truck drivers face inefficiencies and health and safety concerns, and warehouse space is overcome by boxes of files, left to sit for years to come. As industries experience digital transformation, the supply chain must evolve too.


The bill of lading originated during a time when the ability to track a mode of transportation was virtually non-existent. As crates were loaded onto ships and the back of horse-drawn buggies, suppliers simply relied on the ship’s ability to stay afloat and a coachman to stay on path. Today, however, advances in technology trump the need for reliance, as delivery services like Amazon Prime and GrubHub allow consumers to track their items, down to the very street their package or meal is at any given time.

The same should hold true for trucks carrying goods. Yet, the supply chain industry continues to rely on physical bills of lading to transmit important information, creating communication delays and preventing essential information from being shared among shippers, carriers and retailers. By ditching paper and implementing supply chain automation, the anticipation of expecting a load or receiving an approved bill of lading in return is alleviated, allowing shippers, carriers and retailers to utilize time often spent tracking down drivers to make real-time decisions based on evolving developments in the field, including necessary changes to routes, timely responses to customer complaints and detailed planning based on data that paper simply doesn’t provide.

Subsequently, the industry’s reliance on paper costs companies upwards of $3 billion per year in detention fees. Shippers, carriers and retailers rely on drivers to report time spent in detention, oftentimes resulting in best guesses and inaccurate accounts. While companies and drivers don’t conspire to commit detention fraud, inaccurate detention timing is inevitable. Through a more digitized, advanced supply chain automation system, mistakes can and should be removed from the process, allowing companies to reallocate budgets and save billions of dollars every year.


In the same notion, if time is truly money, there is no better instance of shippers, carriers and retailers losing money than through the unnecessary time drivers spend getting in and out of their cabs to deliver physical BOLs. An industry-wide implementation of a supply chain automation platform would allow drivers to remain in their cabs, all while delivering and receiving important information. By providing digital capabilities in sharing this information, drivers can be more efficient in finalizing deliveries, putting them back on the open road sooner and making more money for themselves and the trucking companies.

Health & Safety

Now, more than ever, the ability to remain in-cab while continuing to transmit information during a pick-up or delivery is important, as drivers come face-to-face with multiple people per stop. Not only is the safety of the driver a priority, not having enough staff to man the guard shack, run administrative tasks or load and unload delays deliveries and prevents shippers, carriers and retailers from delivering, carrying and receiving products in a timely manner is a priority as well. While attributed to the manner in which the supply chain has always operated, paper now adds an extra layer of risk to the industry. Enforcing supply chain automation platforms throughout and implementing the use of electronic BOLs eliminates the need for direct contact, protecting and providing reassurance to all parties involved, while ensuring deliveries are executed safely and the health of employees is of the utmost importance.


An issue not specific to the supply chain industry, but certainly one to identify, is the dilemma of what to do with all of the physical bills of lading once copies are delivered and processing is complete. With thousands of deliveries occurring each and every day, the paper has to go somewhere, often resulting in a warehouse full of stacked boxes. Not only does this create clutter and take up unnecessary space, but it also leaves supply chains scrambling to find information when they need it most. The power of supply chain automation allows companies to store paperwork, including BOLs, digitally, saving space and positively impacting the environment.

Although the supply chain struggles to adopt an industry-wide supply chain automation platform, steps can be taken by individual companies to ease the current outdated process shippers, carriers and retailers face. Implementing electronic BOLs, driver workflow and mobile capture can relieve stress on companies and demonstrate the need for an industry-wide standardization to others in the supply chain.


Darren Chan is a co-founder of Vector, a contactless pickup and delivery platform that ensures supply chain partners get the right load to the right place at the right time. Darren grew up witnessing the collaboration difficulties firsthand in his family’s foodservice distribution business and is excited to help build and deliver modern, user-friendly solutions to the industry. Prior to Vector, Darren was the Director of Design at Addepar, a wealth management platform, which manages more than $2 trillion in client assets.

digital wallet

Digital Wallet Usage Soars in a Post-Pandemic World: Big deals in Venture Capital, IPOs and M&A are Following the Digits

In the wake of the global pandemic, alternative payment methods have been required to transact business at nearly all levels of the economy. The market for alternative payments was already going through a natural transition before social distancing and lockdown dramatically accelerated growth in the digital sphere.

Over the last decade, digital wallets have grown from a niche payment option to a global phenomenon – with 22 percent of point-of-sale spend globally in 2019. Asian consumers and American millennials are used to seamless payments for daily transactions – with increasing expectations for simple, secure ways to make payments. Today, Asia leads the world in digital wallet adoption, and Chinese leader Ant Financial is on the precipice of what will perhaps be the largest IPO in the history of the world. But eye-popping financial results at PayPal and Square, fueled by Venmo and Cash App, are proof that digital payments are gaining traction with mainstream American consumers.  Investors have taken note.

Big deals in venture capital, IPOs and M&A transactions are following the money, as digital payments are becoming ubiquitous in both new and emerging markets. Smart investors will be well advised to beware of the lurking regulatory and legal issues faced by digital payments businesses before transacting.

What are digital wallets?

Digital wallets, also known as mobile wallets, are consumer-focused apps that facilitate payments, typically via smartphone. Mobile banking apps tend to accrue fees or recycle money into loans, but digital wallets don’t. In the late 1990s, commercial versions of digital wallets became popular, with PayPal as one of the first well-known examples. Soon after, the technology reached mainstream once smartphones came into our lives. In the U.S., companies like Zelle and Venmo have gained momentum by creating simple peer-to-peer mobile payments. Big tech companies are betting big on digital payments, evidenced by Apple Pay, Google Pay, SamsungPay, WhatsApp Pay, and more.

Digital wallets in Asia – a duopoly

Today, Asia is the hub for digital wallet innovation. While the trend is speeding up in many parts of the world, digital wallet adoption in Asia is unparalleled. In fact, in China, digital wallets account for 48 percent of payment volume and seven percent of e-commerce spend. Mobile wallets have been successful in Asia because they provide a solution that is better than cash.

The innovation in Asia has coincided with the rise of smartphones and super apps use, which helped the area get ahead. Additionally, digital wallets in APAC countries make up 58 percent of regional e-commerce payments and have surpassed cash at point-of-sale. But, their ubiquity in Asia presents a barrier to startup opportunity, as tech giants dominate certain countries in the region. For instance, Ant Group’s Alipay and rival Tencent’s WeChat Pay maintain a mobile payments “duopoly.” According to The Economist, in Asia, Alipay and WeChat Pay account for 54 percent and 39 percent of the country’s mobile payments market by value, respectively. These companies are processing trillions of dollars in transactions each year, while in economies like Japan and South Korea, credit cards are still the most popular form of payment. In other regions like South Asia and Southeast Asia appear to offer more room for startup growth. Meanwhile, India is home to 34 percent of digital wallet deals, followed by Singapore at 19 percent.

Digital wallets in the United States – opportunities and challenges

Digital wallet adoption is now accounting for 24 percent of e-commerce spend in the U.S., according to data from Worldpay. Digital wallets are going up against an engrained credit-card dominated system that uses rewards and travel programs to stick to customers over the long term. While QR codes have been a powerful lever for mobile wallets in Asia, the trend is just beginning to arrive in the U.S.  Key retailers like Starbucks and Walmart have added QR codes to the register option, and their use in the U.S. during the pandemic has enjoyed the substantial benefit. For example, QR codes are being implemented by restaurants to allow customers to order and pay for meals on a contactless basis, enabling safety and cost reductions from disposable menus and less waitstaff.

Attacking the U.S. market for digital wallets involves special challenges:

-Looking beyond the initial transaction to compete with sticky loyalty programs, and indeed, find ways to incentivize customers.

-Higher transaction volumes between the different value chain players require interoperability and centralized infrastructure.

-Security and compliance costs to secure the highest quality, lowest risk and great number of customers.

Venture capital investment

So far in 2020, digital payments companies, Stripe, and Adyen raised giant piles of cash from venture capital and other investors. Leading digital payments investors include Coatue, Insight Partners, DST Global, Blossom Capital, and numerous sovereign wealth funds. While the amount of capital that venture capital firms deployed into emerging growth companies declined 11% on a year-over-year aggregate basis in Q3 2020, fintech deals were up, with digital payments leading the surge. Payments solutions embedded in the end-user experience for non-financial businesses are gaining traction, together with data collectors and infrastructure players.

Accelerating M&A in digital payments

While the eye-popping venture capital financings of unicorns like Stripe’s $600M Series G preferred stock capital raise (at an estimated enterprise value of $36B) made headlines, digital payments solutions also drove significant M&A volumes in 2020.  This was evidenced by three acquisitions by the U.S.’s largest credit card networks American Express, Mastercard, and Visa. In January of 2020, Visa transacted to acquire Plaid for a total potential value in excess of $5B. In June of 2020, Mastercard transacted to acquire Finicity, a financial data aggregator, for a deal value in excess of $1B.  In August of 2020, American Express announced its acquisition of fintech lender Kabbage, aiming squarely at the small business market with a broader set of payments products.

In the digital wallet world, the ability to collaborate with other value chain players – and even new industry entrants – could be one of the most unique and innovative features of a successful company. This phenomenon was evident in Visa’s announced acquisition of VC-backed Plaid. Depending on how they leverage the network effects, industry leaders can find a way to capitalize on the massive amount of data that exists along the value chain. This data will help create and own standards and to design platforms for improved overall customer experience.

Regulatory issues with digital wallets

Due to regulations, digital wallet players are very regionalized. For example, Apple Pay is a big player in the U.S. but has zero presence in India. Additionally, Facebook’s WhatsApp Pay roll out in India has been held up by countless regulatory issues. Specifically, Asia’s fragmented regional regulatory landscape comes with an array of legal challenges. For example, licensing procedures may vary across geographic markets – without more consistency, and the different local regulatory requirements may result in increased costs and the amount of time required for companies to expand their digital wallet footprint.

In the United States, compliance with federal and state money transmitter laws is a byzantine enterprise, and often just the tip of the iceberg in terms of regulatory compliance.  In addition, digital payments businesses must comply with:

-The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and its prepaid rule, which requires a regulated entity to provide a consumer with two disclosures prior to acquiring a prepaid account. Legal challenges to the prepaid rule are gaining steam, but in the meantime, compliance should be architected into the business model.

-Anti-money laundering rules issued by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (or FinCEN) if the business provides “money services.”

-Banks and bank affiliates must also comply with the Bank Holding Company Act.

-The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, or OCC, can provide a further layer of regulation on top of embedded functionalities. A federal regulatory movement is afoot to combine the byzantine layers of regulation between the federal government and the various state and local agencies into a single federal system.  State regulators are pushing for a passport system like Europe where regulation by one state would suffice for all states “opting in”.

During the pandemic, some non-U.S. and U.S. federal and state regulators have implemented regulatory sandboxes, where requirements are temporarily relaxed to provide spaces for new platforms to test new technologies.  Policies should support access, rather than raise barriers to adoption.  The smartest startups are engaging with regulators, while architecting compliance into the product roadmap, to ensure regulatory compliance.

Meanwhile, investors should do their due diligence prior to committing capital, as in addition to all of the regulatory compliance issues, digital payments companies are vulnerable to a data breach, cyber-attack and theft, and are often built with software containing lines of code with open source.

The future of digital payments looks green.

Good advisors can help navigate key business, regulatory, and legal issues at the formation stage, in the scaling phase, and then to achieve optimal exits from digital payments’ businesses.


Louis Lehot is the founder of L2 Counsel. Louis is a corporate, securities and M & A lawyer, and he helps his clients, whether they be public or private companies, financial sponsors, venture capitalists, investors or investment banks, in forming, financing, governing, buying, and selling companies. He is formerly the co-managing partner of DLA Piper’s Silicon Valley office and co-chair of its leading venture capital and emerging growth company team. 

L2 Counsel, P.C. is an elite boutique law firm based in Silicon Valley designed to serve entrepreneurs, innovative companies, and investors with sound legal strategies and solutions.