In the midst of the pandemic, Sequel partnered with the NYC Department of Transportation and the nonprofit RISE to provide the Rockaways with a safe, flexible space for COVID testing, cultural events, and more. Read more to learn how we applied our superpowers to provide a little bit of hope during a difficult time.+
When people discuss the latest technology, they might sound like they belong in a sci-fi movie. They describe things like Tesla’s self-driving features and Amazon’s transactional A.I., and use phrases like “robotic process automation” and “machine learning.”
When they discuss how one’s business might reap the benefits of these new developments, they might use another phrase — one that garners 495 million hits on Google yet defies efforts to pin down whether it’s something important or just a trendy buzzword: “digital transformation.”
Some business leaders might insist that their company went through its digital transformation decades ago, when they got a company website and email server. Beyond that, they feel that technology buzzwords like “Blockchain” and “RPA” are plentiful, but they can’t quite figure out how it applies to their business offerings and operations.
Others might be more willing to consider changing part, or even the entirety, of their business models in order to incorporate the latest tech. In this ever-evolving technological landscape, these leaders know they don’t want to be left behind like those in the first group. However, they’re concerned about how undergoing a digital transformation might disrupt the workflow, and whether, in the end, it would even improve anything.
“I’ve always felt that for many business leaders, trying to figure out how a given technology can address their specific problems is still a big challenge,” says Joseph Kim, Managing Director of Digital Technologies and founder of Sequel Labs.
The biggest issue is when the cart is put before the horse — that is, when business leaders try to incorporate the latest tools and technology into their current business, without understanding how they can resolve actual issues within their companies.
“Watching IBM Watson debate a person in real-time is certainly fascinating,” says Kim, “but for the typical business decision maker, it’s unclear how that can be used for their company.”
But what if the process were reversed? What if, instead of trying to add all the latest gadgets into one’s company just for the sake of it, one focused on finding specific areas that need improvement, or enhanced productivity, and then looked for the technology that could truly help the company?
“At Sequel Labs, we have decades of experience designing and implementing practical solutions for businesses,” says Kim. “We start with the actual problem, and then figure out what new technologies can be leveraged to actually help solve that problem, instead of just recommending technologies that are looking for a problem to solve.”
For instance, one of Sequel Labs’ clients came to us with a portal that aggregates financial organizations’ myriad investment portfolios, for which they had to manually compile data from paper bank statements — a process that took over 120 hours of work. Seeing this issue, Sequel Labs developed an automated platform that uses machine vision tools, plus custom natural language processing algorithms, to not only automate this laborious data entry process, but shorten it to a mere 38 minutes.
In other words, rather than just seeking new technology for its own sake, the client worked with us to create a customized solution that enabled a truly useful digital transformation.
Of course, even if one finds the solution that would be ideal in theory, one still needs to address one of the most important aspects of any new technology: the practical user experience. One must make sure that these new tools not only address a given company’s specific issues, but also ensure that the humans using it — whether they be employees or customers — walk away satisfied.
At Sequel Labs, for instance, each tech project needs to be thoroughly user-tested to minimize impact to how things are currently being done ensure that the new tools are fitted to actually solve each company’s problem in practice. On the path from the release of a given technology into the hands of the user, Kim says, “Sequel Labs is the last mile before the technology reaches the user — we build the stuff that humans will actually use.”
So, could “digital transformation” be a buzzword that adds up to nothing more than needless technological complication? Perhaps, when technology is either blatantly ignored, awkwardly fit in where it doesn’t belong, or simply impractical.
Could it be more? Absolutely, when the new tools streamline time-consuming or labor-intensive processes, taking care of the lower-level minutiae that distract valuable workers and customers from the things that really matter — and helping businesses more fully realize their true potential.
When the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance (RWA) first engaged Sequel, they were trying to evolve beyond the limits of their initial organizational reputation.
The non-profit had been founded in 2005 as a means to promote environmental awareness around the waterfronts of New York’s Rockaways, primarily through programs for elementary and high school students. As they continued to grow, and as they got to more fully understand the needs of the students with whom they worked, RWA expanded into more community-based areas that had more to do with social equity and access to health services, food, and transportation. However, the expansion into new territory was not reflected in the original, waterfront-focused brand. RWA engaged Sequel to help capture the expanded strategic focus in a new name, visual identity and digital presence that spoke to the needs of the greater Rockaway community.
First, Sequel worked with RWA and its board to develop the new name of RISE, or “Rockaway Institute for Sustainability and Equity.” From there, we addressed the fundamentals of the brand, including graphic identity, promotional materials and wayfinding in the center’s physical space, a renovated firehouse transformed into a multi-use community center.
From there, our team revitalized RISE’s digital presence. We completely reconstructed the user experience to emphasize what RISE does to help both the environment and the people living within that environment to flourish. In addition to giving the whole website a sleeker design, we created an immersive experience that gave equal space to the environmental programs (now branded as “youth programs”) and community programs. Our new design also facilitates access to community participant enrollment, key initiatives and insights for potential funders, and upcoming events.
“Our new RISE brand platform has not only captured our core strengths, but truly speaks to the aspirations of serving and supporting the greater Rockaway community,” says RISE founder and Executive Director Jeanne DuPont. “We can already see a transformation in the eyes of all of our key stakeholders: educators, local officials and private funders.”
In August 2019, Sequel Creative Director David Phan had the honor of acting as a judge at MerComm Inc.’s ARC Awards. Dubbed the “Academy Awards of Annual Reports” by the financial media, the ARC Awards is the world’s largest international competition honoring excellence in annual reports and corporate communications.
New York, NY — Further expanding our service offerings and opportunities for growth, to support government agencies, Sequel is very pleased to announce that we are now certified Professional Services Schedule 00CORP Contract holders, as awarded by the General Services Administration; the procurement arm of the federal government.
Great leaders always know that they need to bring in a council of other types of thinkers; that’s how we work here. It’s like a stew; everybody brings something delicious to it. And so, you can’t really fail, because if you have good ingredients, well, it tastes good! If you have good thinkers, good writers, and good people working with you at every level — all doing a great job — it’s delicious.+