Automation: Skynet? Or your friendly virtual assistant?

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Written by Brendan Lowry

You know what would make writing this a whole lot easier? If I could just think of a concept, add a pinch of direction, and an algorithm could just take it from there. Like a download version of the classic Matrix-style brain uplink. But alas, here I am sitting in a semi-lit room at work having to use my fingers to type letters to form words to shape ideas. How archaic!

Alright that was me being sarcastic. But are we really that far away from having that sort of technology? In reading articles, and speaking with friends & family, there is a general consensus that we might not be. This idea stems from the threat of automation – specifically automation in the workforce. Automation is a term that has been around for a long time however. For example, automation can refer to fire alarms setting off sprinklers in emergency situations. It’s when you start to combine automation with artificial intelligence (AI) that you start to realize, fire alarms are just glorified tip calculators. Artificial Intelligence is advancing at an incredible speed, and as that continues to progress, we start to see more everyday applications for it.

Apple’s Siri, Google’s Assistant, and Microsoft’s Cortana are the most common examples of AI’s that are being used by millions of people every day. But these AI’s are ultimately designed to make the user’s life easier. The User Experience, or UX, of these apps is what makes them so successful. This is important because an application, AI or not, is only ever as good as its UX. And as designers begin to specialize specifically in the creation of UX, the easier it is to build customizable automation solutions. This is essentially what will allow artificial intelligence to start seeping into the various facets of the workforce. Which in turn, causes the hot new buzzword: disruption. I’m no mathematician (seriously, I have a hard time with arithmetic), but I’m betting the equation for this is: AI+UX(Automation)=Disruption. Or some combination thereof… I forgot my tip calculator at home so I can’t be sure.

Regardless, AI and automation are starting to transform the landscape in a way that has never been seen before. In a recent study of several hundred business leaders from multiple sectors, 53% of professionals in the telecommunications industry have already adopted automation into their work. Furthermore, more than half of business leaders are interested in workforce automation. It would appear the automation train has no brakes…

So, do we have reason to be concerned? Will your job soon be replaced by a robot named Jarvis? This WorkMarket report sums it up best in my opinion:

“Despite the media’s fascination with the so-called “Robot Apocalypse,” the first wave of automation won’t result in massive job displacement. On the contrary, our findings suggest that automation will actually free up business leaders and employees to spend more time perfecting work projects (41%) and improving client relationships (33%). Only a small handful of respondents (6% vs. 3% employees) believe their entire job could be automated.”

I think this is important for a couple of reasons: first, the speed in which automation is disrupting industries may be worrisome, the rate in which is effects individual workers will be fairly gradual. AI, like any intelligence, needs to “learn” and it does this by gaining data. So initially at least, automation will be a support mechanism used to eliminate monotony and free up time for employees. Secondly, the client relationship piece. We are still a long way away from having an AI system in place that can replace the role of business development and sales. Having an AI broker deals with personnel is not something any business would feel comfortable with now or even in the near future. However, once deals are made, why couldn’t automation take over the role of finalizing contracts? This has the potential of streamlining the rate in which revenue comes and goes. Ultimately, we are still in the infant stages of the “robot revolution”. Currently, only 13% of companies are currently using AI, though 44% of business leaders are planning to implement AI in the next 3-5 years.

So, take a deep breath, raise the keyboard on your standing desk, do an office lunge or two and know that your job isn’t about to be swept out from under your feet like an old rug. Start looking forward to what the future of automation holds. Instead of having to type up that proposal or wait for approval, a robot named Ursula could have it all done for you at the click of a button (or two). From there, you’d have more time to think outside the box and get that project you left on the back burner finished. More importantly, start to get informed about automation and AI. Become familiar with your future work assistant. If Terminator taught me anything, it’s inevitable.


Source: WorkMarket 2020 In(Sight) Report: What AI & Automation Really Mean For Work

The future of Material Handling Logistics: Self-Driving Trucks

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Written by Manav Sachdeva

Self-driving cars are taking over the roads and changing the automobile industry.

What you may not know, is there exists a prototype Self-Driving vehicle being developed by Einride, a Swedish company. The vehicle that they are developing is a Self-Driving truck called the T-pod.

The T-Pod is more like a giant box on wheels, 23 feet long and has a capability of transporting 15 standard pallets. Powered by a 200kWh battery, the T-pod has a 124mile (200 km) range on a single charge. It is a windowless truck and has no place for a driver to sit. It has been designed to drive completely autonomously on the highways. But when it comes to the city streets, a human takes over the controls and operates it remotely.

According to the American Trucking Association, the Material Handling industry will face a shortage of about 174,500 truck drivers by 2024. The Self-Driving trucks, like T-pods, have a potential to fill up this void and make the trucking industry even more reliable. This will also significantly cut the supply chain costs as the companies will not have to pay the drivers anymore.

 By 2020, Einride expects to have 200 T-pods operating in Sweden, shipping around 2 million pallets of cargo a year. Here in North America, the story is no different. Uber, Tesla, Amazon, Google, and several other private tech companies with backing form large automobile manufacturers are all working hard to disrupt the trucking industry. While some of these initiatives involve other methods of fueling trucks, such as hydrogen, or regular gas (combined with platooning to save fuel), the era of autonomous freight seems inevitable here in North America. While Self-Driving cars can be seen as a novelty–helping humans get around without physically driving it, Self-Driving trucks have the potential to completely revolutionize the entire logistics industry.

While many companies are proactively developing Self-Driving trucks to take the lead, the governments around the world are reviewing the regulations for Self-Driving vehicles to get on public roads. Nonetheless, it’s just a matter of a few years when we’ll actually see a T-pod or tractor trailer with no driver in the front seat cruising by.




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Written by Anh Dotram
Edited by Jason McNaught


Asia is increasing its attractiveness to businesses looking to relocate or expand to that continent. Here are three reasons why you need to pay attention:

#1) Asia has more people…making more money

Out of the 7.5 billion humans in this world, 4.5 billion of them live in Asia. This tremendous concentration of people, many of them shooting upwards into the middle class, makes this continent ripe for opportunity. According to a recent report by UBS and PricewaterhouseCoopers, every three days one lucky individual celebrates becoming Asia’s newest billionaire – a rate that exceeds all other regions in the world.

#2) Despite massive development, it’s still cheap

For years, Asia has been recognized as the world’s manufacturing hub for its cheap and highly available labor. Low wages, combined with high-capability, continue to attract North American and European manufacturers to the region in pursuit of cost savings and a healthier bottom line.  With the average North American wage 17 times higher and the average European wage 25 times higher than the average wage in Asia, shipping operations over to countries like China, Bangladesh and Indonesia doesn’t seem like such a difficult choice to make. This is, of course, one of the reasons why almost all large manufacturers are already there.

#3) They (really) want you

For decades, Singapore held the distinction as the world’s easiest place to do business before losing its position to New Zealand early this year; however, it still retains top spot in Asia, followed by Hong Kong and Taiwan.

 According to the Business Inquirer, it now takes half the time to set up a business in the Asia Pacific region compared to about ten years ago, thanks to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). Under APEC, member nations have reduced time to set-up a business by 47.4 percent, from 28 days to just 15 days. While that information is highly variable based on what type of operation a business is looking to start, it does illustrate the high degree of effort Asian nations are making to increase their appeal to new and established businesses currently located off that continent.

Office Culture – The Fifth Element

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Written by: Brendan Lowry
Edited by: Jason McNaught

Do today’s employers need free lunch buffets and nap pods to foster a great workplace culture?

Salary? Term? Travel distance? Benefits? These are all significant pieces of the prospecting puzzle when choosing a potential employer, but what happens if you find that, after going over all the standard perks, nothing really stands out?

It might be time to politely ask for another tour of their offices. While money still talks, it seems that many people entering the workforce these days just aren’t hearing it. Workplace culture in the era of the Millennial ranks just as highly as the traditional accoutrements — like signing bonuses and health benefits — that once sealed the deal for “on-the-fence” candidates.

We’ve all heard of Google’s legendary offices, filled with ball pits, slides, sleep pods and hyperbaric chambers (probably…maybe). Here in Ottawa, Shopify’s emulated the California tech giant by including an “all dogs allowed policy,” bars stocked with local craft beers and even secret rooms. It sounds like a bunch of adult playrooms rather than a place where actual work is done. Which begs the question: How does one do anything productive when employees can easily walk across a room to crack a cold one or challenge a co-worker to a game of Super Smash Bros?

Things, however, might not be what they seem at places like Google and Shopify. Unbeknownst to office minions everywhere, there are a number of over-arching strategies at work (or play?) when it comes to office culture. So, what do they know that we don’t?

Fact #1) Prospective Employees choose Ball Pits over Money

Shopify and Google know that office culture is ultimately the determining factor when a prospective employee is making their decision to join their company. Investing in a company Tilt-A-Whirl or Rooftop Strawberry U-Pick (bad examples, I know) helps employers appeal to the best candidates available. But that’s just the beginning.

Fact #2) A cool workplace + cool people = more time spent at work (and apparently, more time actually working).

A positive office culture has a myriad of benefits, including higher productivity, lower absenteeism, fewer errors, and of course, lower turnover. The cynic would argue that integrating couches, sleep pods and dimmers into the workplace is just a sneaky way to get your employees to log more hours. While there may be some truth to that, it’s also important to remember that the workforce is getting younger, faster. Baby Boomers are finally giving way to their younger counterparts. Soon the majority of employees will be made up of primarily the Gen X and Gen Y demographic cohorts. If you aren’t familiar with Gen Y, you’ve perhaps heard of them by their other moniker, the notorious MILLENIALS…

Fact #3) Millennials demanded employers design “nurturing work environments” and a plague of creativity ensued.

Millennials get a bad rap. Older generations criticize them of being lazy, self-entitled brats. But beyond negative, sweeping generalizations, they are also somewhat responsible for this era of positive office culture. Just what does a nurturing work environment look like?

The Harvard Business Review sums it up nicely, describing it “as a company where individual differences are nurtured; information is not supressed or spun; the company adds value to employees, rather than merely extracting it from them; the organization stands for something meaningful; the work itself is intrinsically rewarding; and there are no stupid rules.”

Managers and executives understand that when it comes to overseeing our loveable younger generation, “deliver or you’re fired” is more than likely to result in statements like “I quit” rather than “Yes, Sir.” These days, an attractive office layout and laidback vibe is just a fraction of what it takes to squeeze the most out of your employees.

Fact #4) Yes, even the way an office smells contributes positively to workplace culture.

In my “Millennial-Friendly” workplace, careful attention has gone into the way our office looks, feels, and yes…even smells. Beyond our white-washed reclaimed barn wood feature walls, cozy collab room (where this was written, coincidentally) and brand-friendly colour scheme, our noses are blessed with a refreshing scent that (arguably) increases employee productivity.

In an interesting study reported by Scientific American, “When people were exposed to an odor they liked creative problem solving was better than it was when they were exposed to an unpleasant odor condition.” Furthermore, liking a particular smell can also contribute to a better mood which, according to the authors in the report, “is linked to an increase in productivity, performance and the tendency to help others…”

While we might argue that our readily available supply of coffee has something to do with it, science says that happy noses contribute to a happy workplace.

Fact #5) FYI: If there’s low morale among your employees, if doesn’t matter how many lobster tails you have at the free lunch buffet, you don’t have great office culture.

Beyond the look and feel of the place, of paramount importance is morale. If you’re a manager, that’s primarily your responsibility (Gulp). Morale affects everything from productivity, overall mood, and rate of turnover within your organization. At its core, the most important factor in maintaining great office culture is treating people with respect and showing employees you care. Without that, it doesn’t matter how great a workplace smells, or how the corporate softball team is performing — respect goes a long way.

As more and more offices jump on the “workplace culture” bandwagon, the further back the era of cubicles and TPS report memos appear in the rear-view mirror. Today, spending most of your time in an office doesn’t have to be boring, and who ever said work couldn’t actually be enjoyable?

Artificial Intelligence 101 — What you need to know

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There is a lot of buzz surrounding the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the corporate world. While companies all over the world are investing heavily in its development, many people still don’t really understand what “it” actually is.

Let’s start with the definition… explains that Artificial Intelligence is “an area of computer science that emphasizes the creation of intelligent machines that work and react like humans.” AI is a highly specialized field, and the programmers that work on its development are often faced with abstract and complex problems as they figure out how to train computers to learn, reason, problem solve and plan.

When people think about AI, images of humanoid robots tend to come to mind. But AI is a broad field; robotics is a major and important component, yet one of the best aspects of AI is that it doesn’t need to exist in any particular form at all. Its habitat is the internet, and it can connect to (and interact with) people on any device they choose.

The question really is, how valuable is it? What impact will AI have on existing businesses, and is it possible to develop and build AI in a responsible and transparent way?

The Value of AI

Research carried out by PwC gives a numeric value to the impact of AI on the world economy. By 2030, they predict that AI will have a staggering net positive impact of 14% (equivalent to $15.7 Trillion USD).

China’s rise in Cybernetics

While North America will initially adopt and grow AI technology, PwC believes that China will catch up by 2025, stimulating exports of AI-enabled products to the rest of the world. By 2030, this rapid growth will make China the global leader in Cybernetics by 2030.

Industries that will benefit most from AI

AI will not only increase productivity but will also improve product quality and increase consumption in the retail, banking and healthcare services. Productivity gains will be derived from businesses automating processes and augmenting their existing labor force with AI technology.

Will AI kill jobs?

One of the biggest fears surrounding AI is the risk it poses to jobs. AI will save companies plenty over the long run, but the increase in efficiency it promises through automation, will come at the expense of jobs.

Nonetheless, the advantages and the economic value of AI outweighs the controversies surrounding the technology.

Can AI be developed in a responsible and transparent way?

There is no denying the fact that as AI becomes more sophisticated, it also becomes more opaque. Regulators around the world are debating the effects of AI and how it can be made more transparent. While different countries will each have a different approach towards regulating the deployment of AI, they also need to ensure that regulations do not hamper innovation and research.


Written by Manav Sachdeva – Marketing Intern

Interns Celebrate Canada Day

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Canada’s 150th birthday was surely the highlight of the year for our Maple Leaf country. Ottawa was a city full of pride enjoying the all-day-performances from popular artists across Canada and stunning fireworks late at night; it seemed as though every household had poured to the downtown core to join the party. Canadians born here and new Canadians with roots of all kinds celebrated the special day. Curious about how those visiting from far and wide had celebrated, the marketing team at IMI did a quick interview with our international interns to ask how they enjoyed the special day.

“This was definitely a great opportunity for me to understand more about Canadian culture and history, so surely I did not miss it. My friends and I were in the line to Parliament Hill since early morning and we successfully got inside after 3 hours. The speeches were amazing as well as the performances. The rain and long wait in line did not affect us at all. Next year, I will go again for sure” shared by Sophie Li and Penny Mu, two Chinese interns.

On the other hand, Anh Tram Do, an intern from Vietnam, chose to stay at home and enjoyed the performances on screen.

“I stayed at home, cooked Canadian food, listened to Canadian music and watch all the performances on TV. Then I had full energy to go out and see the fireworks at night. That was amazing!” she shared.

 Another Vietnamese girl – Katherine Dao chose to go to Toronto and celebrated the National birthday with her boyfriend’s family.

“Both he and I agreed it was a special day; there is nothing greater than spending time with your beloved people”.

Manav Sachdeva, from India, spent the whole day with his friends.

“We had great drinks in Byward Market and enjoyed the fireworks later on”.

Although not from here, international people coast to coast celebrated Canada’s 150th birthday as if it were their own country. As Justin Trudeau said: “All of us have a maple leaf engraved onto our soul”.

The Most Corporate of All the Social Responsibilities

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– Written by Brendan Lowry, Marketing Associate

These days, how a company projects itself in the public eye is paramount. Perhaps it has something to do with the shift in cultural norms leading to a mainly “PC” outlook. Regardless, this idea of corporate social responsibility is a necessary part of any company’s (big or small) public relations strategy. As much as these efforts play into how an organization positions and markets themselves, they also tend to do a fair amount of good.

Here at IMI, we are in the process of rolling out one of many initiatives that ultimately build into our corporate social responsibility as we continue to grow. With offices throughout Canada, the United States, and Mexico, IMI wants to bring a change by developing a program to help immigrants gain Canadian work experience. As such, we have hired two MBA interns from Carleton University who are designing and developing a program to reduce the barriers for the new skilled immigrants to find a job in Canada. Enter the Employment Positions for International Candidates program (EPIC).

IMI’s President, Rudi Asseer explains, “Our experience is in HR. We help place people in good jobs across North America every day. But so often I find, firsthand, that newcomers to this country — some with excellent education and expertise — are often overlooked in the job market because they don’t have ‘Canadian’ experience or references.”

IMI’s expertise in HR and its massive corporate network can make an immense contribution to reducing employment barriers for newcomers to Canada, and the company wants to start right here in Ottawa.

Manav Sachdeva, one of two Sprott MBA interns working on EPIC, is upbeart about his participation in the initiative. “As an MBA intern, I am very excited to be a part of this amazing project. I know, from personal experience, how hard it is for a newcomer to find a job in Canada.”

 Anh do Tram, an international student from Vietnam, shares the same level of enthusiasm as Sachdeva. “I understand, and have experienced the difficulties that newcomers in Canada are facing. I am motivated by this project — to build bridges and reduce barriers between employers and new Canadian job seekers.”

As IMI continues to grow in Ottawa and throughout its North American area of operations, it will continue to strengthen its brand as a socially responsible company. There are many more initiatives coming down IMI’s pipeline… Stay tuned; it will be EPIC!

NETWORKING – It’s not what you know, it’s WHO you know

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That statement reminds me of Ron White, a stand-up comic and longstanding member of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour. I remember watching Ron’s Just For Laughs routine when I was a kid, where he spoke of a man in Florida who decided he was going to tie himself to a tree to prove he could withstand the force of a hurricane. Ron, as if to impart some wisdom on this intrepid individual, said “It’s not that the wind is blowing, it’s what the wind is blowing… If you get hit with a Volvo, it doesn’t really matter how many sit-ups you did that day”.

Hurricanes and feats of strength are one thing. Networking is an entirely different animal. Most people, consciously or not, believe that when you attend an event, shake some hands, and exchange a few business cards, you’ve done enough. The reality is, while those interactions can be effective in the short-term, it’s unlikely they will be of much use in the long run.

Calling up Bob Sacamano at Vandelay Industries (yeah, that’s right) a year after introducing yourself at a conference will only amount to a painfully long awkward silence as he tries his best to figure out exactly who you are.

Networking never stops. Once you’ve made an excellent contact, it’s up to you to maintain it. This doesn’t mean you have to become BFF’s, but it does require you put a little effort into checking in once in a while. A great habit to get into is sending a short email to all the people who handed you business cards the day after an event. When you want to keep up the dialogue, a “Great meeting you at…” email is a sure-fire way to keep ol’ Bob in your pocket in case you ever need him.

Going back to Ron White, I believe he was onto something. I like to compare handshaking and shoulder-tapping to the wind while building a meaningful and mutually beneficial relationship is the Volvo.

If you want to make an impact professionally — be the Volvo, not the wind.


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IMI’s Recruitm­­­ent Team sees thousands of resumes every year. If you want to catch their attention when applying for a job, here are a few simple recommendations that will help you stand out from the pack.


    Make sure an IMI recruiter isn’t the first and only person that’s seen your resume. Ask two-to-three people to go through the document and provide constructive feedback. A fresh pair of eyes will catch mistakes before your potential employer does.


    Make sure your resume isn’t busy or cluttered. Pick a clean layout and structure your content so those who read it aren’t distracted by a mess of bullet points and improper spacing. There are a lot of great examples of resumes online with modern, simple layouts. Here’s a few we like:


    As we mentioned before, our recruitment team looks at a LOT of resumes. One of the things they specifically want to see is key words that were used in the job description. Why? It proves you’ve actually read it. If you are uploading your resume to or any other job bank website, this is a must.


    If you have a resume longer than one page, put your name and contact information on each one. Don’t assume that every recruiter handles resumes like precious works of art; sometimes, pages get mixed up or, *GASP* even lost!


    Most employers will do a quick search online to see what your social media profile looks like. If yours isn’t PG-13, limit who can see your posts. Because if you’re messy break-up and epic parties are all over the internet, it won’t matter what your resume looks like — you’ll stand out for all the wrong reasons.


    Don’t have a LinkedIn profile? Get with the times! The resume, as much as we love it, is on the endangered species list. Want to make a real impression? Load up your LinkedIn profile with all the recommendations and endorsements you can get, and add the link to your old school print resume. Recruiters will notice. Trust us.


    As great as is, it isn’t the best to use when applying for your next job. Have an email account specifically for applying to jobs and work communication. This also helps keep you organized; now you won’t miss that important email because of all your shopping spam.

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