Women in Tech Recommended Books, Podcasts, and More

At our most recent Women in Innovation event, our accomplished panelists shared the podcasts, books, newsletters, and other resources they recommend for women in the tech field. We’ve compiled their picks below along with a few bonus suggestions for must-read women in tech books from the talent at Robots & Pencils.

Recommendations from Asha Aravindakshan
Best-Selling Author and Tech Leader

Asha Aravindakshan

How Women Rise: Break the 12 Habits Holding You Back from Your Next Raise, Promotion, or Job | By Sally Huddleson and Marshall Goldsmith

How Women Rise offers a modern take on Marshall Goldsmith’s classic, What Got Here Won’t Get You There. This book explicitly acknowledges that women face different obstacles in their careers from men. The authors highlight the behaviors that help women start their careers but then keep them from rising to higher levels. Along with naming 12 of these behaviors, they provide clear examples of how each can hold you back and what to do instead to move forward.

Skills: The Common Denominator | By Asha Aravindakshan

Our career paths (and our lives) rarely follow a straight path. If you’re planning a career move, this book offers insights and guidance for everything form comparing industries, roles, and organizations to utilizing your professional and personal networks. Featuring 25 inspirational stories of career changes, Skills will help you assess, identify, and showcase your transferable skills. Ultimately, you’ll learn how to stand out among candidates while creating a career that brings you joy. 

Recommendations from Andrea Chin
Expert in Digital and Disruptive Technology

Andrea Chin

The Female Quotient 

The Female Quotient is an organization committed to raising the visibility of women and advancing equality. They host events, develop content, and provide advisory services to organizations. Andrea recommends signing up for their newsletter to stay up-to-date with the group’s work.

Fairy GodBoss 

Fairy Godboss is a community designed to help women find jobs, career advice, and support. Membership is free and includes access to job search features, company reviews, and events. Fairy GodBoss also has a daily newsletter that covers career trends, discussions, and new articles.

Athena Alliance  

Athena Alliance supports female leaders through educational content, coaching, courses, in-person meetups, networking, and community.

Recommendations from Natalie Farand
Client Experience & Digital Product Senior Leader

Natalie Farand

Women at Work

Hosted by Amy Bernstein and Amy Gallo, this podcast is affiliated with the Harvard Business Review. It explores all sorts of topics related to women at work from entrepreneurship to vulnerability to joining a board. Natalie says it’s one of her go-to podcasts she listens to while she gets ready every morning.

The New Rules of Business

This podcast by Chief is another of Natalie’s favorites. While Chief is primarily a private network for executive women, anyone can sign up for their newsletter and listen to their podcast, The New Rules of Business. On this podcast, Chief Co-Founders Carolyn Childers and Lindsay Kaplan dive into complex marketplace trends and challenge established ideas about leadership. 

Books for Women in Tech: R&P Team Recommendations

As part of our celebration of the history and future of women in tech, we asked our talent what books they recommend for other women in tech.

Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle | by Emily Nagoski PhD and Amelia Nagoski DMA

Suggested by Tahishia Simmons, R&P’s Director of Managed Services, this book examines how the world views women differently than men and the pressure they face as a result. The book offers women tools to manage and overcome the stressors that have left you exhausted.

Big Feelings: How to be Okay When Things are Not Okay | by Liz Fosslien and Mollie West Duffy 

Jen Suehr, our Product Ownership Associate Practice Lead, recommends this book if you’re looking for advice and strategies for managing tough feelings like envy, burnout, and anxiety.

Girl, Stop Apologizing | by Rachel Hollis

Recommended by R&P Account Manager Brittany Peterson, this book challenges women to replace old excuses with new behaviors, skills, and the confidence to grow and achieve their dreams.

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead | by Sheryl Sandberg

Simranjeet Kaur, Senior QA Robot, chose this classic book as her recommendation for fellow women in tech. The book offers practical advice to help you build a fulfilling career, covering topics like mentorship, negotiation, and taking risks to achieve your goals.

Women in Tech: Shaping the Future

As Robots & Pencils celebrates 15 years in business this year – and Women’s History Month this March, we reflect on the journey that has brought us to where we are today and the many women of tech who have helped us get here. From the start, women have been vital to our growth and the development of innovative solutions for our clients. In fact, one of our two co-founders (and the original pencil!) was a female. Since then, many talented women have joined our ranks and made their marks in leadership and individual contributor roles.

However, the story of our tech company has not historically been the norm. While the history of women in technology is full of perseverance, innovation, and progress, many obstacles have hindered women’s full participation and recognition in the field. As we stand at the cusp of a new era, it’s crucial to acknowledge our past and understand our present. Only then can we envision a future where diversity is not just encouraged but celebrated as a cornerstone of innovation.

Reflecting on Our Roots

The history of women in technology is rich with figures who defied the norms of their times. These pioneers contributed foundational work in computing and engineering. From Ada Lovelace, the first computer programmer, to Grace Hopper, who developed the first user-friendly software programs in the 20th century, women have been instrumental in shaping the technology landscape. Despite their contributions, for too long, women’s roles were marginalized and their achievements overshadowed.

The late 20th and early 21st centuries marked a turning point, with more women entering STEM fields and making significant strides in tech. However, the journey has been far from smooth. Women have faced a myriad of challenges, from gender bias and a culture that can be unwelcoming to females to a lack of representation as women look up the leadership ladder.

The Present Landscape for Women in Tech

Today’s tech industry is more diverse than it was decades ago. Still, women only account for approximately one-third of the tech workforce. That number drops further in technical and leadership positions. The reasons are complex and multifaceted, from societal and cultural norms to policies and practices within the industry itself.

More than ever, there’s a growing movement to change the narrative. Initiatives to close the gender gap, such as STEM education programs for girls, mentorship programs, and women-led tech startups and VC funds, are gaining momentum. Organizations are increasingly recognizing the value of diversity, not just as a moral imperative but as a business one. Numerous studies have shown that diverse teams are more innovative and perform better financially. 

Envisioning a Better Future

Looking to the future, we are optimistic about the impact of women in tech. Technology is at the heart of societal transformation, and the need for diverse perspectives will be critical as society confronts global challenges. Here are some specific ways we see the future of women in tech evolving.

Increased Representation: STEM education efforts and increased adult learning options will translate to more women entering the tech workforce. We anticipate an increase in the number of women not just in entry-level positions, but in senior leadership roles and fields like AI, machine learning, and cybersecurity.

Policy and Practice Changes: Companies with inclusive policies and practices, including flexible working arrangements that support work-life balance, will attract more female candidates. Mentorship programs are also becoming more common, providing women with increased guidance and opportunities to advance their careers.

Women Leading Innovation: Women will not continue to not only participate in the tech industry but lead some of the most significant innovations. Female tech entrepreneurs will be at the forefront of developing groundbreaking technologies and solutions that create a better world.

Advice for Women in Tech

At our women in innovation events, our speakers often advise attendees to both seek and provide mentorship. The guidance and support of someone who has navigated the world you’re facing can be invaluable. Equally, by mentoring others, you help to build a more inclusive and supportive tech community.

Another refrain is to stay curious. The tech field is constantly evolving. Continuous learning is key to staying ahead. Embrace challenges as opportunities to grow, and never underestimate the value of your unique perspective. 

Finally, advocate for yourself and others. Be vocal about your achievements and the contributions of other women in tech. Change happens when people collectively raise their voices to highlight injustices and push for progress.

The future of women in tech is bright, but realizing it requires a concerted effort from individuals, organizations, and society. Together, let’s commit to breaking down those barriers that remain and building a tech industry that is truly inclusive, equitable, and representative of the world it serves. 

Higher Education Trends: What to Watch in 2024 and Beyond

3 Tech Trends Transforming Higher Education

In an era marked by technological advancements, education is undergoing a revolutionary transformation. As we look to the years ahead, multiple factors are poised to redefine how we learn and teach. In this post, we delve into three higher education trends that will shape the future of this space: immersive, personalized experiences, credentialing technology, and expanded inclusion. Beyond that, we discuss how faculty upskilling and professional development are imperative for enabling institutional change around these trends.

1. Immersive, Personalized Digital Experiences

As positive sentiment toward online learning continues to surge among potential students, a focus on digital learner experience is taking center stage. The days of attracting applicants with extravagant on-campus facilities are giving way to a movement that caters to the fully or partially remote student. To differentiate themselves, universities must instead invest in digital campuses and experiences. As they do, they’ll need tools like Salesforce to support learners across the lifecycle and across departmental silos. From any location and device, students will expect easy access to personalized information, helpful resources, and proactive guidance. 

The impact of artificial intelligence (AI) will undoubtedly have an immense role in this digital shift. For example, adaptive learning powered by AI will enable experiences tailored to individual needs. Predictive modeling for intervention and intelligent tutoring systems will offer real-time feedback and support, revolutionizing the traditional education model. AI algorithms utilizing natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning (ML) will also customize content and modalities to cater to the unique needs of each student. At the same time, augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) technologies will mature. They will provide new avenues for interactive learning, including simulations that enhance understanding. As institutions combine these tools to optimize digital experiences, gamification and behavioral economics will offer further avenues to make learning more engaging and enjoyable.

2. Streamlined Academic and Transfer Credentialing 

Education will soon witness the rise of technology that simplifies the process of transferring between institutions or starting fresh at a new school. This technology will provide secure and easy verification of academic credentials, empowering learners with greater control over their educational journey. The decentralized credentialing system will subsequently break down barriers to learning, making education more accessible and flexible for students.

3. Expanded Inclusion

Technology will be pivotal in creating inclusive learning environments that cater to diverse needs. Platforms and resources will be designed with universal principles that ensure accessibility for students with disabilities. Educational software will be tailored to accommodate various learning styles, offering customization and adaptability, powered in part by AI. Cultural sensitivity will likewise be a priority. For this reason, technologists and educational leaders will collaborate to address potential biases in educational technology and present content that is inclusive and relevant to every student.

A Requirement for Growth: Faculty Upskilling and Development

Faculty and staff will be crucial to unlocking the potential of these new technologies and trends in higher education. Institutions must equip their teams to navigate this rapidly changing landscape. Ongoing training in digital literacy and the effective use of new educational technology will be essential. Creating a culture of continuous learning will encourage educators to stay updated on new tools and best practices. In particular, the integration of AI in education necessitates faculty upskilling. Educators must be prepared to guide students in understanding and utilizing generative AI tools due to their increasing prevalence in professional settings.

All in all, the future of education is an exciting frontier characterized by immersive, personalized experiences, streamlined credentialing, and expanded inclusion. Embracing these trends–and simultaneously preparing faculty and staff to fully utilize new technologies–will empower a diverse generation of students to thrive in an ever-evolving global landscape. 

Are You Ready for the Change These Higher Education Trends Will Bring?

Robots & Pencils partners with forward-thinking institutions at the cutting edge of higher education trends and technology advancement. From increasing retention with more personalized learner journeys to streamlining internal systems and workflows to optimizing academic support, our team is passionate about enabling student success. To discuss how we could help your organization, fill out our contact form or email us at hello@robotsandpencils.com.

2024 Kickstart: Our Top Resources for Business Impact

Revisiting our Most Valuable Tech Advice and Insights from 2023

AI has been a major focus over the last year, and more is still to come!

Bringing Intentionality to AI: Why today’s design methods fall shorts for LLMs and what to do instead
In this on-demand webinar, Executive Experience Director Tyler Klein challenges conventional approaches to user-centered design and explains why they fall short in Generative AI experiences. He instead proposes a new model for the design of emergent experiences.

Training Artificial Intelligence with Real Heart: Legitimize, Confirm, Reinforce
In this blog post, Client Strategy Analyst DJ Moody explores the challenges of designing AI chatbots. Drawing on lessons from the intersection of the sciences and the humanities, DJ shares three principles for training artificial intelligence to deliver personalized customer experiences.

Summoning the Ghost in the Machine: Intro to Prompt Engineering and Design
Watch this presentation to learn about prompt engineering, where creativity and ingenuity converge with cutting-edge AI technology to produce mind-blowing outcomes. Prompt engineering is a dynamic and rapidly growing product role that’s accessible to everyone, regardless of your technical background.

Unlocking AI’s Human Potential: Human First, Tech Second
This virtual summit on unlocking AI’s human potential featured our CEO Tracey Zimmerman and Executive Experience Director Tyler Klein together with guest speakers from Ingram Micro, Arizona State University, and Slack.

Our CEO shared her thoughts on the technology and business landscape.

CEO Report: Maximizing Impact and Future-Proofing Your Business in an Ever-Changing World
In the first of her blog post series, Tracey Zimmerman shares what she’s hearing and seeing in the marketplace, including the top factors influencing decisions and areas with the biggest opportunity for organizational impact.

From Chaos to Clarity: The Journey to Modernization
Join Tracey for a dive into digital modernization. Get tips on how to unify fragmented data and unlock hidden insights, to increase flexibility by addressing aging infrastructure, and prepare for the future by expanding interconnectivity in your systems.

Employee Efficiency Accelerators: The Power of Empathy, Automation, and AI
Where should you focus your efforts to boost efficiency? Tracey suggests looking to employee experience design, self-service tools, automation, and AI-human partnership. Most of all, approach every initiative with empathy and consideration for your team members. 

How to Win Big with Your Customer Experience
Explore how to create holistic, personalized experiences built around your customer journeys and preferences. Here, you’ll learn lessons on building brand loyalty, engagement, and community.

As you keep working to create forward-looking, innovative technologies and organizations, these insights can help.

A Mobile Prediction Guide for 2024
This blog post from our Mobile Practice Lead Quinn Thomson examines the current stage and future evolution of the three most common uses of mobile apps.

5-Step Guide to De-Risking Innovation for Maximum ROI and Impact
Do your new ideas stall out because of organizational risk aversion? This ebook can help you go from idea to impact faster than ever before.

The Art of the Possible with Brad Fagan
During this podcast episode, Executive Creative Director Brad Fagan shares strategies and techniques for uncovering new ideas and defining your strategic and product vision.

A Practical Guide to Planning and Prioritizing Your Tech Investments
Are you torn between warring priorities and stakeholders with differing opinions? If so then this step-by-step guide to planning and prioritizing tech investments will get you refocused on your strategic objectives.

Change Management – Creating A Culture of Innovation
In this webinar, two Client Strategy Analysts discuss how to apply change management to support individual innovations and ultimately create a culture where innovation and change are the norm.

Reimagining Your Customer and User Journeys: 10 Essential Tools
If you know your customer journey is lacking but you’re not sure where to start, how to achieve your goals, or test your theories, this ebook reviews which tools can address your needs.

Want our thoughts on another technology or design topic? Get in touch – we’d love to chat!

Robots & Pencils CEO Tracey Zimmerman Shares Career Insights on Podcast Episode

Focus on Talent Podcast Interviews President & CEO Tracey Zimmerman

Tracey Zimmerman, President & CEO, Robots & Pencils
Tracey Zimmerman, President & CEO, Robots & Pencils

The December episode of the Bells Falls Search Focus on Talent podcast featured a conversation with Tracey Zimmerman, President and CEO at Robots & Pencils.

In this episode, Zimmerman discusses her winding career path, underlaid by an interest in technology and helping others. The journey includes nursing classes, teaching herself to code, and working in education before becoming CEO at Robots & Pencils. For those unfamiliar with the digital transformation firm, Zimmerman introduces its basis in blending the sciences and the humanities.

Reflecting on her professional growth, Zimmerman discusses how persistence, curiosity, and mentorship has helped her achieve success. Additionally, she shares how she strives to always offer value to others before asking anything from them. For job seekers and current professionals, Tracey also advises understanding and focusing on how your role impacts the company’s strategic goals and overall performance.

Zimmerman was interviewed by Ron Laneve. Laneve is the founder and managing partner of the Bell Falls Search recruiting agency.

Catch the full episode here!

A Mobile Prediction Guide for 2024

3 Types of Mobile Apps and My Predictions for their Future

By Quinn Thomson, Mobile Practice Lead

Mobile apps aren’t just about user convenience – they are catalysts for digital innovation, driving shifts in how individual businesses and entire industries operate. Today, apps on tablets, smartphones, and wearables continue to revolutionize sectors from transportation to healthcare and unleash unparalleled disruption in their wake. If you have no other takeaways from this mobile prediction compilation, know this: there’s much more change to come!

Over nearly 10 years of developing mobile apps and as Mobile Practice Lead at Robots & Pencils, I’ve observed three primary paradigms for mobile apps and their features:

  1. Replacing paper
  2. Creating new experiences
  3. Bundling content

Of course, apps don’t always fall only under one paradigm. An app may combine two or all three paradigms. For this blog, however, I examine each paradigm’s current state and future separately.

Paradigm 1: Replacing Paper

Current State: Mobile apps simplify many tasks for employees and customers.

The longest-established paradigm, paper replacement is a low-hanging fruit for building an impactful mobile app. Moving from paper to digital is often step one of a digital transformation. When companies require employees or customers to review or fill out boatloads of forms and information, creating a paper replacement app is an obvious win. A laptop works sometimes, but phones and tablets facilitate much easier data entry and retrieval for people not in front of a desk.

While making a paper replacement app might sound straightforward, remember that factors like UX, project planning, and change management are critical to the success of every app. If you’re not thoughtful about app planning and design, you can still fail at making an effective paper replacement app.

CASE STUDY: See how our Tailboards app enabled utility and construction workers to finally stop carrying heavy, paper-filled binders and laptops to job sites.

Mobile Prediction: Slow-to-change industries will increasingly accept the need to digitize and find immense value in mobile.

Paper replacement apps aren’t cutting-edge, but many growing industries still rely on paper and other physical media. These fields are ripe for digital transformation. Digitizing their workflows will enable companies to increase efficiency, reduce costs, and significantly improve employee and customer experiences.

Mobile Prediction: SAAS solutions and white-label apps will gain popularity.

SaaS products that offer white-label solutions for paper replacement applications are becoming readily available. By choosing one of these products, organizations can quickly introduce a mobile app to employees or customers with little coding work required. These solutions provide a cost-effective, though less flexible, option for paper replacement use cases. For complex uses, custom development remains the better choice.

Paradigm 2: Creating New Experiences

Current State: Mobile has revolutionized everyday life with features we now take for granted.

Mobile apps offer the perfect opportunity for applying innovative and previously unheard-of means to engage users. Brands can deliver personalized and engaging experiences incorporating things like gamification strategies and location-specific messaging. Mobile hardware allows us to augment experiences using a camera, GPS, motion sensors, near-field communication (NFC), and much more. From ridesharing apps to fully mobile banking to digital wallets, mobile apps have brought about immense changes that touch many aspects of our lives.

CASE STUDY: Varo has broken down the walls of the brick-and-mortar banking with disruptive conversational interfaces and data-driven insights.

Mobile Prediction: Teams who know how to de-risk ideas will consistently push the boundaries of mobile.

Having an app or feature idea is great, but don’t skip straight to investing time and money in development. De-risking requires systematically iterating, testing, and experimenting. You need to find out if users actually want this feature and how to deliver it. What aspects are the most and least important? Will you see a strong return on investment, or should you prioritize a different idea instead? Challenge your assumptions about user needs and behaviors early and often. Testing novel ideas and collecting user feedback will help organizations create experiences that truly benefit and excite users.

Mobile Prediction: New technology and hardware will change how we use software in countless ways.

As ChatGPT continues to command everyone’s attention, generative AI is set to revolutionize the world of tech and beyond. This will particularly become evident when organizations combine generative AI with augmented reality, mixed reality, and spatial computing tools–which will also drive increased usage of voice interaction. Together, these technologies will unleash a flurry of unexpected opportunities for using mobile devices to engage with individuals, organizations, and the environment around us.

Paradigm 3: Bundling Content

Current State: Organizations are beginning to bundle content to support users overwhelmed with information and apps.

As increasing numbers of companies have launched mobile apps, users are experiencing app fatigue. They are burnt out and frustrated by hopping between apps and websites, each with a shard of the desired information. For example, college students must use different apps and websites to access course materials, registration information, schedules, financial aid details, and student groups. Employees are using numerous apps to track time, manage their paychecks, request time off, look up policies, and many more tasks. Juggling these tools gets old fast.

Bundling or integrating content has arisen as a solution. Industry best practices and consumer demand have led to APIs that bundler apps can connect to. Bundlers offer a primary user entry point and acquire content or information from providers. Apple TV users, for example, can add HBOmax, Showtime, Disney+, HULU, and other services so that they see all their favorite series on one watchlist.

CASE STUDY: Powered by Salesforce, Student Apps is empowering schools to reimagine the learner experience.

Mobile Prediction: Bundling and consolidation will be growing trends.

It’s early days for bundlers and providers, but I expect a lot of activity in this area. For bundlers to attract new users, they’ll need to get more providers on board. The more a bundler can simplify and streamline targeted user journeys and experiences, the better positioned they are to build a large and loyal base of users. The goal is to create one place for users to get all the tools and information they want. As bundlers seek to expand and grow, many will acquire the companies whose content they want. 

For providers, the key to growth will be to integrate with as many bundlers as possible. Having content accessible to bundlers is also an opportunity to bring increased attention and awareness to smaller-name content providers that might be overlooked on their own.

Want a deeper dive into the future of mobile?

Watch my on-demand webinar for more on these mobile predictions and download a shorter version of my deck for referencing anytime! You can also contact Robots & Pencils at hello@robotsandpencils.com or through our online form.

About the Author

Quinn Thompson Author Photo

Quinn Thomson has 16+ years of experience in software, a master’s in aerospace engineering, and a PhD in biomedical engineering. He’s worked in a variety of fields and with organizations from small start-ups to large enterprises. With his breadth of knowledge and passion for applied solutions, Quinn helps clients leverage technologies such as mobile development, numerical optimization, machine learning, and image processing. As Mobile Practice Lead, Quinn is a leader, mentor, and coach to our iOS and Android developers. In his spare time, he enjoys playing soccer, writing, and spending time with his family.

How a Slack App MVP is Informing Product Roadmap Decisions

Helping a Top 4 Professional Services Firm with MVP Slack App Design and Development

Have an idea for a new or improved offering? That’s a great place to be! But whether you want to build a new app, an AI-powered chatbot, or reimagined digital experience, there’s still a long road ahead and a lot of questions to ask. How do you know if that idea will work? How will you test it? When will you seek feedback? And how will you bring everyone else on board? Robots & Pencils supports clients at every stage of product design and development, including advising you on what ideas to test and how. Then, we help you get those ideas out into the world as minimum viable products (MVPs). By doing so, you can gather early feedback that will guide your future direction. Below, we share how we helped a major professional services firm test their idea with a Slack app MVP.

Recognizing the Power of Slack

One of the best things about Slack is its ability to bring together people, systems, and processes all in one place. If your organization uses Slack but doesn’t integrate other technology and workflows into the platform, you’re missing out on opportunities. Being able to interact with your systems right from Slack to get the information you need is a huge win. It benefits the employee experience and the entire organization by making work faster and more efficient.

Knowing the potential and promise of Slack, a top 4 professional services firm approached us with an idea. They wanted to give users of their Salesforce-based supplier lifecycle management solution access to the tool’s features inside Slack. This access, they hypothesized, would allow users to work more efficiently and effectively. Now, they wanted to build a Slack app MVP so that they could test the theory and demonstrate the benefits of integrating the two systems.

Creating a MVP Slack App to Test with Potential Customers

An experienced Slack services provider and longtime Slack partner, Robots & Pencils was well equipped to help our client. We provided expertise for the product strategy, UX/UI design, documentation, and development for the proof of concept Slack app. For this app, the team honed in on two important employee use cases: onboarding suppliers and collaborating on tracking issues.

In the resulting Slack MVP app, users can easily access and share new supplier details and onboarding statuses from Salesforce in Slack. Depending on their needs, users can share supplier info in channels or conversations. For issue tracking, our developers set up the integration so that new incidents added in Salesforce automatically post in Slack. As issues arise, users can discuss and collaborate on problems in real time. After an issue posts in the incident channel, users can also share it to other channels and conversations. Additionally, the Slack posts contain links that users can click on to see more details about the supplier or incident in Salesforce.

Robots & Pencils also assisted in configuring Slack and Salesforce to automate the app deployment process to the client’s internal AWS environment. Now, the client is demoing the MVP to customers and potential stakeholders to gauge interest in the app and its features. Already, the process has provided valuable insights for improving their product and refining their roadmap.

How to Get Started on Your Product Idea

If you’re ready to take the next steps on your product idea, Robots & Pencils is here to help. Early on, we’ll leverage stakeholder and user interviews combined with quantitative studies to uncover unmet needs and opportunities to innovate. In design and product vision workshops, we’ll align your team on goals, plans, and priorities. When you’re ready, we’ll partner with you to conduct technology and creative experiments to test the feasibility of your ideas and how they resonate with users. Of course, we also assist with agile product development, from designing and building products to measuring performance and learning in ways that power continual improvement and growth. Rounding it out, we deliver change management strategies and services that maximize business impact.

Want more information? Contact hello@robotsandpencils.com today!

Tailboards App Spotlight: Making Job Sites Safer

How Utility and Construction Companies Use our Tailboards App to Improve Safety and Reporting

When utility and construction companies want to streamline job-site safety meetings and help employees identify, document, and mitigate hazards, the Tailboards app from Robots & Pencils is a trusted tool.

An Opportunity to Improve the Worker Experience and Safety

Many electrical engineers, meter inspectors, construction employees, and other field workers face hazardous work sites daily. To ensure job safety and quality, field workers typically review risks and safety procedures in routine on-site meetings with their supervisors. Many organizations call these meetings tailboard meetings. Alternatively, some teams call them toolbox or tailgate talks.

Either way, these meetings require workers to carry and review heavy binders full of complex safety documentation. There is always a lot of information to cover! Employees also go through long, multi-page paper forms and checklists related to the job. Whenever a process changes, team leaders have to create, print, and distribute new forms and binders. In the unfortunate case that an incident occurs, management must sort through and review all of this paperwork. Basically, all of this paperwork becomes a big hassle.

After learning about these meetings and the extreme paperwork from a client, our team realized that moving these paper-based processes digital would be a huge win for organizations. A digital transformation would make work altogether safer and more efficient.

A Digital Solution for Hazard Mitigation and Reporting

Using insight and guidance from our clients, Robots & Pencils created an iPad app that eliminates the burden of physical paperwork and gives workers access to digital documents and workflows. The app is ideal for use by distributed managers, safety engineers, and other employees in ever-changing job site conditions.

Users can leverage the Tailboards app to review:

  • Required tasks and procedures
  • Job-specific safety forms and documentation
  • Assessments of potential hazards and threats
  • Relevant hazard mitigation techniques 

Field workers can easily complete and submit the necessary forms, including recording and reporting changes to hazard conditions. Form entries and submissions are automatically stamped with GPS location, date, and time, ensuring that documentation is never altered after an issue arises. 

For managers in particular, the app provides visibility into what’s happening in the field and what works remains. It also is a source of valuable data for analysis, reporting, and auditing–data that would be much slower and more difficult to access if it was on paper. Another benefit is the ease of updating safety processes or forms. No longer do companies have to worry about outdated forms or printing and distributing new documents. Instead, forms are updated instantly in the app and automatically distributed to all employees.

Driving Organizational Efficiency and Safety

As of 2023, the Tailboards app has been a valued industry tool for 10 years, with hundreds of daily users. By eliminating paper at tailboard meetings, companies have increased employee safety and efficiency, including reducing lost-time incidents. 

By streamlining hundreds of paper forms and documents into one mobile app, these organizations reduced manual errors and avoid the burden of completing and managing paper forms. If an issue does arise, workers can communicate quickly with management from remote sites, including via options previously unavailable like saving and sending video, pictures, and text descriptions of hazards in real time. The app also allows organizations to decrease their environmental impact and spending by drastically cutting the amount of paper printed.

Interested in Using the Tailboards App at Your Organization?

Robots & Pencils can customize and scale the Tailboards app for your unique job site and safety needs. We also offer a complete range of digital transformation services, including product ideation and strategy, design, development, change management consulting, and more. Contact us today at hello@robotsandpencils.com to start the conversation!

WITness Success: Reflections from a Women in Tech Event

What I Gained from WITness Success, a Salesforce Women in Tech event

by Danica Ríos, Client Strategy Analyst at Robots & Pencils

Attending the WITness Success Conference (a Salesforce Women in Tech event) earlier this year was nothing short of extraordinary. The event offered a tapestry of personal connections, newfound friendships, and an encounter with my favorite CEO that left me inspired and empowered.

I had the opportunity to establish more personal relationships than I could have ever imagined. The conversations flowed effortlessly. The shared passion for Salesforce created strong, instantaneous bonds. I believe these friendships formed through work and networking are more than just connections. They have the potential to be lifelines that sustain you through challenges. They can make you feel resilient in the face of uncertainty. 

Seeing so many successful women, especially in the tech world, at the WITness Success Conference was inspiring. From personal experience, I know that the connections we make and moments we share with others can leave lasting imprints on our lives. Watching the ripple effect of positivity, enthusiasm, and support at the conference reinforced this notion. Every individual has the power to uplift those around them!

Impactful Encounters

One of the most pivotal moments of the conference was meeting our CEO, Tracey Zimmerman, in person. A true force to be reckoned with, her presence exudes strength, determination, and a genuine commitment to our collective success. As she navigated the room with grace and purpose, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of admiration and respect for her leadership.

The words she spoke to me echoed in my mind, filling me with pride and validation. She identified me as a “hand raiser” – an individual who takes initiative, embraces learning, and embodies the spirit of growth within Salesforce. Hearing those words from someone I deeply admire was a testament to the impact of hard work and dedication.

Caption: Danica Ríos (lower left) and Robots & Pencils CEO Tracey Zimmerman (middle) pose with Charlie Issacs (left) and Corey Snow (right), members of the Salesforce community in town for Midwest Dreamin and WITness Success.

Looking back, I realize how far I have come in just two and a half years. From a recent graduate of the Talent Stacker program to a certified Salesforce Administrator, I have transformed my aspirations into reality. But it isn’t just my personal achievements I am proud of. I have found a company that resonates with my values. I have a team that feels like family. At Robots & Pencils, I discovered an environment where individuals come together to be more than just the sum of their parts. Tracey’s presence at the conference was a living reminder that great leadership is the driving force behind organizational growth and value.

Session Takeaways

I also found value in the sessions I attended. In particular, a panel of senior Salesforce professionals offered valuable advice on leveling up your career. Even just learning about their work experience and current roles helped me imagine what my career could look like 10 years from now. 

That panel also emphasized the importance of community involvement and mentoring. One lesson they emphatically shared was how mentors can learn as much from mentees as mentees learn from you! Moreover, they reminded us that every interaction matters in the workplace. Each time you talk with someone is an opportunity to contribute to improving communication and collaboration in your organization. Eventually, these interactions add up to create a positive atmosphere for all.

Closing Thoughts from WITness Success

As the conference drew to a close, I carried with me a heart full of gratitude, inspiration, and a renewed commitment to excellence. Witnessing success in its various forms – in the connections we forge, the friendships we cultivate, and the leadership that guides us – reaffirmed that this journey is about more than reaching milestones. Without doubt, it is also about embracing the profound impact we can have on each other’s lives, especially as women in tech. 

About Danica Ríos

Profile photo for Danica Ríos

Danica is a Client Strategy Analyst at Robots & Pencils. She is a Salesforce certified professional with expertise in product management, business analysis, and Salesforce administration. As a Trailblazer Mentorship Circle Mentor, Danica is proud to support the growth and development of fellow Salesforce professionals.

Constellation Research Names Robots & Pencils as a Global Leader in Digital Transformation Services

R&P Featured in the 2023 Constellation ShortList’s Digital Transformation Services: Global category

Robots & Pencils is proud to announce our inclusion on the Constellation ShortList in the Digital Transformation Services: Global category. 2023 marks the company’s fourth consecutive year of receiving this honor. The Constellation ShortList assists companies in their search for the technologies and support they need to realize their digital transformation goals. 

The ShortList’s Digital Transformation Services: Global category recognizes organizations that partner with companies to “reimagine business models, co-innovate and co-create future solutions” that can be deployed at scale. Organizations must work with clients across three or more continents to be featured. To identify the world’s top digital transformation firms, Constellation Research analysts evaluate over one hundred vendors, assessing client inquiries, partner conversations, customer references, vendor selection projects, market share, and internal research. 

Robots & Pencils was recognized in the Digital Transformation Services category for our proven track record of advising on best practices and delivering high-impact solutions. Analysts considered our work in areas such as:

  • Business strategy
  • Design thinking 
  • Innovative product and service delivery models
  • Technology strategy, road mapping, and execution
  • User experience
  • Innovation centers

With clients in education, financial services, consumer technology, and more, Robots & Pencils creates journey-driven products and experiences that provide exponential impact. Leveraging design and technology expertise, we build solutions that unlock data and insights, infuse intelligent automation, and accelerate product innovation amidst a rapidly changing industry and technology landscape.

The Constellation ShortList previously featured Robots & Pencils in the Digital Transformation Services (DTX): Global category in 2022, 2021, and 2020.

The Constellation ShortList is produced by Constellation Research. Constellation Research is a technology research and advisory firm known for delivering strategic guidance that helps companies transform their organizations through the early adoption of leading-edge technologies. 

To learn more about the services that Robots & Pencils offers, reach out to us today at hello@robotsandpencils.com.