What a “Health System” Is and Isn’t


And why the distinction matters.

The U.S., the UK, China, and Switzerland are at the top.

What Is a Wide-Format Plotter?

If your company designs anything from the nuts and bolts that hold our world together all the way up to trains, planes and automobiles, you either already use a wide-format plotter or need to. Essentially, wide plotters are printers that rely on vector graphics to create output that emphasizes solid, accurate and easy-to-read lines over rich, photorealistic prints. 

Regardless of whether they're blueprints for a new townhouse development, production diagrams for your company's latest widget or a graph-laden poster for a scientific conference, it all starts on screen. Chances are, sooner or later, it will end up on paper to be worked over by a group, shown to company outsiders or checked over. That's where the plotter comes in. 

Editor's note: Looking for a wide-format printer? We can help you choose the one that's right for you. Use the questionnaire below to have our sister site, BuyerZone, provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free:

A plotter creates large prints of your firm's designs or demanding technical material. It works equally well at displaying complicated graphs or intricate designs, such as production plans for an upcoming product.
Plotters 101

Instead of emphasizing beautiful, bitmapped images with rich, saturated colors that are formed on a conventional wide-format printer a pixel at a time, plotters are based on vector graphics. That way, they can make precise and readable lines, making a plotter perfect for anything from a complicated chart of the company's sales regions for a board meeting to a floor plan of where the firm's new production machinery will go on the factory floor. [Interested in wide-format printers? Check out our best picks.] 

While a conventional printer's output might have a jog in a critical line here or there, this doesn't happen with a plotter. Every line is straight, unbroken and pops from the page. 

The reason for the higher level of accuracy is simple: These prints are often the basis of building anything from a mobile phone's display to a retirement village. Need to know how wide a roof of a building design is or its pitch? Go ahead and measure it right off the print with a ruler. That's because a plotter's output is so accurate that professionals use it to directly measure anything on the sheet. 

Plotters have been around for a long time and excel at putting faithful continuous lines and geometric figures onto paper. Once the mainstay of architects, designers and engineers, plotters started as devices that literally drew the print a line at a time. An arm on an articulated x-y axis would pick up a colored pen, move it around on the sheet of paper to trace the needed line directly on the paper. When done, it dropped the pen off on the side of the plotter, ready to pick up another pen to draw the next line. 

End of the dinosaurs

Due to the inherent slowness, low resolution and limited ability to completely fill in solid areas, physical pen plotters have fallen out of favor. Today, they are dinosaurs with few models still for sale. 

Pen-based plotters have been replaced by wide-format inkjet and laser printers. That's because the latest generation of wide printers have a resolution so high and minimum line widths so small, they outdo pen plotters. 

For example, Epson's SureColor T5270 uses the company's PrecisionCore TFP printhead to precisely produce 2,880x440dpi resolution images with inkjet nozzles that can pump out dots as small as 3.5 picoliters. This translates into lines as thin as 0.2mm with an accuracy of 0.1 percent, easily exceeding the typical pen-plotter's 0.35mm line width and 1,000dpi top resolution.

Epson's SureColor T5270 Single Roll Edition Printer

 Able to use 36-inch wide media, the T5270 has a built-in cutter, holds up to two rolls of printing media and can move between them in an instant. It's fast with the ability to print high-quality, 24x36-inch CAD design prints ready for the construction site or factory floor in less than a minute. The single roll T5270 printer sells for $3,995, while its double roll cousin goes for $5,995. 

This type of wide printer-plotter has a big bonus as well for small businesses that need flexible equipment capable of fulfilling many roles in the organization. The prints are created with five aqueous UltraChrome XD inks: matte and photo black as well as cyan, magenta and yellow.

While it can't touch the photorealistic image quality from printers that use upwards of 10 inks, it's faster, should be more than enough for most commercial needs – like creating posters, banners and point of sale material – as well as allowing the printing of a design's plans alongside an image of what it will look like. 

In other words, it can print technical material alongside marketing materials for a small business, making it a jack-of-all-printing-trades.

2019 Outlook: What Will Change for LLCs?

It's that time of year again – time to talk about trends. A new year brings new trends: marketing trends, fashion trends, lifestyle trends, food trends ... and most importantly, business trends.

2019 will welcome new challenges and exciting opportunities for business owners to take advantage of. The intelligent and strategic entrepreneur will evaluate these trends before choosing which opportunities to jump on and which to avoid.

Not every trend will make sense for your business. As the owner of a limited liability company (LLC), it's important to brush up on some of these predicted trends now to understand how they might impact your business. After all, the only constant is change: Markets shift, cultures adapt – and businesses need to be agile. So what will change for LLCs in 2019? Here are just a few trends to take note of. 

Customer experience outweighs customer service. It's no longer enough to simply have one department or team member to meet your customers' needs. Customer experience should be a company-wide focus, and specific customer experience departments/teams will become more common.

Data ethics and protection: A lot of eyes will be on businesses to do their due diligence when it comes to protecting customer data and information. We saw plenty of data security breaches in 2018, so cybersecurity and revisiting data ethics will be more of an investment for businesses who want or expect their customers to hand over their information.

Customers reviews are key: If you don't have customer reviews on your website, online storefront and product pages, now is the time to source them. According to this year's Consumer Review Survey from BrightLocal, 84 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.

Uncertainty over tariffs and trade: The current tariffs and trade wars are a big threat to businesses in 2019. Tariffs may drive up prices of imported goods for U.S. consumers and businesses, which would slow investment and consumer spending. This is definitely something business owners need to keep their eyes on.

Generation Z steps into the game: Gen Z (people born from the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s) are gaining more buying power. MillenialMarketing's research on Gen Z shows that they account for approximately $29 billion to $143 billion in direct spending, and are poised to become the biggest generation of consumers by 2020. Make sure your campaigns are accounting for this and other demographic shifts so you get your money's worth.

Marketing gets personal: Speaking of demographics, you should expect to run advertisements and marketing campaigns that are tailored to each and every unique consumer. It's not a one-ad-fits-all world any longer. Customers expect personalization in the email newsletters they receive, the online ads they are served and the recommendations they see at the top of the online storefronts they visit. 

All those 2019 business trends will either challenge your company or create great opportunities for your business. To be prepared for when those trends come to life, ensure you check some of the following boxes now: 

Establish a robust e-commerce presence Review your business entity type with an online business formation service Brush up on digital media updates and innovations Embrace artificial intelligence, if there are tasks you can automate Hire gig or remote workers to work for your company if you need a human touch Make sure the company's ethos is strong and meaningful (to you and your audience)  

What are your predictions for businesses in 2019? What trends do you think are here to stay, and which ones are just a fad? Is your LLC equipped to take on 2019?

5 Ideas to Boost Your Loyalty Program's Success

Everyone loves to save money when they shop. When customers join a loyalty program, they expect brands to give them the freedom to use their points to get better deals.

However, roughly 54 percent of memberships for loyalty programs remain inactive, indicating that many customers are not using the loyalty programs for which they signed up. This is possibly because the program isn't relevant to them or is inconvenient for them. With this in mind, you need to find ways to improve your loyalty programs so your loyal customers can get the most out of it and become even more loyal to your brand.

Here are five loyalty program ideas to inspire you.

1. Plan unique offers in exchange for reward points.

Aside from your general offers open to the public, create special offers that members can take advantage of by exchanging points.  

The key to success with this tactic is to make sure that these offers are exclusively available for the members of your loyalty program and can only be redeemed with points. This will not only promote your customer loyalty program, but also encourage members to spend more to gain more points so they can grab the offer.

2. Give special rewards for referrals.

This loyalty program is beneficial for both brands and their loyal customers. It gives brands the opportunity to draw in new customers, and loyal customers get rewarded. It also allows your new customers to purchase your products at a better price and gain reward points.

All you need to do is send a message to your loyalty members asking them to refer their friends and family in exchange for an exclusive discount. The people they refer will qualify for the same discount once they sign up for your loyalty program. This is a great way to make your loyal customers feel special and draw in new members at the same time.

Don't worry if you don't have a proper loyalty program in place. You can still set up a program that rewards your loyal customers with discount codes and offers for referring others to your brand.

3. Roll out a bonus point campaign.

There are two ways to execute a bonus point campaign: You can promote a particular product or service that members can earn more points than usual by buying, or you can give extra reward points to loyal customers when they buy multiple products from your store.

This type of loyalty program is a great way to drum up some excitement, because now your customers can earn multiple points. But make sure you promote it effectively over social media if you want to reap the full benefits. Also, leverage your homepage and all your product pages to highlight these rewards.

Make this offer available to your loyal customers, and thank them for being with you through your journey. These offers shouldn't be available to other customers to maintain a sense of exclusivity that will make members feel special.

You could also target a particular high-value section of customers with this campaign. Offer extra bonus points to customers who are loyal but not part of your loyalty program. You could also include an invitation to join the program.

4. Organize a prize draw for your loyalty members.

This campaign involves automatically entering the members of your loyalty program into a prize draw. This gives your loyal customers an opportunity to win something big, so it's a nice way of thanking them for their loyalty. You can also include customers who have recently made a purchase from your store.

This program could play to your advantage, because prize draws are a great way to create buzz and generate brand awareness. This program will not only help you cater to your loyal customers, but also help you expand your reach to attract new customers.

5. Openly favor your loyal customers.

It's not a new thing for brands to offer sales and discounts, but always give first priority to your loyalty program members so they can access your special sales earlier than regular customers. You can always send out customized messages or emails to your loyal customers and inform them about the exclusive sale or offer.

Members will like this gesture and enjoy being given priority. It will also help you win their confidence and trust and, as a result, entice other people to sign up for your loyalty program.

Final thoughts

The main goal behind these programs is to boost sales and garner loyalty. You could use these ideas each year, revising them as needed.

However, don't forget to keep your overall organizational goals in mind when developing your loyalty program. Also, make sure you leverage social media and your website homepage to highlight the offers if you want to experience their full impact.

What type of loyalty program do you prefer for your business? Do you know any other effective loyalty programs ideas? If so, please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

How to Build Trust At Work With Your Employees

What is the most trusted institution today? According to the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer, it’s “my employer.”

The Edelman Trust Barometer is a global report that measures trust respondents surveyed have in specific institutions and shifts in trust since 2001. Trust in social media has dropped this year, with 73 percent of respondents concerned about the impact of fake news.

As trust in social platforms declines, the Edelment Report finds that individuals are turning to relationships in their control and trusting their employers. Seventy-five percent of surveyed employees state that “my employer” is now their most trusted relationship. This contract is referred to as “Trust at Work.” Employees already put in the hard work for employers and their businesses.

What should employers do to continue investing in employee trust?

 1. Lead Change

To increase employee trust, employers must be ready and willing to address five communications topics.

Societal Impact. How does the business contribute to the greater good of society? Values. What are the company’s values? What is its mission? What do you stand for and believe in? The Future. Does the business have a specific vision for the future? Purpose. Why are we here? What are we working to accomplish? Operations. What kinds of decisions can the business make that may affect the employee’s job?

How can employers lead on change in a manner that feels authentic to employees? Employers should set bold goals for the business. These goals become part of their overall mission and attract like-minded employees who share the same beliefs and values. They should also come from an aspirational place in leading on change. Times may be challenging, but there is hope that employees and employers can turn it around together.

 2. Empower Employees

Personal empowerment is a major expectation that employees expect from their employers. They want to know what’s going on and have their voices be heard.

There are a few ways employers can start creating inclusion opportunities. First up? Reevaluate company culture. Does the workplace’s culture encourage feedback and input from one and all? How often does management communicate with employees about the organization’s changes?

Empowering employees with more information leads to creating opportunities for shared action. When employees are in the loop about decisions and changes, they feel confident that they have a voice within the company. As such, it becomes easier to get involved in the planning process and easier to give management their feedback.

 3. Start Locally

Everyone wants to do good on a global scale, but it’s also important not to forget about the communities outside of your own backyard. Employers that want to establish trust with employees quickly can start by solving problems at home.

What does the community you do business out of look like? If it has fallen on hard times or needs support, businesses local to the area can work to improve and support the community. Ultimately, this ties in with the communications topics in the “lead change” section. Activities that your business engages allow the company to communicate its value and mission. This helps spread awareness throughout the area. Word of mouth catches on about the business and its people, making the company more attractive to partner with and apply for employment.

 4. Focus on CEO Leadership

Strong CEOs often embody the values of their organization while living out their own values. They speak up on issues, regardless how controversial said issues may be, that their employees care about and engage directly with their team. This kind of visibility allows employers to build trust with employees from the inside out.

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