From a virtual/physical/digital experience at the Super Bowl to an emotion-tracking food truck experience at South by Southwest, the Interactive Customer Experience Association last night honored excellence in interactive customer experience at this year’s Elevate Awards dinner party.

The Association’s annual Elevate Awards recognize and honor the individuals and organizations setting the pace in using technology to elevate the customer experience. The awards are handed out during the annual Interactive Customer Experience Summit, which was held this year in Dallas. Last night’s awards dinner was held at the Topgolf The Colony in Dallas.

The Awards, judged by a panel of industry experts and journalists, were handed out in 12 categories ranging from best ICX content in point-of-wait and point-of-transit deployments, best ICX deployments in retail, education, e-commerce and more. In addition to those 12, another award honored the ICX Influencer of the Year. That honor this year went to Panera Bread for, among its many customer experience initiatives, the brand’s continued dedication to creating innovative and engaging in-store and digital experiences for its customers in what has become an immense success for them, Panera 2.0.

Then-president and now-president-and-CEO Blaine Hurst delivered the inaugural keynote at the very first ICX Summit in Chicago and described Panera’s future plans with the start of Panera 2.0, and those starry ideals and expectations have been more than realized. Last year the fast-casual leader announced that its digital sales — those made via mobile, web or kiosk — had surpassed $1 billion on an annualized basis and could double in 2019. Since the inception of its Panera 2.0 program in 2014, the company said it has emerged as an industry-leading restaurant e-tailer. Panera’s end-to-end digital pathways, including Rapid Pickup, Fast Lane Kiosks, Catering and Delivery, enable a better guest experience for people to eat the way they want. As of the end of Q1 2017, system-wide digital sales were 26 percent of total company sales—the highest rate in the restaurant industry outside of the pizza segment. At that time, approximately 1.2 Million digital orders were being placed per week, as Panera continued to integrate new services with the digital experience. The brand also launched (and this year went national with) Panera Delivery, which can only be ordered digitally and is supported by cutting-edge order tracking technology, as the latest way Panera is enhancing the guest experience.

Kyle Phillips, director of delivery systems on Panera’s Digital Experience team, accepted the award last night for Panera Bread.

“Obviously this represents a lot of work from a lot of teams,” Phillips said at the awards podium, “and I’m just proud to be part of the multiyear effort to take Panera from a manual restaurant to the experiential and digital restaurant it is today.”

This was a banner year both for the number of entries and for the number of brands entering themselves in the contest, according to Association Director Christopher Hall: “That speaks, I think, to the growing realization among customer-facing brands that customer experience and these kinds of experiential activations really are intrinsic to everything they do. And they clearly see the value in being recognized for their good works.”

The ICX Deployment of the Year award went to Sleep Number for their virtual reality and digital activation at the Super Bowl in Minneapolis, one that resulted in thousands of leads for the brand and hundreds of thousands of impressions on potential customers.

“The Super Bowl was really a chance for us to show our brand on the world stage,” Angela Gearhart, the vice president of Brand Experience for Sleep Number. “So we’re really proud of the experience and we’re really excited and thankful for the recognition.”

The Awards ceremony and dinner party were held in conjunction with this year’s ICX Summit, held nearby at the Omni Frisco Hotel. The Summit is an annual conference devoted to showcasing the innovative ways technology can be used to create transcendent customer experiences.

“The Elevate Awards showcase amazing innovation in creating experiences for customers, and they’re a great way for us to recognize the amazing work of those who support the industry with dedication,” said Kathy Doyle, president and publisher of Networld Media Group, organizers of the Summit and parent company of the Association. “This is always one of the highlights of the Summit, and we’re honored to be able to shine a spotlight on the best in class each year at the ICX Summit.”

Here is a complete list of this year’s winners:
• Best ICX Content: Point of Transit – Cineplex Digital Media – BMO Celebrating 200 Years
• Best ICX Content: Point of Wait – Cineplex Digital Media – RBC Canadian Open
• Best ICX Deployment: Corporate Communication – Dickey’s Barbecue Pit – Dickey’s Datapit
• Best ICX Deployment: Digital Out-of-Home – NEXT/NOW – “Avo-matic” Emotion Tracking Food Truck
• Best ICX Deployment: E-commerce – Under Armour – UA Icon
• Best ICX Deployment: Entertainment/Gaming – Under Armour – Under Armour VR Golf Challenge
• Best ICX Deployment: Financial Services – ZIVELO – ZIVELO Virtual Banking Expert
• Best ICX Deployment: Government/Education/Non-Profit – Right Media Solutions – Southport School Media Network
• Best ICX Deployment: Restaurant – ZIVELO – ZIVELO Self-Order QSR Kiosk
• Best ICX Deployment: Retail – Reflect – Polaris: The Retail Experience
• Best ICX Deployment: Pop-up – NEXT/NOW – LG Final Four Fan Fest Digital Sports Activation
• ICX Deployment of the Year: Sleep Number – Sleep Number Super Bowl LII Activation
• ICX Influencer of the Year: Panera Bread

About Networld Media Group

Founded in 2000, Networld Media Group is a leading business-to-business (B2B) global media communications company specializing in digital media, associations and events in the mobile, self-service, digital signage, retail, food service and financial services industries. Online properties include ATMmarketplace.com, BlockchainTechNews.com, DigitalSignageToday.com, FastCasual.com, FoodTruckOperator.com, KioskMarketplace.com, MobilePaymentsToday.com, PizzaMarketplace.com, QSRweb.com, RetailCustomerExperience.com and BiblicalLeadership.com. Networld event properties include the Fast Casual Executive Summit, CONNECT: The Mobile CX Summit, Interactive Customer Experience Summit, Bank Customer Experience Summit and the Restaurant Franchising & Innovation Summit. Networld also operates the ICX Association. Its newest offering, BOOM! Creative, provides clients with digital creative, custom media and brand collateral.

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