Today in Globe Business
In 2002, four years after opening his first store, KaBloom founder David Hartstein said his retail chain wanted to be to flowers ďwhat Starbucks is to coffee.íí
But Hartsteinís business plan did not work out the way he envisioned. Flower-shopping habits changed as more consumers flocked to online retailers and supermarkets took an ever-bigger bite out of impulse purchases by offering cut-rate floral arrangements.
KaBloom, which once had 120 stores, is down to two dozen, along with a website where customers can place orders. And now Hartstein is betting on an innovation he calls the Moses Miracle in an attempt to reinvent the privately held Brookline company.
Struggling New England homeowners looking for lower mortgage payments from Bank of America Corp. will be able to meet face-to-face with counselors as part of what the lender says is an effort to improve services.
Today, the nationís largest servicer of home loans will open an office in Dedham dedicated to helping homeowners seeking loan modifications as a way to stave off foreclosure.
Glenda Gabriel, Bank of Americaís neighborhood lending executive, said the new office is part of a national effort to better assist homeowners who complain their refinancing documents get lost and their pleas for help are not heard.
The breakthrough discovery four years ago that scientists could transform adult cells into stem cells has sparked research in labs across the world, spawned start-up companies, and bolstered the long-term dream that a patientís own cells could be used to regenerate damaged tissue.
More recently, scientists have found that these cells, while similar in many ways to powerful embryonic stem cells, which can develop into any type of cell in the body, contain subtle differences that affect their biology and therapeutic potential.
Now, researchers in Boston and across the world are racing to understand the true nature and utility of these promising cells, called induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells.
Highlights from Scott Kirsnerís Innovation Economy blog.
Your call is important to us. IVR is an evil acronym: It stands for interactive voice response. Most times you call an 800 number with a question about your credit card bill or a problem with your laptop, youíre dealing with an IVR system that asks you to speak a phrase or punch a key to get one step closer to an answer.
Mike Iacobucci, chief executive of Franklin-based Interactions Corp., says people forced to interact with an IVR system report being satisfied about 18 percent of the time. Thatís one reason why Paul English, cofounder of the travel website Kayak.com, created GetHuman.com: Itís a list of shortcuts on major IVR systems that will connect you quickly to a human.
Interactions Corp. wants to bring humans back into the equation, but it doesnít want them to have real-time, back-and-forth conversations. Instead, it uses human beings listening to snippets of speech as a kind of air traffic controller, ensuring that you get the information or answers. Itís a way of applying human understanding to your needs while keeping the cost of handling the call low.