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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Desktop Alert Named Best Mass Notification System by GSN 2017 Airport, Seaport, Border Security Awards 08-16





Desktop Alert, Inc., the patented system owner of less than one minute network-centric emergency mass notification systems (EMNS) to military, government, healthcare, higher education and industrial organizations, today announced that its industry leading mass notification communication platform, Desktop Alert 5.x has garnered three 1st place awards from Government Security News’ (GSN) 2017 Airport, Seaport, Border Security Awards.

Panel 2 of the Summit was moderated by Chuck Brooks, President for Government Relations and Marketing at Sutherland Global Services, who ran the most interactive panel of the day. With all guests being members of DC’s IT Tech elite and the subject of the panel being future threats and new defense technologies, the ballroom was buzzing with questions and discourse. It’s safe to say that this panel ran much like a think-tank, comprised of DC’s greatest tech minds and fueled by the spirit of collaborative learning.

Mr. Brooks has also been cited by Linkedin as one of the top 5 out of 500 million members to follow for emerging technology issues. Linkedin will also be featuring Chuck in their upcoming blogs as a cyber security SME and advisor.

Desktop Alert was named Best Mass Notification System and also a co-winner for Most Notable Implementation of new Technology – Solano Country Implementation of Desktop Alert and Safekey. Desktop Alert subsidiary Metis Secure Solutions also won for Best Alert Beacon System.
"We are honored to have been chosen as a multiple category winner. Our companies numerous years of products and services to the U.S. Army National Guard, U.S. Air National Guard and Northern Command proved pivotal in the award selection process," said Howard Ryan, Founder Desktop Alert Inc.

About Desktop Alert: http://www.desktopalert.net   





Worldwide U.S. Military organizations such as U.S. Northern Command, The United States National Guard, The United States Air Force Academy, The United States Military Academy at West Point, Multi-National Forces in IRAQ and Afghanistan, The U.S. Air Force, The U.S. Army now utilize the Desktop Alert mass notification platform daily for their organizations emergency communication requirements. Desktop Alert can contact thousands of users with desktop alerts and require receipt confirmation of the message. Those not verified can then be listed on a report and/or sent as a "Target Package" to be automatically contacted by other means such as email, SMS, phone calls and other devices.  

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Man orders 50-inch TV on Amazon, gets 13-inch monitor 08-13






A resident of Mumbra, a town on Mumbai outskirts, is fighting for a refund from Amazon since past two months but to no avail.

Mumbra resident Mohammad Sarwar had ordered a 50-inch television set on Amazon's website in May and paid Rs 33,000 via credit card.

Sarwar received the package on time but was advised not to open it until a technician comes to install it.

"They said I may inadvertently damage the TV while opening the box. I left the box intact, which I now realise was a big mistake," he told Mirror.

When the technician arrived a day later, there was no TV inside the box but a 13-inch Acer monitor, which appeared to have been used before.

Sarwar has been fighting for a refund since then.

"I made several calls before a customer service agent said the refund would be issued only after I sent the package back. I was told I would have to bear the courier service charges. The suggestion left me furious, but I wanted my money back so I agreed," he said.

The story does not end here. A courier company refused to send the monitor as it didn't have an office near his house.

Meanwhile, Sarwar claims Amazon did not pay heed to his calls.

"The e-tailer's customer support took its own sweet time every time I called. It kept transferring my calls from one agent to another. I even sent emails and shared my grievance on social media. Nothing happened," he said.

An Amazon spokesperson told Mirror it was trying to resolve Sarwar's complaint. "We are in touch with the customer and are committed to resolving this at the earliest," the official said.

"I understand as an e-commerce site, they (Amazon) have their limits, but they can't keep me hanging after delivering a wrong product. I will take the matter to a court, if that's what will make them take customers seriously," said Sarwar.  


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Thursday, August 10, 2017

RBI's dividend to govt halves to Rs 30,659 crore 08-11






The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will transfer Rs 30,659 crore of its surplus to the government for the financial year 2016-17, less than half of the Rs 65,876 crore it transferred a year earlier.

The RBI did not provide any reason for the decline in dividend but economists said this indicated the cost incurred by the central bank in printing new notes as well as in sterilising liquidity after old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes were scrapped in November and subsequently returned to the banking system.

The dividend paid is the lowest since 2011-12, when the RBI had transferred Rs 16,010 crore of its surplus to the government. In 2012-13, the central bank paid Rs 33,010 crore. The RBI’s financial year runs from July to June. The central bank is expected to publish its annual reports next week after its board met on Thursday to clear the accounts. 


In 2012-13, the YH Malegam Committee recommended the central bank transfer its entire surplus to the government. The RBI has been transferring its entire surplus to the government since then. It paid Rs 52,679 crore in 2013-14 and Rs 65,896 crore in 2014-15.

In the Union Budget for 2017-18, the government had accounted for a dividend of Rs 74,901 crore from the RBI and other nationalised banks. An official later said the RBI’s share would be Rs 58,000 crore. 

RBI Governor Urjit Patel told a parliamentary panel in July that the central bank had not finished counting the old returned notes. 

He has also said notes not returned remain the RBI’s liability and cannot be passed on to the government as dividend. 

The Union Budget had not accounted for any special dividend from the RBI against demonetisation, which some economists had estimated would be in the lakhs of crores of rupees.

The low actual dividends, meanwhile, will exert pressure on the government to meet its fiscal deficit. Care Ratings Chief Economist Madan Sabnavis said the fiscal deficit could increase from 3.2 per cent of the GDP to 3.4 per cent this year. At its peak, the excess liquidity parked by banks neared Rs 5 lakh crore, on which the central bank had to pay them 6 per cent interest. The average daily liquidity absorption continued to remain above Rs 2 lakh crore after demonetisation was announced.

According to Devendra Pant, chief economist of India Ratings & Research, the appreciation of the rupee against the dollar depressed returns, in rupee terms, on the RBI’s foreign holdings. The rupee has appreciated by more than 6 per cent against the dollar since January.




























This Solar-Powered Car Is Designed To Be Affordable For Everyone 08-10






Electric cars have started to gain traction in the automotive market as the public desires a sustainable alternative to the traditional fossil fuel vehicles. Rather than develop an electric car to use electricity obtained from a standard grid, Sono Motors decided to take this concept a step further with Sion, a self-charging car that utilizes solar energy with solar panels wrapped around the exterior of the vehicle. The solar panels grant the owner the freedom to take their vehicle anywhere and know that the battery will consistently be charged.

The solar panels installed in the exterior do not protrude from the frame of the car; instead they hug the roof, rear, front and sides of the car and are covered in a layer of polycarbonate. Sono Motors created two models, an Extender and an Urban. On a full battery charge, the Extender can travel about 155 miles straight, while the Urban can go up to roughly 75 miles. Both of the models can drive for nearly 19 miles by simply sitting in the sun, before drawing power from the battery. Once the battery depletes, it takes 40 minutes to get 80% of the battery’s full power back through an electrical outlet, or half a day sitting in the sun.

Sustainable features extend to the inside of the vehicle, which contains an air filtering unit that uses a moss liner under the dashboard, called the breSono system. The moss, a special lichen, doesn’t require additional maintenance from the owner as the plants acquire the water they need to survive by absorbing it through the air. The plant also acts as a sound dampener to avoid hearing the engine and protects against potential fires.

Sustainable features extend to the inside of the vehicle, which contains an air filtering unit that uses a moss liner under the dashboard, called the breSono system. The moss, a special lichen, doesn’t require additional maintenance from the owner as the plants acquire the water they need to survive by absorbing it through the air. The plant also acts as a sound dampener to avoid hearing the engine and protects against potential fires.


The developers behind the Sion decided to bring the idea forward with an Indiegogo crowdfunding
campaign in 2016. While the vehicle cost €16,000, backers of the campaign did not have to offer all of this upfront. The developers broke it down into reasonably priced chunks, from €50 all the way to €14,080. Those who pledged more than €50 had the opportunity to get put at the front of the line to preorder the vehicle when they released it as well as the chance to test drive the car before anyone else. The Indiegogo campaign raised €180,000 for the Sion.

Sono Motors continues to accept preorders on their website. The company offers preorders at four price tiers: €500, €2,000,€8,000, and €14,720, which is the full price of the car. Those who plan to buy the Sion on one of the installment plans will eventually need to pay what they owe, but at a discount. If any parts of the vehicle require maintenance, owners can go through Sono Motors. Backers should receive their Sions sometime in 2019, but an exact date remains unknown.

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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Cybersecurity and cybersecurity professionals 08-10





From Bitcoin and Blockchain to hacks and ransomware, security is a hot topic in tech. According to a recent Cybersecurity Ventures Report, the cost of cybercrime damage is predicted to reach $6 trillion by 2021, and global spending on cybersecurity products and services for defending against cyber crime is projected to exceed $1 trillion by 2021. With that much at stake, the business world certainly has security on their minds.

It’s critical for technology marketers to stay on the pulse of today’s trends – and what better way to do so than by following influential peers on LinkedIn? To learn from today’s best writers, content curators, and opinion leaders on all things security, look no further.

Below, we’re showcasing five professionals providing a helpful portal into the world of security – those that can keep you — and your organization — in the know!

Bill Brenner, Infosec Scribe at Sophos

Bill has been on a number of “top tech” lists, and for good reason. He is active in the LinkedIn security community and focused on sharing real-time info about the current state of the industry. Following him ensures that you’ll be alerted about recent ransomware attacks – and fed great articles on how to combat it.

One of Bill’s recent posts shared an angle not often seen, talking about his own “Rockstar” status in the security world and how it caused his content and point of view to become stale. When an influencer takes time to step back and assess his or her influence and POV, it’s anything but stale; Bill is a breath of fresh air in an oftentimes cluttered conversation.

Tech marketer takeaway: If you think you’ve learned everything about a particular topic or industry, you’re probably wrong. As Bill put it, “Never stop seeking truth.” Your customers and prospects will thank you for this – it’s never fun talking to a person or company who thinks they have all the answers. Keep an open mind when it comes to new content, ideas and perspectives, and you’ll be a much better marketer for it!

Maya Schirmann, CMO at Deep Instinct

Maya is a great go-to connection when it comes to security marketing. Her company, Deep Instinct, is “the first company to apply deep learning to cybersecurity” and she also takes a “deep learning” approach to her own content. Tech marketers can benefit from her great approach to discussing security. As data breaches and hacks are in the headlines more often than not these days, Maya shares frequent helpful updates, podcasts and go-to lists on the all of the latest cybersecurity news. She also covers a number of insightful topics  in her published posts such as weak password management, “hacking highlights” and an Oscar-themed awards post containing actionable security advice for organizations both large and small.

Tech marketer takeaway: Creatively tying your topic of choice to current events and impactful discussions is a great way to get noticed – and it’ll pique the interest of potential customers. Tying content into interesting trends and current events is an effective way to set your content apart.

Steve Morgan, Founder & Editor-In-Chief, Cybersecurity Ventures

Steve is a veritable fountain of security info – he’s written dozens of reports on cybercrime, cybersecurity products and services, and launched the “Cybersecurity 500” list of the hottest cybersecurity companies to watch each year. He shares updates on cybersecurity employment, defense firms, hacks and data breaches – and how companies can be proactively preparing for their IT security futures. Many of his shared posts are helpful because they are so proactive – they often include step-by-step instructions for companies looking to boost their cybersecurity efforts, where to best spend their security budgets and what risks they should be most aware of and on the lookout for. Steve doesn’t just want companies to be in the know – he wants them to do something about it!

Tech marketer takeaway: Simply knowing about the current trends and buzzwords in an industry isn’t enough. To be truly effective as a security marketer, you must provide actionable insights to your customers and prospects. Everyone knows that cyberattacks can and will hit: but are you contributing to the conversation and equipping people who are preparing for the worst?

Yotam Gutman, VP Marketing at CyberDB

Yotam not only frequently posts interesting cybersecurity trends, he actively wants to engage and have meaningful discussions with his LinkedIn audience of almost 15,000 followers. He takes cybersecurity incredibly seriously and shares intricate, detailed data – but he also doesn’t shy away from sharing a fun story or video with his followers now and then. Yotam often attends IT security events around the world and takes the time to share what he’s learned –  reminding his followers and their companies that amongst the hustle and hype around cybersecurity, it’s important to define who you are and have a definitive brand for your organization.

Tech marketer takeaway: You don’t have to be a technical expert in all things security to come at this topic from a new angle and appeal to your tech buyers with your insights. Tech professionals want to be part of an active community that both gives out relevant info and engages in a more meaningful way (and events are a great way to do this). It’s all about the conversation!

Bob Carver, Manager of Network Security, Verizon

Bob knows his stuff when it comes to risk management, cyber resiliency and strategy, incident management and threat intelligence – he’s monitored tens of thousands of infected endpoints at Verizon, at one point overseeing the company’s Security Incident Response team. Follow Bob for a more in-depth take on many IT security conversations, from Botnet monitoring and cryptocurrency to the NSA. Bob’s content comes from the fact that he’s most likely “seen it all” throughout his career – and he wants to put that in-depth knowledge to good use for companies around the globe looking to proactively fight cyberattacks.

Tech marketer takeaway: A little technical in-depth info goes a long way. It might take some serious time and a lot of research to truly understand complex security topics that your customers care about – but it’s worth the hassle in the end.

As security is becoming more and more of a priority for many in the tech industry, it’s important to stay abreast of the latest security trends and innovations. These security leaders are invaluable within the LinkedIn technology community, and each showcases the true power of the LinkedIn network: that anyone can both access and participate in greater industry discussions across the globe. It’s time to take what we learn from them and put it into action!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

No, Facebook Did Not Panic and Shut Down an AI Program That Was Getting Dangerously Smart 08-04



Image credit : Shyam's Imagination Library

In recent weeks, a story about experimental Facebook machine learning research has been circulating
with increasingly panicky, Skynet-esque headlines.

“Facebook engineers panic, pull plug on AI after bots develop their own language,” one site wrote. “Facebook shuts down down AI after it invents its own creepy language,” another added. “Did we humans just create Frankenstein?” asked yet another. One British tabloid quoted a robotics professor saying the incident showed “the dangers of deferring to artificial intelligence” and “could be lethal” if similar tech was injected into military robots.

References to the coming robot revolution, killer droids, malicious AIs and human extermination abounded, some more or less serious than others. Continually quoted was this passage, in which two Facebook chat bots had learned to talk to each other in what is admittedly a pretty creepy way.

Bob: I can i i everything else

Alice: balls have zero to me to me to me to me to me to me to me to me to

Bob: you i everything else

Alice: balls have a ball to me to me to me to me to me to me to me to me

The reality is somewhat more prosaic. A few weeks ago, FastCo Design did report on a Facebook effort to develop a “generative adversarial network” for the purpose of developing negotiation software.

The two bots quoted in the above passage were designed, as explained in a Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research unit blog post in June, for the purpose of showing it is “possible for dialog agents with differing goals (implemented as end-to-end-trained neural networks) to engage in start-to-finish negotiations with other bots or people while arriving at common decisions or outcomes.”

The negotiation system’s GUI. Gif Credit: Facebook AI Research



The bots were never doing anything more nefarious than discussing with each other how to split an array of given items (represented in the user interface as innocuous objects like books, hats, and balls) into a mutually agreeable split.

The intent was to develop a chatbot which could learn from human interaction to negotiate deals with an end user so fluently said user would not realize they are talking with a robot, which FAIR said was a success:

“The performance of FAIR’s best negotiation agent, which makes use of reinforcement learning and dialog rollouts, matched that of human negotiators ... demonstrating that FAIR’s bots not only can speak English but also think intelligently about what to say.”

When Facebook directed two of these semi-intelligent bots to talk to each other, FastCo reported, the programmers realized they had made an error by not incentivizing the chatbots to communicate according to human-comprehensible rules of the English language. In their attempts to learn from each other, the bots thus began chatting back and forth in a derived shorthand—but while it might look creepy, that’s all it was.

“Agents will drift off understandable language and invent codewords for themselves,” FAIR visiting researcher Dhruv Batra said. “Like if I say ‘the’ five times, you interpret that to mean I want five copies of this item. This isn’t so different from the way communities of humans create shorthands.”
Facebook did indeed shut down the conversation, but not because they were panicked they had untethered a potential Skynet. FAIR researcher Mike Lewis told FastCo they had simply decided “our interest was having bots who could talk to people,” not efficiently to each other, and thus opted to require them to write to each other legibly.

But in a game of content telephone not all that different from what the chat bots were doing, this story evolved from a measured look at the potential short-term implications of machine learning technology to thinly veiled doomsaying.

There are probably good reasons not to let intelligent machines develop their own language which humans would not be able to meaningfully understand—but again, this is a relatively mundane phenomena which arises when you take two machine learning devices and let them learn off each other. It’s worth noting that when the bot’s shorthand is explained, the resulting conversation was both understandable and not nearly as creepy as it seemed before.

As FastCo noted, it’s possible this kind of machine learning could allow smart devices or systems to communicate with each other more efficiently. Those gains might come with some problems—imagine how difficult it might be to debug such a system that goes wrong—but it is quite different from unleashing machine intelligence from human control.

In this case, the only thing the chatbots were capable of doing was coming up with a more efficient way to trade each others’ balls.

There are good uses of machine learning technology, like improved medical diagnostics, and potentially very bad ones, like riot prediction software police could use to justify cracking down on protests. All of them are essentially ways to compile and analyze large amounts of data, and so far the risks mainly have to do with how humans choose to distribute and wield that power.

Hopefully humans will also be smart enough not to plug experimental machine learning programs into something very dangerous, like an army of laser-toting androids or a nuclear reactor. But if someone does and a disaster ensues, it would be the result of human negligence and stupidity, not because the robots had a philosophical revelation about how bad humans are.

At least not yet. Machine learning is nowhere close to true AI, just humanity’s initial fumbling with the technology. If anyone should be panicking about this news in 2017, it’s professional negotiators, who could find themselves out of a job.








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The User Experience: Why Data – Not Just Design – Hits the Sweet Spot 08-03





The successful user experience is about meeting a consumer’s needs on an individual level – a “segment of one” not “one-size-fits” all, many experts say. But what does that look like in practice? “What really differentiates companies is their personalization through data — which allows them to build unique experiences that lead to increased engagement and better outcomes, …” write Scott A. Snyder, president and CSO of Mobiquity and a senior fellow at Wharton, and Jason Hreha, founder of Dopamine, a behavior design firm, in this opinion piece.

Today, design has a seat at the table. With the success of products like the iPod and the iPhone, businesses have realized that a good user experience is key for the bottom line.

Yet even with this determined focus on design, most digital experiences fall short of user expectations. Of the 700 million websites that exist, 72% fail to consistently engage users or drive conversions. Of the 1.6 million apps available, just 200 account for 70% of all usage, and three out of four apps aren’t even used beyond the initial download.

So where did things go wrong? Or more importantly, how can we get them right? Surprisingly, the answer does not lie with design. It lies with data.

Netflix is an example of a company that pays attention to user experience. Early on Netflix chose not to charge late fees, like Blockbuster did, in order to help build its subscription DVD business. Netflix soon put Blockbuster out of business, but also came under threat from other online video streaming businesses like Sling and Roku. Fortunately, Netflix was able to use its viewing analytics to create personalized content recommendations, and even create its own shows geared toward viewer interests, such as House of Cards and Orange is the New Black.

For Netflix, the user experience was the price of entry, and the viewing data they gathered and analyzed became the strategic advantage of the business. Because of their approach, we don’t order special TV/Movie packages anymore. Instead, thanks to Netflix analytics, we have our viewing experience tailored to who we are. This is one example of a new breed of data-driven user experiences created by companies like Amazon, Pandora, Sephora, Nike, Progressive and Disney.

Good user experience design has become table stakes. If you don’t do it well, you can’t even get out of the gate in this hyper-competitive digital world. What really differentiates companies is their personalization through data — which allows them to build unique experiences that lead to increased engagement and better outcomes for the user and company. However, there is a fine line between “helpful” and “annoying” in the digital world, and the price of getting your data-driven personalization right or wrong may be the difference between a delighted customer and one who will never come back to your brand.

Good user experience design has become table stakes. If you don’t do it well, you can’t even get out of the gate in this hyper-competitive digital world.


How Can We Achieve Truly Personalized Experiences?


There are three reasons why digital solutions fail to engage users long term and drive positive outcomes: segmentation, relevance and rewards.

1. Segmentation: Behavioral

Are you someone who likes competition and rewards? Or are you someone motivated by helpful nudges from friends and family? Do you respond to text messages during work, or do you catch up on your personal messages at night? Do you travel a lot? Do you have a “wearable” (or are willing to use one)?

These are the types of questions we should be asking our users. We can either ask them directly, or infer answers from user interactions and behaviors. People are all different — but you wouldn’t know it by looking at most digital products. The majority of applications create a one-size-fits-all experience that fails to engage even a fifth of those who sign up. The good news is that we have the ability to collect individual behavioral data from users so that we can segment them more accurately, and present them with experiences that speak to their unique experiences and preferences.

2. Relevance: Getting Context Right













View enlarged image

In order to deliver relevant, impactful interactions at the right moment, we need to understand each user’s context. But context is much more than just time (when?) and location (where?). With richer data being collected from both users and third-party sources, context is now evolving to include situation (what am I doing?) and emotion (how am I feeling?). An expanded definition of context is shown in the figure above.

(Reference: Mobiquity and Wireless Innovation Council Research, 2014)

With this multifaceted model of context, we move closer to the ideal “segment of one” (a unique profile for each user at a given point in time). You would not want to send weight loss content to a customer who is maintaining a healthy weight, or give a shopping coupon to a stressed out traveler in an airport security line. Context-aware applications like Google Now and Tempo AI (acquired by Salesforce) leverage a user’s calendar as a source of context, so that they know when a user may be busy, in a meeting or enjoying downtime. This information is used by these applications to adjust their content and experience to fit the context-determined mindset of each individual user.

Context-aware applications like Google Now and Tempo AI (acquired by Salesforce) leverage a user’s calendar as a source of context, so that they know when a user may be busy, in a meeting or enjoying downtime.

Most users are only willing to share their data if they perceive that they will get real benefits in return. More than 60% of consumers want real-time promotions, yet 67% don’t trust retailers with their data (Opinion Lab Survey, 2015). We have the opportunity to do better.

3. Reward: Overcoming the Effort versus Benefit Challenge

In order to get, you have to give. Unfortunately, most applications ask for too much and offer too little. Twitter It’s common for apps to have a long-winded sign-up process that asks you every question under the sun. This is not a recipe for success.

Popular applications like Waze and Pandora are case studies in proper information gathering. They provide us with immediate benefits right after we download their apps. Waze improves our driving route in exchange for our location. Pandora gives us a personal DJ, tailored to our tastes, in exchange for rating the songs we’re listening to. In both these cases, our effort seems minimal in comparison to the benefits we get back. Contrast this with the majority of digital solutions that ask for a lot of data (like registration, profile, location, etc.) before delivering one ounce of benefit. We have to “earn the right” to collect the type of data we need to appropriately segment users. We have to win the “benefit versus effort” trade-off with our users by providing them with immediate, tangible benefits and using the data being collected to further personalize their experiences.

Evolving to a Data-driven UX Approach

Eighty-six percent of mobile marketers have reported success from personalization — including increased engagement, higher revenue, improved conversions, better user insights, and higher retention. However, only 1.5% of apps personalize their experiences (Mobile Marketing Automation Report, VB Insight, July 2015). In order to get to true personalization, and deliver greater effort than benefit, we need to make our user-experience (UX) design data-driven.

A traditional UX design process starts with user research followed by user flow creation, persona creation, storyboards/wireframes creation, and (finally) a graphical mock-up or prototype of the design. The desired result of this process is a single beautiful design that attempts to deliver the best possible experience to meet the needs of all the different user types.

By knowing something about each user’s behaviors, motivations and contexts, we have the opportunity to deliver a variation of the core experience that is best suited to each individual user by using robust analytics and an adaptive user interface.

But the reality is that all users are not the same — and they don’t all want to interact with your app in the same way. By knowing something about each user’s behaviors, motivations and contexts, we have the opportunity to deliver a variation of the core experience that is best suited to each individual user by using robust analytics and an adaptive user interface. In a data-driven UX approach like this, we start with the desired outcomes and behaviors we are trying to achieve with the target user base.

We then develop an initial behavioral segmentation model, and identify the optimal interaction strategies and user experience for each segment. And finally, we use analytics and machine learning to have our system adapt over time, so we can further optimize the design and underlying interaction models.

The figure below depicts the difference between a traditional and data-driven UX approach.












View enlarged image 

Make it Real

Data-driven UX design is a fundamental shift in how companies approach product design and development. While the journey is not easy, the potential payoff is huge in terms of long-term engagement and positive outcomes for your customers. If you want to move to this new model, you need to consider the following:

1. Expand your definition of context beyond location and time. Situation and Emotion matter.

2. Deliver immediate benefits to users before asking for more of their data. There is a fine line between useful and creepy.

3. Segment your users based on digital behaviors, preferences, motivations and context to drive the most relevant interactions.

4. Set up a big data and analytics environment capable of capturing and acting on behavioral analytics data in real time.

5. Use analytics and machine learning to adapt the target interactions for each user-segment over time, based on user responses.

6. Recruit a new breed of user experience designers—those with analytics skills to support the design of adaptive user experiences.

7. Start with desired outcomes, then pilot and adjust quickly.

It’s no longer good enough to know your customers. It’s what you do with that knowledge that really matters. Your customers are willing to engage and share their data if they perceive a real benefit for them.

Are you ready to live up to your end of the bargain?

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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Donald Trump's 'merit-based' immigration plan may benefit Indian professionals 08-03







WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump has announced his support for a legislation that would cut in half the number legal immigrants allowed into the US while moving to a "merit-based" system favouring English-speaking skilled workers for residency cards.

If passed by the Congress and signed into law, the legislation titled the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act could benefit highly-educated and technology professionals from countries such as India.

The RAISE Act would scrap the current lottery system to get into the US and instead institute a points-based system for earning a green card. Factors that would be taken into account include English language skills, education, high- paying job offers and age.

"The RAISE Act will reduce poverty, increase wages, and save taxpayers billions and billions of dollars. It will do this by changing the way the US issues Green Cards to nationals from other countries. Green Cards provide permanent residency, work authorisation, and fast track to citizenship," Trump said at a White House event to announce his support to the RAISE Act.

Standing along with two top authors of the bill -- Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue Trump said the RAISE Act ends chain migration, and replaces the low-skilled system with a new points-based system for receiving a Green Card.

This competitive application process will favour applicants who can speak English, financially support themselves and their families, and demonstrate skills that will contribute to our economy, he said, adding that the RAISE Act prevents new migrants and new immigrants from collecting welfare, and protects US workers from being displaced.

Trump said this legislation will not only restore America's competitive edge in the 21st century, but it will restore the sacred bonds of trust between America and its citizens.

"This legislation demonstrates our compassion for struggling American families who deserve an immigration system that puts their needs first and that puts America first," he said.

The RAISE Act will be re-orienting Green Card system towards people who can speak English, who have high degrees of educational attainment, who have a job offer that pays more, and a typical job in their local economy, who are going to create a new business, and who are outstanding in their field around the world, Senator Cotton said.

Senator Perdue said the current system does not work. "It keeps America from being competitive, and it does not meet the needs of the economy today," he said.

"Today we bring in 1.1 million legal immigrants a year. Over 50 per cent of our households of legal immigrants today participate in our social welfare system. Right now, only one 1 out of 15 immigrants who come into our country come in with skills that are employable. We've got to change that," he said.

"We can all agree that the goals of our nation's immigration system should be to protect the interests of working Americans, including immigrants, and to welcome talented individuals who come here legally and want to work and make a better life for themselves. Our current system makes it virtually impossible for them to do that," said Senator Perdue.

According to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the higher entry standards established in this proposal will allow authorities to do a more thorough job reviewing applicants for entry, therefore protecting the security of the US homeland.

The additional time spent on vetting each application as a result of this legislation will also ensure that each application serves the national interest, he observed.

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Friday, July 28, 2017

Notification by Medical Council of India. 07-29





ADVISORY TO STUDENTS SEEKING ADMISSION IN MBBS

It has come to the notice of Medical Council of India that certain unscrupulous elements are misleading students by alluring them that they would get them admitted in MBBS course in Medical Colleges. In this regard, it is brought to the notice of all concerned that admissions for MBBS in all Medical Colleges falling within the purview of Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 for the academic year 2017-18 has to be through the common counseling conducted by: 

1.The Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India for 15% All India Quota seats in Government Medical Colleges of the contributing states and for All MBBS seats in Medical Colleges run by Deemed Universities.  The Designated Authority of the State/ Union Territory Government in respect of MBBS seats in Government Medical Colleges and Non-Governmental Medical Colleges.

2. Admissions made without common counseling is impermissible and illegal.

3. By way of this Advisory all Candidates interested in taking admission in Medical Colleges should check the status regarding grant of permission by the Central Government to the colleges from the website of Medical Council of India i.e. https://www.mciindia.org/ and only after verifying the status of the permission should proceed to take admission.

4. It has also come to the notice of the Council that certain unscrupulous elements are promising students admission and are also demanding capitation fee for such admissions. These activities are illegal and students are cautioned not to be misled by any such frivolous statements made by these college authorities.  

5. It is further brought to notice of all concerned that following Medical Colleges have not been granted permission by the Medical Council of India / Central Government for admitting students in MBBS for academic year 2017-18 and 2018-19:  
S. No. State Name of the Medical College

Status
1.  Andhra Pradesh RVS Institute of Medical Sciences, Chittoor, Andhra Pradesh 
Debarred from admission for the academic year 2017-18 & 201819.

2.  Andhra Pradesh Nimra Institute of Medical Sciences, Andhra Pradesh
Debarred from admission for the academic year 2017-18 & 201819.

3.  Andhra Pradesh Gayatri Vidya Parishad Institute of Health Care and Medical Technology, Visakhapatnam, AP
Debarred from admission for the academic year 2017-18 & 201819.
S. No. State Name of the Medical College

Status
4.  Andhra Pradesh Apollo Institute of Medical Sciences & Research, Murakkambattu Village, Chittoor,  Andhra Pradesh
Debarred from admission for the academic year 2017-18 & 201819.

5.  Chhattisgarh Raipur Institute of Medical Sciences, Raipur, Chhattisgarh
Debarred from admission for the academic year 2017-18 & 201819.

6.  Chhattisgarh Shri Shankaracharya Institute of Medical Sciences, Junwani,  Bhilai, Chhattisgarh
Debarred from admission for the academic year 2017-18 & 201819.

7.  Chhattisgarh Govt. Medical College, Ambikapur, Chhattisgarh 
Not permitted for admission for the academic year 2017-18.

8.  Delhi Hamdard Institute of Medical Sciences & Research, New Delhi
Debarred from admission for the academic year 2017-18 & 201819.

9.  Gujarat  Pramukhswami Medical College, Karamsad
Debarred from admission for the academic year 2017-18 & 201819 against increased intake from 100 to 150. The college is recognized for 100 MBBS seats, hence, it is permitted for admission for 100 seats.

10.  Haryana World College of Medical Sciences & Research Village - Gurawar, Jhahhar, Haryana
Debarred from admission for the academic year 2017-18 & 201819.

11.  Haryana N.C. Medical College & Hospital, Israna, Panipat, Haryana
Debarred from admission for the academic year 2017-18 & 201819.

12.  Jharkhand Patliputra Medical Sciences, Dhanbad, Jharkhand
Not permitted for admission for the academic year 2017-18 against increased intake from 50 -100. The college is recognized for 50 MBBS seats, hence, it is permitted for admission for 50 seats.

13.  Karnataka Kanachur Institute of Medical Sciences & Research Centre, Mangalore, Karnataka
 Debarred from admission for the academic year 2017-18 & 201819.

14.  Karnataka Akash Institute of Medical Sciences & Research Centre, Devanhalli
Debarred from admission for the academic year 2017-18 & 201819.


15.  Karnataka Sambharam Institute of Medical Sciences & Research, Kolar, Karnataka
Debarred from admission for the academic year 2017-18 & 201819.

16.  Karnataka Sri Siddhartha Medical College, Tumkur 
Not permitted for admission for the academic year 2017-18 against increased intake from 130 – 150. The college is recognized for 130 MBBS seats, hence, it is permitted for admission for 130 seats.

17.  Karnataka Al Ameen Medical college & Hospital, Bijapur, Karnataka
Not permitted for admission for the academic year 2017-18 against increased intake from 100-150. The college is recognized for 100 MBBS seats, hence, it is permitted for admission for 100 seats.

18.  Karnataka Kempegowda Institute of Medical Sciences, Bangalore
Not permitted for admission for the academic year 2017-18 against increased intake from 120-150. The college is recognized for 120 MBBS seats, hence, it is permitted for admission for 120 seats.

19.  Kerala Kerala Medical College, Palakkad, Kerala
Debarred from admission for the academic year 2017-18 & 201819.

20.  Kerala S.R Medical College & Research Centre, Thiruvananthapuram
Debarred from admission for the academic year 2017-18 & 201819.

21.  Kerala Al-Azhar Medical College and Super Speciality Hospital, Thodupuzha, Kerala.
Debarred from admission for the academic year 2017-18 & 201819.

22.  Kerala  Mount Zion Medical College, Pathanamthitta, Kerala
Not permitted for admission for the academic year 2017-18.

23.  Kerala DM Wayanad Institute of Medical Sciences, Wayanad, Kerala
Debarred from admission for the academic year 2017-18 & 201819.

24.  Kerala Government Medical College, Painav, Idukki, Kerala
Not permitted for admission for the academic year 2017-18.

25.   Kerala Kannur Medical College, Not permitted for admission for
S. No. State Name of the Medical College

Kannur the academic year 2017-18 against increased intake from 100-150. The college is recognized for 100 MBBS seats, hence, it is permitted for admission for 100 seats.

26.  Madhya Pradesh
Sakshi Medical College & Research Centre, Guna, M.P.
Debarred from admission for the academic year 2017-18 & 201819.

27.  Madhya Pradesh
Advanced Institute of Medical Sciences & Research Centre, Bhopal
Debarred from admission for the academic year 2017-18 & 201819.

28.  Madhya Pradesh
Modern Institute of Medical Sciences, Indore, Madhya Pradesh
Debarred from admission for the academic year 2017-18 & 201819

29.  Madhya Pradesh
Sri Aurobindo Medical College, Indore
 Debarred from admission for the academic year 2017-18 & 201819 against increased intake from 100-150. The college is recognized for 100 MBBS seats, hence, it is permitted for admission for 100 seats.

30.  Maharashtra Institute of Medical Science and Research, Vidyagiri, Satara
Debarred from admission for the academic year 2017-18 & 201819.

31.  Maharashtra Jawahar Medical Foundation’ Annasaheb Chudaman Patil Memorial Medical College, Dhule  Debarred from admission for the academic year 2017-18 & 201819. 

32.  Maharashtra Maharashtra Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, Talegaon, Dabhade, Pune 
Not permitted for admission for the academic year 2017-18 against increased intake from 100-150. The college is recognized for 100 MBBS seats, hence, it is permitted for admission for 100 seats.

33.  Maharashtra Dr. D.Y. Patil Medical College, Hospital and Research Center, Navi Mumbai 
Debarred from admission for the academic year 2017-18 & 201819 against increased intake from 150-250. The college is recognized for 150 MBBS seats, hence, it is permitted for admission for 150 seats.

34.  Maharashtra Dr. Ulhas Patil Medical College & Hospital, Nashik
Not permitted for admission for the academic year 2017-18 against increased intake from 100-150. The college is recognized for 100 MBBS seats, hence, it is permitted for admission for 100 seats.
35.  Orissa Hi-Tech Medical College & Hospital, Rourkela
Debarred from admission for the academic year 2017-18 & 201819.

36.  Punjab Chintpurni Medical College, Gurdaspur 
Debarred from admission for the academic year 2017-18 & 201819.

37.  Rajasthan American International Institute of Medical Sciences, Bedwas, Udaipur
Debarred from admission for the academic year 2017-18 & 201819.


38.  Rajasthan Ananta Institute of Medical Sciences & Research Centre, Nathdwara, Rajsamand, Udaipur, Rajasthan  Debarred from admission for the academic year 2017-18 & 201819.

39.  Tamilnadu Ponnaiyah Ramajayam Institute of Medical Sciences, Kancheepuram, Chennai, Tamilnadu. Debarred from admission for the academic year 2017-18 & 201819.

40.  Tamilnadu Annaii Medical College Hospital & Research Institute, Kancheepuram, Tamilnadu
Debarred from admission for the academic year 2017-18 & 201819.

41.  Tamil Nadu Karpagam Faculty of Medical Sciences & Research, Coimbatore
Not permitted for admission for the academic year 2017-18.

42.  Tamil Nadu Madha Medical College and Hospital, Thandalam, Chennai
Debarred from admission for the academic year 2017-18 & 201819.

43.  Tamil Nadu Melmaruvathur Adhiprasakthi Institute of Medical Sciences & Research, Melmaruvathur. Debarred from admission for the academic year 2017-18 & 201819.

44.  Telagana RVM Institute of Medical Sciences & Research Centre, Mulugu Mondal, Medak Distt. Telangana. Debarred from admission for the academic year 2017-18 & 201819.

45.  Telangana Mahavir Institute of Medical Sciences, Ranga Reddy,  Vikarabad, Telangana
Debarred from admission for the academic year 2017-18 & 201819.

46.  Telangana Malla Reddy Medical College for Women, Jeedimetla, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh
Debarred from admission for the academic year 2017-18 & 201819.

47.  Telangana  SVS Medical College, Mehboobnagar 
Not permitted for admission for the academic year 2017-18 against increased intake from 100-150.  The college is recognized for 100 MBBS seats, hence, it is permitted for admission for 100 seats.

48.  Telengana Mediciti Institute of Medical Sciences, Ghanpur, Ranga Reddy, A.P. 
 Not permitted for admission for the academic year 2017-18 against increased intake from 100-150 The college is recognized for 100 MBBS seats, hence, it is permitted for admission for 100 seats.

49.  Uttar Pradesh Glocal Medical College, Super Specialty Hospital & Research Center, Mirzapur, Saharanpur, U.P. Debarred from admission for the academic year 2017-18 & 201819.

50.  Uttar Pradesh G.C.R.G. Institute of Medical Sciences, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
Debarred from admission for the academic year 2017-18 & 201819.

51.  Uttar Pradesh Krishna Mohan Medical College & Hospital, Mathura, Uttar Pradesh
Debarred from admission for the academic year 2017-18 & 201819.

52.  Uttar Pradesh Venkateshwara Institute of Medical Sciences, Gajraula, J.P. Nagar, Uttar Pradesh
Debarred from admission for the academic year 2017-18 & 201819.

53.  Uttar Pradesh Saraswati Medical College, Unnao, Uttar Pradesh
Debarred from admission for the academic year 2017-18 & 201819.

54.  Uttar Pradesh Prasad Instt. Of Medical Sciences, Lucknow
Debarred from admission for the academic year 2017-18 & 201819.

55.  Uttar Pradesh Varunarjun Medical College, Banthra, Distt.  Shahjahanpur, Uttar Pradesh
Debarred from admission for the academic year 2017-18 & 201819.

56.  Uttar Pradesh Hind Institute of Medical Sciences, Ataria, Sitapur, Uttar Pradesh
Not permitted for admission for the academic year 2017-18.

57.  Uttar Pradesh Major S D Singh Medical College and Hospital, Fathehgarh, Farrukhabad
Debarred from admission for the academic year 2017-18 & 201819.

58.  Uttarakhand Shridev Suman Subharti Medical College, Dehradun, Uttarakhand
Debarred from admission for the academic year 2017-18 & 201819.

59.  Uttar Pradesh Saraswathi Institute of Medical Sciences, Hapur 
Debarred from admission for the academic year 2017-18 & 201819 against increased intake from 100-150.  The college is recognized for 100 MBBS seats, hence, it is permitted for admission for 100 seats.

60.  Uttar Pradesh Era's Medical College & Hospital, Lucknow
Not permitted for admission for the academic year 2017-18 against increased intake from 100-150. The college is recognized for 100 MBBS seats, hence, it is permitted for admission for 100 seats.

61.  Uttar Pradesh Rohilkhand Medical College & Hospital, Bareilly
Debarred from admission for the academic year 2017-18 & 201819 against increased intake from 100-150. The college is recognized for 100 MBBS seats, hence, it is permitted for admission for 100 seats.

62.  Uttar Pradesh Subharati Medical College, Meerut   
Debarred from admission for the academic year 2017-18 & 201819 against increased intake from 100-150. The college is recognized for 100 MBBS seats, hence, it is permitted for admission for 100 seats.

63.  West Bengal Gouri Devi Institute of Medical Sciences, Durgapur, Burdwan, West Bengal
Debarred from admission for the academic year 2017-18 & 201819.

64.  West Bengal IQ-City Medical College, Burdwan, West Bengal
Not permitted for admission for the academic year 2017-18.

65.  West Bengal ICARE Institute of Medical Sciences & Research, Haldia, West Bengal
Not permitted for admission for the academic year 2017-18.

66.  West Bengal North Bengal Medical College, Darjeeling
Not permitted for admission for the academic year 2017-18 against increased intake from 100-150. The college is recognized for 100 MBBS seats, hence, it is permitted for admission for 100 seats.

67.  West Bengal Midnapore Medical College, Midnapore
Not permitted for admission for the academic year 2017-18 against increased intake from 100-150. The college is recognized for 100 MBBS seats, hence, it is permitted for admission for 100 seats.

                                                                                                          Sd/- (Dr. Reena Nayyar) Secretary I/C

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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

US relaxes visa norms for Indians 07-25





Introducing relief for H-1B petitioners, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has decided to resume premium processing for certain cap-exempt H-1B petitions effective immediately.

Those included under the petitions are H-1B petitioners coming from an institute of higher education, a nonprofit organisation related or affiliated with an institute of higher education or is a petitioner with non-profit research or governmental research organisations.

The petitioners from this move will avail the benefits of the premium processing that may be exempt from the cap.

The official Twitter channel of USCIS tweeted the notification on Monday evening announcing their decision to resume H-1B premium processing for certain cap-exempt petitions. The H-1B visa has an annual cap of 65,000 visas each fiscal year.

Moreover, there is an annual "master's cap" of 20,000 petitions filed for beneficiaries with a US master's degree or higher. Premium processing will also resume for petitions that may also be exempt if the beneficiary will be employed at a qualifying cap-exempt institution, organisation or entity.
Starting Monday, those cap-exempt petitioners who are eligible for premium processing are allowed to file Form I-907, request for premium processing service for Form I-129, petition for a non-immigrant worker.

The petitioner can file Form I-907 with an H-1B petition or separately for a pending H-1B petition. USCIS had previously announced that premium processing resumed on June 26 for H-1B petitions. The services mentioned that these petitions were filed on behalf of physicians under the Conrad 30 waiver program as well as interested government agency waivers.

USCIS plans to resume premium processing of other H-1B petitions as workloads permit. USCIS will make additional announcements with specific details related to when we will begin accepting premium processing for those petitions. Until then, premium processing remains temporarily suspended for all other H-1B petitions.

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Monday, July 24, 2017

What Cowboys Can Teach Us About Feeding the World 07-24





I will be the first person to admit that I’m a city boy. I grew up in Seattle, where my main agricultural experience as a kid was the farmers who sold freshly picked fruits and vegetables at Pike Place Market.

Since then I’ve visited lots of small farms as part of my work with the foundation. But nothing prepared me for where I recently found myself: in the wilds of the Australian outback watching a cattle rancher artificially inseminate a cow.

It’s a pretty graphic procedure to say the least, but I was impressed by how high tech the whole process was at Wylarah Station (a station is the Australian term for a ranch). The Australian Agricultural Company—or AACo—relies on cutting edge genomics to breed wagyu beef cows, some of the most elite cattle in the world.

AACo is one of the foremost experts in the developed world on tropical cattle production. Although they use innovation to raise higher quality beef that they can sell for a good price, I was more interested in learning about how their methods could help farmers in low income countries with similar climates.




Farmers across sub-Saharan Africa are already raising cattle—beef and dairy—in massive numbers. Ethiopia, Sudan, and Tanzania are among the world’s top 15 cattle producing countries. While there are legitimate questions about whether the world can meet its appetite for animal products without destroying the environment, it’s a fact that many poor people rely on cattle for both nutrition and income. I believe they should be able to raise cattle as efficiently as farmers in rich countries do.

I’m optimistic that technology can improve the quality of African cattle. A typical dairy cow in the United States produces nearly 30 liters of milk every day. Compare that to your average cow in Ethiopia, which produces just 1.69 liters of milk a day. If you want to increase milk yield, you can’t just take a high-producing Holstein cow from Wisconsin and drop it into the tropical savannah. Unlike indigenous breeds, temperate cattle have no natural resistance to tropical diseases—like trypanosomiasis, or sleeping sickness—and they struggle to get enough nutrition from local food sources.

Instead, you could breed cattle that will flourish in the local climate. That means using artificial insemination—like the process they use at Wylarah Station—to crossbreed a native female cow (with her built-in resilience to tropical heat and diseases) with a bull from a genetic line that produces lots of milk.

Our foundation is already tackling this, but AACo’s technology could make the process much more precise than it is today. One of the things that amazed me most during my visit was how much they know about the ancestry of their cattle. The animals on their ranch have a more detailed family history than most people do. If farmers in Africa were equipped with the same level of knowledge, they could handpick the best possible cow parents and breed a better calf. But that leads us to another problem.

Because they lack adequate storage, most African farmers rely on artificial insemination stations (yes, that’s what they’re really called) to provide sperm samples. Depending on how far a farmer lives from a station, the sample can sometimes heat up too much and effectively die before it is delivered. Many farmers decide not to take the risk. Instead they get their cows pregnant the old-fashioned way, which makes it harder to control genetic integrity and can lead to calves that are less resilient or produce less milk.

AACo is looking into methods that extend the viability of sperm samples. Similar technology is currently used in Europe to improve the success rate of fertilization, but it hasn’t been tried yet with tropical cattle. If successful, it could double the amount of time a sample can survive outside of storage and make it easier for more farmers across Africa to use artificial insemination.

Beyond breeding, Wylarah Station uses technology to ensure that their herds receive proper nutrition. I was surprised to see their ranch hands use smart watches to track how much the cows are drinking.
The whole operation was a far cry from the John Wayne cowboy movies I used to watch as a kid.
In the past someone had to manually inspect all of the water troughs scattered across the ranch, driving hundreds of kilometers every day. Now they receive a notification on their watch when a sensor detects that a tank needs attention. The whole operation was a far cry from the John Wayne cowboy movies I used to watch as a kid.

Not all of AACo’s innovative approaches could work in the poor world. It’s unlikely that every farmer in Africa will be wearing a smart watch anytime soon (if ever). But as smartphone usage continues to grow across the continent, it’s easy to imagine a future where Africans might use an app to order the perfect bull DNA or make sure their cattle are eating enough—something that an African ICT company called iCow is promoting in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Tanzania with help from our foundation.

There’s a lot we can learn from Wylarah Ranch about how to more efficiently raise cattle, but I can’t ignore the big question: should we rely on animals for food at all? Eating too much meat contributes to higher levels of obesity and heart disease, and raising animals contributes to climate change. That’s why I’ve invested in companies working on meat substitutes, which could one day eliminate the need to raise and slaughters animals entirely.

Although it might be possible to get people in richer countries to eat less, we can’t expect people in low income countries to follow suit. When I went vegetarian for a year in my late 20s, all I had to do to get my daily serving of protein was buy a can of beans or a container of tofu at the grocery store. It’s not so easy for families in poor communities to get the nutrition they need.

For them, meat and dairy are a great source of high-quality proteins that help children fully develop mentally and physically. Just 20 grams of animal protein a day can combat malnutrition, which is why our foundation’s nutrition strategy wants to get more meat, dairy, and eggs into the diets of children in Africa. Cattle are also a huge economic driver in some parts of Africa. In Ethiopia alone, cattle account for 45 percent of their agricultural GDP. In addition, livestock can actually contribute to ecosystems by stimulating pasture growth, enhancing biodiversity, and recycling energy and nutrients.

As more people in poor countries move into the middle class, they will likely eat more beef and drink more milk. But we can mitigate the impact of that growth on the environment by increasing production from the cows they already have. The cowboys of Wylarah Ranch have mastered the art of raising tropical cattle. I don’t know yet how African farmers can benefit from their expertise—our foundation is just starting to dig into this—but I’m excited about the possibilities.

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Sunday, July 16, 2017

10 Opportunities in Financial Services 2017 07-16


The competitors facing asset and wealth managers, banks, and insurance companies aren’t who we thought they were. Emerging technology is presenting growing opportunities for FinTechs.
And change is fast. The customers seem to be changing their minds about what they value most. For select legacy instituitions, this is a time of great opportunity. For others, it’s a sign of the end of an era.

Technology trends

It’s no secret that financial services has become a digital business. But the speed and extent of the transition is downright jarring. Artificial intelligence now drives the way leading firms provide everything from customer service to investment advice.



Blockchain, with its ability to store information on distributed ledgers without a central clearinghouse, could upend a variety of businesses.

Digital labor, or robotic process automation, is helping firms automate things they couldn’t do before, without having to hire an army of developers. And all of this depends on robust cybersecurity, to hold off threats that are coming from multiple directions.

Business trends

How business is conducted is shifting too. For decades, American firms have looked to the United Kingdom as the gateway to Europe, but Brexit could change this. Firms are focusing on jurisdictional analysis and what they’ll need to expand in the UK or move directly to the EU.



In the US, the regulatory environment will likely be affected by new appointments to the federal agencies and some targeted Dodd-Frank rollback by Congress. And as the industry grapples with risk management culture, ethics, and trust, it often finds itself playing defense.

Economic trends

The economic backdrop for these forces also keeps changing. Asset and wealth managers, banks, and insurance companies once primarily competed against their own kind. They still do—but now, they also face competition from nontraditional market players with skills, funding, and attitude.



And in a prolonged low interest rate environment, many now look at cost containment as one of the keys to survival. Finally, we see firms in a scramble for top line growth, organically and through acquisition, in a search for new revenue opportunities. Staying the same means falling behind.

Top 10 issues/opportunities facing Financial Services in 2017

1. Artificial intelligence now drives the way leading firms provide everything from customer service to #roboadvisor investment advice.

2. Blockchain, with its ability to store information data on distributed ledgers without a central clearinghouse, could upend a variety of businesses.

3. For decades, American firms looked to the United Kingdom as the gateway to Europe, but #Brexit could change this.

4. Financial institutions face competition from nontraditional #Fintech players with skills, funding, and attitude.

5. In a prolonged low interest rate environment, many now look at cost containment as one of the keys to survival.

6. Everything depends on robust cybersecurity to hold off threats that are coming from multiple directions.

7. The regulatory environment next year will likely be impacted from new appointments to the federal agencies and some targeted Dodd-Frank rollback by Congress, among other things.

8. And as the industry grapples with risk management culture, ethics, and trust, it often finds itself playing defense.

9. Digital labor, or robotic process automation, is helping firms automate things they couldn’t do before, without having to hire an army of developers.

10. Finally, we see firms in a search for new revenue opportunities, either organically, or through acquisitions. Staying the same means falling behind.



This full PwC report looks more broadly at these top issues facing financial institutions in the coming year.

For each topic, we look at the current landscape, share our view on what will likely come next, and offer our thoughts on how you can turn the situation to your advantage.

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Friday, July 14, 2017

5 lessons on building an intelligent enterprise from 600 early adopters of cognitive






The Cognitive era is here, and it’s accelerating, across industries. The cognitive computing market is estimated to grow from $2.5 billion in 2014 to more than $13 billion by 2019. Experts predict that by 2018, more that half of all consumers will interact with cognitive technology on a regular basis. But the journey to becoming an intelligent business is still new to so many leaders, and watching and learning from other early adopters may be the best way to avoid common mistakes and overcome complex challenges.

Businesses that can create actionable knowledge from large volumes of data, can improve business outcomes, expand expertise, delight customers and continuously outthink the needs of the market. Early adopters like Honda, Hilton, Staples and GM are already gaining a major competitive advantage from their use of cognitive technologies. And hundreds of other companies are catching up.

To understand how these early adopters are working on their business transformations, we surveyed more than 600 decision makers, worldwide, at various stages of implementation of cognitive initiatives. The results of the survey weren’t just surprising; they was inspiring and encouraging as we discovered exciting real-world applications, successes and valuable lessons we can all learn from.
At this year’s World of Watson Conference in Las Vegas on Oct. 23-27, IBM thought leaders Susanne Hupfer and Nancy Pearson will share the full results of this survey in their session titled: “The Intelligent Enterprise: Building a Cognitive Business.”

As a sneak peek into the results of this survey, we’re sharing 5 things we learned from speaking to these 600 early adopters of cognitive:

1. Most businesses want to become cognitive, but many of them are only starting their journey
Of the 600+ decision-makers we surveyed, about 65% of them said cognitive computing is extremely important to their business strategy and success. But only 22% of respondents said they had been using two or more cognitive technology capabilities for more than a year.

While cognitive technologies are still new to many businesses, the race to the top is now fully under way. More than half the respondents said they had been using multiple cognitive technologies for less than a year or using one technology for more than a year. A quarter of them said they are planning to adopt cognitive and AI initiatives within the next two years.

2. Business leaders see cognitive solutions as a key differentiator that gives them a competitive advantage
These “thinking” businesses are already seeing positive business outcomes including improved customer service, sales, ad conversions, productivity, employee performance and revenue growth. More than half the respondents said they consider cognitive computing to be a key ingredient of their strategy to remain competitive within the next few years, and essential to the digital transformation of their businesses. Cognitive systems are able to put content into context, to quickly find the proverbial needle in a haystack and identify new patterns and actionable insights in ALL available data.

3. While the opportunities are limitless, there are still many hurdles to overcome
Businesses on their path to becoming more cognitive face some common challenges. Top adoption challenges include security concerns, lack of skilled resources, roadmap struggles, maturity of these new technologies, data security, and lack of unified sources of data. About half of our survey respondents said that they see the value in cognitive computing, but they struggle with a clear roadmap for adoption.

4. It’s not enough to just have advanced analytics anymore
Cognitive computing is essential to overcoming data challenges that conventional analytics cannot solve as it unlocks the hidden value of “dark data” that was previously unreadable by machines. At most companies, a lot of the data available — more than 80% of it — is “unstructured,” in the form of emails, social media posts, documents, videos, images, audio recordings, manuals etc. Traditional tools and machines can’t analyze this unstructured content to find insights and patterns, but cognitive systems like Watson can.

5. Many business leaders share common goals for implementing cognitive solutions

While their products and industries may vary, many business leaders share the same goals and challenges on their path to becoming truly cognitive.
Top priorities include:
  • Improving productivity and efficiency
  • Reducing costs and compliance risks
  • Improving decision-making and planning across teams
  • Delivering more personalized and faster customer service
  • Scaling expertise to make every employee as good as their best employees
Cognitive solutions can help businesses achieve all these goals and more. They create usable and meaningful knowledge from data to expand everyone’s expertise, continuously learning and adapting to outthink the needs of the market.





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